Why you need to be freed from your busyness.
A few years back, I read a book called Crazy Busy. In this book, Pastor Kevin DeYoung poses this question and answer:
How do you know if you are crazy busy? If this paragraph describes you: “When someone asks me how I’m doing, my response almost always includes the word busy. I can think of several moments in just the past couple of months when I’ve muttered the words to myself, ‘What am I doing? How did I get myself into this mess? When will I ever get my life under control? How long can I keep this up? Why can’t I manage my time? Why did I say yes to this? How did I get so busy?’ I’ve bemoaned my poor planning and poor decision making. I’ve complained about my poor schedule. I’ve put in slipshod work because there wasn’t time for any other kind. I’ve missed too many quiet times [reading my Bible and praying] and been too impatient with my kids. I’ve taken my wife for granted and fed important relationships with leftovers. I’ve been too busy to pursue God with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. In other words, I’ve likely been just like you.”
Let’s face it. We are all too busy. Perhaps you are one of the few out there who have learned to balance their life, say no to distractions, and dial in on what you are supposed to be focusing on, but most of us have not.
As a pastor, I talk with parents all the time who are overwhelmed with work, with school, with their children’s homework, with sports schedules, dance, gymnastics, fundraisers, youth group, and everything in between. Rarely a week goes by where I don’t scratch my head and muse, “Was it like this when I was growing up?”
As Americans, we work, on average, 2 hours a day longer than any other country in the industrialized world. That seems like a lot, but realize that on top of that we also tend to work 14 weeks MORE than most other nations per year. We are obsessed with productivity, making money, having nice things, and pursuing the American Dreams (or empowering our kids to pursue it). The opportunities at our fingertips are vast and real, but they come at a cost!
What if busyness is robbing us blind? What if we have adopted a willful slavery - carting our kids around so we give them every opportunity under the sun, saying “yes” to every decent opportunity because we don’t want to look bad, or doing everything people ask us because we are people-pleasers laden with guilt. Don’t you want to be free from it without hopping on a train and running away?
Today I want to suggest three reasons that your busyness is a real problem and in the coming weeks we will try to diagnose the root cause of our busyness by analyzing some common motivators.
Reason #1: Busyness can ruin our joy
As Christians, our lives should be marked by joy (Phil 4:4), taste like joy (Gal. 5:22), and be filled with the fullness of joy (John 15:11). Busyness attacks all three. One study found that commuters experience greater levels of stress than fighter pilots and riot police. Now, I find that hard to believe, but the fact that it even showed up in comparison is worrisome.
When we live frantic lives we are more prone to anxiety, resentment, impatience, and irritability. When we are overly busy, our fuse gets shorter and shorter until nobody wants to be around us. We need to deal with our busyness because it is making us miserable people.
Reason #2: Busyness can rob our hearts
Theologian John Calvin wrote “The human heart is a thick forest of thorns.” In the parable of the sower, Jesus identifies two of thorns that rob our heart of joy. The first thorn represents the cares of this world (Mark 4:19). For most followers of Jesus, it isn’t heresy or believing the TV preacher that will derail our faith, it is the worries of life like car payments, broken water heaters, unpaid taxes, and mounting medical bills.
The second thorn represents our desire for more stuff. Why is it that the most stressed out people on the planet live in the most affluent countries in the world? After you spend your money and buy all those things, you need to keep it clean, keep it working, and keep up with the latest improvements.
It is all too easy to become busy because we have been deceived to think that we should live for things that won’t satisfy us, and only leave us destitute.
Reason #3: Busyness can cover up the rot in our souls
The third reason you need to be real about identifying and dealing with your busyness is that it may simply point to deeper problems. A pervasive people pleasing attitude, a restless ambition, a malaise of meaninglessness, an insatiable appetite for more toys… All of these core struggles are far deeper than busyness, but our busyness can be a hedge that keeps us from processing what is actually wrong in our lives.
Let’s make this the summer that we find freedom from our busyness. Let’s take back our hearts.