What’s So Dangerous About Busyness?

When I was interviewing for my current position as a youth pastor someone asked me, “What do you think is the greatest challenge facing teenagers today?”

It’s a great question. I remember giving some answer about postmodernism and the challenge of living in a relativistic culture. Blah blah blah. I’m sure my answer was brilliant… but let me take another crack at it.

Busyness

Busyness. Without a doubt, I’d answer, “Busyness.” And it’s not just a problem for teenagers.

I am more and more convinced that busyness is the greatest challenge for families today. I’m not alone. There are more books being written about busyness and “time management” every year, because people are realizing that it is so easy for us to be distracted into uselessness.

Quotes from Kevin DeYoung’s Book Crazy Busy

“We are so busy with a million pursuits that we don’t even notice the most important things slipping away.”

“Without forethought of purpose and follow through of plan, we will keep pushing aside the priorities we say are our actual priorities, the important things like God, church, family, and friends.”

“The antidote to busyness of soul is not sloth and indifference. The antidote is rest, rhythm, death to pride, acceptance of our own finitude, and trust in the providence of God.”

Busyness & Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan
Busyness keeps us from being good neighbors. When we’re busy we become like the priest and the pharisees in the Parable of the Good Samaritan who didn’t have time to notice the dying man on the side of the road.

We don’t even notice people who are in need, and we can often send off the signal to others, “Don’t bother me, I’m too busy!”

I hate it when people try to compliment me by telling me how busy I am. As if busyness equals importance. It doesn’t mean you’re important. It just means you have a lot of stuff to do.

Let’s all agree to be better neighbors. That probably means we need to trim our calendars.

Busy or Fruitful?
I want to be fruitful. I want to be productive. I don’t want to waste my life and I don’t want to be lazy. Busy and fruitful are very different. Which are you?

Busyness causes stress and keeps your eyes on your calendar instead of on the people you are serving. Fruitfulness produces joy because you are serving people and blessing them.

If you’re more busy than fruitful, then stop, look around, and look for ways to do things differently. God doesn’t want us to be lazy. He wants us to love Him while loving others (see the Great Commandment). How can you do things differently so your busyness becomes servanthood and blessing?

Your Schedule Reflects Your Priorities
Write up a list of your life’s priorities. Ask yourself these questions

  • What matters most to you?
  • How do you want people to describe you?
  • For what do you want to be remembered?

Look at your calendar. Does it reflect what you want your priorities to be? Are you ok with the portrait of “You” your schedule paints?

Taming the Calendar Beast

  1. Put Christ first. Do you read Scripture? Do you pray? When you pray, what do you pray about and what do you ask for? Prayerfully put Christ first and ask him to continue making you more like himself.
  2. Know your priorities. Sit down sometime and work through the answers about priorities above. If you process by talking it out, then find someone and buy them coffee. If you’re a writer then grab your journal. If you don’t know what matters most to you, and if you haven’t prayerfully determined your priorities then do it ASAP.
  3. Learn to say “NO.” You can’t do everything. Whenever you say “Yes” to something, you’re saying “No” to something else. Be intentional about what you’re saying “Yes/No” to.
  4. Consistently ask yourself, “Am I busy or fruitful?” This has been really helpful for me, because it’s helped me realize where I’m spending my time selfishly. It’s also encouraged me in the midst of the stress to remember WHY I’m doing whatever I’m doing – to bless people and build up the church.

If you want to read more, I strongly recommend the following books:

How about you? What are your tips on taming busyness and keeping it from distracting you into uselessness?

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