When I greet someone and ask how they’re doing, inevitably the response is something along the lines of ‘Busy’. It’s something that everyone seems to struggle with, even kids! They may not describe their lives as ‘busy’, but I get tired just thinking of all their extra-curricular activities and homework (Did I get that much homework in Primary School?).
It’s a difficult beast to slay. I know we walk a tightrope of responsibilities and expectations, and have to deal with increased time spent in traffic and meetings and fixing leaking taps. Most of us are trying hard to juggle many balls, but unfortunately one seems to be constantly dropping: our family. They seem to get the worst of the busyness dragon.
We spoke about this on Sunday, but we could have spoken about it for weeks. So once again I’m going to point you to some external help (we’re outsourcing a lot these days. You know, to help our own busyness). I met Kevin de Young at a conference last year, and he had some good things to say about God and the Gospel. He also wrote an excellent book about busyness, called ‘Crazy Busy’, which won the Christian Book of the year award for 2014. It’s also a short book, which is good if it’s a book about busyness.
In it he describes some of the reasons we get caught up in busyness, and it mainly centers around our own Pride. I know that sounds harsh, but look at all these facets of pride and see whether it has impacted your own busyness:
- People-pleasing. We are busy because we try to do too many things. We do too many things because we say yes to too many people. We say yes to all these people because we want them to like us and we fear their disapproval
- Pats on the back. This is the most obvious kind of pride: living for praise. It’s similar to people-pleasing, except less motivated by fear than by a desire for glory. “If I take on this extra assignment, I’ll be a hero to everyone in the office.” Never mind what it will mean for my family, my church, or my walk with the Lord, so long as it means more glory for me.
- Performance evaluation. As in, we tend to overrate our own. Studies consistently show that almost all students rate themselves above average. Almost all employees consider themselves in the top tier. Almost all pastors think they are strong preachers. Because we regard ourselves so highly, we overestimate our importance.
- Possessions. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his soul?”
- Proving myself. God is not against ambition. Too many Christians lack the initiative, courage, and diligence that ambition inspires. But ambition for our own glory must not be confused with ambition for God’s glory
- Pity. Let’s face it: people feel sorry for us when we’re busy. If we get our lives under control, we won’t seem nearly so impressive and people won’t ooh and aah over our burdens. Many of us feel proud to be so busy, and we enjoy the sympathy we receive for enduring such heroic responsibilities.
- Poor planning. Yes, sometimes we just need to sit with a calendar and draw some boundaries!
- Power. “I need to stay busy because I need to stay in control”. Sound familiar?
- Perfectionism. “I can’t let up because I can’t make a mistake”. Am I really trying to do good or to make myself look good?
- Prestige. “I’ll finally be somebody”. And hopefully to your family too.
There’s a whole lot more good material in his book (this is a very abbreviated and adapted version of the many facets of pride!), including some startling parental advice. It all sounds good to me. Give it a read, if you’re not too busy…