Busy. Everyone seems to be busy. I feel busy. And I suspect that most people reading this blog would describe themselves as “busy.” Why is it that we are so busy? Is all this busyness necessary? To be sure, some of our busyness may be necessary. However, a lot of it—and the medley of vexations that come along with the busy life—are probably not.
Four Bad Reasons To Be Busy And What To Do About It
Busyness is a result of personal choices, not the dire blows of cruel fate. Furthermore, busyness may be revealing areas of your life that are not in keeping with the character of God.
Four Bad Reasons to Be Busy
As you think about your outrageously busy life, think a bit deeper to the reasons for your busyness. See if any of these may be true in your life.
- You’re insecure and are trying to control life. Has anyone accused you of being a “control freak?” This symptomatic Type-A personality trait is often a busy-busy-busy lifestyle. It may be seen in the busy mom who frets about an immaculate house, a regimented schedule for the kids, organizing meetings, and running over people with her busyness. Busyness may feel like a balm for insecurity, but it simply reveals a lack of trust in God’s sovereignty. God is powerful. He is in control. He cares for you.
- You’re a people-pleaser, and can’t say no. Saying “no” is not easy, especially for someone who feels like they have to please people. Willingness to help, an eagerness to be hospitable, and a servant’s heart does not mean that you should say “yes” to everything that people ask of you. “The fear of man,” (also known as trying to please people) is a disabling problem. If you find this true of you, be reminded that you are seeking God’s approval, not man’s.
- You’re empty, and are trying to find satisfaction in doing. Busyness can be like an addictive drug. You get on a busy high, and feel a buzz of satisfaction. Then, when life slows down and the busyness ebbs into a stillness, you feel the pangs of withdrawal. So, you ramp up the busyness again, trying to regain that sense of fulfillment and excitement. Obviously, busyness is a shallow and deceptive source of enjoyment. True fulfillment and joy come from God.
- You’re a legalist, and are trying to prove your devotion to God by doing more work or ministry. Do you ever think that God likes you a lot if you’re busy doing a lot for Him? Do you ever think that “burning out for God” is a positive thing—something that honors God and pleases him? If so, you may be suffering under a delusion that both hampers your personal life, and dishonors the true character of God. We can’t do anything to win God’s favor. We can’t do anything to make ourselves worthy in God’s sight. Not even running ragged in the ministry will make you any more spiritual. God is gracious. It’s not about a “dirtiest rag” contest, or a “higher calling,” or “burning out for Jesus.” It’s about resting in God’s graciousness. He has justified you freely through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Now, you might feel like you can sustain your busy life. In fact, you may even feel like you have to! It’s as if you can’t escape from all the busyness! But how important are those things that are making you busy…really Realize that the people around you—the people you love—may be suffering as a result of your busyness: your spouse, your children, your employees, your friends.
Even while I was writing this short article, I felt several times the pang and panic of busyness—the annoyance at interruptions, the worry over my mountain of responsibilities, the dread of a looming deadline, and the frazzle of a major project. I had to consciously refocus and realize, “Wait. God is sovereign. Over this interruption. Over the looming deadline. Over my crying child. Over my grieving friend. Over my so-called busy life.” Without the adjustment of our perspective on God, and the changes in our schedule, busyness can destroy.
For the sake of your ministry, your spiritual life, your family, your church, your friends, your community—stop the busyness.
(These four reasons are inspired by Tim Chester’s thought-provoking book, A Meal with Jesus, 97-97.)