It’s true. Being productive often means being busy. And for most intentional people, the word “busy” is probably a correct description of their lives.
But unfortunately, for too many of us, the typical answer to the typical “How are you?” question has been replaced with “Too busy,” “Buried,” or “Swamped.”
Pastor Kevin DeYoung of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI, calls it “Crazy Busy” and wrote a “mercifully short book” (with that phrase in its subtitle) about this “really big problem.”
And it is. A really big problem for all of us. How can we equip others (or ourselves) to notice, love, welcome, pray for, and listen to those we meet along the way if we’re just swamped?
8 quick questions to see if you’re on your way to crazy busy (You can also check out the questions on p. 9 of The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness by Tim Chester):
- Do you run in and out of your house without so much as a kiss on the cheek for your spouse? Ok. This just happened to the person putting this post together (who promises that the next 7 questions may be a little bit more helpful. Or, come to think of it, if your answer is yes to this first question, you are obviously already crazy busy and will most likely skip the questions that follow, anyway.)
- Can you remember the last time you took a day off? The world of work calls it a personal day, God calls it Sabbath. Whatever your particular views on the do’s and don’ts of Sundays, every Christian knows that God made us for and commanded us to regular times of rest.
- Have others around you stopped asking you for your time? Eventually, those closest to you will simply know you have no time to give. If you start feeling alone in a sea of “too much to do” it may be because you give off the impression that you wouldn’t have time for whatever “it” is, anyway. So why should anyone ask?
- Do you eat while you are doing something else? Sure. All of us may use the convenience of the bluetooth in our car while driving to catch up on calls on the way to the office, but it’s entirely another thing when we can’t even take the time to just eat! And considering the importance Jesus seemed to put on the meal, you just may want to rethink this one. And as far as the bluetooth goes? When it comes to eating, check it and the device it’s attached to at the door! Set it aside!
- Are you more tired in the morning than when you went to bed? This is a good indication that you didn’t rest well at night, which is a sign that you have too much on your mind.
- Do you dread mornings? God’s Word says His mercies are new every morning! And Today is the day that He has made! Rejoice! And be glad in it! But if you are dreading your day before it even begins because it is crammed way too full, something’s got to give.
- Are you always on the go? Our Fitbits are great gadgets that remind us that the best fitness for health can happen during our everyday lives (YES! Do get those 10,000 steps in!) but if you find yourself literally running from place to place and you’re not training for a marathon, maybe you’ve taken on too much.
- Is just getting through the day your major goal? You’ve heard it before: you want to thrive, not merely survive. But if you don’t know what it feels like to be ahead of schedule or at least caught up, then you may be crazy busy.
So what to do?
Certainly the Bible has lots to say about time, there is a plethora of time management advice and many great resources are available to help all of us better live our lives to God’s glory, thereby better sharing the Good News of the Gospel with others. (And be sure to add Crazy Busy and The Christian’s Guide to Busyness to your arsenal!)
But perhaps we could best begin RIGHT NOW by praying the wisdom of Proverbs 16:9, which says that “A person plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”
Lord, today, as I plan my way, will you direct me? And will you slow my steps down? I want to have time to kiss my wife and notice my neighbor. I want my pace and manner and speech to be a reflection of your peace and your presence. Show me how to practice Sabbath and rest like you did, and renew in me a JOY for living today. Let my neighbor see that the way I live is different than the crazy ways of the world. Amen.”
Pam Klein is the editor of Q Place’s On Q.