Quotes about Busyness
So don’t ignore the physical danger of busyness. Just remember the most serious threats are spiritual. When we are crazy busy, we put our souls at risk. The challenge is not merely to make a few bad habits go away. The challenge is not to let our spiritual lives slip away.
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 of that. One study found that commuters experience greater levels of stress than fighter pilots and riot police. That’s what we are facing. When our lives are frantic and frenzied, we are prone to anxiety, resentment, impatience, and irritability.
Busyness kills more Christians than bullets. How many sermons are stripped of their power by lavish dinner preparations and professional football? How many moments of pain are wasted because we never sat still enough to learn from them? How many times of private and family worship have been crowded out by soccer and school projects? We need to guard our hearts. The seed of God’s Word won’t grow to fruitfulness without pruning for rest, quiet, and calm.
The presence of extreme busyness in our lives may point to deeper problems – a pervasive people pleasing, a restless ambition, a malaise of meaninglessness. “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness,” writes Tim Kreider in his widely read article for The New York Times. “Obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.” The greatest danger with busyness is that there may be greater dangers you never have time to consider.
Jesus didn’t do it all. Jesus didn’t meet every need. He left people waiting in line to be healed. He left one town to preach to another. He hid away to pray. He got tired. He never interacted with the vast majority of people on the planet. He spent thirty years in training and only three years in ministry. He did not try to do it all. And yet, He did everything God asked Him to do.
[Jesus] was busy, but never in a way that made Him frantic, anxious, irritable, proud, envious, or distracted by lesser things… Jesus knew the difference between urgent and important. He understood that all the good things He could do were not necessarily the things He ought to do.
Busyness, as I’ve been diagnosing it, is as much a mind-set and a heart sickness as it is a failure in time management. It’s possible to live your days in a flurry of hard work, serving, and bearing burdens, and to do so with the right character and a right dependence on God so that it doesn’t feel crazy busy. By the same token, it’s possible to feel amazingly stressed and frenzied while actually accomplishing very little. 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.
Pride is subtle and shape-shifting. There is more of it at work in our hearts than we know, and more of it pulsing through our busyness than we realize. Pride is the villain with a thousand faces: People-pleasing, Pats on the back, Performance evaluation, Possessions, Proving myself, Pity, Poor planning, Power, Perfectionism, Position, Prestige and Posting. Here’s the bottom line: of all the possible problems contributing to our busyness, it’s a pretty good bet that one of the most pervasive is pride. It’s okay to be busy at times. You can’t love and serve others without giving of your time. So work hard; work long; work often. Just remember it’s not supposed to be about you. Feed people, not your pride.
We all know we need rest from work, but we don’t realize we have to work hard just to rest. We have to plan for breaks. We have to schedule time to be unscheduled. That’s the way life is for most of us. Scattered, frantic, boundary-less busyness comes naturally. The rhythms of work and rest require planning.
Having lost the security of being rooted in the eternal reality of the Word of God, we are looking to busy activity to fill the void that has been created in our lives. And under that bondage to activity we find it difficult to linger with the Word simply for the joy of it. In fact, we may be afraid to stop our busyness lest it expose the shallowness of our lives. So we go on from activity to activity, from project to project. But activity is a dangerous source of fulfillment. Instead of finding our identity, our sense of self-worth, from our relationship with God, we begin to look to success in programs and other earthly indicators of success for our self-worth. But these will never satisfy. This will only enslave us more in our bondage to activity.
Prayerful waiting on God is indispensable to effective service. Like the time-out in a football game, it enables us to catch our breath and fix new strategy. As we wait for directions, the Lord frees us from the tyranny of the urgent. He shows us the truth about Himself, ourselves, and our tasks. He impresses on our minds the assignments He want us to undertake. The need itself is not the call; the call must come from the God who knows our limitation. “The Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14). It is not God who loads us until we bend or crack with an ulcer, nervous breakdown, heart attack, or stroke. These come from our inner compulsions coupled with the pressure of circumstances.
I think one of the cant phrases of our day is the familiar one by which we express our permanent want of time. We repeat it so often that by the very repetition we have deceived ourselves into believing it. It is never the supremely busy men who have no time. So compact and systematic is the regulation of their day that whenever you make a demand on them, they seem to find additional corners to offer for unselfish service. I confess as a minister, that the men to whom I most hopefully look for additional service are the busiest men.
The weight of so many responsibilities and distractions – even the worthwhile ones – has a crushing effect on a person’s relationship with Christ. It ruins our taste for spiritual things. It suppresses our exuberance for spiritual service. It suffocates our passion for pursuing Christ and the intimate relationship He offers. It all grinds away at our soul. Eventually, following Jesus starts to lose its luster. The blessings and joys of walking with Him are crowded out by myriad tiny details of life.
Busyness can be a drug. It makes us feel important and needed. Fruitfulness is another matter. It is a miracle of God’s grace through His Word, imparted to a heart that stays quiet and low before Him, set upon doing His will only.
And as men’s diversions increase from the world, so do their entanglements from Satan. When they have more to do in the world than they can well manage, they shall have more to do from Satan than they can well withstand.
You wake up one day to realize that you are busier than you’ve ever been, but no deeper in the things of God than you were years ago.