Recently, I came across Tim Chester’s book, The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness. Well I haven’t happened to read it yet, because…well, I’m too busy! So instead I opted for the article version “Slow Down, I Want to Get Off.” He starts off with a series of reality-check questions. See how well you do…
- Have you ever been irritated because there was a queue at the supermarket till?
- Do you regularly work thirty minutes a day longer than your contracted hours?
- Do you check work emails and phone messages at home?
- Has anyone ever said to you: ‘I didn’t want to trouble you because I know how busy you are’?
- Do your family or friends complain about not getting time with you?
- If tomorrow evening was unexpectedly freed up, would you use it to work or do a household chore?
- Do you often feel tired during the day or do your find your neck and shoulders aching?
- Do you often exceed the speed limit while driving?
Here’s my score: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Not so much. How did you do? Probably not much better! Well unless you answered “Nope” on all eight, you should read the whole article. The sad truth is that many of us (functionally) believe that “busyness is next to godliness” or that “if you’re not tired then you’re not worthwhile!”
Chester goes on…
Why are we busy?
For most us, our busyness is self-induced.
I think parents of young children are just going to be tired. That’s life! (I remember when my youngest daughter was about five thinking that I felt kind of strange. At first I couldn’t work out why and then I realised it was because I didn’t feel tired!)
But for most us our busyness is self-induced.
I don’t mean we decide in the morning: ‘Today, I’m going to overwork.’ But I do think our busyness is the result of the choices we make and the desires we nurture.
We never think of it like that. We blame our bosses. We blame the economy. We blame the government. We blame our wives.
‘You don’t understand,’ you may be thinking. ‘I have responsibilities. I have to stay late at the office. I have to do my overtime. I have so much to do. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.’
The thing is: God put 24 hours in each day. And God doesn’t make mistakes. so the problem is not that there aren’t enough hours in the day. The problem is that you are trying to do too much. You are trying to do more than God expects of you.
That last paragraph has been huge in my life, especially the last sentence–“You are trying to do more than God expects of you.” Chester confirms what God has been speaking to me in his Word, by His Spirit and through his family–the church. I.am.too.busy.
Before my vacation in early October, I found my self complaining that I never had enough time. I even noticed that I was clenching my teeth throughout the day for no apparent reason. I was becoming increasingly short-tempered with people too. Sure, I needed a vacation, but I also needed something more: conviction of and repentance for trying to do more than God expects me.
A similar quote has fueled God-glorifying repentance and gospel-renewing hope for my life. It’s from Hudson Taylor: “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” All my frustration, complaining, fretting, and exhaustion stemmed from either not doing God’s work (possibly doing my agenda or someone elses) or not doing it HIS way (praying only for the things I “think” I need his help with).
Am I still too busy? Probably! But I’m finding peace as I cling to the promises of God like John 15:5 “Apart from me you can do nothing” and Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” And I’m finding joy as I say “NO!” to the deceitful promises and fleeting pleasures of approval and the fear of man.