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Crazy Busy

Thinking about Mark’s sermon last night on ‘busyness’ reminded me about a book I read recently on this topic by Kevin DeYoung. Here are a few notes I made on the book that you might find helpful.

  • Busyness can ruin my joy – our lives should be marked by joy (Phil 4:4) but busyness attacks that. “When our lives are frantic and frenzied we are more prone to anxiety, resentment, impatience and irritability.”
  • Busyness often happens because of pride – are you busy because of pride? You can’t say no because you want to please people? You want to be the person who gets the praise for doing all the work? You think you’re indispensable? You want more ‘stuff’ so you work too hard to earn more money? You need to prove yourself? You want pity? You’re a poor planner …?
  • Busyness often happens because you feel obligated – you feel you need to start that ministry or say yes to that person or read all those books. Listen up: you are not the Christ so don’t try to be; and there is a worldwide church with millions of people with different gifts which means we don’t have to do everything.
  • Busyness happens because you haven’t set your priorities – you can’t do everything so what are your priorities in life. If you don’t know, find some time to set them.
  • Busyness happens because you think your kids need everything – “We live in an age where the future happiness and success of our children trumps all the concerns.” DeYoung carries on: “I have five kids and, besides the Lord’s grace, I’m banking on the fact that there really are just a few non-negotiable in raising children. When you think about it, what does the Bible actually say about parenting? Child-rearing is hardly the main theme of Scripture. God doesn’t provide many specific instructions about the parent-child relationship, except that parents should teach their children about God (Deut 6:7; Prov. 1-9), discipline them (Prov 23:13; Heb 12:7-11), be thankful for them (Ps 127:3-5) and not exasperate them (Eph 6:4). Filling in the details depends on the family, the culture, the Spirit’s wisdom and a whole lot of trial and error.”
  • Busyness happens because we spend too much time looking at screens – DeYoung offers some good advice on this.
  • Busyness happens because we don’t rest – rest is difficult because it means we need to trust God and let go of the all the things on our ‘to-do’ list. And it takes work to rest; we need to plan it into our diaries. Also, we need godly habits so it becomes a part of our natural rhythm.
  • Busyness is not a bad thing – “the reason we are busy is because we are supposed to be busy.” “Busyness, as I’ve been diagnosing it, is as much a mindset 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.” The apostle Paul was full of joy yet he spent his life getting beaten up for Jesus. ‘Apart from all other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches’ (2 Cor 11:28). “If you love God and serve others, you will be busy too.”
  • The one thing you must do – “If you are sick and tired of feeling so dreadfully busy and are looking for a one-point plan to help restore order to your life, this is the best advice I know: spend time every day in the Word of God and prayer.”

I really recommend getting hold of the book and reading it. It’s only 118 pages and you can find it here.

Tom Martin