I’m sure that every single reader of Sharper Iron has time management issues of some kind. We are all busy—and many are busy beyond juggling family, work, and ministry while trying to nurture one’s own physical and spiritual health and well-being. We are stressed, overwhelmed, and downright cranky.
My story probably doesn’t sound much different from anyone else’s. I’ve been a stay-at-home homeschooling mom for over 20 years, caring for an elderly mother with Alzheimer’s, organizing activities at church, leading a homeschool support group, writing for my blog, and hey—let’s not forget handling registrations for Sharper Iron. I sometimes don’t know how I got it all done, and then sometimes I didn’t. The laundry piled up, we ordered pizza for dinner, and I figured floors were just supposed to look like that, ‘cause they are, you know, floors.
I thought it would get better when my mom moved out into a nursing facility, and two more kids graduated from our homeschool. But as any workaholic will tell you, we just find ways to fill those gaps. I took a part-time job as an administrative assistant at our local Chamber of Commerce, and started writing a book.
Like all my friends, I’m trying to figure out what and how much I’m supposed to be doing. I know I need some perspective. So when I saw the book Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung in the clearance section at Half Price Books for $3 ($2.40 after my 20% off coupon), I grabbed it up. Another of DeYoung’s books, Just Do Something, had come along when my kids were trying to make some decisions about their futures, and it was incredibly helpful. So I was more than willing to give DeYoung’s perspective on busyness some of my reading time.
The book starts out with a sort of disclaimer; the author isn’t writing this as someone who has figured it out and is sharing the answer. Rather, the book is his exercise at working through his own issues of being Crazy Busy.
We wake up most days not trying to serve, just trying to survive. (p.21)
I think it’s OK for this to happen occasionally, because there are times in our lives when emergencies of various kinds will overwhelm us. However, I’ve had too many mornings when I woke up thinking about how to get through the day so I could go back to bed because I spent half the night mentally going through my To Do List. That’s a life out of balance.
The outline of this 128-page book is simple: three dangers to avoid, seven diagnoses to consider, and one thing you must do.
This book is not about time management strategies; DeYoung is going for the heart issues out of which flow any and all of our sin problems, including busyness.
Busyness, of the kind that robs us of joy or feeds our ego, is not because our calendar is full and there’s no white space on our task lists. I think the author nails it when he describes some of the reasons most of us are overscheduled and overworked:
- We are doing things God has not called us to do.
- We are trying to please the people around us.
- We are trying to control everything.
- We are seeking attention.
I quickly recognized myself in some of these descriptions. I can admit I’ve fallen prey to the idea that I need to be doing a little bit of everything. My gifts are in the areas of teaching, administration, and helps, so anything that requires those characteristics (which describe just about every ministry in the church) I have volunteered for. It literally became a joke that when someone says the word “volunteer,” my hand will shoot up of its own accord.
I’m actually not a people-pleaser. I couldn’t care less what people think of me, but I know I’m supposed to (at least a little bit), so I tend to overcompensate in this area, trying to make sure I’m not hurting anyone’s feelings, because—
I am a control freak and a perfectionist. I just wish everyone would get out of my way because I can get it done better and faster by myself.
I can see how these elements of my character knock me out of balance. DeYoung points out that the person who gets left out of all this busyness is God. I acknowledge that I don’t often ask myself if what I am doing is not just a good thing, but the best thing I can do to honor God and be a blessing to those around me.
I also see how my view of work (as in, I’m not happy if I’m not working) makes it difficult for me to relax and meditate. That whole “be still” thing just gets on my nerves. Can’t I listen to God while running the vacuum cleaner?
In case you are wondering, this book covers the effects of technology, and how it hasn’t made our lives more leisurely, as people 50-60 years ago imagined. Because of mobile technology and social media, it’s like we are constantly surrounded by billions of people who can tap on our shoulder at any time. Access to a 24-hour news cycle has made us, as the book describes, “compulsive nibblers of info snacks.”
And—our kids feel the effects of our frenzied lives. They experience ‘secondhand stress’ when we’ve allowed ourselves to be stretched too thin mentally and physically. Our lives are often not the example of a fulfilling, God-honoring life our children, or anyone under our leadership, should follow.
Crazy Busy concludes with probably the best Biblical example of the problem with busyness, and that’s the story in Luke 10 of Mary and Martha. I’ve always sympathized with Martha, probably because I’ve spent years in church kitchens making sure preachers could fill up on biscuits and gravy in between revival services. But no matter how you slice it, that’s choosing busyness over godliness.
If you are struggling with a crazy busy life, I recommend this book. Not because it has a 5-Step Plan or sample schedules for you to follow, but because the author asks the kind of questions that help you get to the crux of the matter—your heart.
Page Count: 128
Size: 5.25 in x 8.0 in
Published: September 23, 2013