Busyness is an issue that is ever-present in my life. I don’t say that to boast. In fact, many times my busyness is attributed to the lack of stewardship of time in my life, as well as a neglect of more important matters in favor of less important matters. Busyness happens. But how do you become “unbusy”? And is it inherently sinful to be busy or is it good to be busy? DeYoung in his book Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About A (Really) Big Problem discusses those very things, as well as a myriad of other directly and indirectly related to busyness. What follows is not a summary of his book or even answers to most of the questions that plague us regarding busyness. It is however a catalogue of the more salient points I read that I want to pass on to you (that is, if you’re still there). Here’s a few:
A great resource on busyness is Tim Chester’s book The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness. He suggests twelve diagnostic questions to determine how ill we’ve become with “hurry sickness.” I’d encourage you to read through his book as well, though it is a little longer than DeYoung’s.
Three dangers to avoid regarding busyness:
- The first danger is that busyness can ruin our joy
- The second danger is that busyness can rob our hearts
- The third danger is that busyness can cover up the rot in our souls
The presence of extreme busyness in our lives may point to deeper problems—a pervasive people-pleasing, a restless ambition, a malaise of meaningless…which fundamentally is pride (31).
We get worked up and crazy busy in all the wrongs ways because we are more concerned about looking good than with doing good. Regarding hospitality, instead of encouraging those we host, they feel compelled to encourage us with constant reassurances that everything is just fine (41).
The phrase “redeeming the time” (Eph 5:16) is wrongly understood many times as a means for better time management, when in reality it’s a call to be holy more than a call to posses the seven habits of highly effective people (51).
Regarding the busyness of parenting, DeYoung writes, “I just know that the longer I parent the more I want to focus on doing a few things really well, and not get too worked up about everything else. I want to spend time with my kids, teach the Bible, take them to church, laugh with them, cry with them, discipline them when they disobey, say ‘sorry’ when I mess up, and pray a ton. I want them to look back and think, ‘I’m not sure what my parents were doing or if they even knew what they were doing. But I always knew my parents loved me, and I knew they loved Jesus.” (74).
What about working hard and leisure? DeYoung writes, “it’s easy to find people who think work is good and leisure is bad (i.e., you rest to work). You can also find people who think leisure is good and work is bad (i.e., you work to rest). But according to the Bible, both work and rest can be good if they are done to the glory of God. The Bible commends hard work (Prov 6:6-11; Matt 25:14-30; 1 Thes 2:9; 4:11-12; 2 Thes 3:10) and it also extols the virtue of rest (Ex. 20:8-11; Deut 5:12-15; Ps 127:2). Both have their place. The hard part is putting them in the right places (92).
Crazy Busy is a short read (118 pages) that’s replete with biblical wisdom and insight and DeYoung speaks to an issue that is becoming more and more of a problem with our technology-crazed world. And then add to the onslaught of technology a full-time job (or two if both parents work), a couple of kids, various extracurricular activities, a commitment to a local church (that would be you hopefully) and a whole host of other things that are daily vying for our attention and affections…busyness is something all of us can relate to. So what’s the remedy? I don’t have a definitive answer on this but I do know that I want to be busy doing the right things. Jesus was busy—very busy. Busy doing what? Busy doing the Father’s will. His life was consumed with pleasing the Father. I think that’s a good start to thinking about your life and the busyness of it. So let that be the lens upon which you live your life—to please the Father. And in so doing, I’m quite certain you’ll do some things more frequently and other things less frequently.