Over-scheduled. Overworked. Over-committed. Overwhelmed. Sound familiar? Many of us find ourselves running from one activity to another, feeling stressed and at the mercy of a schedule of our own making. Busyness can make us feel like we are doing something, but we may be hard pressed to explain exactly what it is we are doing that really matters. If that sounds like your life, we invite you to take a brief “time out” to look at whether you are acting like a driven or a called person.

Driven vs. Called

In his book, Ordering Your Private World, Gordon MacDonald describes the characteristics of stressed, driven people (who often are doing very good things). They are all around us. In fact, often they are us! Do you see yourself or someone close to you in some of these symptoms?

A driven person is:

-  “Usually abnormally busy.They are usually too busy for the pursuit of ordinary relationships in marriage, family, or friendship, or even to carry on a relationship with themselves—not to speak of one with God….They operate on the precept that a reputation for busyness is a sign of success and personal importance. Thus they attempt to impress people with the fullness of their schedule.”

-  Most often only gratified by accomplishment. They have little patience for or appreciation of the process leading to accomplishing something. The only worthwhile things are those that produce visible results.

-  Preoccupied with attaining the things that symbolize accomplishment. Their goal is the ongoing acquisition of those things that represent power and status.

-  Usually pursuing something that is “bigger” and “more successful” than their last endeavor. Tends to have a limited regard for integrity. “Shortcuts to success become a way of life. Because the goal is so important, they drift into ethical shabbiness.”

-  Often characterized by limited or undeveloped people skills. “Because their eyes are upon goals and objectives, they rarely take note of the people about them, unless they can be used for the fulfillment of one of the goals.”

-  Usually highly competitive. They see everything in life as a win-or-lose game. “Winning provides the evidence the driven person desperately needs that he is right, valuable, and important.”

-  Often typified by “a volcanic force of anger,” which can erupt any time he senses opposition or disloyalty. This anger can be triggered when people disagree, offer an alternative solution to a problem, or even hint at just a bit of criticism.”

Driven people are controlled by their compulsions. When we live as driven people, we are listening to our culture and our fears, not to God. Drivenness comes so readily to us. “I look inside my private world,” MacDonald confesses, “and discover that almost every day I have to wrestle with whether I will be a [driven or a called person]. Living in a competitive world where achievement is almost everything, it would be easy to…be driven, to hold on, to protect, to dominate. And I might even find myself doing those sorts of things while telling myself that I was doing God’s work.”

But can the driven person be changed? “Most certainly,” says MacDonald. “It begins when such a person faces up to the fact that he is operating according to drives and not calls. That discovery is usually made in the blinding, searching light of an encounter with Christ.” God loves us! He doesn’t want us to be at the mercy of our fears and compulsions. He wants to free us so that we can become the people he created us to be and do the things he created us to do.