"We are the New Busy. We are redefining busy…because we know that having a full calendar means having a full life." -Hotmail advertisement
"Busyness…can be a way to avoid God, the meaning of life, and life itself." -Sidney Macaulay
We have become a "24/7" society. At any hour of any day of the week we can shop, watch news, be entertained, find information, communicate via email and Face book—and work. If you are like most people, you feel your life is "24/7," as well, with your day planners or Blackberry propelling you mercilessly from one activity to another. And you are not alone. Ask almost anyone how they are doing and you will probably get a response like, "I'm really busy."
The harried life of a too-typical "frazzled" family was chronicled in an article which reported that the family's calendar of weekly activities "was so jammed with scribbled entries" that it was difficult even to decipher. The stay-at-home mom described her family's life as "absolutely crazy." Parents struggle to decide how many activities are "enough." Have your days—and those of your children—become frantic and exhausting, leaving little time for relaxing, spontaneous play, and renewing, unstructured time with family and friends?
Working More than 9 to 5
Long working hours is another reason our lives can feel so frenzied. "The average workweek is now up to 47 hours, four more than two decades ago. A Gallup Poll found that 44 percent of Americans call themselves ‘workaholics.'" Downsizing, mergers and decreased revenues have created workplaces with fewer workers and increased workloads. Commutes become longer as people work further from home and traffic congestion increases. In addition, both parents work in many families. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 60% of marriages are dual-career. Not surprisingly, "lack of time" is cited in one study as the biggest challenge to their marriages.
Too Busy for God
Overscheduled. Overworked. Overcommitted. Overwhelmed. Our busyness can be the product of doing lots of good things. But are they the good things that we should be doing? Busyness can be a very effective calling blocker. For example, when Kevin served on our church's committee that sought to fill church board openings, the most common response to his inquiries about interest in serving was "I'm too busy." Approximately only 25% of those who attend church are involved in any ministry/volunteer service in their church. God calls us to active service using our gifts within the church, not to a passive, self-centered consumerism of its programs. Many of us are missing our callings within the Body of Christ.
Even busyness "working for God" can be a calling blocker. Oswald Chambers urged, "Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him…. The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him." Thomas Kelly observed that "too many well-intentioned people are so preoccupied with the clatter of effort to do something for God that they don't hear Him asking that He might do something through them."
Our activity and productivity can prevent us from hearing God's voice and discerning his guidance. How easily we become compulsive people who ignore the Caller while frenetically seeking and doing what we imagine (and hope) to be our calling. We are just too busy to consult with the One who calls. Activity, productivity, and accomplishment become our masters. Many of us live our lives as driven people rather than ones who are called.
How to Live as Called, not Driven People
The following are some suggestions to help you make wise choices in how you spend your days, so that you are investing your time in the things that really matter instead of getting trapped on the treadmill of perpetual busyness:
1. Scrutinize your schedule. Take a large sheet of paper and divide it into five columns. In the first column, list all of your activities and commitments in a typical month. (If you have a spouse and/or children, make this a family activity with each family member adding to the list).
In the 2nd column, write down the amount of time it requires each week (include driving time, preparation time, etc.). In the 3rd column, write down why you (or another family member) began doing the activity. In the 4th column list the "pros" of doing this activity; in the 5th column the "cons." (The pros and cons should take into account the impact on both the individual and the family.)
2. Re-create your schedule based on God's priorities for your life. God gives each of us enough time to do all the things he wants us to do. Ask the Lord to help you (and your family) create a schedule that reflects the life he intends you to live. God may very well be calling you to do less, not more! This is not an easy process; you may feel like you are in uncharted territory.
In When I Relax, I Feel Guilty, Tim Hansel describes our condition of suffering "from a nagging sense of guilt that no matter how much [we] do, it is never quite enough….Words like wonder, joy, rest, and freedom have become faded replicas of what Christ taught. Time becomes a tyrant instead of a friend."
3. Commit your schedule and intended activities for the day to God each morning. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in making wise use of your time that day. Ask God to enable you to live your calling "24/7" each day.
The Great Count Down
The way you spend our days is the way you spend your life. Let us join with the psalmist in praying, "So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom…. And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands" (Psalm 90:12, 17 NASU). God gifts you "24/7" with a new day; 24 invaluable, irreplaceable hours of time to manage. We need guidance from the Creator of time so that we use the hours of the day to live our callings, and not run by or away from them.
May 14, 2010
Excerpts from Live Your Calling (2005) by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck. Used by permission of Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint.
© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, www.ChristianCareerCenter.com. All rights reserved. The above information is intended for personal use only. No commercial use of this information is authorized without written permission.
Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck, National Certified Career Counselors, are the authors of Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life. Their websites, www.ChristianCareerCenter.com, www.ChurchJobsOnline.com, and www.ChristianJobFair.com, feature hundreds of job listings from churches, ministries, and Christian employers; a resume bank; and many other career/job search resources and articles. They also offer career coaching and testing to help you discover work that fits your God-given design, as well as assistance with writing a powerful resume, interviewing effectively, finding job openings, and other aspects of a successful job search.