Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Kevin DeYoung's new book, Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem (Crossway, 2013).
Are you so busy that your overloaded schedule causes stress in your life?
If so, you’re hardly alone. Many people struggle with being too busy in our hyper-hurried society. But the good news is that you can overcome chronic busyness and enjoy a more peaceful life when you trust God to help you heal from the issues that lie at the root of keeping yourself too busy.
Here’s how you can stop being too busy:
Avoid three key dangers. Chronic busyness brings incessant stress into your life that can ruin the joy that Jesus wants you to experience every day. It can also rob your heart of the spiritual fruitfulness you should be producing, such as by preventing you from reflecting on what’s happening in your life so you can learn and grow from it. Finally, when you’re chronically busy you won’t have to time to properly consider the deeper problems that lie at the root of your busyness, from unhealthy people-pleasing behaviors to selfish ambition.
Confront the various manifestations of pride in your life. When you’re too busy, it’s often because you’re struggling with the sin of pride that’s manifesting itself. Pride can drive you to be busy for a variety of different reasons, such as: trying to please people or earn their praise by doing more than you should, doing something you really should delegate because you think that no one else can do it as well as you can, working too much to earn money to buy possessions you think you deserve, trying to prove your own importance by maintaining a busy schedule, and enjoying people’s pity for being so busy. To discern what’s pride and what’s genuine service to others in your life, keep asking yourself: “Am I trying to do good or to make myself look good?”. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you often that your activities have a much greater purpose than feeding your pride: Whatever makes you busy should help you love God and other people more.
Stop trying to do what God doesn’t expect you to do. Let go of any guilt you may be feeling about not doing more of whatever good Christian pursuits you think others do a better job of pursuing: praying, giving, showing hospitality, evangelizing, reading the Bible, volunteering, etc. Keep in mind that God wants you to care about everything, but He doesn’t want you to try to do something about everything you care about, because that’s impossible with your limited time and energy. Remember that Jesus Himself didn’t do everything while He was on Earth; He focused only on what God asked him to do. Pray for the wisdom you need to discern which specific activities God is truly calling you to focus on (usually those are ones that you’re most interested in and can do well), and which ones you can let go without feeling guilty.
Set priorities in your life. Acknowledge that simply being busy doesn’t mean that you’re really serving other people well. In order to truly help people God calls you to help, you need to set priorities so you can focus your time, energy, money, and other resources most effectively. Ask God to guide you to figure out what’s most important for you to invest in, and to base your decisions on those priorities. Set daily goals for what you will and won’t do, to help yourself stay focused on what matters most to you.
Stop freaking out about your kids. While parenthood will definitely make you busy, you don’t have to be too busy as a parent if you stop wasting excessive amounts of time and energy on parenting activities that aren’t truly necessary. Entrust your kids to God’s care every day, and trust Him to guide you to make the best decisions about what you should and shouldn’t do for your kids. Keep in mind that one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is to avoid unnecessary stress so you can be peaceful and joyful with them.
Don’t let screens strangle your soul. Too much screen time (with a variety of technologies, such as television, computers, and mobile phones) can make your mind so busy that it becomes difficult for you to focus on anything that requires your full attention for a sustained amount of time. Screen time can also become addictive, sucking up time and energy that God wants you to devote to other activities. So set limits on your screen time every day and be intentional with how you use the time you are plugged into technology.
Get enough rest. The best way to be productive isn’t too busy as possible; instead, ironically, it’s to follow the natural rhythms of work and rest that God has designed. It’s crucial to plan to take regular breaks from your busyness to rest so you can stay healthy and have the energy you need to do a good job when you do work.
Realize that some forms of busyness are meant to be. Being busy isn’t inherently a sin; it’s sinful only to be busy with doing the wrong things. Expect God to call you to seasons of extra busyness sometimes in the course of loving people since sometimes extra time and energy will be required to love them well. Try to focus on the activities that God is genuinely leading you to do. If those activities require you to go through a busy season, you can trust God to help you handle the pressure well.
Make spending time with Jesus your highest priority every day. The most important practice you can invest your time in is spending time with Jesus (through prayer and meditating on Bible passages), seeking to learn from Him. If you make that your top priority every day, you’ll gain the right perspective on every situation, which will help you manage your time as God intends. As you stay close to Jesus, you can experience more blessings than busyness.
Adapted from Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem, copyright 2013 by Kevin DeYoung. Published by Crossway, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Ill., www.crossway.org.
Kevin DeYoung is a best-selling author, senior pastor, popular blogger, active board member, circuit conference speaker, husband to Trisha, and fearless father of five. He is the senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, blogs at the Gospel Coalition, and has authored or coauthored numerous popular and award-winning books such as Just Do Something, What Is the Mission of the Church?, Don’t Call it a Comeback, The Hole in Our Holiness, Why We’re Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.
Publication date: October 18, 2013