Most people I know live busy lives.
I live a busy life. I suspect you live a busy life.
When people ask how I’m doing I try to avoid saying, “I’m busy”.
Everyone is busy.
Everyone says they’re busy.
It’s part of life.
I could have added ‘these days’ to the end of that last sentence but I don’t think we’re living in an especially busy era. People of every age have been busy, it’s just a different type of busy. And that’s humbling. To know we’re not alone in our busyness, either in this era or another, makes us no different to anyone else. We’re ordinary, ordinarily busy.
In light of life’s busyness Kevin DeYoung has written another neat little book; this time describing his busyness journey while looking at this theme-at-large.
In many ways he has written it for himself, and anyone else who will read it. It’s not a 10-point plan on how to get rid of busyness, but it is a 10-chapter book helping us understand more broadly why we’re busy and how to think about it.
There was a period of time there where I’d be chasing the latest productivity tool or app that would make me more effective in life and work. I think that is similar to others I know. But really, when you consider all the time wasted in fiddling around with these tools you begin to wonder whether it’s worthwhile.
I’ve found they’ve made me feel more busy that perhaps I really am.
And that’s a problem.
We sometimes believe we’re so busy when actually it is the case of having information overload and always being on the go. If we cut a couple of things out and didn’t input into our heads so much then we might find we’re not as busy as we thought.
But it’s the things that need to be cut that are the issue.
What do we prioritise? What’s important? What can’t go? What has to be prioritised?
These questions, and many more, including the issue of sleep, are thought through by DeYoung.
The final chapters really push home the point from a Christian perspective. The number one priority is our walk with the Lord.
Using the story of Mary and Martha the author outlines the main point; resting in God and at the feet of Jesus is the priority and from there our work and busyness is to flow.
He’s not being legalistic or prescriptive in how this is done. But, he certainly emphasises the good point that spending time with Jesus is important and has consequences now and in the future.
I’d highly recommend this book, particularly to anyone who finds themselves feeling busy (read: everyone). Again, it’s not a book that outlines a plan for how to get out of your busyness. It gives a broad framework for thinking through and understanding the topic and some good wisdom for stepping into that. This is one of the best parts of the book, it leaves me to make my own decisions about how to avoid over-busyness.
Here’s some quotes:
“Busyness does not mean you are a faithful or fruitful Christian. It only means you are busy, just like everyone else.” (p32)
“Jesus understood his mission. He was not driven by the needs of others, though he often stopped to help hurting people. He was not driven by the approval of others, though he cared deeply for the lost and the broken. Ultimately, Jesus was driven by the Spirit. He was driven by his God-given mission. He knew his priorities and did not let the many temptations of a busy life deter him from his task. For Jesus that meant itinerant preaching, with devoted times of prayer, on his way to the cross.” (p56)
“The person who never sets priorities is the person who does not believe in his own finitude.” (p57)
“Peter Kreeft is right: “We want to complexify our lives. We don’t have to, we want to. We want to be harried and hassled and busy. Unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about. For if we had leisure, we would look at ourselves and listen to our hearts and see the great gaping hole in our hearts and be terrified, because that hole is so big that nothing but God can fill it.” (p83)
“The antidote to busyness of soul is not sloth and indifference. The antidote is rest, rhythm, death to pride, acceptance of our own finitude, and trust in the providence of God.” (p102)