“How are you doing?”
What’s the first response that comes to your mind when you read that question?
If you’re like most people in the United States, you probably answered, “I’m busy.”
Busyness is more than a half-hearted response we give to family and friends in passing. Based on a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, busyness is a new status symbol we gladly adorn around our neck for everyone to see.
A life of busyness can make us feel important, and pulling back the curtain of our “tumultuous" schedule for others to see can give us a sense of pride.
For some adults, there’s a legitimacy to their busyness. The average full-time employee reports working on average 47 hours per week. And, if you happen to be a parent, forget about time management. Your time is consumed with a litany of activities with no end.
For many, busyness is less of a problem and more of a perception. According to The Economist, “people in rich countries have more leisure time than they used to.” For people living in the United States, we work 12 hours less per week than our parents or grandparents did 40 years ago.
Busyness is more than a problem of technological advancements and poor time management. It’s a long-term problem that can result in significant stress and health problems, and, most importantly of all, busyness can lead you away from pursuing Jesus. In the words of Adrian Rogers, “If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”
In scriptures about work, there are four lessons you will discover in confronting busyness in your life, and overcome its physical and spiritual effects.
#1. Spend time with Jesus
Removing obligations from your life or becoming more efficient with your time are short-term solutions. If busyness for you is more of a perception problem, then the only way you can transform your perspective is to have it realigned by God.
In Crazy Busy, pastor and author Kevin DeYoung points out, “Making consistent time for the Word of God and prayer is the place to start because being with Jesus is the only thing strong enough to pull us away from busyness."
Before you consider making significant changes in your life or strive to become more efficient with your time, take a page from Martha’s book and sit at the Lord’s fit and listen to his teaching (Luke 10:38-42).
#2. Take a Sabbath
The flurry of activity in your daily schedule does not equal faithfulness in the sight of God.
God's not impressed with how much work we’re able to accomplish. He created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day (Gen. 1). I don’t think there’s anything we can do during the week that will remotely compare to what he accomplished with one day off.
I imagine God has the same question for us that he posed to Job several thousand years ago, when he asked, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4)
God has given us the gift of the Sabbath to take a break from our work. Not only did God give us this gift to enjoy, but he gave us the Sabbath as a way of reminding us that we’re dependent upon him.
This week, do yourself a favor and take a Sabbath. God desires for you to cease from your constant striving to rest and refresh yourself in him.
#3. Remember to sleep
Do you sleep less than Jesus?
If you’re an adult in the United States, there’s a good chance you do. Based on a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of adults are not getting enough rest.
Regardless of how hard you try to live your life with a lack of sleep, there’s no way you can avoid its reach. Several theories speak into our need for rest, but, at the end of the day, our need for sleep is another reminder that we’re dependent upon God.
Getting a good night’s rest is a gift from God (Psa. 4:8; 127:2), and Jesus himself was not opposed to getting some shuteye (Mark 4:37-38). So, if God was for getting some rest, I think we could benefit from getting some ourselves.
Living your life by faith in Christ will lead you to trust in the Lord as you sleep instead of laboring away at another “important” task.
#4. Don’t forget to give
It may feel like I’m crowbarring giving into this conversation since I work for Tithe.ly. But that’s not the case at all. Giving is another means of grace the LORD has given us to combat busyness.
Giving reminds us that we’re dependent upon God and that we’re not solely responsible for providing for ourselves. When we give, we affirm our trust in the LORD, and this helps us to fight the desire to accumulate more stuff and potentially struggle with money, which is the leading cause of stress for Americans.
Are you busy working to pay your bills? Is there anything you can cut out of your budget that will provide you with more margin? Take an honest look at your situation, and even consider seeking the advice of a financial advisor, to see if you can create more bandwidth in your life by cutting out unnecessary stuff.
What have you found helpful combatting busyness in your life? Share your experience in the comments below!