It’s hard to believe it’s over 4 years ago that I read The Busy Christian Guide to Busyness and blogged through it in such detail. I know at the time I learnt a lot and was challenged in a number of ways.
We are in a less intense life stage at the moment, and I am feel I am less ‘crazy busy’. Even so, I really enjoyed the chance to stop and think about it all again. The reality is that we do live in a crazy busy world and even if at various points it is manageable, it can quickly fall apart, and there are many around us who are struggling.
This is a shorter book that The Busy Christian’s Guide. Obviously that means less can be covered in detail, but it is a very helpful read and one that will challenge you on many levels.
DeYoung’s outline has 3 dangers to avoid, 7 diagnoses to consider and 1 thing you must do.
His theory is that the 3 main dangers we face are spiritual:
- Busyness can ruin our joy – we are crushed by the daily grind of life
- Busyness can rob our hearts – we are consumed by the cares of this world
- Busyness can cover up the rot in our souls – there will be sins we never have time to consider
The bulk of the book is the 7 diagnoses of busyness to consider. All of these are very helpful and some will be more relevant that others at various life stages. All I found challenging in various ways.
1. We are beset with many manifestations of pride that come out in busyness. There were many ideas here: people pleasing, performance evaluation, proving myself, pity, poor planning, power, perfectionism (yes, they were all ‘p’s!). A helpful analysis of many of our motivations or excuses for busyness.
2. We are trying to do what God does not expect. This is a useful idea for those who think they have to do everything, respond to every request, and be all things to all people.
3. We can’t serve others without setting priorities. This was the most helpful chapter for me personally. Both the idea that you have to set priorities to serve effectively because you cannot do it all, which includes setting posteriorities (the things you should not do! This guided me to think about some things I really should not be putting time into). And secondly, the idea that you must allow others to set their own priorities, and that is up to them to manage and for you to respect.
4. We need to stop freaking about the kids. The idea that much crazy busyness comes from either worrying about the kids or running ragged trying to give them everything.
5. We are letting the screen strangle our soul. We are never alone, we don’t set boundaries with technology and have time away from technology. How’s this for a comparison: the digital age is like a giant room, where everything is happening around us, we can see it and experience it. For a while, we love it. After a while, we may want to take a break from it, but no-one else is leaving and they all want us to stay.
“Like Tolkien’s ring, we love the room and hate the room. We want to breathe the undistracted air of digital independence, but increasingly the room is all we know. How can we walk out when everyone else is staying in? How will we pass our time and occupy our thoughts without the unceasing tap, tap, tap? For many of us, the Web is like the Eagles’ Hotel California: we can check out any time we like, but we can never leave.” (p84)
6. We need to rest before we wreck ourselves. Here he addresses the need for leisure, holidays, days off and sleep.
7. We find busyness hard because we don’t want life to be hard. Here he says we are actually supposed to be busy, and if we struggle we that, it’s possibly because that it’s a small part of the cross we have to bear. Life is messy, people take time, serving comes at a cost. Surely busyness is part of life.
His conclusion – the one thing we must do – is devote time to Jesus. Spend time in bible reading and prayer. Make it an absolute priority.
“If you are sick and tired of feeling so dreadfully busy and are looking for a one-point plan to help restore order to your life, this is the best advice I know: devote yourself to the word of God and prayer… no single practice brings more discipline and peace to life than sitting at the feet of Jesus. “ (p113)
I'll leave DeYoung with the final word on this very helpful book:
“It’s not wrong to be tired. It’s not wrong to feel overwhelmed. It’s not wrong to go through seasons of complete chaos. What is wrong – and heartbreakingly foolish and wonderfully avoidable – is to live a life with more craziness that we want because we have less Jesus than we need.” (p118)