Monday, February 21, 2011

The Busy Christian... Chapter 2

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness
Chapter 2: Is busy bad?

In chapter 2, Chester asks the question ‘is busy bad?’ – which is very helpful because we can swing from one extreme to the other – that work is good and leisure is bad (a work-centred ethic) or that leisure is good and work is bad (a leisure-centred ethic).

We know that the bible commends hard work and rejects laziness.
…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (1 Thess 4:11-12)

11 We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. (2 Thess 3:11-12)

And the bible also commends rest. In the bible there are two reasons for a Sabbath rest: because God rested (not because he was tired, but the job of creation was done, Exodus 20:8-11) and in order to remember that once they were slaves in Egypt, but now they have been redeemed (Deut 5:15). We are not still under the Mosaic law of Sabbath rest, but there is a good principle here.
We do not need to be legalistic about Sabbath observance, but why not do your work and chores in six days and spend one day resting? Why not set aside a day for rest and play, free from work, consumption and maybe even some forms of technology? Why not at least ensure your week includes all the rest you need? (p30)
Chester raises a very interesting point about holidays, or ‘binge resting’, noting that the time before and after holidays are often much more stressful than other times, and after a week back at work we often no longer feel rested.
We overwork for most of the year and then ‘binge rest’ for four weeks. But this was not the pattern for which we were made. We ‘need’ our holidays because our normal lives are so out of balance. The sustainable answer is not an annual holiday, but to get back to a biblical pattern of work and rest structured around a week. (p31)

We neither rest to work, nor do we work to rest. With God at the centre of our view on work and rest,
we work for the glory of God and we rest for the glory of God. The goal is not simply as balance between work and rest. The goal for both is the glory of God. This is liberating. It gives value to both work and rest. Neither is simply a means to the other. Both are to be relished, enjoyed and used for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). (p32-33)

Things to think about:
  • What is your view of work? What is your view of rest? Do you value one more highly than the other?
  • Do you have a day off? How do you manage it? Does work regularly encroach on your day off? Are you able to ‘disengage’ from work and church commitments on a day off, and actually rest?
  • How do you view your annual holidays – are they the salve that gets you through the year, or do you also manage your weeks to include adequate rest?


Anonymous said...

After seeing your first post, I purchased the book and have read the first couple of chapters. One of the reasons why I bought it was I found myself constantly describing my state of being as 'busy' and with our third child being just born, I was aware that life was going to get busier. As much as I'm enjoying the book (I've only read the first couple of chapters), I've found it hard to relate to all of the example as it assumes that much of our busyness is from secular work. Being a full time stay-at-home mum, I was wondering whether you had any thoughts to add on what the book has said and how it could relate to my situation?

Wendy said...

Thanks for the comment Anonymous - you make an excellent point. You are right in suggesting that it does focus on paid work and the busyness it brings. As I have read through it I have found that often the examples don't sit quite right for me, either as a stay at home mum, or someone who is not paid for any of the tasks she does. Having said that, I have still learnt a lot about my own busyness and what drives it, this particularly comes out from Chapter 6 onwards. I think there is still a lot in there for those who are stay at home mums, as it will challenge you to think about why you are busy. Is it because of other people's expectations? Is it because otherwise things get out of control? etc

Having just had a third child, the simple answer for you at the moment may well be - it's a stage a life that requires your full-time input and the needs of three children require you to be busy.

However, if you are a little like me, the demands of a house and home do not fill every moment I have and I have chosen to be involved in other things that also impact on my busyness. Therefore this book has helped me to view some of those additional things in a helpful and more honest way. And some chapters have been more pertinent than others (eg when chapter 10 talks about procrastination that could be just as relevant for stay at home mums as those in a paid job!)

Can I suggest you keep reading with us and see what you think? Get back to me at any point after a post and we'll keep talking about it - and I'll see if I can include some more relevant comments for those at home, where appropriate, in my posts as they come up.

Thanks, Wendy