Monday, March 28, 2011

The Busy Christian... Chapter 7

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

The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness
Chapter 7: I’m busy because I need to prove myself – the liberating rest of God

The lie: justification by work

In removing God from society, we have forgotten grace. We no longer work (and rest) to glorify God, rather we work, and find value in, the work itself.
“The pressure of time in everyday life is not primarily the result of the development of clocks and watches. More significant were changes in world-view leading to a less God-centred and grace-based approach to life in favour of a more man-centred and work-justifying attitude.” (quoting Robert Banks). This creates the drive to work and work and work. Your identity depends on it. And so we work on, even though it is harming our health, our families and our relationships. (p90)
The concept of the purpose of work has also changed, one used to be able to measure work by the service it brought to God and others. No more, it is now measured by the self-fulfilment it brings, the satisfaction I get from it:
Work is judged not by the service it renders to others, but by the service it renders to me, the worker. (p91)
We are supposed to seek jobs that satisfy us and meet our needs. We are somehow driven to feel that unless we are busy, our lives are not worthwhile or important enough.

Chester then makes some helpful points for those of us in ministry. He notes that those who work the longest hours are often the most insecure, they feel the need to prove themselves. He also gives a warning:
Don’t tell people you are busy. If you tell people you’re busy what they will hear is, ‘I don’t have time for you.’ (p94).
How true that is. Do you find people say to you, “I didn’t want to bother you because I know you are busy.” Partially it’s a misguided assumption that you are important, so you must be busy (which Chester talks about on p93). However, some of it is our own fault – we project busyness, we look busy, we tell people how tired we are, and we struggle to fit them into our diary for 2-3 weeks.

How do you manage this? Do you find yourself hinting to people just how busy you are? Why – do you want to look important? Do you want people to think you are doing your job properly?
What risks are there in this lie for those of us in ministry?

The truth: justification by grace

Jesus offers rest from the burden of self-justification:
We are accepted by God… I am a sinner saved by grace and all I contribute to that identity is the sin bit. (p95)

A still heart

Chester goes on to examine what a still heart looks like in Psalms 130 and 131. At the end of each of these chapters, he turns to a Psalm and applies it to the passage. They are very helpful and I recommend you read them yourself to get the full value.
…with the Lord is unfailing love and full redemption (see Ps 130:7). Unfailing and complete. His love never runs out and his salvation is wholly adequate. Every act of self-justification is a denial that with the Lord there is full redemption. We act as if Christ’s death goes so far, but we somehow need to be busy completing the job with our petty attempts to self-atone. We act as if God’s love will fail if we are not busy proving ourselves worthy. Unfailing love and full redemption set us free from self-justifying busyness. (p97)

I leave you with Psalm 131 to reflect on:
1 My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.

Next week – Chapter 8: I’m busy because of other people’s expectations

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