Why are we doing all the things that we’re doing? Is all of what we’re busily striving to accomplish really what God desires from us, and for us?
Another way of phrasing this questions would be this: Are we actually doing a good job expressing God to the world when we live in a perpetual state of busyness or is there a better way to illustrate what it means to live as a Christian?
I’ve found that, in a practical sense, my evaluation of my busyness needs to be sought not through the question, “How do I find more time to do everything that I feel needs to be done?” But rather, through the question, “Am I trying to do too much for how much time I actually have?”
Think about that for a moment. Instead of the issue being that we need to make more time to cram all our stuff into, is it possible the issue is actually that we’re trying to cram too much into the time that we do have?
Can you relate to any of these feelings: “Exhausted” “Overwhelmed” “Tired” “Burned-Out” “Stressed” “Frustrated” “Maxed-Out” “Over Scheduled”? If you can then maybe you, like me also suffer from being too “busy.”
What if instead of finding ways to “make more time” by skipping meals, skimping on sleep, and multi-tasking to “save time,” we actually simply acknowledge, as John Mark Comer comments on in his sermon “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry,” that our state is not “too little time” but rather the simple reality that we’re human and we have limitations. Kind of a basic yet revelatory concept, right?
What if instead of trying to do everything we have scheduled into a day, we got up the guts to admit to ourselves and others that we can’t do all of that in a day. And what if we didn’t try to get it all done in a day? What if we gave ourselves permission to be human, to have limitations, and to only plan tasks that will reasonably fit within the hours we actually do have in a day?
That’s right, I’m talking to the workaholics who the moment I mentioned limitations immediately began to hear words like “mediocre” “underachievement” and “mid-level performance.” I’m talking to those of us who are the chronically “busy” people and who at 9 PM are still viciously attempting to complete that one last task. What would it mean for us to take a step back, re-evaluate our To-Do list and fit our tasks to our days instead of our days to our tasks?
A perfect example of how our view of how much we as people are supposed to be able to “get done” has been transformed by scenarios such as this: An employer has three employees all doing a similar job. The employer fires two of those employees and keeps one. The employer expects the one employee to maintain the company’s output at the same level as it has been. (In other words, the person who still has a job must now become “busy.” They must now do the work of three people or else get fired too. Get the work done, because that is what is expected.)
Now the problem is, as humans we are actually incredibly good at deceiving ourselves into believing that we’re super-human. So instead of simply saying, “No, one person cannot do the work of three people,” we will actually instead find ways to accomplish the insanity of getting that work done. But in order to do so, we compromise so many parts of our lives, things like acquiring and consume food, getting sleep, and spending time actually being human, that in the end all we have left are our “accomplishments” and the feelings I listed earlier: “Exhausted” “Overwhelmed” “Tired” “Burned-Out” “Stressed” Etc.
This is not the way God designed us to live. And let me state very clearly that being a spiritual Christian is not living making continual choices to deceive ourselves into believing we can thrive in a state of perpetual “busyness.”
Yes, Jesus provides the extra we need when He asks us to meet an unnatural expectation (like the feeding of five thousand hungry people). But there is the difference, right there. When Jesus asks us to go further, He will provide a way. When we go further on our own because we want to accomplish more, there is no such promised provision of extra on our behalf. Therefore, to assume that we can or should push past our human limits (when Jesus is not directly asking us to) is not an act of faith in God but rather the action of us attempting to be God (which is a sin).
God gave us the Sabbath for a reason, and He didn’t just suggest we rest on that day, either, He actually command us to rest. Because, as is proven by us being “busy,” we are in fact stupid enough to work ourselves into the ground.
Work is a good thing and also something we are commanded to do, but in the same way that for some people laziness can be an idol, it is also true that for other people work can be an idol. Thus, we need to see to it that we are following both commandments.
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.” ~Exodus 20:9~
“And [Jesus] said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’” ~Mark 2:27~
In Jesus’s time, one of the biggest sin the Pharisees kept trying to pin on Jesus was that He was “working” on the Sabbath because Jesus was making the effort to care about the people around Him.
I think in a similar yet opposite way, one of our biggest sins today is that we’re so busy doing work on everyday of the week that we don’t and can’t care about the people around us.
Challenge: Sabbath was made for man, and I think it is also true that work was made for man, and not man for the work. God didn’t design us to get a task done. God designed us for relationship. Thus, it’s important for us to evaluate why we’re doing what we’re doing and whether or not we’re allowing work and time to become idols in our lives.