I am a very busy person. Sometimes that’s my fault. Sometimes stuff happens. Sometimes I find myself having an anxiety attack and realize that it’s because I’ve got a to-do list longer than Psalm 119 and haven’t taken time to breathe, let alone pray.
And that’s when I start to fall apart.
We were created for God’s presence, and we were created to live in balance: quiet times and times of high energy and activity; times in the dark and times in the sun; times to think and times to act; times to rest and recharge and times to work. When we live too long out of balance, we begin to suffer serious damage. A few weeks ago, I saw this tweet, and it began to crystalize some of these thoughts I’d been having about how busy I am:
— Daniel Sangi Im (@danielsangi) May 2, 2015
That’s a pretty startling realization, right? The busyness, the hustle, with which we are pursuing our dreams, which spring from our heart, could be what’s actually killing our hearts. This is an issue, not a full blown crisis in which one side must win to the destruction of the other. No, I think this is an issue of balance, and so, the question then is how to get this balance. How do we preserve my heart while still working hard to achieve our dreams?
To quote a kid in Sunday School a long time ago, “The answer to all these questions is ‘Jesus.'”
Doing Busyness Right
First of all, let’s get one thing straight: Busyness isn’t all bad. Kevin DeYoung gave a great, clarifying defense of business in his book Crazy Busy. In the final chapter of his book, after providing several signs of “bad busyness” and offering some practical advice on how to fix those issues, Kevin reminds us that if we put the first things first (i.e. God, our family, our health), allow God to be the strength by which we do our work, and make sure that what we’re busy with is glorifying to God, then we’ll find that busyness won’t be as big of a problem for us. Why? Because we’ll have already established our priorities and have realized that we can’t do all that we are called to do on our own. Furthermore, if we’re truly listening to God and have some wise council in our friends and family, we’ll also be saved from taking on too many needless, fruitless projects that end up being distractions from God’s plan for us.
For me, I’m a great “idea generator,” but I’m a terrible “project discerner.” I’ll think of six or seven cool new projects, when I only really have the human bandwidth to take on one or two. Worse, out of that dozen new projects, I’ll charge after three or four and put the other two or there on the back burner. So not only do I overload my to-do list, but I also heap tons and tons of projects on to my “on the horizon” list, leaving me with no space for something unexpected and undeniably better to interrupt my plans. How do I get into messes like this? I get “too busy” for time with God and don’t take the time to let my wife, whose powers of intuition border on telepathy and precognition, weigh in on what I’m thinking about. If only I’d put those first things first, I’d actually be busy fulfilling my dreams instead of spending all of my time chasing side-projects that don’t really take me where I want to go.
That’s when busyness kills your heart: when it takes you away from God, the source of all life; when it robs you of time with your family, my first responsibility before God and His vehicle for filling my life with love; and when it distracts you from your actual dream. Jesus, on the other hand, regularly spent time in prayer, spent quality time with his friends and family, and still managed to fulfill His purpose in coming to earth.
Do you want to safeguard your heart against your hustle? Stay close to God and your family. They’ll both serve as an anchor that keeps you from chasing distractions and as a warning system to wake you up when you’re approaching a dangerous level of busyness.