23 September 2012
We are busy at work, busy at play, too busy to be healthy, too busy to think, too busy for relationships & too busy for Jesus. “The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness” by Tim Chester has been a timely & refreshing read for me. Here’s an overview of Chester’s book to encourage you to also read it.
The bible commends hard work & also rest, which points towards the coming rest that Jesus offers us. As Christians we don’t believe in a work focus, neither do we believe in a leisure focus. Our society’s idea of ‘binge resting’ (via annual holidays, overwork for 40+ years & then a retirement of leisure etc) is far from the biblical pattern of work & rest structured around a week.
Being busy is not bad. We are to work & rest for the glory of God. An abundant life is found in knowing God, not in an abundance of possessions (Lk 12:15). If we are too busy to glorify God in our work & in our play, we are too busy.
How do we sort out our busyness? Chester suggests these four steps…
Step 1. Good time management. There’s lots of advice about this. This is not about squeezing more into life, rather making sure we do what is important. (E.g. how often do we need to be on Facebook?)
Step 2. Sort out your priorities as defined by God’s Word. The question is not ‘What have I still got to do?’ but ‘Have I used my time well? Have I worked hard to serve others & glorify God?’ It’s about having a gospel centred inner agenda rather than following external schedules. We may need to create space in our lives for gospel relationships, by giving some things up, even at church. What do you hope for your kids? That they will be comfortable & well paid or that they will be radical, risk taking gospel workers? You need to model it to them.
Step 3. Glorify God all the time. True spirituality is not about withdrawal from the ordinary world. Everyday tasks can be opportunities to glorify God. E.g. even waiting for your computer to unfreeze, can be an opportunity to grow in humility & patience. Mundane tasks can be transformed if we see them as ways to serve others in obedience to God. Even our frustrating & stressful workplaces can be important places of witness. We need to stop compartmentalising. Instead we need to make church & mission part of our identity, not add-on activities.
Step 4. Identify the desires of your heart that make you try to do more than God expects of you. This final step is the MOST important in sorting out busyness, as it gets to the heart of our busyness!!! When we are busy & coping, we are content in our busyness. However when we try to do more than we can, we feel stressed about everything we have to do. BUT GOD DOES NOT EXPECT ME TO DO MORE THAN I CAN. So why do we try to do more than we are wired to do? The answer is that we are trying to meet the desires of our hearts.
God can set us free from the lies & evil desires that control us. More important than managing our time is managing our hearts. We need to speak the truth about God to ourselves… We don’t need to prove ourselves because we have been justified by Christ already / We don’t need to worry about other people’s expectations because God is our Master / We don’t need to worry about things getting out of control because we can trust God as our Provider / We don’t need to use busyness as an escape because God is our Refuge / We can resist the attraction of working for more money when God is our Joy / We don’t have to feel like we need to suck everything out of this life because God is our eternal Hope.
Jesus said: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary & burdened, & I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you & learn from me, for I am gentle & humble in heart, & you will find rest for your souls.’ (Matt 11:28-29)