I Hate / Love Being Busy

Here’s a news flash: I’m busy.

Here’s another news flash: You are too.

We daily are rushing from this place to that, this appointment to that one, this activity to the next. We hurry, hurry, hurry until we finally drop at the end of a day and we lay down exhausted. While we might complain about the pace of our lives at a given moment, isn’t there that little piece of you that glories in your busyness? I know there is for me.

It’s not that having a full schedule is wrong necessarily. The Lord values work, and He values it a lot. We are to make the most of the talents we’ve been given, and part of doing so means that we are to be involved. My sense, though, is that the “love” part of my hate/love relationship with busyness is not so much about working as unto the Lord, but rather because of something else. Perhaps some deep seeded need that I am looking to my calendar to meet.

If you’ll permit me, I’d like to try and confront the true root of need for busyness:

1. I believe that busyness validates me.

When I am busy, it means I have things to do, people to meet with, and stuff to accomplish. I am needed; I am wanted. And if you don’t believe me, just look at my schedule. Based on my carefully color-coded appointment schedule you can observe for yourself just how important I am.

2. I fear I am missing out on something.

Surely if I am this busy, then I must be in the crowd. In the game. A part of the action. If I’m sitting idly, then I know that someone somewhere is doing something. And they are doing it without me. But if I’m rushing from place to place, it means I’m included. Sure, I’m not included in everything, but at least there is a reason I’m not – it’s that I was included somewhere else.

3. My busyness makes me more important than others.

Oh sure, I’ll pay lip service to those who walk at an unhurried pace, but in the end, I enjoy the fact that I’m sprinting passed them. It lets me know that I am actually doing something, and I can sit in judgment of those who at least appear to be doing less. Yeah for me.

You feeling that? That sinking feeling that I’m feeling as I look back at those appointments that were giving me such a feeling of superiority and importance? Here, too, is another reminder of how creatively deceptive our hearts can be. We can pack our schedules with things – even good things – and yet they can subversively become a manufactured substitute for that which only Jesus can truly bring.





There is no great action step associated with this post. No calendar clearing. No “5 Steps to an Uncluttered Life.” The truth is that these things that fill our days must be done. What I’m instead asking the Lord for today is the kind of perspective that allows them to be done courageously and wisely in light of my full acceptance as His Son. To do it that way instead of using my calendar (along with so many other things) as an attempt to fill my heart.

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  • Whit says:

    I hate busy talk. Since we work on the same floor, I’ll take the business angle and say I think it’s every bit as toxic in the office as gossip. Talk of busyness is inherently competitive and demoralizing. Nothing eats away at a unified since of purpose and teamwork like the competitive, exhausting, and eventually resentful culture of busy.

  • Pamela says:

    This year, because of burnout I suppose, I took time off from teaching high school. As a mom and wife with a husband working six days a week, I couldn’t seem to juggle everything and was hitting walls of depression and anxiety.
    Not having my calendar so full has given me time to think deeper, to read blogs (and write more on my own blog), and actually choose some of the things I do in a day, rather than being in a strangle-hold of urgency.
    It has also made me realize that it can be easier to be busy. I agree with your points on validation, etc. I feel a bit lost, unimportant, restless. It can be hard to know what to spend time on, hard to stop DOING, and if I don’t have a list of accomplishments I feel the day was a waste. Thanks for your thoughts…enjoyed reading. P.S. I don’t yet know if or when I will go back to teaching. Broke, but free…God bless.

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