“I’ve been busy…” these three words are my go-to response when someone asks me how I’ve been doing. In the last few weeks, however, I’ve grown uneasy with this reply. Everyone I know is busy. Our addiction to busyness, I’m afraid to admit, has been brought to the forefront in the last few weeks. As our community staggers toward some sense of normalcy, the “norm” seems to be a high-strung schedule of busyness. We all have justifiable reasons for our excessive activity. Careers today are time-demanding and often overwhelming. Our work, coupled with our failure to draw boundaries with demanding friends or family members, can lead you to a life which is relationally unhealthy. So many motives can drive our busyness. Here are a few questions you may want to ask to help you uncover your need to rush through your days.
- Are you busy because there’s a need to feel validated by your boss, spouse, or a significant leader or friend in your life? You cannot sustain a feeling of validation by regularly performing feats of sacrifice for others. The long-term sense of significance only comes from meaningful relationships. From your relationship with Jesus to close family and friends, these sources are the only place where you can find rest and sense of value.
- Are you busy because you equate busyness with success? Yes, there is a temporal feeling of success in being busy. Still, in the end, loneliness will be all you possess if you’re too busy to cultivate meaningful relationships at your job, in your family, or with your friends.
- Are you busy because you think working harder will lead to a financial breakthrough? We all know how the story ends when one’s pursuit of wealth overrides their capacity for relationships. There are countless stories of wealthy, lonely millionaires who sacrificed all for their wealth. Though few may benefit from a generous patron, the people who impact us the most and bring meaning to our lives are those who took the time to slow their schedule and make time for us.
- Are you busy because you can’t afford to stop and rest? At the core of this belief is the lie that your value is less than the revenue you make. You need rest because you are more than an income-earner. You are first a husband or wife, a mother or father, or a friend. Who you are is not what you do. What you do only is a tool to aid you in being who you are. Healthy people are defined by the relationship they offer, not the activities they perform.
- Are you busy because you feel you are not in control of your schedule? An overwhelming schedule can be the result of your inability to say no. Sometimes saying no means changing jobs. Sometimes it means living within a budget. Sometimes it means sacrificing immediate pleasures for future rewards of being a healthy person.
So many more causes can be the culprit for our busyness, but in the end, you must stand up and be the hero who recovers your life. I am reminded of one of Dallas Willard’s famed phrases. He gave it to many college students and young pastors whom he mentored. He said, “You need to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” This is the key to living a life enriched with meaningful relationships and success.