A Theology of Busyness
A common conversation overheard in the elevator when my husband and I were in Bible college was a comparison of how much sleep students received the night before. There seemed to be an unspoken competition among the students to see who had slept the least, who had the most homework and who, generally speaking, was busiest. The prize often went to someone doing many good things: maintaining a great GPA, putting in lots of volunteer hours and finishing extra credit assignments. The other students stood in awe of this busiest, tiredest student, wishing they too could pack more into their lives.
And don’t we often do the same thing? We subtly brag about not needing to nap when our baby naps because it “allows us to keep the house clean.” We secretly think we’re better than another mom because we volunteer more. We are proud of ourselves for showing up to church the first Sunday after we had our baby. We run from one activity to another, believing that busier equals better; that fulfillment comes from doing. Or perhaps, more importantly, we believe our lives will be unfulfilled if we don’t do more. In our society, we glorify busyness. Busyness is a way of life. It’s standard. It’s everywhere.
Magazines, books and the Internet are full of suggestions to help with the busy life. We can read up on how to find time to exercise, find time to eat right, find time to spend time with our kids, find time to make friends and find time to follow our dreams.
But what is our theology of busyness? What are our underlying beliefs pushing us towards overextending ourselves and being proud of it? How does our busyness relate to our faith?
On the surface, many of us are too busy simply because that’s the way it’s always been. From a young age we were encouraged to fill up our schedules. School, swimming, piano lessons and church activities paved the way for careers, gym workouts, book clubs and church activities until one day our own children are in school, swimming, piano lessons and church activities. Perhaps we’ve simply never taken the time to stop and intentionally choose our busyness level.
But most of us know we’re too busy and that something’s got to give. But we whine and complain instead of taking steps to change.
Do we believe that busyness is next to godliness? That God will be upset with us if we’re not doing more? That God cares more about what we do than who we are?
Are we too busy because we care too much what others think of us? Do we always say ‘yes’ out of guilt or pride?
Are we too busy because we’re running from something? Are we scared of what we’ll find within ourselves if we slow down?
Do we think that busyness is inevitable and we have no choice?
Whether we like it or not, our beliefs drive our actions. And often our actual beliefs are different from our stated ones. But what would happen if we stopped “doing” just because it’s what we’ve always done?If we lived like we believe that God is more interested in who we are than what we do?
If we cared more about what God thinks than others?
If we said ‘no’ when it’s not in the best interest of our family?
If we stopped running around long enough to be intentional with our time?
How does your theology of busyness affect your life?