We live in a time where busyness is idolized. We see social media influencers talking about “the hustle,” productivity apps promising to help us get more and more done in a shorter period of time, magazines on the shelves claiming to reveal the top five secrets of the world’s most “successful” people, and the list goes on and on. We are told that we will find purpose and fulfillment in staying busy and eventually the hard work will pay off with some sort of vague idea of success.
The result is that we’re not busy because we have an internal sense of purpose or mission; we’re busy because it’s shameful not to be. If someone takes a day off work, more often than not there’s a co-worker who shakes their head in disapproval. Staying busy has become a status symbol as if our value can be measured by how busy we are. And we’re propping up this status symbol with lots of meaningless, unimportant things to keep us busy.
If we ask someone if they’re busy, the answer will often be, “Yes, I’m good, but I’m busy.” If we then ask them if they feel accomplished from all their busyness, we might get a completely different answer. Why is this? We were all born with the sense that we were created for a reason, a purpose that will fulfill us. It’s a gaping hole in our identity that we long to fill. So we fill it with friends, career, traveling, and keeping up with the Joneses. These fillers quickly prove to be unsubstantial, and so we find ourselves in a mad rush to keep filling ourselves even as we grow emptier and emptier.
We naturally adjust our lives and work hard to accommodate the things we believe are most important. It’s time to tap the brakes, take a breath, and re-evaluate what we believe is important in our lives – the things that are worth working for.
The reason for slowing down, focusing, and becoming more deliberate is the fact that there can be only one priority for the Christian, and that is God Himself. Christians understand that they are completely and ultimately reliant on God for everything – not just for their daily provision and well-being, but also and supremely their hope of eternal life. The essence of Christianity is that it is a life with God at the very center of importance and priority. Of course, Christians are imperfect and can fail in this regard at times, but Christians will at least be consistent.
In the times that we as Christians find ourselves busy with things that are not important, we can easily become discouraged. How do we get in these situations?
Sometimes we forget we have a choice. We make decisions without thinking, say yes to things automatically because we feel as if it is the polite thing to do, and commit to things that are not important at all. There are societal expectations we feel obligated to meet, and we tend to care too much about what people think about us. Because of this, we feel overwhelmed and stressed out. If you don’t set the priorities in your life, someone or something else will. If you aren’t intentional about “steering your own boat," you will be at the mercy of every wind and current in the sea of life.
The first step of slowing down is to ask yourself the question “Why?”
Someone asks you to commit to something and you feel guilty if you don't. Why?
You work hard to meet the expectations of someone who is not an authority in your life. Why?
You find yourself cutting back on family time for work or hobby related reasons. Why?
You over-extend yourself on Saturday and can’t make it to church the next day. Why?
Reading the Bible and praying every day is becoming harder and harder. Why?
Answering this simple question can help reveal the subtle ways the world traps us in busyness. It can also help us turn and focus on what is truly important. There is no virtue in being busy, but there is in prioritizing God above all else and intentionally living every day for Him.