Beating Busyness By Charles F. Stanley

Busyness is highly regarded in our society. Ambitious men and women are admired and rewarded for their dedicated focus on their careers. Mothers who juggle all their kids’ activities while caring for the home and pursuing an occupation are labeled “supermoms.” Overloaded students who run from school to sports to enrichment activities are promised bright futures for their efforts.

It seems that we have bought into this world’s value system and hopped on the “busy bandwagon,” hoping to find rich and meaningful lives. But how many of us fall into bed each night completely exhausted, only to get up the next day and start the race all over again?

Why Am I So Busy?

Maybe it’s time to step off our treadmills of endless activity, grab our Bibles, and sit down with the Lord for an honest time of self-examination. People overload their schedules for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the chief one is that we live in a fast-paced culture. There is simply more to do in one day than there is time to do it. Many of us feel overwhelmed by our hectic lifestyles yet don’t know how to slow down.

But some people with driven personalities actually thrive on overcommitment. They find great personal satisfaction in completing each task and are always eager to add more challenges to their day. Every accomplishment gives a sense of purpose and meaning to their lives. Then, there are others who stay busy to avoid dealing with painful experiences or unconfessed sin. By keeping themselves active, they hope to silence the ache and emptiness within.

What Does God Think About Busyness?

Regardless of the reasons, we need to pause and consider what God thinks about our unceasing activity. By stepping back and viewing our lifestyles from His perspective, we can determine whether we are living according to His will or have gotten off track.

First of all, let me point out that being busy in not always a bad thing. God has entrusted each one of us with responsibilities, such as providing for our families, ministering at church, and serving the community. Although we are not to neglect these duties, we must guard against letting them push aside the most important things.

To determine what God considers top priority, let’s examine His purposes for mankind. He created us to enjoy a personal relationship with Him—to really know and love Him. He also planned specific tasks for us (Eph. 2:101. Christians usually refer to these individually designed responsibilities as “the will of God for your life.”

Knowing all this, we need to consider whether our busyness is helping or hindering us in fulfilling the Lord’s desires. Does your schedule include time for building a deep relationship with your Creator? How about your activities—are you doing the work God planned for you or just muddling along, unsure of what His will is? If you want a life that the Lord can bless and reward, take some time to evaluate your pursuits.

What Are the Consequences of Busyness?

Overcommitment damages our relationship with the Lord. Have you ever considered how your busy schedule makes God feel? He longs to have a close connection with us, but when our activities crowd Him out, His heart is grieved by our lack of interest.

Although an intimate relationship with Christ is available to every believer, each one has a responsibility to actively pursue it. To help us understand what this requires, let’s consider what it takes to destroy a relationship. That’s very simple: don’t meet with or talk to the other person.

Sadly, this is what many of us are doing when we let the things of this world take priority over time with God. The only way busy people will grow in relationship with the Father is by giving Him their most precious commodity—uninterrupted, unhurried time alone in His presence.

Even serving the Lord is not a substitute for quiet moments of intimate communication with Him. In Luke 10:38-42. we read that when Jesus dropped by to visit His good friends, “Martha was distracted with all her preparations,” but Mary “was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.” Although Martha was doing a good thing in serving Christ, she had lost sight of the best part—being still and listening to Him. As Christians it’s easy to become so busy doings God’s work that we no longer have time for simply being with Him.

Busyness also keeps us from participating in God’s will. Remember, the Lord has personally designed specific tasks for believers to undertake during their stay on earth. However, there are two ways that we can miss what He has in mind for us to accomplish. First, if we are too busy to set aside a quiet time to seek the Lord’s direction for each day, we will have no idea whether we are doing what He want. Second, if we are intent on achieving only our own plans, we will have no time for His.

Who is controlling your schedule? Have you let the values of the culture determine your agenda? God’s plans for you will never align with the plans of the world, which is Satan’s domain (2 Cor. 4:41 and managed according to his goals and values. Society’s influence is powerful, stimulating our desires and promising y pleasures and rewards that seem irresistible. But if we fall for such lies, the world will dictate our activities and enslave us to unproductive busyness.    ”

In addition, some people yield control of their agendas by letting others have too much influence over their I choices. Since we are all inundated with requests for our time and energy, the ability to say no is invaluable. Not every opportunity is God’s will for you. That’s why staying connected to Him is so important—then you can discern His good and perfect will.

As strong as outside forces can be in contributing to a hectic lifestyle, self-will may be the biggest culprit. We all have this inner urge to be our own boss and determine our own schedule, but the only way to live in God’s will is to surrender our calendars into His hand. Just keep in mind that His plans are always good and perfect, which is much more than you can say about your own. Although the Lord’s plan may not be easy, you can know with certainty that following it will produce a sense of well-being and fruit that lasts throughout eternity.

What Is the Cost of My Busy Lifestyle?

The world believes that busy people are productive people, but this is not always true. From God’s perspective, busier does not necessarily mean more fruitful. Unless we are occupied with the tasks He has for us, our efforts will have no lasting value. After working our fingers to the bone, we could arrive in heaven only to discover that we’ve lost rewards because our time and energy were wasted on worthless activities II Cor. 3:10-15.

Busyness is a thief that steals precious opportunities to enjoy and serve God. It would be tragic to disobey the Lord and then wonder for the rest of our lives what He might have done in and through us. How much better to submit our time and plans to Him now and know the fulfillment that comes from accomplishing what we were created to do.

How Do I Get Off This Treadmill?

Many people feel trapped by the speed of life but see no way to slow down and escape the maddening pace of this world. Some basic biblical principles can guide us as we learn to say no to busyness and begin to live in the freedom of God’s will.

  1. Become very familiar with Scripture. One of Satan’s most effective tactics to keep us entrapped is ignorance of God’s Word. If we are too busy to read the Bible, we will automatically follow the flow of our culture and spend our lives chasing after it’s hollow treasures. How can we make good choices if we never seek the Lord’s guidance? Only by knowing the truth will we be able to discern the Enemy’s lies and recognize his snares.
  2. Wait on the Lord. This is a difficult assignment for a busy person, but rushing ahead without clear direction ^ from God will put you right back on the treadmill—going nowhere fast. If you want to invest in that which is eternal, get your Bible and set aside time to be alone with the Father. Ask Him to evaluate your present activities and show you what He desires for your life.
  3. Obey and leave the consequences to God. Once you have received clear direction from the Lord, step out in obedience. Our human tendency is to want the entire plan revealed before we move an inch, but that’s not God’s way. He says His Word is a lamp to our feet (Ps. 119:105) not a searchlight.

If your car was in a parking lot at night, you wouldn’t sit there waiting for the sun to come up so you could see all the way home. No, you would turn on the lights and drive in their beam without knowing what lies ahead in the darkness. In the same way, the will of God usually comes to us in small increments. After we-take one step, He reveals the next.

The Lord’s goal is to teach us to trust Him for every step of our journey. Qnc of the greatest advantages of such dependent obedience is the freedom of leaving the consequences to Him. Once we obey, He assumes full responsibility for what happens next. Because we can never lose when we are following the will of God, there is no need to fear.

However, the moment you commit to follow the Lord by slowing your pace and doing things His way, Satan will shoot anxious thoughts into your mind: If I give God the first part of the day, how will I ever get everything done? If I take a less demanding job, how will I provide for my family and pay my bills? But by relying on the truth of Scripture, you will always have a powerful answer: “My job is to obey; God is responsible for the consequences. He is faithful and will provide.”

Although altering a busy lifestyle may not be easy, it’s worth the effort. The quest for acceptance, fulfillment, and purpose can drive us to overload our schedules. But the frenzy will end when we find the joy of an intimate relationship with Christ and the thrill of pursuing His will for our lives. Let’s get off the treadmill and go for a long walk with the Lord. The end result will be a life well lived.

Questions for Further Study

The Most Important Pursuit

  • What is the most important pursuit in life 9:23-24)?
  • How did Jesus stay connected with His Father while He was on earth (Mark 1:35: Matt. 14:23)?
  • Who determined His schedule of activities for each day (John 5:19-20. 30: 8:28-29)?
  • Read Luke 10:38-42. Are you more like Mary or Martha?
  • What did Jesus recommend as a remedy for weariness (Matt. 11:28-30)?

God’s Evaluation of Our Work

  • What does James 4:13-17 say about planning presumptuously without giving thought to God’s purposes?
  • According to Luke 8:11-15. how can preoccupation with the things of this life affect your fruitfulness (v. 14)?
  • What was God’s assessment of a man who spent his life pursuing his own plans (Luke 12:16-211?
  • How will Christ determine whether your work has been productive or wasted (I Cor. 3:10-151?

Living in God’s Will

  • How did Paul fulfill the Lord’s purpose for his life (Phil. 3:7-14:2 Tim. 4:6-81? What was the apostle’s highest priority and chief pursuit?
  • According to Ephesians 2:10. what has the Lord planned for you? How can you discover His will for your life (Rom. 12:1-21?
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