Monday, March 24, 2014
Maybe you really aren't "crushing it" after all ...
Being a very busy person is no sign of spirituality or any kind of a full life. In fact, it's more likely the sign of an empty life. Tim Kreider, in an article he wrote for The New York Times called "The Busy Trap," put it this way:
If you live in America in the 21st century, you've probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. Its become the default response when you ask anyone how they're doing: 'Busy!' 'So busy!' 'Crazy busy!' It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And a stock response is a kind of congratulation: 'That's a good problem to have ' or 'Better than the opposite!'"
Then Kreider goes on to say, "Busyness serves as a kind of hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day ... [We're] busy because of [our] own ambition or drive or anxiety, because [we're] addicted to busyness and dread what [we] might have to face in its absence."
So many of us are just hurtling through life, and we need someone to get our attention with the advice to stop it! Any of us could benefit from that advice if we follow it, but there are a couple types of people this message is especially helpful to.
First is the extremely busy person who feels life is out of control with all the demands it places on them. What this person has often long ago lost sight of is that they control their calendars. Sure, some things are "givens" for taking up our time ... our jobs, our relationships, our commitments, and basic chores of life. But even then, we control much of the content of these issues.
Sometimes, we have to scale back what we're volunteering for at work, and occasionally some jobs are so ruthlessly demanding we have to step back and re-assess if we should make a job or career change. Your employment is not a matter of it fully controlling its slice of your life; you can say no to some things about your employment, and sometimes you will need to do so.
After that sizeable chunk of time for work, all the rest that fills your schedule is put there by you and you manage it. The issue isn't that these things have piled in, the issue is the choices you make of what your time goes to, and how that time is used once allocated.
Second, this advice is beneficial for that super star who seemingly can handle a stunning amount of challenges and commitments and still achieve at what looks like at first glance an extraordinary level of excellence. When we slow down long enough to really look at the quality and significance of all we're doing, we often discover it isn't as good as we think it is. A lot of achievers are a mile wide, but just inches deep. They're involved in a lot, but to a limited degree. Many of these people even take great pride in this. They talk about "Crushing it!" and proudly wear their limited contributions as a badge of honor. But there's not much they're doing deeply and significantly because they are spread too thin.
These people are hurtling through life, governed by the demands of their calendars and not enjoying as deeply as they could the things that are on those calendars.
Key to this hurtling experience is a failure to stop, pray and think deeply about our lives, and then make prayerful, thoughtful decisions about who we are and who we need and want to become, and how to live our lives in the fullest way possible that is both fulfilling and profoundly productive. To do this, we need to step back and ask some piercing questions, like ...
Who is Christ to me? That's a big question! We were created to worship, glorify, and enjoy our Maker. God made us through Christ, and for Him. This is the overarching issue in the life of every human being. So how is your followership of Christ? Every ounce of energy, resource, and the focus of our desires need to place this relationship first, and that should be reflected as a reality in our lives. When we're hurtling through life to such a degree God is just one more part of the equation, then our lives have truly gotten out of control and need a serious recalibration.
Who am I in Christ? How are you doing at developing your identity in Christ? How much of who you are is the prayerful and thoughtful result of maturing in Him? How much of who you are is influenced by others and circumstances? Do you sometimes think, "If I could really live the way I know I should, and want to in Christ, it would be so different then how I'm living now"?
Who are you to others and who are they to you? Are the people you love the most squeezed into openings in your calendar? Or do you insist your calendar fit around them? How significantly do you touch the lives of others outside of that circle of close loved ones? Who, in this broken world, would say, "Good for God!" because of you?
Who are you in this world and what is this world to you? It's true that our relationships in life matter the most. But it's also true what we do is important and makes a difference to this world, other people, and the church. God has gifted you to contribute beyond yourself to His kingdom and His creation. What are you doing with those gifts?
All of this is not to say that a great life isn't a busy one. It may be stuffed full, and our calendars may be overflowing. But when that happens from prayerful, thoughtful choices that yield to the will of God and His glory, and done so with the right attitude and discipline, even a busy life full of wise decisions can be a deeply rewarding and productive one.
God's intent is that you have a fulfulling life, not just a full life ...
"The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life," Luke 10:10.
Is yours a rich and satisfying life that brings glory to God? If not, you need to make time to stop, pray, think, and make a decision to stop hurtling through life and start living it purposefully through Christ.