“I’d love to but I’m too busy.”
“Things are crazy, but good.”
“I thrive under pressure.”
How often have you found yourself using phrases like those? I know I have. Those phrases are part of life in ministry, right.
Ministry is busy. However, I think we as leaders sometimes fall into the trap of busy. We plan events because that’s what we do. We start programs because that’s what is expected. We over schedule ourselves because everyone else does and it’s not only acceptable, it’s applauded. After all, we’re doing the work of the Lord so busy is what we should be. We wrap ourselves inside of our schedules and in our busyness we find belonging, we find purpose, we find meaning.
Do you see the trap? I didn’t for many years. For years unbeknownst to me I was living life being busy and accomplishing things because I thought it defined me. If I could be busy I wouldn’t need to slow down and ask the tough questions. If I was busy I was getting something done and that meant I was worth something. I didn’t necessarily like being busy but I definitely liked feeling like I was accomplishing something. I stayed busy for the sake of being busy. I ran around in circles going nowhere because running was safer than stopping and evaluating.
When I was forced to slow down I did so reluctantly and with a chip on my shoulder the size of California. If I couldn’t work and be busy, what good was I? In a quiet moment I had a huge “woah” moment. Somewhere along the way I had fallen into the trap of believing my achievements were the definition of who I was. Yuck. It was a harsh realization. I could preach to other people about it and point it out in their own lives but I was oblivious to it in my own life.
Sometimes God gently brings the lesson about and other times it hits us over the head and leaves us reeling for awhile. I realized that in my busyness I was not only finding purpose in the wrong place, I was dealing with pride. Not a “I think I’m amazing” kind of pride but a “I’m so busy serving the Lord I can’t do anything else, bless my heart” kind of pride. Reverse pride if you will. Where my busyness and task list and schedule brought attention to what a servant for the Lord I was. (Insert not so gentle hit over the head from Jesus). Ick. As I flailed and reeled and questioned the very heart of who I thought I was God began to bring healing to my tattered busy (exhausted) soul.
The Bible says very little about staying busy. It does say a whole lot about Who is in control (head’s up, it’s not you). It also says a lot about our motives. We’re to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit (Phil 2:3). We’re to seek the approval of God, not man (Gal 1:10). We’re to work for the Lord, not for man, or ourselves (Col 3:23).
And if you think after all that you’re still doing good. Remember this verse, Proverbers 21:2 “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.”
This holiday season is officially in full swing. I know you’re busy, I know life is crazy but take a minute and allow God to examine your heart. Are you busy because it defines you or because you need it? If so, stop, say no, take a breath, decline an invitation, cancel an event (gasp!). We are here for His approval and His alone. Don’t exhaust yourself trying to please yourself, your scheduled, your expectations, or your emptiness. Lean into the heart of your Father who loves you for who you are not what you do. You are complete in him.