The Sin of Busyness

This morning, I head Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Fives “The Message”. The hip hop classic contains the well known lyric, “Don’t push me, ‘cause I’m close to the edge, I’m trying not to lose my head.”

Hearing that line made me think of the number of people I know who are continually pushing themselves to the edge of burnout. And, regardless of their field of employment, the folks around them seem to celebrate their dedication to their work.

In our American culture, we have too often celebrated workaholism. The American Church has also embraced (and often celebrated) the “sin” of busyness. We almost idolize clergy and ministry leaders who push themselves to the edge of burnout (and then ridicule them if they indeed hit the point of burnout).

Remember, busyness does not always equal effectiveness.

Some of the most effective clergy I know model a life of vocation that practices appropriate boundaries and limitations. Some of the least effective clergy I know embrace a pace of work that violates God’s boundaries and limitations. Too often, those who embody an appropriate pace of life and work are referred to as “lazy” or “not dedicated”, while those embodying a life of busyness are celebrated…even if their church is dying, their family is falling apart and their physical health is terrible.

Yes, we have too often equated busyness with effective, dedicated service. Being busy does not mean one is fulfilling “the call”. It could just mean that they are busy…and inefficient.

In the 10 Commandments, God designed patterns of rest and renewal into our way of life. Yet, when was the last time we held another accountable for violating the sabbath? When was the last time we encouraged another to utilize their allotted time off?

What if the Church began to model and encourage healthy patterns of work, play and rest? What if the Church began to treat workaholism as we do other vices?

Let’s be honest, most workaholics utilize this vice as a way to avoid working through other issues. If we stay busy, we won’t have time to deal with pain, anger, relationships, and reality.

So, what if the Church modeled a pattern of work and rest that encourages boundaries and limitations? Would we find our ministry to be more effective and efficient? What if the Church became a place of rest and renewal, rather than a place that adds to the busyness and chaos?

What if we reduced the number of activities we offer and encouraged self-care? I mean, how many times have our churches made people feel stressed, guilty or overextended because they feel it’s necessary to participate in every activity we offer?

The Church is called to be counter-cultural. One of the most counter-cultural things we could do in the US is to reject the sin of busyness.

How can we slow down and honor God’s boundaries and limitations?