by Daron Dickens
Before we dive in to Kevin DeYoung’s book, Crazy Busy, can I make a confession to you? I struggled with writing this. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited about the opportunity and I really enjoy writing. Still, for some reason I found myself resistant to cracking the spine. I would sit down to start the project and then look up an hour later to realize I had made ZERO progress. Here is what I discovered:
- I am very busy, so the subject scared me a little. I think I was worried that this would be another book telling me that I was doing everything wrong. It would assure me that there was hope, but only after telling me I was neglecting my family, doing a substandard job at work, and just generally making everyone’s life unpleasant. I already carry around that guilt. I don’t need to neglect my family, work and friends a little more in order to read about it.
- I am so busy that I didn’t really think I had time to read a book about being busy. Let’s face it. I already find myself with more things on my plate than I have time to accomplish them. Adding one more thing to the list seemed to be the very problem I was going to read about.
If you relate to any of this, never fear. I am here to tell you, Crazy Busy is not THAT kind of book. Kevin DeYoung says himself that he is writing to busy people AS a busy person, and is the last person to either throw stones or pile on more work. This is alluded to in the subtitle, “A (mercifully) short book about a (really) big problem.” He could have renamed it, “Same Kind of Busy as Me.”
He writes this book as “highly practical and accessibly theological.” This is not a book of ways to manage your tasks or add on more time. This is not simply a book of tools that may or may not work in your particular life. This is a “clear outline with lists.” It is an attempt to understand what is going on in the world and in our hearts to make us feel the way we do as well as understand how to change—even just a little. The outline is simple:
- 3 Dangers to avoid
- 7 Diagnoses to consider
- 1 Thing you must do
We’ll discuss the three dangers today, then spread the diagnoses and 1 thing we must do over the next three weeks. I broke the book up to cover about 30 pages per post.
THREE DANGERS TO AVOID
A large myth that I think we all are tricked into believing at one time or another is that the cure to busyness lies in the amount of time we have. We just need more. The truth is we have more “free” time, more resources (and therefore less time needed to gain said resources) and quicker ways of accomplishing basic tasks than any time in history. We don’t have to spend an hour baking bread or hours tending the garden. We can pick up bread and all our produce at the same time in 15 minutes from the store. The truth is that it is much less about time and much more about the opportunities we have to fill that time.
I grew up when filling up your time and being busy was considered a win. Busyness was equal to competence or even excellence. I distinctly remember the deep sigh my dad would emit in the middle of answering “busy” to the standard question of “how are you?” I also remember instinctually knowing that it was not the sound of burden, but instead it was the deep satisfying sound of pride. We’ll talk more about pride later, but my point is that the word danger was in no way related to being busy in those formative years of my childhood. Most of us have felt the effects of busyness whether or not we realized the reason for it. DeYoung points to three dangers that can come as a direct result of busyness. He proposes busyness can:
- ruin our joy
- rob our heart
- cover up the rot in our soul
We were made for joy, but this can often be drowned out. This danger is not from lack of desire for joy or lack of pursuit of things that will bring joy. It is a shift that happens subtly when we don’t allow margin in these pursuits. Richard Swenson explains margin as, ”the space between our load and our limits.” Unless we are aware and intentionally “fight right now for next week’s joy,” we are in jeopardy of losing it.
Having margin protects our joy because it makes room for it. In this same way our heart is in danger of being robbed because of overcrowding and lack of space. This over-crowding, is from two areas he calls “thorns” using the description from the parable of the sower in Mark 4. The first of the thorns is “the cares of the world” referring to the worry of life. The second thorn is all the stuff we have packed into our lives. It is not, however, just the pursuit of stuff that makes up the thorn, but the time and upkeep involved in the stuff that robs our heart. Where having margins protects our joy by having less schedule, protecting our heart seems to be tied to maintaining less stuff.
Finally, as much as busyness can create the dangers we have just talked about, busyness can also cover up other harmful things that might be festering in our lives. We are often in danger of being either too busy to take a closer look or too busy to do anything about them. Just like a neglected cut, there are things in our lives that we can handle if treated, but can become infected if we ignore. Busyness can cover up the infection until it has had time to cause serious harm. Having someone to reflect back what is happening in your life can uncover the things underneath your busy life as well as ways you might be using business as a crutch. Still, once uncovered, it’s important to do something about it before the rot contaminates our soul.
- DeYoung mentions that we often lose sight of the important things because of all the things that we are involved in. What are the things that you feel are important in your life?
- What are the things that keep you the busiest?
- I know you are probably reading this book because you already know you are busy. You probably don’t need any more proof. However, if you are anything like me, you like to have a standard to compare yourself to. So, go through Tim Chester’s 12 diagnostic questions to determine if you have “hurry sickness” from his book, The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness (reprinted in Crazy Busy on pgs. 21-22) to confirm what you already know. Which of the specific questions and/or your answers stood out or bothered you the most? Why?
- Take a look at your schedule. Where have you built in margin? What is one thing you need to eliminate from next week’s schedule to fight for next week’s joy?
- How much of your time is spent worrying about or maintaining your stuff? Are there themes or common denominators among things you worry and spend the most time maintaining?
- Who are you routinely connecting with to help you take an honest look at your life? As they share with you, are there patterns that seem to be emerging?
Daron Dickens serves as the GroupLife Pastor at Grace Community Church and as a Marriage and Family Therapist where he gets to live out his passion for helping people grow and connect in community with Jesus. He lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with his wife, Margaret, and son, Truman, and is expecting a new bundle of joy this year. Daron enjoys reading, writing, coffee and all things baseball. Connect with Daron on his blog, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.