by Daron Dickens
By now you have a good handle on the problem of busyness. Chances are, if you are reading this second installment, you classify yourself as busy. At this point, it begs the question, “Now what?”
Moving out of living crazy busy is not simply a matter of implementing a few tools because transformation is not so quick. Transformation is not a quick fix because it is not just a matter of shifting our schedules or applying new time management strategies. It is not just our calendars or the world we live in that is out of balance. At the core of the problem, something is out of balance with us. To take this journey of lasting restoration, we need to take a look at some of the roots of the imbalance. DeYoung has selected seven of these areas that he calls “Diagnoses to consider.” We will cover Diagnosis 1-3 this week, which correspond to chapters 3-5 in the book.
Chapter 3: The Killer P’s
DIAGNOSIS #1: You are beset with many manifestations of pride
If we are going to break free from living a life of busy, DeYoung suggests, it starts with taking a good look at “one sin that begets so many of our other sins: pride.” Pride is tricky because it can take on many different forms; listed here are the Killer P’s:
- Pats on the back
- Performance evaluation
- Proving myself
- Poor Planning
Pride has the power to greatly skew our decision-making ability. I think we have all been guilty of falling prey to its key myth: “If I don’t do [fill in the blank], who will?” The implication is that everything depends on me. The truth is, as DeYoung puts it, “You are unique. Your gifts are important. People love you. But you’re not irreplaceable.”
When it comes to navigating out of busyness, for most of us, it’s not a matter of choosing good things over bad things. It is also certainly not a matter of saying no to everything. Most of us have made the decision to put our time and efforts toward relatively good endeavors. It now becomes a matter of choosing between good and good. Pride has a way of making the act of saying “yes” to some good things and “no” to others an extremely complex undertaking. It is also difficult because there is no obvious answer on the surface. For example, consider some of these questions:
• If I give up an afternoon to do a project for my wife am I people pleasing or just being a good husband?
• If perfectionism is wrong, should I not strive for excellence?
• An example of my biggest decision dilemma can be summed up in questions like these:
• Do I give up time with my family to meet after normal work hours with someone that is struggling with depression?
• What if this is not an isolated instance?
• What if there’s an unlimited amount of these situations?
DeYoung has a simple question to help you wade through the messiness of life application: “Am I trying to do good or make myself look good?” This question doesn’t make your decision-making easy, but it does help cut through the fog that pride creates.
Chapter 4: The Terror of Total Obligation
DIAGNOSIS #2: You are trying to do what God does not expect you to do
As I mentioned before, most of us spend our time and energy trying all we can to do things that are good. The irony is that despite doing so many good things we can still find ourselves with a sense of guilt about the things we’re not doing. Guilt is a useful indicator light pointing to something we need to act on in the moment. However, it is very unhealthy as a headlight illuminating the path we should travel day to day. Living like this can drain our energy and any sense of purpose in the things we do. The answer to this guilt is not to stop doing everything. The answer is also not getting mad at the preachers and spokesman that talk about giving your all and doing more, more, and more. The sad fact is, as humans, we tend to gravitate toward what is convenient and comfortable. So, we need these impassioned talks to help us move forward.
The problem is that often these talks are littered with statistics of people dying and starving and being beaten to death. If we are not careful, we can find ourselves beaten down with the statistics to the point where they are the only things we hear. Thus, drowning out the uplifting message of the gospel and all the good that is happening around the world every day. It can begin to feel like people will die right now if we don’t act this minute. Although we may not feel this intensely or a sense of guilt all the time, our outlook can be shifted from seeing opportunities to serve God’s kingdom to “ought to’s” we’ll never be able to accomplish.
I don’t know about you, but I truly want to make an impact in the world with my life. So, what am I to do? DeYoung would suggest we look at the life of John the Baptist. John had a vital mission for the kingdom of Christ, but at the same time he knew he was not the Christ (John 1:20). Many of us find that when we allow ourselves to care we feel like we have to act, and when we act we have to act to the full of our ability. The gospel calls us to care for the things Christ cares about not do everything that Christ did. We have to be able to care without feeling the obligation to act every single time on every single thing. Because the truth is, we can’t.
Instead, it means being aware of our gifts, talents, and opportunities to impact the world around us. It means praying for the things that are important not just turning a blind eye because we are not able to be directly involved. It means keeping front and center the good news of the gospel and good works happening around us. It means realizing that we were never meant to live alone or work alone to impact in the world. It means being part of a local church.
In this day and age, it seems like there’s a lot of negativity toward the church. It is very easy to do good works for Christ without being part of a church family. The Church was set up as the main force for the kingdom in our world. We forget sometimes that it is through this body of different people doing different things with different talents we are able to impact the world in a hundred different ways all at once. As part of a local church, we are part of a larger complex system with Christ at the head that allows us to do so much more than we could ever do on our own.
DeYoung puts these ideas into a few key statements to help accomplish this balance:
- I am not the Christ.
- There is good news.
- Care is not the same as do.
- We have different gifts and different callings.
- Remember the Church.
- I can always pray right now.
- Jesus didn’t do it all.
Finally, it is important to take time to connect with God. This allows us to be in tune with Him and to know that line between doing everything we can do to follow Jesus versus doing everything for Jesus.
Chapter 5: Mission Creep
DIAGNOSIS #3: You can’t serve others without setting priorities
Can I make another confession that may make me seem heartless and perhaps even happy about our society’s supposed trip downward riding inside a hand basket (whatever that is)? It annoys me when people talk about how much better it was in the “Good Ol’ Days.” Apparently, there was more time, more love, more family, more sunlight, more safety, and generally more Jesus in those magical days of yore. The good days referred to are usually the days inhabited by the previous generation. They seem to shift as a new generation comes along. Most agree, however, despite what good days you are nostalgic for, the days of the Bible were the best. If only we could have lived in the time of Jesus. It would all be so much calmer, more focused and full of spiritual goodness.
Here’s the truth . . . Jesus was a REALLY busy guy. Just look at the Gospels. At times, He did not eat or sleep, or have even an ounce of “me” time. I think we sometimes have an unrealistic idea that the things we deal and struggle with are unique to our age. That is just not true. Jesus was a busy guy with more opportunities than time to accomplish them. Though all of His undertakings, He never lost sight of his mission. As DeYoung puts it, “Jesus knew the difference between urgent and important. He understood that all the good things he could do were not necessarily the thing He ought to do.”
Unfortunately, for many of us staying on mission is a big problem that keeps our lives full without ever really achieving fulfillment. Some struggle with even knowing what their mission is. DeYoung shares three truths to help us calibrate our mission:
Truth #1: I must set priorities because I can’t do it all.
Truth #2: I must set priorities if I am to serve others most effectively.
Truth #3: I must let others set their own priorities.
This last one is particularly hard sometimes. It can be very difficult to accept that someone’s “no” may be setting a priority that does not involve you. The important thing is not to take all of it personally. We can’t do everything all the time, and that does not mean we do not care. It is about aligning our lives to love people without losing sight of our mission. It is about giving people the grace we want to be given. It is about remembering that “the people on this planet who end up doing nothing are those who never realize they couldn’t do everything.”
- Out of the list of the Killer P’s of pride, which do you struggle with the most?
- I listed the struggle between time with my family versus meeting with someone struggling with depression as one of my big decision-making dilemmas. What is a big decision-making dilemma for you?
- Take the next two or three decisions you face that require your time and ask, “Am I trying to do good or make myself look good?”
- In what areas do you find yourself feeling the most guilt about not doing enough?
- What are the main areas in your personal life where you find the line blurred between doing everything you can to FOLLOW Christ versus doing everything you can FOR Christ?
- Which of the three truths from chapter five is the most difficult for you to accept? Why?
- What is your mission?
- What are some priorities that you can set to keep you calibrated on that mission?
- Is there someone right now that you are either not respecting their set priorities or that you are trying to control their priorities? What will it look like to follow truth #3 with that person?
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.