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Are You Busy?

There is a certain folder with stuff in it that I force myself to read and review each year. It’s stuff about time management, goal setting, productivity. It’s not stuff I’m excited about reading and reviewing but I need to review this material each year because, well, because I tend to be lazy. If you followed me around you might think I’m diligent and productive but all too often I’m busy doing things that aren’t most important, just urgent or enjoyable. So years ago I put this yearly practice into place and it’s made a difference. A big difference actually. Well, it’s that time of year again, just before September when the season changes and so does life. Perhaps you’d like to join me in evaluating your priorities and practices so that you might find fresh grace to “make the best use of the time” (Eph 5:16). If so, here is what I’m reading. Might make a difference in your life. Hope so.

Lazy? Not me. I’m busy. Up early, up late. My schedule is filled from beginning to end. I love what I do and I love getting stuff done. I attack a daily to‐do list with the same intensity I play basketball. Me lazy? I don’t think so!

Or at least I didn’t think so. That is, until I read about the difference between busyness and fruitfulness, and realized just how often my busyness was an expression of laziness, not diligence.

I forget now who first brought these points to my attention. But the realization that I could be simultaneously busy and lazy, that I could be a hectic sluggard, that my busyness was no immunity from laziness, became a life‐altering and work‐altering insight. What I learned is that:

  • Busyness does not mean I am diligent.
  • Busyness does not mean I am faithful.
  • Busyness does not mean I am fruitful.

Recognizing the sin of procrastination, and broadening the definition to include busyness, has made a significant alteration in my life. The sluggard can be busy—busy neglecting the most important work, and busy knocking out a to‐do list filled with tasks of secondary importance.

When considering our schedules, we have endless options. But there are a few clear priorities and projects, derived from my God‐assigned roles, that should occupy the majority of my time during a given week. And there are a thousand tasks of secondary importance that tempt us to devote a disproportionate amount of time to completing an endless to‐do list. And if we are lazy, we will neglect the important for the urgent.

Our Savior understood priorities. Although his public ministry was shorter than one presidential term, within that time he completed all the works give to him by the Father.

The Father evidently called him to heal a limited number of people from disease, raise a limited number of bodies from the dead, and preach a limited number of sermons. As Jesus stared into the cup of God’s wrath, he looked back on his life work as complete because he understood the calling of the Father. He was not called to heal everyone, raise everyone, preach copious sermons, or write volumes of books.

While we must always be extra careful when comparing our responsibilities with Christ’s messianic priorities, in the incarnation he entered into the limitations of human life on this earth.

So join me over the next few weeks as we discover the root and nature of laziness, so that we might devote ourselves to biblical priorities and join our Savior in one day praying to the Father, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4, ESV).