“I don’t have enough time.”
I have said this countless times over the years. I have thought it many times more than I’ve said it. But I have not ever seriously considered that thinking or speaking this way reflected poorly on God. Until the other day on “Ask Pastor John” I heard Prof. Bruce Hindmarsh say,
Busyness is moral laziness [because it is often a statement of our self-importance and our excuse to be inattentive to people]. . . . But God has given us just enough time to do what we need to do moment by moment to respond to him. And his grace is there; it is eternally present. Every moment is a sacrament where time touches eternity and there is exactly enough time to do what God has called us to do.
I had to replay this a number of times. It wasn’t even the main point in Prof. Hindmarsh’s remarks about the importance of Sabbath. But it was the main point for me. Busyness is moral laziness, God has given us just enough time, every moment is a sacrament — these are massively important truths I need to soak in.
“Busyness Is Moral Laziness”
We all know busyness. Everyone is busy. And everyone complains about being busy. Busy, busy, busy. Busy is a buzzword (even phonetically). Most of us have grown fairly comfortable with busyness.
But to call busyness (meaning a frenetic, distracted lifestyle) “moral laziness” suddenly makes us uncomfortable. It means that busyness is not something that merely happens to us. It is something we choose. As objections begin to rise in our minds, it is helpful to remember what Jesus said to busy Martha: “Mary has chosen the good portion” (Luke 10:42). Martha, you have chosen something else.
So why do we choose busyness? Prof. Hindmarsh says that too often we make it a “statement of self-importance.” We use busyness as a way of telling ourselves and, maybe more importantly, others how essential we are. Busyness is a way of posturing our significance. Ouch. I’ve done this.
But a more serious issue is that we choose busyness as a way to avoid having to make harder, sometimes more costly choices (which is why Tony Reinke calls it “lazy busy.”). Busyness can easily be an escape. It provides a convenient way to opt-out of wrestling through ambiguity to make a difficult, complex decision that we will be responsible for. It’s much easier to be the victim of circumstances than to be responsible for a mistake. And an overflowing schedule can become a shield protecting us from the unpredictable, inconvenient, time-consuming needs of other people. It’s an effective cover. Who can argue with you if you have too many things to do? Jesus can (Luke 14.15–24″>Luke 14:15–24).
Busyness provides a convenient way to opt-out of wrestling through difficult decisions. Tweet
Now, of course there is such a thing as being legitimately too time-taxed to take on another need. We really are finite, as Jethro reminded Moses in Exodus 18. But that’s what makes busyness a moral and faith issue. Stewarding time is simply hard work. There are helpful tools, but there is no formula. Each person and each calling is unique and it requires our prayerful discernment and the humility of receiving (and seeking) counsel.