Should You Fear Busyness?

After this month, things will finally start to slow down.

Have you ever sought to comfort yourself with a similar thought? Life feels busy—way too busy—and you find yourself looking forward to the near future when you’ll open your planner on Monday morning and see a little more white space. I’ve certainly had the thought myself.

Once this next birthday celebration is over, that home project is complete, this toddler training is accomplished, this big decision is made, those obligations are fulfilled, THEN my sanity will return; THEN my family will regroup; THEN the days will be a little more relaxing.

Nevertheless, more often than not, that anticipated white space seems to last for only a very short time, and before I know it, life feels “too busy” again. Because another family birthday comes up. And another project needs done around the house. And another meal needs taken to a new mama. And another relationship needs nurtured. And another season of motherhood arises with new demands, duties, and decisions. And all of a sudden, I am on the verge of being overwhelmed, trying to think of ways to simplify my life so that it doesn’t feel “too busy.”

A “Bad” Word?

We live in a culture in which busy is a byword for the average lifestyle. However, whereas it used to be that busyness was an increasingly common malady in a culture of unaware and ignorant victims, it seems that, for the most part, everyone has become quite aware of the great enemy, “Full Schedule.” Somewhere it went from being a byword to a bad word. And in an attempt to avoid its dangers, people are shouting from the rooftops, “Simplify your schedule! Just learn to say 'no!' Don’t make too many commitments!”

While many of us have truly been helped by such lifestyle shifts, I wonder if it has resulted in a fear of and disdain for all busyness? I wonder if it has created an increased craving for days of downtime and solitude with few demands requiring our attention?

Think about it. When was the last time you asked someone how their week was going and they replied, “It’s been so busy!” with a big, enthusiastic smile on their face? More likely, their report was accompanied with a sigh or one of those tired, I’m-barely-getting-by looks.

But are these the attitudes towards busyness that Christians ought to accept? Is a full calendar something to fear? Is a demanding schedule unholy and unhealthy? What if, as Christians, we are (dare I say it?) actually commanded to live busy lives? I’d like to suggest that we are called to a busyness that ought to bring us joy, not weariness.

The Busyness God Calls Us To

Before that statement makes you nervous (or angry), let’s consider the word busy. When we think of the word busy, we tend to associate it with weariness, chaos, burnout, and stress. These associations are easy for us to form, because we see many such examples around us, including ourselves at times. But have you ever associated the word busy with words such as fruitful, godly, or devoted? Perhaps not. But these are the words that describe the busyness God calls us to.

Let’s first take a broader look at Scripture, and then we’ll zoom in.

In his letter to Titus, Paul speaks of the outcome of God’s grace, which trains us “to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (2:12–14).

Later, he ends his letter with this exhortation: “And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (3:14).

He writes to the Galatians: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:9–10).

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul describes the widows who are worthy to be helped by the church: “not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work” (1 Tim. 5:9–10).

(I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like the description of a pretty busy life!)

Not Frazzled but Focused

What do we see here? A godly life is one that is zealous for good works—not frazzled but focused; not distracted but devoted; not idle but intentional; not chaotic but consistent.

Christ Himself was a perfect example of a godly life devoted to good works. If you read through the gospels, you will see a man who “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38). In short, He lived a busy life—and yet it was a busyness that was entirely holy, selfless, fruitful, and glorifying to God.

Finally, let’s consider the Proverbs 31 woman. If you are already familiar with Proverbs 31:10–31, you know this woman is busy—sewing, planting, buying, selling, cooking, providing, teaching. But how do her children describe her? Her children rise up and call her stressed? No. “Her children rise up and call her blessed” (v. 28). As she walks in the fear of the Lord, seeking to make the most of her time and not “eat the bread of idleness” (v. 27), this woman lives a fruitful, busy life for the glory of God.

Let me be clear: We are not commanded to neglect biblical priorities, such as marriage and family just so we can squeeze in an hour at the soup kitchen. In fact, it’s interesting to note that many of the good works the Proverbs 31 woman is devoted to are in service to her own family.

Some days, a zeal for good works will mean getting a nutritious breakfast on the table, doing three loads of laundry, and cleaning up the kitchen before bed (even when you’re tired) so as to help things run smoothly again the next day. Likewise, we are not commanded to meet the needs of every single person around us. We are not commanded to serve on every committee. We are not commanded to deny ourselves any and all sleep, rest, or downtime. Sleep can certainly be glorifying to God!

Busy Can Glorify God

But let us ask ourselves this: Are we afraid of busyness, or do we understand that a busy life can be beautifully glorifying to God?

Yes, let’s commit to things in keeping with our biblical priorities. Let’s get the rest we need and cut out the non-essentials, such as unnecessary Internet browsing and social media scrolling. But let’s not be afraid to wake up on Monday morning and face a week that is filled with opportunity to glorify God through the good works He has put before us. And let us do it joyfully with the strength that He provides (1 Peter 4:11)!

About the Author

Tessa Thompson

Tessa Thompson

Tessa Thompson is the author of Laughing at the Days to Come: Facing Present Trials and Future Uncertainties with Gospel Hope. She enjoys being a stay-at-home mom to three boys in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband, Nick.

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