Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Crazy Busy, Day 2

Leslie Basham: Kevin DeYoung invites you to a pattern of rest and work.

Kevin DeYoung: The opposite of being crazy busy is not being crazy lazy. It’s not just doing not anything. It’s living life with God’s purpose. It’s living life from God’s perspective. And it’s living life with the realization that, “Mama said there’d be days like this.”

Leslie: This is the Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Tuesday, November 15, 2016.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, this is one of those conversations we’re having today, not because I have a lot of insight to share with our listeners, but because I need the conversation we’re having, and I need to let the Lord really help me in this whole area of my life.

We’re talking with Pastor Kevin DeYoung. He’s the pastor of the University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, just a piece up the road from our ministry headquarters here. Kevin is a blogger. He blogs through The Gospel Coalition. I enjoy following that blog as I’m able, Kevin.

He’s written many books. He speaks at numerous conferences. He has a really busy life, and to add to all that, he’s married to Trisha, who we’ll get to hear from on our next program. She’s going to join us. They are the parents of soon-to-be six children, ages ten and under.

So, Kevin, you and Trisha understand a lot about crazy busy, and you wrote this book, not to tell us how to solve all these problems, because I think that’s a matter of a lifetime probably, but to help us identify some of the heart issues that can result in absurd, crazy, busyness.

Thank you for writing it. Thank you for being willing to expose your own soul, some of your own issues. You’re braver than I. I could have shared a lot of the same things, but you actually did it, and I appreciate that so much. And thank you for coming and talking with our listeners about some of what the Lord’s been teaching you in this area. Welcome to Revive Our Hearts.

Kevin: Oh, I’m just grateful to be here. Thank you for your ministry. Yes, this is something I’ve wrestled with for a while, so if there’s something people might be able to learn from trying to figure out my own problems, the Lord be praised for that.

Nancy: It’s something I know you’re still wrestling with, because even since the book came out, some of the reviews and the blog posts that have been written about it have said, “Well, what about this . . .? What about that . . .?” And you actually, in response to some of those comments, wrote a blog post called “Am I still crazy busy?” And you just, again, opened up some more of your heart about that you’re dealing with these things and ways that you still grapple with it.

So, thanks for letting us grapple with it with you. So many of us—I think maybe I can say most of us—wake up in the morning, more trying to survive than tuned to how we can serve.

Kevin: Yes.

Nancy: So it starts before our feet hit the ground in the morning, and for many of us, it continues all day long. And it is crazy. There are days when I just say, “You know what? I don’t think this honors the Lord.”

Kevin: Yes, that’s right, and I think it’s exactly what you said. We wake up, and our posture is survival: “I have things to do on my list, and I just want to survive until I hit my head on the pillow again, and then we’ll get up, and I’ll try and survive that day.”

It’s not advancing. It’s not taking steps forward. It’s not looking at, even all the good things on our to-do list. We don’t look at them anymore as serving or as ministry or even as enjoyment. It’s: “Can I get through this week? Will we run out of milk again? Will I be able to get the kids off? Will we get through this illness?”

That’s just where we are sometimes, but life constantly feels like just a battle that we lose every day, and something maybe needs to be tweaked with our decisions or just how we’re viewing our own existence.

Nancy: I find that I can actually start to resent the very people the Lord has called me to serve, resent the call to the tasks He’s given me. And when I’m losing joy, and it is just about survival and not about giving and being a generous-hearted person, then I know something needs to be recalibrated.

And one of the things you focus on in this terrific little book called Crazy Busy is this whole matter of priorities. Now, we all have priorities.

Kevin: Yes.

Nancy: We all live by priorities, but a lot of times we’re not making the kind of valued judgments and choices, or being as intentional about identifying what those priorities are and what they should be, and that gets us in trouble.

Kevin: Yes. And there’s nothing I can say to help everybody listening just set their priorities, but perhaps God wants to give us the freedom that you need to and you can set priorities.

So I always look at the story in Mark chapter 1 where Jesus is kicking off His public ministry. He’s in Capernaum. He’s healing, He’s teaching, He’s casting out demons. He’s crazy busy. People come once the sun sets; they come all through the night. They want their people healed.

Nancy: Yes. I love what it says there, “The whole town gathered at the door.”

Kevin: Yes, the whole town. That’s right.

Nancy: How many people were in that town? It sounds crazy.

Kevin: Yes. And the disciples come to look for Him in the morning, and you can just imagine them saying, “Jesus, You’re a big success. This was unbelievable.”

Nancy: “Everyone’s looking for You.”

Kevin: “Everyone’s looking for You.” And He was in a desolate place, praying. 

Nancy: Having gotten up early after a long day.

Kevin: And remember, the incarnate Son of God got tired. So He wasn’t relying on divine super powers to not be tired. And then He says, “We’re not going to stay here and do that because I need to go to the next town to preach because that’s why I came out.” In other words: “My priority is not to just hunker down in Capernaum and have a fabulous healing ministry. My priority is to go and preach.”

I’ve always marveled at that because if anyone was effective in ministry, it was Jesus. He just had to look at people, say a word, touch, and people would be healed. I mean, sick people would get better. Demons would come out.

If anyone had something really, really urgent and important to do, it was Jesus. And yet He knew enough what His mission was and His priorities that He said, “I’m not going to do that. I’m going to go on to the next town because that’s My purpose.” You never hear Jesus saying, “I can’t do that because I’m too busy.” Even though He was busy.

Nancy: That’s convicting.

Kevin: Yes, He was busy. I mean, we shouldn’t picture Jesus as walking around in a robe and a sash and a halo and just kind of contemplating life. If Jesus were around today, He would have Twitter direct messages and Facebook people and everyone would want Him to do interviews and be on Piers Morgan and do all that stuff. And yet, He knew what His priorities were and what He was really about. So He could make those hard decisions to say, “Yes,” to these things and, “No,” to this.

And if the Son of God had to set priorities, then who are we to think that we can get by without doing the same?

Nancy: I assume there must have been people who didn’t understand those priorities because there were sick people that He didn’t heal; there were places where they wanted Him to come that He didn’t go. And I kind of live with this—my true confessions here—kind of this crippling sense at times that everybody’s expecting stuff out of me, and I’m having to disappoint them because I can’t do it all, and then I get paralyzed and feel like I can’t do anything.

Well, you don’t see that sense in Jesus.

Kevin: No, and in a lot of ways, busyness is the language we use now because it’s socially acceptable. And that’s fine. If somebody says, “Can you come over to my house today?”

You say, “Well, I’m too busy.” You don’t say, “Well, you know, I could, but in discerning my life with the Lord, I’ve decided that there’s other things more important than going over to your house.”

Nancy: That’s hard to say.

Kevin: That is hard to say, but yet that’s what Jesus did.

In reading for this book, I read Peter Drucker, the famous business guru. You can learn some stuff. There is this one word that he uses—he calls it posteriorities. Priorities are what you put first. But he says in order to have priorities, you have to have posterior—think of behind—you have to think of what you’re not going to do.

Nancy: The things that go to the bottom of the list.

Kevin: That’s right. Because everybody listening here says, “Oh yes, I’ve got to have priorities. I love God and serve my church and my family.” But until you say, “In order to do that, I’m not going to do these other things,” you haven’t set priorities. And if we don’t have those kind of posteriorities, if we don’t say "no" it may feel to us like we’re just really great servants, but it can be a real subtle form of pride because even Jesus had to say “no” to people.

The only person who gets His to-do list done every day is God. If we don’t set priorities with people, then we’re not embracing our own humanness. We’re not embracing our own finitude. We’re thinking that we’re omnicompetent, that we’re omniscient, that we’re omnipotent.

Nancy: And the Savior of the world.

Kevin: Yes, we’re the Messiah—and we’re not. So it’s an act of humility, actually, to say, “Of the hundred things I think I need to do today, I can probably only do five of them, and that’s why I’m human, and God is God, and I’m not.”

Nancy: It’s interesting that Jesus’ sense of what He needed to do that day, after that long day of ministry in Capernaum, where does He find that? It’s in that quiet place early in the morning, alone with His Father. I think it’s really hard to discern—maybe impossible to discern—God’s priorities for our lives when we’re always in the crowd, always in the hubbub. He had to pull away, be still enough, quiet enough, long enough to know, “God doesn’t want me to stay here today. He wants me to go somewhere else.”

Kevin: Yes. The devil hates for us to be still. He hates for us to be alone.

Nancy: And most of us hate it, too.

Kevin: And we hate it. I find now as I’ll sit down in the mornings and I’ll be reading my Bible, I’ll read a chapter or two, and I’ll just feel this urge, “I better check my phone.” Why? 

Nancy: So I’m not the only one who does that?

Kevin: I do that. Yes. Isn’t that terrible? I mean, the Lord is gracious. We’re not about putting false guilt on people, but it’s just a measure of how distractable we are. If we don’t have that unhurried time . . . And anybody listening, it’s not that you have to have an hour or a half hour. If you build up to that in your life, well, praise God. But having five, seven, ten—some days, two—unhurried, quiet, consistent minutes.

It’s much better to do a little bit each day, slowly, calmly, than it is to sort of not have any kind of daily walk with the Lord. You feel guilty about it for a month, and then you sit down, and you read five chapters, and then you feel guilty for another month. Just consistent, calm slowing down, because it’s not what we do in any other part of our life.

Nancy: Then you talk about something that is an extention of this whole concept and that's the idea of sabbath—how important it is to have breaks to "loosen the bowstring." ut we live these very 24/7, always in "go" position, always taut. And that’s killing us. And God really knew that, about how He made us and wired us, when He gave us this gift of a day a week. How does this concept of Sabbath help keep us from living crazy busy lives?

Kevin: I’ve had people get in my face about this, in a good way, because it’s easy for me to use up all my seven days, and Sunday is the busiest day. I’m preaching. I try to take a different day off. I usually do. But often, I’ve had people say, “Kevin, did you really take some time off today?” So this is a problem for all of us. But God wired us.

I came across this story about Bernard Lagat. He’s a long-distance runner for the U.S. He’s been in the Olympics—just an amazing runner. One month out of the year, he pigs out. One month out of the year. Now, the rest of us kind of do it twelve months out of the year.

Nancy: Yes.

Kevin: But he runs; he's disciplined. One month out of the year, he says, “It’s the best month.” He puts on ten pounds. He watches whatever, and eats what he wants to eat. And it’s his way of sort of replenishing, recuperating, getting ready to hit it hard.

You see all throughout the Bible this pattern of rest and routine, of feasting and fasting. Morning and evening God gave us, and then there’s a weekly Sabbath, and then there’s monthly festivals, and there’s yearly festivals. And the problem with so many of us is we live these kinds of lives of rhythmless mush.

And technology feeds into that because you can be at home, and you’re still doing work. You’re pulling up your Tablet; you’re on the computer, and you’re still doing stuff. And then you’re at work, and you’re still trying to catch up with things that you should have been doing at home.

Rest bleeds over into leisure, bleeds over into play, bleeds over into work.

Nancy: There are no boundaries.

Kevin: No. There are no boundaries. There’s no rhythm. It’s all just kind of a mush, a conglomeration. We’re always on all the time. Last thing we do before we go to bed: Check the phone. First thing we do when we get up: Check the phone. People now are saying they get up in the middle of the night, and they’re checking the phone.

It’s without these kinds of rhythms that God gives us so that we can be on, and then we’re off. We’re playing. We’re working. We’re resting. We’re leisure. These are categories the Lord gives us to keep us sane.

Nancy: So, crazy busy pastor that you are, dad of almost six kids here . . . how do you do that? What are some of the practical steps you’re trying to take, you and your wife, and we’ll get her on here to talk about this, get her perspective on this, on the next broadcast. But, practically, what are some of the things you’re trying to do?

Kevin: Well, a few things come to mind. First, I’ll say: I’m a work in progress. I’m learning at this.

Somebody said to me once, “If you think of your day having three segments—kind of morning, afternoon, and evening—it’s hard to be on for all three of those.” So you need to think: Okay, I’m going to have something in the evening. So what can I do so that the morning I have time to be down and just breathe?

Most of us . . . In the morning the mom’s got a play date, and she’s got a Bible study, and she’s got something. And then in the afternoon it’s cleaning, and it’s getting ready, and she’s on. And then in the evening it’s a meeting, or it’s rushing the kids. You can’t go many days and really be vibrant with that kind of schedule. We just can’t. God made us with human limitations.

Nancy: We really press those, and we’re living on adrenalin—in which, in the long term, is really unhealthy physically.

Kevin: Yes. Maybe this sounds very simple, but perhaps the most important thing for anyone listening is just simply get more sleep. Now, I know there’s a lot of people saying, “Yeah, right. How am I supposed to do that?” There is a way. God made us. Sleep is the daily reminder that He’s God and we’re not. Some of us want to forget that, and we think we don’t need that reminder.

But there are studies and studies. People a hundred years ago got an average of nine hours of sleep, and now it’s seven hours, and for moms it’s less and less than that. D. A. Carson, if anybody knows that name—world class biblical scholar. I was reading one of his books, and he’s talking about how to fight doubt and depression. I’m expecting all these insights, and he says very simply, “Sometimes the most significant thing you can do to counter doubt and depression and discouragement is just sleep.”

Nancy: Or, for a mom, take a nap.

Kevin: Take a nap. Yes. That’s how God wired us. We need that. It’s amazing how much life looks different when we’re not fighting through grogginess, and we’re not getting our bodies worn down and beaten up, and we actually have some vitality and energy to do that.

We’re trying to put the electronics away. That’s another thing. Our kids are two, four, six, eight, ten. Every single one of them knows how to use an iPhone.

Nancy: That’s scary.

Kevin: We were in the car yesterday, driving, and our two-year-old said, “I want phone. I want phone.” This is the world we live in. And she knows how to go and look at the pictures. If we want to talk at the dinner table, we have to—everybody—Dad included—go put those in the box. Put those up on the shelf. If we don’t, we’re just going to be living this virtual life, which isn’t much of life at all.

So there’s all sorts of things—it starts with an awareness that it’s a spiritual problem. God cares about it. And the good news is, if it’s not just a personality quirk, but it’s really maybe a sin of worry or anxiety, or neglecting the Lord, there’s forgiveness for it, and God will help with it. That gives us hope.

Nancy: Grace. Thank God for grace for crazy busy people.

Kevin: Yes. That’s right.

Nancy: Kevin’s book, Crazy Busy, is available. We’d like to send it to you as our way of saying “thank you” when you make a donation to the ministry of any amount. You can get this book, of course, through other retail outlets or online outlets, but when you get it through Revive Our Hearts, you support this ministry and help us keep calling women to freedom, fullness and fruitfulness in Christ, which is why we’re talking about this.

So feel free to give us a call at 1–800–569–5959 if you’d like to make a contribution to the ministry, or visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com. When you make your gift, let us know you’d like a copy of Pastor Kevin DeYoung’s book, Crazy Busy.

Now, Kevin, one of the things I appreciate about your book is you talk about some of the different heart issues, the different what can be sin patterns in our lives that lead to unhealthy busyness. Then you have a chapter toward the end where you talk about the fact that sometimes we’re supposed to be busy. It’s a great balancing piece. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Kevin: God didn’t make us to be inactive. You see this in the garden. Work comes before the fall. Now work is cursed, and there are thorns and thistles. But God gave to Adam and Eve to cultivate the garden, to replenish, subdue the earth, have dominion over it. So God means for us to be active.

If we’re supposed to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ, you can’t do that without being busy to some degree because, if you think about it, if you’re bearing somebody’s burdens, it means you’re carrying some of their load on yourself. So you’re feeling some of that weight.

Nancy: And, of course, it would be easier not to have that burden.

Kevin: That’s right.

Nancy: But it’s a good thing to have that burden.

Kevin: Yes. The opposite of being crazy busy is not being crazy lazy. It’s not just not doing anything. It’s living life with God’s purpose. It’s living life from God’s perspective. And it’s living life with the realization that “Mama said there’d be days like this.”

Sometimes the experience of our busyness is worse than it needs to be because we’re not prepared for it. We’re not prepared that, “You know what? You’ve got a whole gaggle of kids running around, and they’re going to the bathroom in all sorts of places they shouldn’t be, and you’ve got food all over the place, and instead of finding some joy and humor in all of the mess and all of the madness, because we don’t expect it, we just feel put upon." We feel like somehow God is not giving us what is our right. He’s not giving us what is our due.

When I was working on this book, it was interesting. I got done with that chapter, and the very next day somebody died from our congregation suddenly, and I had to do a funeral. And then I was meeting with a couple to talk about planning their wedding. And I had two sermons that I had to do. I felt like, “What just happened?” I was enjoying this wonderful study leave to write about busyness.”

Nancy: And now I’ve got all these burdens.

Kevin: Yes. But it helped me to remember: This particular day, there was nothing I could do about it, and the Lord was going to give grace if I had less time to work on my sermon because there was a funeral. I couldn’t plan for that.

And so, there’s things that happen in the lives of everyone listening that you can’t plan for it, and it happens. And the question is going to be:

  • One: Have you put in any margins to absorb that? 
  • Two: Can you embrace it, that maybe, in some small way, this is part of the cross that God means for us to carry.

We think of carrying the cross, we think of brothers and sisters around the world persecuted for their faith, and we don’t put ourselves on that level at all. But for a mom with kids and a mess and allowing her husband to do ministry or to work long hours sometimes, for her to think, This is part of the cross that the Lord has given me to carry.

Not as a doormat in any way, but to serve her family, to put up with the craziness and the mess, and to live life understanding that God is in the midst of that. God is still pleased with her. Not feeling this constant pull of pressure and comparison. I think there’s a real freedom in there to then embrace what God has given us to do and just do it and realize that’s going to be hard.

Nancy: And to do that with joy, I think, is a huge challenge for me. I’ve been talking about this with some of our staff recently. If I’m going to do the things God’s called me to do, then I don’t want to give the impression to everyone around me that God is an impossible task master, or that serving Him is like, “Who would want to do it?”

I think that it’s easy for a mom to give that impression, or a person in any season of life to give the impression of, “Who would want to serve others? Who would want to follow Christ? It is so stinking hard!” I think then we’re not reflecting the beauty of God’s grace and the fact that He does give joy in the journey, and there’s a joy set before us that enables us to endure.

But I wonder, for at least us as women, there’s a sense of wanting to be able to manage our worlds. We want it to be within our control. I sometimes think God delights in putting us in places . . . It may be that third child. You could handle two, but then that third one comes alone, and you go, “I can’t handle this.”

So many of us don’t want to go into those places that push us beyond where we’re comfortable, where we feel we can manage. And yet, it’s when we get out "over our skis," so to speak, that sometimes we experience the grace of God in a way that we couldn’t, or didn’t, when we thought we had it all under control.

Kevin: It reminds me of something I just heard recently. I don’t think he’d mind me sharing it. I was with John Piper, and he was talking about ministry and to pastors, but it relates to all of us as Christians. People were asking about humility and just serving others. The way he said it, it’s so biblical and obvious, but the way he put it was so good. He said, “The single biggest thing I can do to cultivate humility and joy in my life is to embrace my weaknesses.”

“And so,” he said, “we have strength finder tests. And I’ve taken that, and that’s fine, but we ought to have families and people in churches take weakness finders. You understand what are your weaknesses.” And he was just challenging all of us, whatever our station in life—instead of seeing those things and thinking, I wish I were more organized; I wish I could cook better. I wish I could manage things better.

Nancy: I wish I had more time.

Kevin: “I wish I had more time.” Instead, to say, “For whatever reason, the Lord has given me this as a weakness. It gives me an opportunity to trust Him, to praise Him, to depend on Him, and to realize that I need Him.” I think that attitude alone can really revolutionize how we live each day.

Nancy: It’s one thing I say over and over again to women: Anything that makes us need God is a blessing, and that’s how we want to view this whole issue of how we use our time.

Well, I want to encourage our listeners to get a hold of Kevin DeYoung’s book, Crazy Busy. It’s not a how-to book. It won’t solve your problems. It may make you aware of some you didn’t know you had. But it will help you as you process the season of life God has you in, to think about it more from heaven’s viewpoint.

Be sure and join us on the next Revive Our Hearts because we’re going to be joined by Kevin’s wife, Trisha, who’s the mom of all those kids. And we’re going to get some nuts-and-bolts talk about what this all looks like for a mom, for a couple in a marriage. You won’t want to miss that conversation with Kevin and Trisha DeYoung.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth talking with Kevin DeYoung. Like Nancy told you a few minutes ago, you can get a copy of Kevin’s book, Crazy Busy*, this week when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

Ask for Crazy Busy when you call 1–800–569–5959 or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. To see the video our team shot with Kevin, again, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, tomorrow Kevin and Trisha DeYoung help take the pressure off of parents. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.