Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Villain with 1000 Faces

Leslie Basham: Before we begin today's Revive Our Hearts, I want to tell you about some late-breaking news. You might already know about the speaker line up at the True Woman '14 Conference: Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Joni Eareckson Tada, Mary Kassian, Janet Parshall, Bob Lepine and many more we've been telling you about.

But we've just heard that Naghmeh Abedini will join us.

Naghmeh Abedini: I don't have a ministry. I'm just the girl that loves Jesus. At age nine I asked the Lord for the nations. In Psalm 2:7–8, Scripture says, "Today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance."

I pray that today the Lord would awaken your desire to ask for nations for your inheritance; that you would be, not lukewarm, but on fire for the living God, and you would go out. I would ask, when I was nine, "Lord, give me the nation of Iran for my inheritance."

Leslie: God has used Naghmeh to speak to millions of people in Iran and across the Arab world. He's using her powerful life story. Naghmeh's husband, Saeed, is serving an eight-year sentence in Iran for telling others about Jesus. To hear this moving life story for yourself, make plans to visit True Woman '14, October 9–11 in Indianapolis. You'll find everything you need to register at ReviveOurHearts.com.

This is the Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, September 2, 2014.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I'm delighted to have with us on Revive Our Hearts today the author of a book that when it came out, I knew I needed this book—and I'm thinking you probably do, too. The book is called Crazy Busy, and the subtitle is A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem. The author is Kevin DeYoung.

Kevin is a pastor over in East Lansing, Michigan, not too far from our ministry headquarters here in Buchanan. He pastors at the University Reformed Church. He is visiting today with his wife Trisha, who is expecting, shortly, their sixth child.

Kevin, welcome to Revive Our Hearts, and thanks so much for making the trip over here and joining us to talk about this crazy, busy thing.

Kevin DeYoung: I was glad to come. I was busy, but was glad something worked out.

Nancy: I was kind of too busy to read the book, but I knew I needed to read it. I think you and I, and probably lots of our listeners, suffer from similar maladies as it relates to busyness. Actually, I was working on a book deadline of my own last night until after midnight, and so I was up at one-something this morning getting prepped for this interview. I was thinking, I need this interview; I need this book; I need this subject . . . I need you to come and fix this all for all for us.

So, by the end of this program, you're going to have solved all these problems for all of us?

Kevin: Yeah, oh right. Sure.

Nancy: Why'd you write a book called Crazy Busy? Because you've got it all figured out?

Kevin: I wrote it precisely because I don't have it all figured out. This is one of the perennial issues, not only for most people, for most Christians, but for me. I realized that, "Why do I keep getting into these same patterns?" I get together with guys from my seminary once a year. We're friends. It's great. We hang out, we pray, we talk, and I realize after the years (we've done this for ten years now) every guy starts to have the same issues.

Okay, that guy's going to talk about his marriage, that guy's going to have something in ministry . . . and my friends just knew I was going to talk about, "I'm feeling overwhelmed; I'm feeling too busy." If you do that one year or maybe two, you think, Well, life just happens. But when it seems to happen every year, you realize, Maybe this is not so much external things I can't control as it is something going on in my own heart or head. Why am I like this?

So this is a book I wrote, not because I'm on the other side and have it figured out, but because I have problems, and I wanted to see what God's Word had to say about them.

Nancy: So you were letting God work on your own soul even while you were perhaps finding some help and insight for us.

Kevin: Yes! This is the most personal book I've done in that way. Most of the things, I'm trying to teach Scripture, maybe I see something errant or that I want to correct, but with this one I sat down and said, "Lord, I'm not sure everything I'm going to write, because I'm not sure of everything I need to learn, but I know I have to learn some things here because my life constantly feels crazy busy."

There's probably some part of that that's good, but as you alluded, it's really unhealthy, and it's not where we want to be living our lives every day.

Nancy: And it's not just people in vocational ministry. It seems like this is chronic in our culture, chronic with believers. You ask somebody today, "How are you doing?" and chances are in the first paragraph, they're going to say, "I'm crazy busy." I've used that term so many times myself! And other people do: moms, singles, college students, and older people.

You'd think it would get a little less crazy as you get older, but it seems to be almost endemic to our culture.

Kevin: I remember talking a number of years ago to a prominent Christian leader, pastor, who I knew was very busy. I was saying, "You're so busy," and I was kind of acting like I wasn't very busy, and he said (and this was very wise), "I'm probably not actually any more busy than you . . . I just have to say 'no' to more things," which is true.

So anybody listening to this, they shouldn't think, Well, Kevin DeYoung, he wrote a book, or Nancy, she writes lots of books. I'm not really busy. No, they may be actually busier . . . they're probably just as busy. If they're a stay-at-home mom, they're probably twice as busy.

This is something that affects everyone. I read a story about a woman from another country who started introducing herself by saying, "Hello, my name is Busy." People started looking at her, and then realized she was just picking up the way Americans talk, that almost the first thing out of their mouth is, "Oh, hi." And then they say, "I'm busy." So she thought this is just the way you talk in America. This is how you introduce yourself. It's kind of a title, an honorific. You just say, "My name is Busy."

This is what we find. You never meet anybody—as least I haven't—when you're in your Christian circle sharing prayer requests and somebody says, "Well, for one thing, I'm just not very busy. I don't have a lot going on." No, everybody is saying, "Please pray for me. I feel overwhelmed. I don't know quite what to do."

Nancy: That overwhelmed sense can leave us anxious and irritable and stressed, and it affects relationships and so many areas of our life—not to speak our souls, our walk with the Lord. We get to where we're living in the "red zone" all the time, and that's not healthy for our souls.

You've written a number of other theological books and books for teachers and scholars, and I appreciate those, but I'm so glad you wrote this very practical little book to help us deal with what is an everyday issue for so many of us.

Kevin: And it really is a spiritual issue. It's a theological issue, and it's very practical. Nobody should think, Well, busyness is just about time management techniques. We can learn from that; we can learn from all sorts of business books, but there's something deeper going on.

And the Bible talks about this, too. There are several dangers when we're busy. You alluded to them. There's the danger that we're cranky, we're stressed, we're anxious, we're a pain to be around, but there's also the danger of robbing the work God is doing in our lives.

If you think of Jesus telling the parable of the sower and the soils, that seed that started to grow, started to take root, looked like it was going to be something, Jesus says it landed among the thorns, which He equated to the deceitfulness of riches and the worries of life.

It's the worries of life. You start to grow up, and it's not persecution (we pray for our brothers and sisters in that), but it's just life. In this country at least, busyness probably kills more Christians than bullets.

Nancy: I think the King James Version says "the cares" of this life. Some people say, "I don't worry." But there are so many things we're concerned about, so many cares that are weighing down our hearts.

Kevin: And life is so complicated. Things like: You have to figure out insurance—nobody can figure out insurance. You have to get the oil changed on your car. You have to run your kids around and get them to five different things and venues. So even with all our technology and all the ways that life is simpler, it's much more complicated.

I don't have all the numbers off the top of my head, but I've read these statistics about moms working more hours. Today's working dad works about the same number of hours as a couple generations ago, but stay-at-home moms are working fifty percent to seventy-five percent more.

Nancy: And yet, we have all these time-saving devices that were supposed to make our lives leisurely and stress free. What happened?

Kevin: Yes, and that's interesting, too, because I've heard people comment, especially thinking about moms . . . When you think about what's happens in the home, in a way there hasn't been any significant time-saving devices. People still use the vacuum cleaner, the microwave, the dishwasher—all the things that for at least a generation people have been using.

So the things we think are time savers, like our computers and Facebook and the accounting things we can do (pay bills online) actually tend to make our lives more complex, more difficult. It's not saying you don't use them—I use lots of those things. But they actually haven't been the same kinds of time-saving devices, while meanwhile our life gets more and more complicated.

One of the dangers in all of that is we forget we have a soul. We go through all of life, and you wake up someday (or you don't) to realize, "What have I been doing with the Lord? Where have I been? I've been going, going, going. I'm on the praise team, and I'm doing Sunday school, and I haven't even thought, for the last six months, about the Lord really as my Father, about this relationship."

And that's maybe the biggest danger of all—just forgetting who we are.

Nancy: And then there's an impact on other relationships as well—in a marriage, with your children and friends. You can be going so hard and fast and living at a very surface level and not really connecting with the hearts of the people you love.

Kevin: Yes. If you're going to have relationships with people, they are by definition inefficient. And everything in our culture pushes us toward efficiency. That's what technology wants to make it—efficient. And that's fine. People text and Facebook, do all that, but we shouldn't kid ourselves that those are going to have the same kind of depth of relationship. They can complement a face-to-face relationship, but to have that real ministry to people just takes time.

There's no substitute. If somebody says, "I really want to care for my kids," or "I want to care for my spouse," or "for people in my church," and "I want to find the most efficient way to do it . . . " Now, effectiveness is one thing, but efficiency is another thing.

People are just messy, and it takes time, and it takes hours where you feel, "This is a waste." But you don't realize it's laying a foundation for that time you need the kind of bond that you have with people. And if you don't have any of those margins in your life, it's not only our souls, but, yes, it's the people around us who will begin to suffer.

Nancy: I think that technology also enables us to have a lot more, so-called, "friends" . . . a lot more so-called "relationships," but more than we can possibly really have as friends and relationships. So we're trying to connect with all of them and maybe not doing a really good job of connecting with any of them.

Kevin: Yes, and there's this constant pressure we feel to get online, keep up with all the news. What's the latest viral thing? What's happening with all the dozens or hundreds of people who are friends on Facebook? It gives us an illusion of intimacy, but it's an illusion. You hear what they did on vacation; you hear about the new job they have. It's wonderful for keeping up with that. We should thank God for that.

I'm not against all kinds of technology. I use most of it. But it's just not a substitute for sitting down, slowly talking to somebody, putting your phone away. You've seen this—we've probably done it ourselves, sadly. You go out to restaurants now and you see a group of people, and they're all holding up their phones.

Nancy: Families all sitting there. Yes, I've been part of those groups. Together but not together.

Kevin: That's right. I saw a Tweet the other day . . . somebody said, "Is anybody going to go anywhere interesting, to look at their phone, this weekend?" Because that's what we do, we just go to some place, and here we are hanging out, and we're just all staring at our phones instead of actually conversing and getting to know each other.

Nancy:I hear a lot of people talk about these things. I talk about it; I lament it, others do, but it's a lot harder to do something constructive about it. I love that the place you started in your book, Crazy Busy, was going to the heart issues and identifying some of these things that are maybe under the surface (some of these more in some people than others). You start with one issue, which is pride. Now what can that have to do with being crazy busy?

Kevin: I think pride has everything to do with being crazy busy. There are so many manifestations of pride. Someone may think, "Well, I'm not proud. I don't go around bragging and telling everybody how great I am," but that's just the most obvious. Pride is the villain with a thousand faces. It shows up in so many ways.

So, the person who lacks confidence and is really a people-pleaser, well, that's the underside of pride. You're kind of a shape shifter. You're always trying to meet people's expectations. So you're not living life for God's priorities, but for other people's priorities.

The person who's constantly needing those pats on the back, the person who's passive/aggressive and is always saying, "This outfit looks terrible, doesn't it? This is terrible!" So you get the person to come alongside you and say, "No, no, no. You look beautiful. You're great." All these kinds of pride feed into this crazy busyness because we start living our lives for other people instead of for the Lord.

Just to give one diagnostic question, because it's a fine line between serving others and just being proud. I try to ask myself, "Am I doing this activity so that I might help others be good, or so that I might look good?"

Nancy: Okay, say that again, because that's really helpful.

Kevin: Am I doing this to help others be good, or am I doing this so that I might look good? To put it another way, am I trying to serve others or am I trying to serve myself? Am I trying to exercise love, or is this so that I might look lovely before others?

Nancy: So take and apply this to the area of hospitality. How might that play in there?

Kevin: Exactly. The Bible commands us to be hospitable. And we have people over to our house, and over to a meal. You break that word apart . . . the idea of hospitality is your home is a hospital. You come, and it's a refuge. I think of Paul telling Timothy, "Onesiphorus refreshed me" (2 Tim. 1:16).     That's what you want to pray. My wife and I try to do that: "Lord, can we be refreshers?"

But if you're so encumbered with busyness, and the whole point of your hospitality is, "People need to know my house is clean; people need to know I'm an accomplished cook; people need to see that my kids are extremely well-behaved," the whole event, the whole evening, becomes about us.

And we do that. We don't even know we're doing it. When somebody walks in and we say, "I'm sorry the place is a mess!"

And then they have to say, "No, it's fine."

"I'm sorry the food isn't very good!"

"No, it's great."

The whole evening becomes them putting us at ease, that we're really doing a good job . . . instead of having more freedom—maybe you use paper plates.

I'm all about ordering "Hot and Ready"s from Little Caesar's. I know most moms aren't going to put up with that.

Nancy: But maybe there is a time when that's all that's needed to do the ministry of hospitality.

Kevin: That's right. If you're going on the cooking show, then by all means, try to cook your heart out . . . but if you're trying to minister to the people coming over, then it's much more about us and our attitude. If we're hassled and we're frazzled and we're stressed and we're anxious and we're barking out at the kids, that's not encouraging to anybody.

Nancy: I'm having a group over for dinner four nights from now, and I've already got the table settings out on the table, but actually that is a way to try to not be crazy busy on that day. It's a full day; I've got meetings, recording, so a little planning ahead (which I'm not great at) will maybe help me not be frenetic on that day.

But, I have to ask the question. Because I love making things beautiful and making it just a great environment for people, "Am I doing this to make me look good or am I doing this to serve and bless these people?" They may not really care as much that the table settings look beautiful, as that there's an atmosphere there where their hearts are encouraged and refreshed and nurtured in the Lord.

Kevin: Right, and this is where I've had to learn, as a husband, that it is important to my wife. It's not insignificant that you want to have an aesthetic and an atmosphere and you want beauty. That doesn't necessarily mean you're just trying to be impressive. God made us in different ways.

So when I'm hanging out with my guys, paper plates and frozen pizza's fine. There is definitely a place to want to present a nice meal. But again, you have to ask that question, "To what end?" Is it so that they leave and think, Man, those place settings were exquisite! Or is it so all of that gives a warmth and a vitality?

I think of a woman at our church, a family that's very hospitable. In fact, I was just talking to another woman who said, "When we first came to this church, we didn't know people. And this woman said, 'Come on over to share our dinner!' on that Sunday."

And she thought, Oh no, we've got our kids, and what is it going to be like. She said she was so encouraged because the food wasn't ready, and the lady was getting it out and saying, "What do you want to eat?" It was all scattered. In a strange way, she felt so blessed that the lady was just inviting her into her life.

It's not that she had the roast prepared for hours in advance. It was just, "You're a new person; why don't you come on over. I don't know what we're going do, but we've got to eat, and so why don't you eat with us."

Nancy: Which demonstrates a humble heart, that this is about blessing and serving you, not making me look great.

Kevin: Yes, and our tendency is that we want to look great, and we want to think of ways that this could bring honor to us. So it really does take humility to say, "This is not about me, and you being impressed. But if you want to see our hectic life, you want to see what our house really looks like before we shove everything in that magic closet, then come on over. We'd be happy to hang out with you."

Nancy: So pride is at the heart some of our crazy busyness.

Then you go through seven or eight different diagnoses in this book. We won't go through all of them, but one that I think that a lot of us relate to is this thing of (you call it) "the terror of total obligation." Essentially, we're trying to do things that may be on our to-do list, or others' to-do list for us, but that aren't necessarily on God's to-do list for our lives.

Kevin: Yes. I have just always struggled with this. For better or worse, I think I have a strong sense of obligation. I was that kid in school who, if the teacher would ask a question, would think, Somebody better say something. If the teacher offered extra credit, I would think, I better do that just to be safe.

Nancy: Are you first-born?

Kevin: Second, but some first-born tendencies. A lot of people ask if I am the first-born.

Nancy: I am, so I recognize the tendencies.

Kevin: I think I struggled with this, in particularly when I was in seminary. I saw, "There's a group of people who are doing missions, and there's a group of people who are doing youth ministry." Wherever people are listening to this program, I'm sure they compare themselves to others.

Nancy: We women do this a lot. We see women who are homeschooling kids, women who are leading a small group study, women who are taking meals to all the needy people in the church. You kind of add it all up in your head, and you say, "I'm a failure because I can't do all of that stuff," or "I'm killing myself trying."

Kevin: And you think, If I was really spiritual . . . Because it's good to take the meals out, and that's good to volunteer there, etc. And we live with this low-level, or sometimes not so low-level, feeling of guilt, that God wants me to do all these things. Then you add to that, "There are people who are starving. There are people in the world without the gospel. People need clean water." And it's just on and on and on.

>Nancy: And we're so exposed to all those needs now. We read your blog and others' blogs and we're hearing more. On the news we're seeing more. I'm watching this thing on what's happening in Syria, and what's happening in this crisis, and in this part of the world. It can just feel like I can't wrap my mind around how to care about all these things, how to pray about all these things, how to engage in all these issues that people think we ought to be engaged in.

Kevin: These are new issues in some ways because we haven't always been able to touch everywhere and we haven't always known about everything. One of the things that's been helpful (I think we can see in Scripture) is what philosophers call moral proximity. It just means there are concentric circles.

So in the Bible, if a husband doesn't provide for his family, he's worse than an unbeliever; a mom has to care for her kids with a special kind of love. And you expand that, maybe, to your church and extended family, and then maybe to people next door to you.

There's this moral proximity whereby there are stronger and weaker demands upon our time, upon our efforts. Now that's not to excuse us from caring about things all over the world, but it is to say to us that there's a different kind of obligation if you walk by a pool and see a child drowning in it, versus you hear about something over on the other side of the world.

You have a stronger obligation to your own children than to your friend's children. Until we realize that God gifts the church . . . He hasn't gifted you or me to meet all these needs, but He gifts the church. So if you think, I need to be a hand and a foot and an eye and a nose, that's actually not humble. That's actually proud. That's saying, "God can meet every need with me." No, He can't. He didn't mean to.

He gave you some gifts to do your part, and it's the whole body of Christ that needs to be the meals and everything else. You have a role; you have a part, and that's what you need to do, and not feel guilty for all the rest.

Nancy: And if each of us would be looking to the Lord, sensitive to the leading of His Spirit in our lives as to what He puts on our plate, in front of us, and then responsive to how He prompts our hearts, those needs would get met, and we wouldn't have to be the one feeling like we need to do it all.

Kevin: We would have the necessary space in our hearts so that when our neighbor has a crisis or our sister across the country has problems in her marriage or our oldest kids are having a difficult time in school . . . when these things come up, we wouldn't be so anxious and so frazzled that we would say, "I've already overcommitted to five different committees and three different ministries. I'm not going to have time for any of your problems." No, that's not actually doing the ministry.

This isn't about just taking a vacation. This is thinking how can we best serve others. That means saying "no" to a lot of good things so that we can say "yes" to what's most important.

Nancy: There's margin. Well, you have to say "no" to a lot of good things in your role. I'm really thankful the Lord gave you the freedom to say "yes" so you could be coming in and sharing with our listeners this week. We're talking with Kevin DeYoung, who's written (among numerous books) this little one that's so helpful. It's called Crazy Busy.

We'd like to send you a copy of this book, which I think will help you in identifying some of the heart issues. We're going to talk about more of those tomorrow. We want to make this book available to you, and we'd love to send it to you as our way of saying "thank you" when you send a donation of any amount to help with the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

You can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959 and let us know you'd like to make a contribution to the ministry, or you can visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com. And when you let us know that you'd like to make a gift, also be sure and request a copy of the book called Crazy Busy.

I'm hoping that a lot of our listeners are going to get a hold of this book, and that it's going to be something that will help the conversation of your own heart with the Lord, and within your own family, as you seek to honor the Lord with your use of time.

Be sure and join us tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts as we continue this conversation with Kevin DeYoung.

Leslie: To get a copy of the book Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been telling you about, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959.

When Kevin DeYoung visited our studio, he not only recorded audio with Nancy, our video team also sat down with him. You can see the video with Kevin by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. And sending the link to the video would be a great way to tell other people about this practical series.

So, if you're not crazy busy, does it mean you're crazy lazy? Kevin DeYoung will give you the answer tomorrow. And, I'll give you a hint . . . No, he doesn't say that you should be lazy. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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