Busyness Is the New Spirituality

Here’s a great article that Kris passed on to us. Thought I would share because we are all guilty of this one in America!

Busyness Is the New Spirituality
Dave Kraft -Leadership Development Pastor at Mars Hill Church

The Tired Leader
Through the years I have come to some general conclusions about people, ministry, and leaders. One of them is that most people, in general, and leaders, in particular, try to do too much and work too many hours. An article in the Seattle Times by Shirleen Holt read, “Nearly ten million Americans worked more than sixty hours a week last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics found. We’ve outpaced the famously productive Japanese in hours worked. We’re the only developed nation without mandatory vacation time. And, according to the Expedia.com’s annual vacation poll, one-third of us will take no vacation this year.”

The insight of author Fred Smith comes to mind: “Busyness is the new spirituality.”

Years ago, I would often greet a fellow leader with, “Good to see you! How you doing?” The response would be, “Dave, I am really busy.” Now, when I ask the same question, the response is, “Dave, I am really tired.”

When I probe a little, it is clear that this is not the common sort of tiredness that can be handled with a decent night’s sleep, but a deep, deep sense of exhaustion—emotional, spiritual, and physical. Leaders are falling out of the race and shipwrecking themselves for a number of reasons; and one of them is sheer exhaustion, which leads to frustration, anger, confusion, potential burnout, and, eventually, throwing in the towel.

What causes this sort of epidemic of bone-deep tiredness? Here are a few things that come to mind:

1.The inability to say no. Leaders are often servants at heart. They feel called to help people and to try to meet their needs, which are endless and inexhaustible. We have limited capacity, time and gifts and we need to learn to set boundaries, recognize our limits and create margin in our lives. We cannot and should not be at the beck and call of every person with a need. Even Jesus, at times, left people who were in need and disappeared to be by himself (See Luke 5:15,16).

2.The inability to slow down. Too many leaders move at an insane pace and work too many hours. They love to work and, in many cases, get their sense of self-worth through their work. In John Grisham’s novel The Broker, one of the characters says, “I’ve been there (Washington D.C.). I’ve never seen so many people racing around, going nowhere. I don’t understand the desire for such a hectic life. Everything has to be so fast—work, food, sex.” That’s us in the good old USA—going at breakneck speed and not always sure why. One of the results is that we are slowly, but surely, becoming addicted to speed and busyness; and sometimes we’re not even capable of slowing down.

3.The inability to think stragetically. Frankly, I meet very few leaders who are strategic in how they allocate their time and energy. Most are reactive rather than proactive. We are all composed of a few themes and need to stick with our unique contribution.

4.The inability to simplify. Recently, I have been meditating on 1 Timothy 2:1–2 in The Message: “pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation.”

I believe the solution to the epidemic of tiredness is not all that complicated:

•Learn to say no.
•Intentionally slow down.
•Think strategically when you make decisions as to what you will do or not do.
•Simplify your life by de-cluttering your busy schedule.

Charles Swindoll had this observation about our supreme example, Jesus:

Somehow Jesus mastered the art of maintaining a clear perspective while accomplishing every single one of his objectives (John 17:4). A major reason for his being able to say he finished all the father had in mind for him is that he simplified his life. He followed his own agenda instead of everyone else’s. He also set predetermined limits. He chose twelve (not twelve hundred) whom he trained to carry on in his absence. He stayed with his set of priorities without apology, which means he must have said no a score of times every month. He balanced work and rest, accomplishment and refreshment, never feeling the need to ask permission for spending time in quietness and solitude. He refused to get sidetracked by tempting opportunities that drained energy and time. He was a servant of his father, not a slave of the people. Even though misunderstood, maligned, misquoted, and opposed by numerous enemies and even a few friends, he stayed at it. His simplicity kept him balanced.

Think about it! What do you need to begin doing differently?

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