“It’s not wrong to be tired. It’s not wrong to feel overwhelmed. It’s not wrong to go through seasons of complete chaos. What is wrong- and heartbreakingly foolish and wonderfully avoidable- is to live a life with more craziness than we want because we have less Jesus than we need”…Kevin DeYoung
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an avid reader. Being completely honest, most of the books I enjoy probably wouldn’t interest you- and as a result, I regularly incur the (loving) mockery of my wife for my choices in “leisure reading.” True story- I once chose a book called “Death By Meeting” by Patrick Lencioni for my beach reading on a family vacation. Still haven’t lived that one down. But, to be fair, I am much better than I used to be at running meetings!
That being the case, though, I read what I like, and what I think will most benefit me in my calling as a Jesus follower, husband, father, pastor, and leader in God’s church. And every now and again, I’ll finish off a book that I think to myself, Man, this one would be great to share. Crazy Busy, by Kevin DeYoung, is one such work. The subtitle of the book describes it well- “a (mercifully) short book about a (really) big problem.” And what is that problem, according to DeYoung? Unrestrained, out of control busyness that is robbing too many of us of the joy and vibrancy God intends for us in our lives, relationships, and faith.
With giving away the entirety of the work (because I’d love for you to read it yourself- in fact, I’ll loan my copy to the first person who asks me for it!), here are a few nuggets that I found especially helpful, encouraging, and challenging…
“Busyness can ruin our joy…rob our hearts…and cover up the rot in our souls” (26-30). DeYoung makes clear from the jump that having a full calendar, inbox, or to do list isn’t inherently wrong. There is much good to do in this world as we follow Jesus and love and serve others! That said, often we “default” into unrestrained busyness simply because we haven’t taken the time or made the effort to order our lives with any purpose or intentionality. We’re all busy, but we have no idea why or how. And the results of this endless, thoughtless hurry are most often destructive to our souls and our relationships.
“Our understanding of busyness must start with the one sin that begets so many of our other sins- pride” (34). This was my favorite- and if I’m keeping it real, least favorite- chapter in the book. DeYoung masterfully uncovers the many manifestations of pride that often fuels our busyness. He calls them “the killer P’s”- people pleasing, pats on the back, possessions, proving ourselves, pity, poor planning, power, perfectionism, position, prestige, and posting (i.e. social media). And in light of all these, he asks a penetrating question- In all our busyness, are we trying to do good, or are we trying to look good? So often, the operating principle of our lives is not to do the right thing, but to project the right image of ourselves to others. I know I’m often guilty as charged on this point. We must put this sinful compulsion to death.
“It’s taken me several years, a lot of reflection, and a bunch of unnecessary busyness to understand that when it comes to good causes and good deeds, ‘do more or disobey’ is not the best thing we can say” (47). This quote comes from DeYoung’s chapter on what he calls the “terror of total obligation”- in other words, that creeping feeling that no matter how hard we work (even to the point of physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion), we are never “enough” for God or others. I love his reminder “there is good news” for the weary- We are not the Christ, and were never intended to be. We can rest in His finished work on our behalf and find freedom to pursue the unique gifts, callings, and opportunities He has placed before each of us. After all, we were never made to “hold the whole world in our hands!” God’s already got that!
“Sometimes I wonder if I’m so busy because I’ve come to believe the lie that busyness is the point. And nothing allows you to be busy- all the time, with anyone anywhere- like having the whole world in a little black rectangle in your pocket” (83). The book takes a refreshingly balanced approach to its evaluation of technology and its effects on our everyday lives. It notes the good, but also recognizes the danger inherent to living in an “always on” world. DeYoung notes wisely that the advent of modern, mobile technology has shrunk our collective attention spans to a dangerously low level; we demonstrate all the characteristics of an addict yearning for his next “hit” as we anxiously, constantly check our screens for the next digital “fix.” If this tendency is left unquestioned and unchecked, it will invariably leave us everywhere but right here– i.e. fully present with the real people sitting across from us.
“There must be times when I don’t work; otherwise I won’t rest. And there must be times to sleep, or I will keep borrowing what I can’t repay. I’m not so important in God’s universe that I can’t afford to rest. But my God-given limitations are so real that I can’t afford not to” (99). This was personally very convicting. I haven’t been getting enough sleep for some time now- and I know it, and I know it’s not good for me (or others who have to be around me!), but I’ve continued to perpetuate the pattern. I know sleep doesn’t seem very “spiritual,” but the reality is that God made us physical beings with physical limitations, and to persistently deny those limitations is actually a form of God-denying, self-exalting idolatry. After all, according to Psalm 127:2, God “gives to His beloved sleep.”
“We won’t say no to more craziness until we can say yes to more Jesus. We will keep choosing dinner rolls over the Bread of Life. We will choose the fanfare of the world over the feet of Jesus. We will choose busyness over blessing (118). DeYoung closes the book with a simple chapter called “The One Thing You Must Do.” He doesn’t have a ten step plan, or even one particularly profound or remarkable suggestion for overcoming sinful busyness. He simply calls us- and himself as the author- to place a non-negotiable priority on spending time every day at the feet of Jesus in His Word and prayer. In a spiritual environment where “habits” often get a bad rap for being too routine or inauthentic, this is an important reminder that the truth is, for most of us, we do what we make time to do. And of all the thousand things in this world we can make time for, is there anything of a more crucial priority than dedicated time with our Savior and Lord? The Bible says no, there isn’t. We would do well to live according to this conviction.
This is obviously only a snapshot of what’s available in this easy-to-read-but-difficult-to-apply little book. I hope it’s as helpful, encouraging, and challenging for you as it was for me. And remember, if you want to read more, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or a personal message on Facebook, and I’ll be glad to share the book, on one condition- that you’ll actually “slow down” enough to take the time to read it!
I’ll close with a promise from Jesus Himself- one that has long been quite meaningful to me as I seek His rest in a world that constantly tries to rob it…
“28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29, ESV)