Monday, September 27, 2010

Busyness: The New Spirituality

A good article here by Dave Kraft, a pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, on the problem so many of us face: busyness. Assessing my own church, I feel this is one our biggest spiritual weaknesses. More and more I feel that it is not "just a busy season," or that "things will get better." Instead, busyness has become a spiritual cancer for many people and an addiction for others.

First, half of us are busy with the wrong things. Second, the other half are busy with the right things. We do, do, do, without taking time to be. If we don't have time to think and pray, something is wrong. If we don't have time to sit and talk with our spouse, something is wrong. If we don't have time to "waste" an hour reading, something is wrong.

Sure, some people are lazy. Some people waste time. But there are far more people in our day that over commit, commit to insignificant things, stay busy because it feels productive, and work like crazy because it is easier to do than to be.

I fear that many of us will end up looking back at all our activity and wonder what went wrong. Wonder who we are. How we ended up here. Why we did all that stuff, while recognizing it just wasn't worth it.

The Kraft article begins,
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.
Read more.

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