Most of us aren’t nearly as busy as we are insignificant. Sounds almost mean, right? But I think there may be some truth to the statement. We almost treat busyness like some sort of merit badge that we flash at people to prove we are really something. “Good” used to be the standard reply we didn’t mean when someone who didn’t mean it asked us how we were doing. Now, we’ve upgraded our answer from a throwaway to a self-important throw-in: “I’m really very busy. Important too. If you wonder how important just consider how very, very busy I am. And now I’ll rush away in huff.” Huff.
We weaponized our work to give us value, and, often unintentionally, to elevate ourselves above others. When we see someone seeming not to work as hard as we perceive ourselves to be working, well, we just roll our eyes, praise our own idol of busyness, and carry on.
I think I may have come to this realization while driving. I went past a road-crew at about 65 MPH. One guy was just sitting on a tailgate, and I rolled my eyes to the tune of, “That is what my taxpayer dollars are going for!” I’m busy, busy, busy—busy enough to drive 65 through a work-zone even!—and yet here is this sluggard just sitting around! Of course, I got to see about three seconds of his workday. Maybe he is a sluggard? Or maybe he was on the tail-end of a twelve hour shift? Maybe it is 90 degrees and he’s been on shovel duty all day? And maybe, just maybe, it is none of my business either way. My own busyness or lack thereof does not define who I am as a person—or it shouldn’t—and it certainly shouldn’t be the end all be all in how I view others.
Truth is, I often use busyness as a way to self-importantly isolate myself or as a way to feed my already bloated pride. I use busyness to attain something else that is missing within me, but claiming busyness doesn’t fill the void of significance—it is too small and too insignificant to fill sails of my soul.
As a culture we bow down at busyness. We crave it for what we think it can give us. We complain about it, sure, but secretly we love it for how it makes us feel and how it makes us better than the less busy people around us. We wouldn’t trade it for all the world, for without it how obvious our boasting might become!
I want to realize that my job is often busy—um, that is just how work is (Gen. 3:18-19). I want to acknowledge that and set out to be the best worker I can be (Col. 3:17). But I don’t want to make busyness my crutch or my means for garnering attention, respect, fame, or significance. Nor is my busyness or lack thereof some indicator of moral goodness or badness. It is a reflection of how much work I have in a moment of time, nothing more, nothing less. Viewing it this way frees us to be honest about our workload, to be able to discern when we may actually need help, to create a better sense of work-life balance, and makes us more likely to give grace to those around us whether they are busy or not.
Want to think through your own busyness along with others? Be looking out for our “Crazy Busy” small group sign up for the Fall Semester.