Some people argue that the NFL has surpassed baseball as the national pastime. The NFL is raking in billions by grabbing the attention and eyeballs of untold millions. Neither of these sports is the real national pastime. They are both far surpassed by the sport of us talking about how busy we are. Don’t believe me? Ask ten people today how they are doing and my prediction is that five to seven will say something about how busy or stressed out they are. They aren’t lying. Where I live, people get up, get their children ready for school, drive their children to school, go to work, pick their kids up from school, take their kids to practices, help their kids with homework, and then go to bed only to do the same routine the next day. There are variations of this of course, but the average person in the suburbs runs from the moment that they get up until the moment that they go to bed.
Kevin DeYoung recognizes that this is not healthy for us physically, emotionally, or spiritually. He diagnoses the underlying issues behind our obsession with busyness in his new book Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about (Really) Big Problem. As a pastor with several small children and a packed speaking and writing schedule, DeYoung empathizes with those in this position. Crazy Busy is both his diagnosis of the problem of busyness and his attempt at a solution.
After an introduction to the issue, the next chapter shows the dangers association with busyness as it can ruin our joy, rob our hears, and cover up the ruin in our souls. He offers diagnoses in the following seven chapters and the final chapter presents the one thing that we must do to combat our busyness. Rather than writing a full book review (which would say that you should read it,) I want to offer three takeaways from this important book.
Many of us are too busy because we freak out too much about our children. This resonated with me because I live in a suburb that is centered around children. People move to our community because of the good schools. Churches are evaluated based on what they offer children. Sports leagues of all types and for all ages abound. Parents taxi their children from one practice or game to the next, often watching them do things rather than doing things with them. The irony of this is that parents are doing many things for their children, but their busyness causes them to neglect the things that the Bible calls them to do as parents. Scripture only calls parents to do a few things for their children. Love them, provide for them, teach them, discipline them, and pray for them. These are the things that the Bible calls parents to do for their children, but we often fail in the most important ones because we are “too busy.” Parents, cut yourselves some slack. Your kids don’t have to do everything. They would benefit greatly from unscheduled time and you would to.
Technology should be our friend, but we have become it’s slave. I can remember a time in my life when email seemed like this great communication tool, but now it feels like this incredible burden to bear. Every ding of the email is another thing that has to be done. DeYoung argues that we need to have time when the phones are off and the computers are closed. DeYoung argues that we need to set boundaries with our technology and stick to it. Do not be afraid to have time when your phone is off and you cannot be reached. It’s okay to answer that email the next morning. You don’t have to read every tweet. Cut off your social media notifications on your phone. These will all help you and your family.
We are all in desperate need of silence, solitude, prayer, and Bible reading. A life with margin is a life where we can commune with God and go full into the world to live for him and serve him. When we have no time to pray and read our Bibles, we are constantly depleted and lacking in our ability to live on mission and withstand temptation. Time alone in the quiet recharges our batteries and gives rest to our minds. Time alone in Scripture and meditative Bible reading grows us and empowers us for the challenges in the coming day. This is difficult because we are not crossing items off of a to-do list when we are praying, but it is indispensable. Work hard to build a life that has margin. (Also, a life without margin is a life that leaves us without time to connect with our neighbors.)
(You can read other book reviews and takeaways here.)