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The cure for busyness

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Grand Central Terminal Main Concourse in New York City, facing east, in black & white, April 11, 2008 (Credit: Pete Barr-Watson)

I witnessed something this morning I’ve not seen in nearly 40 years of driving: a man was putting on his tie while driving down Preston Road.  Not at stoplights—while going 45 miles per hour.  I watched him juggle the machinations of tie-tying while keeping his car more or less in his lane and wondered what his morning must have been like.

Do you wish your life was less hectic?  I feel the same way.  A pastor once observed, “Perhaps the ministry was never busier than it is now.  Hundreds of men are hoarse from continual speaking, and are wearied out with running here and running there.  If things slow down, we evolve yet another type of meeting.  And when this new and added wheel is spinning merrily with all the other wheels, there may be no spiritual outcome whatsoever, but there is a wind blowing in our faces; and we hot and sticky engineers have a comfortable feeling that something is going on.”

Arthur John Gossip wrote those words in 1952.  What would he say of our culture today?

Why are we so busy?  I can’t speak for you, but I will confess that Gossip exposed my hidden motivation: the more I do, the more significant I must be.  If I throw enough against the wall, something may stick.  If I knew what pleases God, perhaps I could focus on doing it and leave my busyness behind.

In my personal Bible study today, I found this remarkable statement in Jeremiah 9: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.  For in these things I delight, declares the Lord'” (vs. 23-24, ESV).

God does not delight in my wisdom, strength, or possessions.  Rather, he is delighted when I love others unconditionally and when I choose to be just and right with God, others, and myself.  If everything I do is motivated by these three priorities, everything I do will please my King.

So I will focus today on being loving, just, and righteous.  I will measure everything I do by this agenda.  Here’s my guess: my day will be less efficient but more effective, less busy but more productive, less urgent but more significant.  Care to join me?