Jesus is Coming. Look Busy.
Last week, I received an email from an associate, “Hey Jim,” he wrote, “ You’ve been on my mind. Let’s get together.”
It is nice to know people are thinking about you. “Sure,” I responded, “What’s your schedule?”
Two days later I got a return email, not from my friend but from his secretary, asking which of four dates would work for me. Every date was a least two months away.
“Wow,” I thought to myself, “he must be really busy.” Then I began to wonder: would my friend keep me in his thoughts for two months? Or, would he only start minding me again when his daily planner alarm went off? It felt like he had already stopped thinking about me. Maybe he delegated his mind- keeping to his secretary along with the scheduling, “Mary, I’m too busy to think about Jim. Please keep him in mind for me. Once a week should suffice.”
The dictionary defines busyness as the state of having a great deal to do; the quality of being full of activity, of not being idle. However, busyness does not equal productivity. I can be very busy doing very little. But the biggest problem with busyness is that being busy usually results in being too busy to be. Busy people become distant and self-centered. We smile and say, “I’ll be with you in just a minute,” or after, “Just one more thing” but minutes turn to hours and one thing turns to a hundred more.
Busyness is a virus everyone seems is catching, for which no one has a cure. Try, for example, calling a doctor for an appointment.
You: “I’d like to make an appointment.”
Receptionist: “We have an opening on June 22nd. Are afternoons good for you?” You: “But it’s only September. I may not live till July.”
Receptionist: “I understand, but the doctor is very busy.”
Years ago, during a time when prophecy books became popular and many Christians were caught up wishing “we all were ready” for Christ’s return, I found a button with a saying on it that made me laugh. I have kept the button attached to a desk lamp in my office and thought of it while writing this article. The button states boldly: “JESUS IS COMING. LOOK BUSY”
Busyness is a real problem in ministry. Some busyness is due to poor planning or lack of resources. We are overworked and understaffed. Some busyness reflects the inability to set and keep boundaries. We say “yes” when we should say, “no.” Consequently we get overloaded and overwhelmed with “too much muchiness.”1 For some leaders, busyness is a drug to mask deficiency or puff up accomplishment and self-importance. To others, busyness at work offers a kind of freedom, a distraction from thinking deeply or facing reality. “Work will set you free,” was the lie written on the gates to Auschwitz. Jesus said,
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth
will set you free.”2 The truth is that following Jesus cannot be measured in busyness, only mindful
The Apostle Paul calls disciples to transformation by the renewing of our mind. This mindfulness is illustrated with a metaphor of the body. One body has many members with various functions, Paul
writes, and each member belongs to all the others, each exercising different gifts according to the grace
If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with you[ faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it
is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give
generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Christian leaders are called to a certain kind of Kingdom work, working in a certain kind of Kingdom way. In a word, Christian leadership requires diligence: the virtue of careful work and persistent effort. The
virtue, diligence, stands in contrast to the sin of busyness. Diligence may involve hard work and long
hours, but, like Jesus, you are never too busy to be. Diligence is mindful of others—those around you,
working with you and for you. Such mindfulness does not put on airs.4 Rather, diligence is humble
presence, your presence and the presence of Christ abiding in you.
How would you describe your ministry? Are you too busy? Do you need to be more mindful?
Next month we will explore how diligence does not just happen but is nurtured by mindfulness and
1 To quote the Mad Hatter in Alice in Underland
2 John 8:31-32
3 Romans 12:1-8
4 Romans 12:3