“I’m soooo busy” aka “I’m productive”

I’m still on the busyness bandwagon, probably because I can feel the inexorable suction that a busy lifestyle exerts on me. Our culture has been hijacked by a busy, hurried, overloaded, overbooked psyche. It is the way western life is lived!

One of the things we’re saying when we tell people that we’re busy, is that in fact we are productive and useful human beings. The mindset behind this, is that if we are productive, and achieving in life, then we are significant, important and worthy. We’re good people.

There are some problems with this mentality though. The converse is that if we are unproductive non-achievers, then really we are less valuable as a person. An autistic child who never really produces anything, is less valuable, even though they may have wonderful attributes and relationship and bring joy into their families lives.

Another problem is that we are reducing the human experience to one of utilitarianism. To be human is to be productive. But this is a very modern mindset, which has really taken hold since the industrial revolution. It turns humans into machines, thus dehumanizing us. The arts have no place. Relationships suffer. Our health suffers. Contemplation, reflection, meditation, solace are all seen as superfluous, fluffy, useless, and airy fairy. But these are all things that make us feel human.

A recent survey of 6000 British civil servants showed that those who worked three to four hours of overtime per day, had a whopping 60% higher risk of heart disease. Another recent survey of over 1200 mums showed that 70 per cent felt burnt out. Busyness is bad for us because productivity isn’t the ultimate purpose of a human life. If you live in a constant state of busyness, I think you’re a bit of a tool.

In fact, we’ve been busy for so long, we’ve forgotten what it’s like to feel human.

“I’m soooo busy” aka “I’m special”

“Hi, how are you?”

“I am soooo busy.”

This is a common daily occurence across the world nowadays. I would love to know when it began (and where!). Responses used to be “well thank you”, “fine thank you” and the like, but I think today, the “busy” response (or the “tired” one) is probably the most common.

Have you ever tried the opposite response when someone asks how you’ve been lately? “Not busy at all. Sooo much spare time. Really relaxed.” Sounds terribly lame doesn’t it.

You see “busy” means I’m wanted. I’m useful. People are actually clamoring for my time and attention. I’m solidly booked – in fact I’m overbooked. I’m special. I’m important. I’m popular. So much implied by that little four letter word beginning with “b”.

Busyness is actually becoming a way of life. One that brings hurry, rush, stress, pressure, anxiety, speed and adrenaline into our lives and it permeates in such a way that we even rush when we don’t need to! You’ve got no idea how quickly I eat my tea, so I can get to the washing up, so I can get to the kids bedtime routine, so I can get to….  We just get caught up in it all. After all, our busyness is tied to our importance and significance, so the moment we’re not busy, we are …. well, nothing! Nobody… unimportant, useless, unpopular, and undesirable. Not really something any of us aspire to be.

The problem with busyness is it claws at our humanity. A famous study had one group of college students research the parable of the Good Samaritan – someone who stopped to help an assault victim. Following that, the group was told they immediately had a test on the subject and were already late and had to get to the examination hall.

The other group studied something totally irrelevant to the parable and were told they had plenty of time to get to their test. On the way there, a “victim” was lying on the ground nearby. The students who stopped to offer assistance were the ones who believed they had plenty of time.   Ironically the ones who studied the parable of the Good Samaritan were less likely to stop…..

Worth thinking about. Anyways, I gotta go – I’m soooo busy.

How Churches Stop Christians Being Christian

Michael Frost, professor of Evangelism and Missions at Morling College and the pastor of a radical church Small Boat Big Sea in Sydney was interviewed by ABC Radio National. Here’s what he said about how traditional churches tie up believers with doing church stuff which actually prevents them from living an authentic christian life:

“I think that churches are made up of people who mean well, and who are genuinely seeking to live out their faith…. But I’d much rather fashion something which is more organic, more relational which frees people to be able to live their faith out loud, and large, and in a dynamic fashion, rather than kind of squeezing into a mould where six days a week they’re one thing and then on Sundays they’re another thing. ….some churches can simply, by their structure, fashion this separation between the sacred Sunday meetings and then the rest of life, I’m pretty critical of that. I’d love to see us start to unleash hundreds and thousands of followers of Jesus who are able to follow Jesus in all of life, not just say in a worship meeting.

I’ve been going on this journey for a long time. I’ve been the pastor of some traditional-style churches in the past, but I guess it was just a growing dis-ease that I found that it was as though the structure of church, as I just mentioned before, was operating against all the best intentions in the world. I mean, I would speak to people in my churches about the need for us to be generous, and hospitable, and to live our lives in close relationship with those who don’t necessarily attend church, to be committed to the poor and to the environment, to practice hospitality, I never get anybody say to me, “Oh, Michael, I don’t think we should do that.”

I mean everyone will agree with you, but the requirements of sustaining a lot of the institutional style Christianity actually draws people out of their world. It makes them too busy to be able to then practice genuine hospitality, and to partner with their neighborhoods and their communities. So I would much rather disassemble some of that, free people up, give them more time to be able to actually do what I think they’re intended to do, rather than just to be on committees and to set meetings up and to run from one kind of small group meeting to the next.”

What do you think? What’s your experience been? Do you agree with the prof?

Dallas Willard – Why Pastors are Leaving

Dallas Willard, a professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California made a lot of sense to me when he recently said;

I do grieve for the people within the church who are suffering—especially the pastors and their families. They are suffering because much of North America and Europe has bought into a version of Christianity that does not include life in the kingdom of God as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

They are trying to work a system that doesn’t work.

Without transformation within the church, pastors are the ones who get beat up. That is why there is a constant flood of them out of the pastorate. But they are not the only ones. New people are entering the church, but a lot are also leaving. Disappointed Christians fill the landscape because we’ve not taken discipleship seriously.

Asked “What can pastors do to change this dynamic?” he replied;

Change their definition of success. They need to have a vision of success rooted in spiritual terms, determined by the vitality of a pastor’s own spiritual life and his capacity to pass that on to others.

When pastors don’t have rich spiritual lives with Christ, they become victimized by other models of success—models conveyed to them by their training, by their experience in the church, or just by our culture. They begin to think their job is managing a set of ministry activities and success is about getting more people to engage those activities. Pastors, and those they lead, need to be set free from that belief.

The entire article is on the awesome blog Out of Ur.