Thursday, May 16, 2013

Busy ~ Too Busy

It was early January when I phoned a colleague to invite her for coffee.
An idea was percolating in me and I thought she might like to be part of it. I shared briefly. She responded with three rapid-fire questions: “Do you need more things to do?” “Are you looking for ministry?” “Do you have room on your calendar?”
In a split second, inside my head and with a bit of defensiveness, I responded: no, yes and no, yes. Her questions raised feelings of guilt. Shouldn't there be room on my calendar? I don’t remember my verbal responses.

The questions seemed like accusations. All at once I felt guilty, discouraged, frustrated, and unimportant. Later my husband listened and bore the brunt of my complaining words.

God listened too and reminded me of a personal susceptibility. I live with a lie that was planted in me as a child.

The lie—ministry is activity. The activity creates worth.  All lies are not equally dangerous. There is a modicum of truth in those words. Much ministry does involve activity; leading a Bible study is an activity. The lie piece of the equation results from believing ministry is only the things that I do.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

"And God blessed them ... "Be fruitful..." Genesis 1:28
The truth of these words from John 15 and Genesis 1 contradict my lie. They teach me that ministry is the fruit that results from abiding. God desires for me to be something; to live out my creation.

Cynthia Heald, author and speaker, recently reminded me: my worth to God in public is who I am in private. All who observe me should perceive I have been with Jesus.
My lie caused me to judge my colleague. Maybe her full calendar resulted from her abiding. I don’t know.
Busyness is not a fruit of the spirit; faithfulness is. I saw her as busy; perhaps she was being faithful to that which God called her. After all Proverbs 31:27 teaches to not eat the bread of idleness. Idleness would not describe her life.
I want to maintain white space on my calendar. I also want to be busy doing that to which the Lord has called me. And I want to be a woman who gives freedom to others to define how they follow the Lord. I also need to remember that ministry is abiding and that leads to my activity. Busyness is not a fruit of the spirit.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23


  1. As someone who likes (in fact, needs) a great deal of white space in my days, I appreciate your reflections on the difference between busyness and abiding. Even though I feel oppressed by busyness, I too easily make an idol of productivity. Thank you for the reminder that God has called us to a much more beautiful way of life!

  2. Hi Christie ~
    Welcome to Echoes.

    Another scripture I love is Psalm 92, "... the righteous flourish ..."

    Productivity is a good thing too. I'm learning to ask the question, God, what would it look like for me to be faithful to you today? Sometimes the answer is not to accomplish everything on my do list!