There’s an adage that says, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” Clearly, the person who wrote this and the people who repeat it believe being busy is very wrong. But what if God is actually pleased with the right kind of busy?
There are only two references to busy in the New International Version of the Bible and both are positive. In Titus 2:5, the older women are to teach the younger women to “be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
The problem with wiring like mine (and I imagine yours) is I get too busy. It is like there’s a momentum that urges me on, until I find myself overloaded. Being busy isn’t the problem. Being busy in an unhealthy way is.
In reviewing the times in my life when I’ve been on overload, I’ve discovered four conditions of unhealthy busyness:
- Being busy without boundaries. When I don’t have non-negotiable boundaries in my life, everything is fair game to cancel to get more done. I have to set a quitting time for the night, guard the Sabbath, and protect time with my husband and family. By establishing boundaries for our busyness, we give ourselves breathing room.
- Being a busybody. A busybody is more concerned with what others are doing than what she is supposed to do. I find myself crossing this line when I want to offer my opinion when it’s not requested or spending too much time on social media.
- Doing work I’m not called to do. I get over-busy when I assume responsibilities that aren’t mine to assume. When that happens, I’m ineffective in what I am called to do, and I end up once again with a chaotic schedule.
- Focusing on busywork over my best work. Today’s busywork can look like work, but it’s not the best use of our time or energy at that moment. For me, I find answering emails an easier task than tackling a creative project. Since our best work usually requires the most from us, busywork is whatever we turn to rather than pushing or challenging ourselves.
I’m convinced busy isn’t bad. We are called to be productive. But busy taken to extremes is where we start to run life according to our to-do list, rather than God’s. When we do life God’s way, there is a pleasant sense of order, with enough time to do everything we need to do and everything we are called to do.