This is a guest post from Cindy Brandt.
In modern society, we throw around the word “busy” like a badge of honor. “Oh, I’m busy” is a signal of how good our lives are, how we’re living it to the fullest, or how much we are adding value to the world.
This mentality has seeped into the church and we have glorified busyness into better spirituality, when perhaps the opposite is true.
The less we are busy, the more we can cultivate our faith. Here are three ways the church can combat our addiction to busyness:
1. Present over Perfect
Author Shauna Niequist, in her book Bread and Wine, uses the phrase “present over perfect” in the context of hospitality. She says it is better to invite people over even if the house is a mess, or if the dining settings aren’t pristine, or the food is slightly burned than not to invite them at all. The act of being together is more important than having the perfect ambiance in the home.
I believe this to be true of the wider hospitality of the church as well.
Church leaders, it is more important that people gather over having cool projects and efficient programs.
Treating the well-being of people as more important than the tasks and goals of ministry is the first way we can combat blind busyness.
It is sometimes easy to get excited about big visions and dreams without being realistic about what it would take to fulfill those ideals. Often our hearts go before our heads, and we wish to help this many people, reach such-and-such population, without counting the human cost of burnout.
This is not to say we sit around doing nothing, but that we can be content with being good enough. It is okay if a ministry needs to end simply because there aren’t human resources to devote to it. It does not mean we are disappointing God. It just means we are seeking wisdom as we look at the big picture. It is far better to wait for the right people with the right skill set to show up for a program than to rush into it with the wrong people, causing both the people and the program to crash and burn.
In a celebrity-driven culture, we may lose sight of how ordinary most of us are.
Churches are filled with imperfect people doing the best we can to be faithful. We don’t need to deliver flawless performances or state-of-the-art programs, especially if it means driving already-busy people out the door. Lets welcome them into our imperfect churches without demanding all their energies. Being together trumps perfect programs.
2. Strengths Finder
It is important for churches to help busy Christians find their strengths so their ministry for the church is supported by this wellspring of energy rising from within their passion. Author Frederick Buechner says:
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Meeting needs are important, but when it comes from a place of deep gladness, it will minimize the risk of burnout.
When we embarked on our missionary assignment, our pastor gave us the book Now, Discover your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham to set us on a path of finding our strengths. Several other similar programs and books offer tools that may be useful as well.
When we are successful in doing the right hard things, our labor becomes targeted, focused, and effective, which refuels our passion.
We become diligent with work that is meaningful to us. We get tired, but never weary.
3. Build a Village
The goal is to maintain a healthier, more balanced schedule where we aren’t run ragged with busyness. However, there are inevitable seasons of our lives when we simply cannot avoid being busy. Many jobs have an ebb and flow of work busyness. Teachers have a rhythm of holidays with an intense pace in between. Parents of new babies face unrelenting demands of newborn care and an abrupt transition of family life.
However, hopefully we are not all busy at the same time. The joy of a healthy community is being there for one another during those seasons of particularly difficult times.
We are sometimes hesitant to ask for help when we are busy. But the Body of Christ is a faith village and we belong to one another.
Setting up meals for parents of newborns, offering childcare for the busy accountant during tax season, and coordinating a cleaning crew for the congregant moving into a new home are all examples of ways we can relieve the craziness of busy seasons in our lives.
We worship a God who commands Sabbath as a day of rest. In a culture that feeds our frenzy of wanting more, needing more, working more, God wants to say we are enough. We don’t need to do more to earn God’s love. Our needs and wants are satisfied deeply through a meaningful communion with God and the relationships we cultivate in community.
As the epidemic of busyness continues to encroach upon our modern lives, threatening our well-being, lets allow the church to be an antidote to the poison. Let Sundays truly bring rest to busy Christians as we share the deep joy of simply abiding in God, recharging spiritually to face a new week filled with the abundant grace of knowing we are enough for God.
This article is an excerpt from Cindy’s new book, Outside In: Ten Christian Voices We Can’t Ignore, which you can now get for free!
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