The third danger is that busyness can cover up the rot in our souls. The hectic pace of life can make us physically and spiritually sick. We get that. What we may not recognize is that our crazy schedules are often signals that a sickness has already set it.
Since 2002 I’ve gotten together each fall with my friends from seminary. Nine of us met every week while we are at Gordon-Conwell, and when we graduated we made a commitment to see each other once a year. We eat a lot, laugh a lot, and watch a lot of football. We also talk about our joys and struggles from the past twelve months. Over the years we’ve noticed familiar themes for each of us. We all have our besetting sins and predictable issues. Mine has been busyness. When it comes time for me to share everyone expects to hear how I have too much to do and don’t know what to cut out of my life.
While it may sound unhealthy for grown men to wrestle with the same issues year after year, the healthy sign is that we’ve begun to take more responsibility for our struggles. We realize that if the same issues get the same guys every year, then maybe the real issue is inside each of us. What does it say about me that I’m frequently overwhelmed? What do I need to learn about myself? What promises am I not believing? What divine commands am I ignoring that I should obey? What self-imposed commands am I obeying that I should ignore? What’s going on in my soul that this comes out as my chief challenge every year?
The presence of extreme busyness in our lives may point to deeper problems—a pervasive people pleasing, a restless ambition, a malaise of meaninglessness. “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness,” writes Tim Kreider in his widely read article for The New York Times. “Obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.” The greatest danger with busyness is that there may be greater dangers you never have time to consider.
Busyness does not mean you are a faithful or fruitful Christian. It only means you are busy, just like everyone else. And like everyone else, your joy, your heart, and your soul are in danger. We need the word of God to set us free. We need biblical wisdom to set us straight. What we need is the Great Physician to heal our overscheduled souls.
If only we could make time for an appointment.