Busyness Is Not a Spiritual Gift

Pastors often wear the badge of “busyness” with pride. They feel that being busy is a sign of spirituality. But busyness can crowd out the important things of life — including people. Allow this article to challenge you to slow down and wait on God.

by Tammy Whitehurst

In this fast-paced, jungle-like world we build for ourselves, we rarely have waiting time. But is this what we really want? 

I easily become overloaded, overburdened, and go overboard with busyness. I have often thought that life would be perfect if bad times had fast-forward buttons and good times had pause buttons. I would also like to clone myself to get more done and never have to sit back and wait for anything. But is that really what I want?

Wait is a tough word to deal with in today's busy world. Being too busy can distract us from the important things in our lives — people. Do I really like being so busy that I am worn out by noon? No. I know deep within my heart that being overloaded is a way for the enemy to distract me from those most precious to me. If I am really honest, I would need to admit I learn more during those calm and peaceful times when my heart, soul, and mind all unite to seek God's will than I do when I am stretching my mind to hold more and more while I am falling apart. One thing I need to remember daily is that wait is not an ugly word and busy is not a spiritual gift. After all, God says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Isn't being still waiting? When you have a personality like mine, it is hard to be still, but it is only during those moments alone with God that I can truly feel a peace that surpasses all understanding. Busy is the enemy of peace. Busy steals precious time. Busy robs my blessings.

Waiting Time Is Never Wasting Time

In this fast-paced, jungle-like world we build for ourselves, we rarely have waiting time. We expect instant gratification and instant results — at lightning-fast speed. We become so engrossed in paperwork that we delete all the people work in our lives. We become so busy that we cannot remember the last time we took a full day off or sat at the dinner table with our family.

Life can bring about big storms, and the waves hit hard if we do not slow down. Busy can beat upon us like a drum. When those closest to us have stopped asking for our time, it's because they know we are too busy for them. That is crushing to the heart. We all need waiting time, whether we think we do or not. Waiting time is when we say adamantly, “It can wait,” and we step back and do what is really important.

I discovered this after I found myself checking my appointment book to see if I could squeeze in lunch with my 18-year-old daughter. I knew then that I had to take a good look at my priorities. The world would momentarily stop if something ever happened to her, so why can't I stop when she wants me to have lunch? It's amazing how busy I allow myself to be. To clear my schedule for a day or two feels impossible. I feel as if everything would fall apart if I said, “No, I'm sorry. I can't do that task,” or if I refuse to answer my phone. God puts His healing hand under my chin and assures me of one thing — He will never leave me, and He wants me to trust Him as He helps me clear my overloaded plate to a manageable amount.

The storm that rages inside me is shouting, “Slow down!” and demands my attention. But if I heed that call, the Creator of peace will shower me with a peace that surpasses all understanding if I just trust Him. The fragrance of grace and mercy will overflow in me when I come to peace with being less busy. Breaking old patterns is hard, but God reminds me that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Morning by Morning New Mercies I See

I began to sing the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” as I awoke each day. I asked the Lord to help me give up a life of unbridled busyness and to show me how to achieve balance between worshipping Him, loving my family, and enjoying my work. Somehow during the course of my life, I mixed those up and put work at the beginning. From this day forward, I was not going to let busy push me around until the struggles wore me out. I stood up tall, held my shoulders back, and smiled. I began to seize the opportunity to truly listen to God's plan for my life. Someone once told me peace smells like cupcakes. Step back and welcome that smell. Let your house begin to take on the odor of a bakery and watch how you begin to see and taste that the Lord is good.

If you are in a season of fast-paced insanity — no fun, frustration, and running around like a roadrunner, ask God to help you clear the unnecessary chaos you have brought to your life. Sit and wait as He begins to show you the things to remove and be ready to listen. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes. Do you love some of the things He might remove? Yes. But trust Him and hang on to your faith with an iron fist as you seek to glorify the Lord with your life. Begin to say, “Use me, Lord!” not “Why me, Lord?”

God is going to see you through and when He does, you will stand taller and bolder, and be more faithful. You will begin to smell the roses, taste the rain, laugh more, and not miss out on the important things. Good things will overflow in your life rather than exhaustion draining you. You will come out of the desert singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” knowing God is in control after all. It's a relief to not have to try to control everything. And the best part is that one day, as you awaken to sunshine peering through your window, you will feel the joy of the Lord has returned to your life. You will know that joy comes in the morning when you realize that busyness is not a spiritual gift.

The ultimate Peacemaker said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:27). He releases you to run free from chaos and to break free from busyness so you can experience a peace that surpasses all understanding. So, when your heart is calm, thank Him. And once you have done that, go to lunch with a loved one and do not forget to turn off your phone.

Tammy Whitehurst, a speaker, is founder of Joy for the Journey Ministries. Read more about her at tammywhitehurst.com.

Copyright {2012}, {Tammy Whitehurst} and Christianity Today/ChristianBibleStudies.com. Used with permission.