Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm Too Busy

My friend responded that he was too busy to do something for me. I replied honestly and with much sympathy: “Yes, I understand.”

And I do.

I am the man who worked his way through college, paying every nickel of every bill --- and even earning enough besides to buy a new car, paying cash, of course. At college each day, working a full time job afternoons or evenings --- studying sometimes --- and never refusing the 8-hour shifts of overtime, I remember what it meant to be “too busy.”

I am the man who after college worked a 40-hour per week job, met a cute girl, and then took a 60-hour per week additional job to buy a ring. Looking back, I’m not sure why she accepted it; she never saw me much. Yes, yes, I know what it means to be “too busy.”

I am the man who once had three full time jobs at my employer, the only one I am aware of ever inflicted with this task --- and I enjoyed it. Three jobs, with three desks, in three buildings --- listed in the corporate directory with three phone numbers; it made me proud. When the new vice-president took over the division and set up a day of meetings to be briefed on some of the more important projects going on, people came and went from his office all day --- but I sat in the same chair most of the time as others filed in and out. “I guess I should get to know you,” he said. Oh, that was important to me, that casual recognition. Yes, I know only too well about the rewards associated with being “too busy.”

I am the man who was involved with so many charitable causes, I’m not sure I could remember all the reasons. I volunteered for so many church committees that I was one of the first anyone called. Asked by the archdiocese to start some new program for them; asked by the township to run for office; oh yes, I was important in my own eyes, and I knew what “too busy” meant.

I am also the man twice divorced. I’m not sure I could remember all the reasons there, either. Perhaps I was “too busy.”

Most things God gives us to do will not be acknowledged by men. We will not be a leader, nor be recognized for our efforts to do His will. We likely will not be congratulated. We may very well be despised. In fact, I guess it’s a pretty sure bet that many of the things we choose to do to receive acknowledgment by men are not things of God. But still we do them; we do them because others ask us, and we do them because they then honor us in some way, even if only to say “Wow, what a great guy you are!” The “Great Guy Award,” I think I must have won it innumerable times. It’s value is akin to the “Atta Boy Award;” one thousand Atta Boy’s enables you to be a leader of men, however one “Awshit” deletes all you have accumulated and you must start over again. I didn’t get many “awshits. But the ones I got were, I’m sure, well deserved.

Early in my life I learned the value of hard work: “You can have anything you want in life, all you have to do is work to get it.” Somewhere along the way, however, the working for what I wanted got replaced by the working for what others wanted, and I could not say no to their requests. And so I took on ever more assignments and special projects and tasks, tasks which often no one else wanted either because of their lack of monetary rewards or their long hours or travel. But I didn’t say no. I went from working for things I wanted, to working for “Great Guy” awards, and I didn’t seem to notice the change.

But no one can do everything --- even if someone silly like me tries. I think that may have been a major part of my conversion experience, my “coming to Jesus.” He called me in a way which I could not resist, and all the things “I had to do,” I put aside to answer His call. I’m glad He gave me that grace, that grace to find time for Him. It changed my life. I no longer worked for what I wanted; I no longer worked for what others wanted; my main priority and commitment to find time for, was to work for what He wanted. And I got more pleasure from doing His work than from the things I chose to work for myself, and got more recognition for His tasks than those I did at the request of others. Oh, I still worked for and with others --- and sometimes many hours, but my priorities had changed.

I found real happiness and peace when I found that life wasn’t about achieving things for myself or for others, but achieving things for Him. Sometimes that did mean achieving things for others, only they weren’t the top executives in this world, they were the bottom forgotten, until I remembered them. All the things I wanted or all the things others wanted me to do weren’t important, they had no real value for me, if I wasn’t doing the things He wanted. And I found, much too late in life, that I couldn’t let myself be “too busy.”

“Let me see if I can find some time on my calendar” --- how often I said those words. Oh, if a higher boss called and said he HAD to see me, I made room on that calendar, I did recognize that some people are more important than others (even if some of the things they asked weren’t). Somehow in those early days, however, I never got around to thinking of God as a more important person, who could command time on my calendar, who could out-prioritize other things already scheduled. I thought I was a smart person; I wonder why I never figured that out?

But thanks to His loud and persistent calling to me, I think I finally learned.

Never be too busy for God. Seek first to know and do His will, and your recognition will not be for a week or even a year, but for all eternity, with a pay increase you could never spend. Don’t you remember that he calls some to leave family and home --- and He doesn’t ask if they are “too busy.” Don’t you remember that no matter how much money or praise you could accumulate, you are to “seek first the Kingdom of God”?

Don’t be too busy, my friends. Don’t be too busy. If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.


  1. I think this is the first glimpse you've given into your personal past. It's a good lesson here, one I definitely need. I'm considering cutting my hours at work in an effort to find some kind of balance between work,home and church. Not sure at this point what I will do, but I do know that something has got to give before I crack!

  2. Well, Anne, this blog is not about my life, except insofar as it is an example of why or how to "not be anxious." I see I have a number of posts categorized as "My Life" (although I stupidly forgot to categorize this one that way), so there are other somewhat personal stories.

    Relative to anxiety, I read in the WSJ this morning that it is estimated that up to 25% of adults suffer from some mental illness, with 18% suffering from anxiety. A good reason to continue this blog, and its focus, and support for why the Bible says so often "Be not afraid". We DO worry too much.