Text: Luke 10:38-42 | Listen to Message
Busyness: Its Cause, Effects, And Solution
Busyness is one of the preeminent virtues of postmodern, Western culture. Somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re supposed to keep the pedal to the metal and go a million miles an hour, overcommitting ourselves to all kinds of responsibilities, tasks, and events that pull us in several different directions at once. We’re more productive and less present than perhaps any culture in history.
The results of this busyness are well documented. Physically, we’re restless and exhausted, our immune systems are shot, and heartburn, migraines, and heart attacks are the norm. Emotionally, we’re anxious, frustrated, and frazzled. Relationally, we’re often opportunistic (using people) or transactional (checked out). Spiritually, we often feel empty, powerless, and guilty.
Where does this come from and why are we doing this to ourselves?
The story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 is a timeless glimpse at human nature. It’s like looking in the mirror and seeing clearly how we have become afflicted with “affluenza.” Notice where this busyness starts and notice where it inevitably leads:
Step 1: Focus on what you need to do to be “successful” (productive, rich, comfortable, popular, well-respected, etc.) – and then define your self-worth and identity in terms of your doing. Set yourself up so that everything rises or falls on perceptions of your performance.
Step 2: Let all the stuff that you need to do distract you from the presence and words of Christ.
Step 3: Grow increasingly anxious when situations and relationships don’t go the way you want and your goals go unrealized.
Step 4: Engage in self-pity over how hard you’re working and how little others seem to care.
Step 5: Resent and blame those who aren’t helping you achieve the life you want.
Step 6: Repeat.
Do you have the self-awareness and humility to see yourself in this cycle at all? Can you see that your chronic dissatisfaction and stress are, to a large degree, self-inflicted? Can you admit what you’re doing to yourself?
If these are the causes and effects of over-busyness and stress, what are its solutions?
1. Shift your focus from productivity to presence.
If you center your life on what you must do – even what you must do for the Lord! – you will often find yourself frustrated and exhausted. But if you center your life on Jesus himself, you will find yourself continually restored in/through his presence.
2. Replace the narrative of “I must do” with “he has done.”
Religion gives you a list of important things you must do for God in order to be somebody. The Gospel tells you what Jesus has done for you simply because he loves you. To the degree that you find your identity in the Gospel, you will find serenity for your soul.
3. Rehearse the good news that Christ is all you need.
Martha was preoccupied with a bunch of good things; Mary was preoccupied with the one necessary thing. Martha was busy preparing a feast for Jesus while Mary was already enjoying a feast from Jesus. Only one of them was satisfied: the one who made Jesus her portion.
Don’t just love the idea of Christ’s restorative presence and words, love Christ himself. Hunger and thirst for his words. Devour them in faith. And find your soul at rest.