Points to Ponder: Too Busy to Grow
Points to Ponder
Too Busy to Grow
I read of a man who embarked on a long road trip with his wife. They rushed to pack and get going so they wouldn't arrive too late in the day. Onto the interstate they rolled, picking up speed and setting the cruise control for a safe level just above the speed limit; but the woman noted that her husband had inadvertently gotten on the wrong ramp. "We're supposed to be going east; you're on the west-bound side," she said. He replied with a smile, "That's okay. We're making great time!"
So often in life we are caught up in a cycle of busyness that keeps us focused on how efficiently we're moving from one thing to the next, yet without regard to the ultimate direction in which our lives are heading. "Just got to get done . . . got to make that deadline . . . got to get these things settled." Are you in bondage to busyness? And how often have you discovered at the end of a week, a month, or even a year that through it all you were heading in the opposite direction of your original goal? Or maybe you didn't have a goal at all; you just know that for all that you do you're not really satisfied. You're not growing. You're tired, but you're not challenged. And where is God in all of this?
Dr. Michael Zigarelli, Dean at Regent University School of Business, conducted a survey of over 20,000 Christians from 139 countries, from December 2001 through June 2007. Sixty percent of those surveyed said that the busyness of life "often" or "always" gets in the way of their developing a relationship with God. Oddly enough, he found that, by profession, pastors were the most likely to be rushing from task to task (54%) and that their busyness had hindered them in developing their relationship with God (65%). Dr. Zigarelli said, "It's tragic. And ironic. The very people who could best help us escape the bondage of busyness are themselves in chains. The accelerated pace and activity level of the modern day distracts us from God and separates us from the abundant, joyful, victorious life He desires for us." Why is that so?
From his research, Dr. Zigarelli suggests that Christians are distracted from growing in their relationship with God because of a five-step "vicious cycle of cultural conformity."
* Christians conform to a culture of busyness, which leads to...
* God becoming more marginalized, which leads to...
* A deteriorating relationship with God, which leads to...
* Christians becoming even more vulnerable to secular assumptions about how to live, which leads to...
* Even more conformity to a culture of busyness.
So where's the root of the problem in this scenario? The keyword in the above five-step process seems to be conform. Conformity is not something that's done to us. It is a choice on our part. But why do so many of us choose to conform to the values and practices of a lost and dying culture? Why do we live like this when the real rewards aren't so rewarding at all?
Could it be that the pain of saying no, of being different, is greater than we think we can tolerate? In Romans 12:1-2, Paul says to present your bodies (your whole life) as a living sacrifice to the Lord, for this is reasonable and right and
"...be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,..."
Why would you do that? He goes on:
"...that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
I summarize the point this way: If you belong to God, submitting your life to His authority and standard, then you'll be able to think and process life and all of its demands in a new way. If you are constantly turning away from the Lord in order to turn toward something else (rationalizing the whole time), are you not saying that chains make a rather attractive bracelet? If your mind and your time are consumed by things that are not that good and acceptable and perfect will of God, then why does it matter so much? (Read that line again.)
Lets get to the point - and deeply ponder it. What are you so busy about that is so much more important than your relationship with God? Really.
I walked through the old Holy Redeemer cemetery in Baltimore and considered the generations of people lying there under the earth. What didn't they get done that week when they breathed their last? Who knows what it was? Did it get done? Does anyone care now? If it was really important, it was handled. Or not. So what?
In the end, the only thing that will matter is your relationship with God. When He calls you, you can't say, "Not now, I'm busy." He'll say, "Time's up...you're done."
"...it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27)
As you consider your own busyness, reflect on it this way: What is the eternal significance of what you're doing? Where is God in it? Does it matter if He is; more so, does it matter that He's not?
* Source: The Pastors' Weekly Briefing at Focus on the Family, 8/4/07).
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, of Clear Spring, MD. These articles are also found at www.HilltopChristianFellowship.com