Too Busy Not to Be There

Fall is upon us. Everything is cranking back up. School, sports, band, chorus, clubs, church programs, and more.

Years ago author Bill Hybles wrote a book entitled Too Busy Not to Pray. He was onto something. As a leader and pastor of a huge church the demands upon him were great. Prayer is one of those things that can easily seem like a waste of time when you have so much work to do. But Bill understood that the busier he was, the more he needed to pray, because by praying he was admitting that he was completely dependent on God. In prayer he spoke with God about the burdens on his heart, the weight of his responsibilities, and asked God to show him what he should be putting his efforts into that day. He confessed his weaknesses and asked God for His strength to do the work God was asking him to do. He was simply too busy not to pray.

One of the common things I hear from both parents and students on a regular basis is that they are just too busy. “Megan has a big test to study for,” they say, or “Ryan has a lot of homework,” or “I have practice after school.” I don’t just hear these things from other students or parents; these realities are in my own home! I have teenagers, and our family is right there with you. The struggle is real!

And yet, I want to challenge all of us to have a paradigm shift. The truth is we are all busy! When I speak to students and parents, it is this reality that drives me to say, “Our busyness is precisely why we must make time to be together.” I wrote this down a few years ago: Our feet reveal our values. Where we choose to spend our time communicates what is most important to us. When, in the middle of our busy week, we take a time out — when we choose to stop for a couple of hours to take a breather, to be with other Christians who have also stepped out of the rat race to catch their breath — we are saying some important things.

We are testifying that we are followers of the way of Jesus not simply minions of our culture. We are getting together to hear what God says about how to live well.

We are humbly admitting our weakness as humans, and our need for rest and refreshment. We can’t just go, go, go all of the time. Even Jesus (God living as a human) needed time away from His busy schedule, and He told His disciples to disconnect from their busyness as well. (See Mark 1:35-37; 6:31)

We are confessing that our strength comes from the Lord, not simply from our efforts and will power.

We are reminding ourselves that we are not alone. We offer one another the gift of fellowship. We are supporting our fellow-strugglers by gathering together to share and listen and pray for one another.

And finally, we are obeying God’s Word which says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

My challenge to you is to not see youth group, small group, or church generally as just another thing you have to do — an item on a checklist. It is not extra credit; it is a core requirement of life. Taking a time out isn’t the most efficient use of time, but it is essential to your health.

The Necessity of a Forcing System

CalvinHobbsDoes this cartoon ring true for you? It does for me. I have found that I often need pressure to get things done. I find that I thrive when I am faced with a ticking clock. But I know it’s not the best thing for me or those around me if I am constantly living under pressure. It’s not good for my health, it’s not good for my relationships, and it’s not always best in terms of producing quality work. I have found that the challenge is to create a sense of urgency in which I can thrive, but which also allows me time to breathe before actual deadlines. This also provides me space to tweak or edit my work in order to submit the best of my work when it is due.

A number of years ago I watched a DVD on time management. One of the things that stuck with me was what author Brian Tracy called a forcing system. He cited Parkinson’s Law which says “work expands or contracts so as to fill the time available for its completion.” The idea was that we will generally take the full amount of time we are given to accomplish the task we are given. For example, if you are given 2 weeks to accomplish an assignment, you will take the full 2 weeks to finish it. If you are given 1 week to accomplish that same assignment, you will do whatever you need to do to finish it within the week. One of the things you can do in order to relieve the constant pressure of last-minute panic is to create deadlines for yourself which will force you to accomplish your tasks before they are actually due. For example, if you have a paper or a project due on Monday, make it your goal to finish it on Friday or Saturday. You will breathe easy for a couple of days knowing it’s done, or if you realize something could be improved, you still have time to make any minor adjustments to enhance your work without feeling that you don’t have time to do so.

I have found this to be true whether I am planning an event or preparing a sermon. I am not perfect at it, and I find myself up against the ropes more times that I care to admit. But whenever I am able to create a forcing system I find that I am able to relax more, and it causes me to be a more healthy leader.