I was recently captivated and challenged by a quote from Eugene Peterson in his book The Contemplative Pastor, where he says that the adjective ‘busy’ describing ‘pastor’ ought to sound to us as jarring as ‘adulterous’ and ‘husband’ or ’embezzling’ and ‘banker’.
Here are some more quotes from Peterson’s book and really have implications to any profession (beyond pastors) and simply in how we live our lives and structure our days.
“I (and most pastors, I believe) become busy for two reasons; both are ignoble.
“I am busy because I am vain.
“I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy?… I live in a society in which crowded schedules and harassed conditions are evidence of importance, so I develop a crowded schedule and harassed conditions. When others notice, they acknowledge my significance, and my vanity is fed.
“I am busy because I am lazy.
“I indolently let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. Let people who do not understand the work of the pastor write the agenda for my day’s work because I am too slipshod to write it myself…. It was a favorite theme of C. S. Lewis that only lazy people work hard. By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for us; then we find ourselves frantically at the last minute, trying to satisfy a half dozen different demands on our time, none of which I essential to our vocation, to stave off the disaster of disappointing someone….”
I don’t know if my life fits these descriptions or just simply “I’m busy because I don’t know how to operate otherwise!” Meaning I can’t get everything done that is asked of me and haven’t learned how to prioritize or say “No”.
All I can say is that I’m really challenged by this. I desire to focus on what is important to God. I want to invest in the Kingdom and eternal things. I’ve taken some words of Paul from Philippians 3 to speak into this area of my life, “As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead!
Basically, can I know Christ is such a way to overcome busyness? Can I be raised to new life and experience the power that allowed Him to minister out of the overflow of His connection with His Father? Can I keep the main thing the main thing and invest like Jesus did in what matters?