I am a person who prides myself on being both busy and productive. Each night before I go to bed, I write an hour-by-hour itinerary of what I will do the next day and when I will do it.
Being productive is a wonderful quality. I once read that many of the world’s most influential leaders made daily plans for how they would spend their time.
However, there does come a point when our endeavors for productivity can turn into something that can harm our spiritual health. There is such a thing as being too busy.
Here are three signs that you have fallen victim to your schedule.
You are constantly distracted (and you don’t even realize it).
You’re always moving from one task to the next. Your mind is always going a million miles an hour. In fact, you are always living in the future and never fully in the moment of what is happening right now.
When you wake up in the morning, your mind immediately begins to run through that list of things you wrote the previous night. You are reading the news and drinking your coffee at the same time while simultaneously updating your Facebook status.
You are sitting in church but all you can think about is where you’re going to eat lunch when it’s over, and later while you’re sitting at lunch across from your friend, you’re only half listening to what they’re saying because you’re thinking about the other half of your to-do list that will be waiting for you when you return home.
While being constantly distracted, you are eternally unaware that underneath the surface, you are missing important messages from the people around you and from God himself. It is a slow and dangerous burn that can take over your peace of mind if you don’t stop to smell the tulips once in a while.
You “don’t have time” to relax.
Coffee outings with friends and various other invitations are often turned down. If it hasn’t been scheduled a month in advance, you’re “sorry but you’re just not going to be able to make it this time.”
And in the rare occasion that someone actually does manage to schedule you for an evening out, once again, you struggle to enjoy yourself because you have conditioned yourself to being constantly productive, and now when it’s time to relax, you simply can’t even if you want to.
That list is always there in the back of your mind. Of course, this isn’t healthy at all.
Everyone knows that our bodies need rest to function, and so do our minds! God didn’t create us just to work, but also to enjoy the relationships in our lives. If you continue on in this way, pretty soon, the people you care about most are going to start questioning whether they are of any value to you.
You are feeling distant from God.
But hold on a minute, how can that be? you might say. “I’ve been striving all this time to be productive, to ensure that I am maximizing my time and my service to God. Shouldn’t I feel closer to him instead of farther apart? What gives?”
While you’ve been going non-stop in your pursuits of productivity, you haven’t had any time at all to actually commune with God. You’re reading your bible and praying, but there’s no time to hear from the other end of the line. All you’ve got is output without any input—and continue on like that for long enough without really “hearing” from God, and of course, at some point it is inevitable that you’re going to feel distant, and perhaps even unloved.
When things go wrong in your life, you are going to feel betrayed by God for “punishing you” rather than thankful to him for the growing opportunity. You see, when we are too busy to hear from God, we begin to lose our grasp on a proper and healthy perspective.
Luke 10:38-42 tells the account of a woman named Martha who opens her home to Jesus. But the whole time Jesus is there, Martha is too busy in the kitchen and playing hostess to actually enjoy her guest’s company unlike her sister Mary who sits at his feet and absorbs his every word, his every move.
This story sort of reminds me of my mother whenever we had company over growing up. My father always used to complain: “The dishes can wait, Tristie! Why can’t you just sit still and visit with us a minute?”
I smile when I think about this because many moms are the same, I think. When someone enters their home, they want to make sure that their guests are comfortable and that everything is perfect. They sacrifice their own relaxation and get satisfaction from seeing their guests enjoy their home and the meal they have worked hard to prepare, and there is nothing inherently wrong with that.
In the story of Martha and Mary, Martha complains at one point to Jesus that her sister is not helping with the work, but Jesus responds with something very poignant. He says, essentially, “Martha, you’re taking care and doing many good things, but you have forgotten the most important part: me!”
We must be wary that we don’t become so busy we are actually missing out on the single most important part of life which is the time spent at Jesus’s feet—otherwise, our spiritual health is sure to suffer.
God cares about our productivity, but more than that, he yearns for our fellowship both with Him and with one another.