Category: Addicted to Busy

Working Well

The discussions that have surfaced since the release of my new book, Addicted to Busy, have spanned from encouragement to some confusion. Most people understand after reading the book that I was not calling for a cessation of our labors. In fact, I have emphatically preached the opposite. We are not forsaking our responsibilities when we rest, it is for the sake of our responsibilities that we rest. Nowhere in the book was I advocating for less productivity. What I’m discovering in this journey is that for every person that does not know how to rest, just as many have never been taught a strong work ethic.

How do we work well and rest well simultaneously? The book covers the “rest well” part, so let’s discuss what it means to be industrious, to sweat, to grind and stand out at the place of our employment.

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer, or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” Proverbs 6

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23

 

1. Show up on time

One of the most respectful things we can do is honor people’s time. It is rude to be habitually late. “On time” means arriving, ready to work, five minutes early, by the way.

 

2. Suggest solutions rather than point to problems

Every healthy boss I know wants people around them who are problem solvers. Promotions always chase these people down and favor follows them wherever they go. Leaders lead people toward solutions. Leaders are proactive, anticipating problems and solving them long before they surface and scar the organization.

 

3. Be positive

I call these EBI people. This could be “even better, if …”.  These are people who believe the best, speak the best and end up being the best. We cannot control our circumstances, but we can control our attitudes. People who are full of faith and hope for the future usually get what they expect.

 

4. Play nice 

“His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart.” Psalm 55:21

People who build bridges go further than those who blow up relationships.  People of peace are blessed but those who are always looking for trouble will find it. The Holy Spirit does his best work in unity among people who choose to forgive and encourage one another. Playing nice means we use our words to heal others, not shame others. Life and death is in the power of our tongue, and people of peace measure what they say, never reckless with language.

 

 5. Promote others 

It has been my goal the past 20 years to work myself out of every job I have been given. I want to raise up my replacement, equip them to run past me and then cheer them on when they do. This is the Jesus way of leading. He spent three years with a group of leaders and saw potential in them that no one else could imagine. He left them with huge responsibilities and all the resources they would need to succeed and they did!

 

What have you learned about work that has served you well as an adult? If you lead people, what qualities do you look for when promotions and raises are being awarded?

 

 

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Breaking Busy – Step One

This is the first devotional I am sending to anyone who signs up for the 12-Day Addicted to Busy Challenge. You will get a similar email every day encouraging you to embrace the rhythms of life modeled by Jesus. If you want to sign up, click here.

We are all spread too thin, taking on more than we can handle, trying to do so much—almost as if we are afraid that if we were to take a moment of rest, we might discover that all our busyness is covering up an essential lack in our lives.

But God never meant for us to be so busy. God desires for us peace. God desires rest.

The first step to breaking your addiction to busy:

Acknowledging unhealthy rhythms

Even the healthiest and holiest people have some rhythms that don’t serve them well.

Maybe you chronically sign up for more than your soul’s capacity will allow. Perhaps you need to be needed. Maybe you consistently neglect to carve out time to spend with God each day, or you “come down” from a workweek in a less-than-stellar way.

Think about your own life—your own daily ebbs and flows. What rhythms aren’t serving you well? Which could stand to be adjusted or altogether removed?

What to do:

On a sheet of paper or in your journal, jot down the unhealthy rhythms that come to mind. Don’t worry yet with how to change them; we’ll deal with that later. For now, simply get them down in writing so that they’re top of mind as we walk through this together.

 

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How to Take a Day Off

Let’s be honest, most of us do not know how to take a day off without feeling guilty, restless or insecure. As a young pastor, I seldom chilled for a entire day and it almost cost me my marriage, my health and my ministry. Today, I am better at it. Here are some thoughts and suggestions to help all of us unplug and regularly recharge our lives.

1. Use social media just to be social, or avoid it altogether.

2. Go on a date with your spouse, or do something fun with a great friend.

3. Go outside and take a walk or just sit awhile in the sun. The sun recharges our bodies with vitamin D, which protects against a host of health problems.

4. Unless it’s family or one of your close friends, do not answer your phone. Voicemail is a great screening tool.

5. Don’t drink cheap coffee and eat a donut. With sprinkles.

6. Talk about anything but work stuff. Note to pastors – church stuff is work stuff.

7. Wear clothes you would never wear to work. I have an awful set of t-shirts I wear on my day off. Instagram photos will follow as proof.

8. Laugh often. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh.

9. Spend time reading something that will stir your imagination.

10. Hit yourself on the kneecap with a hammer each time you read an email from work. After a couple of emails, you will be forced to lie down and rest.

11. Spend some time completely alone. Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. We should too.

Want more on this topic of rest, sabbath and sustainable rhythms? My new book, Addicted to Busy has just released. It is an encouraging and empowering read for anyone struggling to find solace in a chaotic world.

What do you like to do on a day off? Leave me a comment.

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The Gift of a Sabbatical

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 5:16

This is one of my favorite Scriptures describing the leadership rhythms of Jesus. In the middle of a busy and hectic season of healing the sick, preaching to the multitudes and mentoring his core leaders, Jesus would simply disappear. His followers would frantically search for him, only to find him alone, praying, and restoring his own soul. He was putting on his own oxygen mask before attempting to help others.

It’s important we pay careful attention to the lifestyle Jesus modeled, and that is why sabbaticals are a part of our ethos here at New Life. Every full-time employee receives this gift every seven years and we encourage them to take advantage. We believe these times are critical for the health of our team and for our congregation.

This Summer, it’s my turn for a much needed sabbatical. I will be gone for several weeks, but the congregation will be led during my time away by the strong team God has given us. I truly believe this will be the most fruitful Summer in our church’s history.

The elders and I have been planning for this extended time away for months now, with three primary goals.

1. Rest

I’m grateful that I am not wrestling with burnout as I enter this sabbatical. In fact, I am more energized and encouraged than ever. My family and I have strived to follow the principles of rest, solitude, and Sabbath for many years now. In fact, I talk about these life-giving principles in my new book, Addicted to Busy, which releases when I return later this Summer. However, I’m sure I have underestimated the physical, emotional and mental toll these past seven years have taken on my family. I know I need to rest, and so I will.

2. Reflect

A lot has happened in the past seven years, both in the church and within my family. I do not want to miss anything God is showing me, so I need to pause, reflect, and journal all my thoughts from these amazing and challenging years. I want to have unhurried conversations with Pam, my wife of almost 25 years, and with my two teenagers, who are racing toward adulthood. I will also spend some much needed time with our church Overseers, mentors and close friends to get their wise perspectives.

3. Recharge

The last goal is to simply recharge my batteries for the days, years and decades ahead. New Life is growing and healthy. Our team is amazing and the best days for our congregation are still in front of us. I want to be re-energized to serve alongside all of you with a renewed spiritual vitality. I want to sharpen my spiritual disciplines, lose some middle-aged weight, eat better and exercise regularly so I can finish this race as strong as I started.

Thank you for giving me this gift of a sabbatical and I promise to steward this time well. You are a great tribe of people and we love you very much. Have a blessed Summer and may God be present in your rest, too.

 

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May God be Present in Our Rest

I’m working on the final edits for my new book, Addicted to Busy, Recovery for the Rushed Soul, which releases in September. This is a short excerpt and is one of my favorite parts of the book.

 

I love to travel — always have, and probably always will. I love eating food items I don’t normally eat, seeing sights I don’t normally see, and traipsing about foreign lands. I love seeing how people do life on the other side of the planet and having my horizons expanded and enriched as I go.

Here’s what’s also true: I always love coming home. I love coming home because in my home, everything is “just so.” The foods I like are there, and they are right where I like them to be. The pillow I like is there, and it is always on “my” side of the bed. The closet in my bedroom contains the clothes I like to wear. The truck I like to drive is always right there, in the garage. My home is perfectly suited for me—my patterns, my preferences, my tastes and my desires. It fits me hand-on-glove. In fact, it was arranged with me in mind.

Interestingly, the Bible says the Sabbath works the same way. “The Sabbath was made to serve us,” Jesus tells his disciples in Mark 2:27. “We weren’t made to serve the Sabbath.”

The context of this verse is fantastic. Four verses prior, we learn that Jesus is walking through a field of ripe grain with his disciples. As they carve a path through the tall stalks of wheat, some of the disciples pull off a few heads of grain. They were hungry, and so they ate. But this was on the Sabbath, a fact the Pharisees who were tagging along decided to draw attention to. “Look!” those law-keepers said to Jesus. “Your disciples are breaking Sabbath rules!” (v. 23).

The “rules” the Pharisees were referring to included a whole host of parameters the Hebrew people had set forth generations prior. Specifically, they were taking issue with one of the thirty-nine categories of banned activities, known as reaping—removing all or part of a plant from its source of growth. This was forbidden on the Sabbath because it was considered work, it was considered an activity of creation, and this was to be a day of non-creation, a day of rest.

Which brings us to Jesus’ response about the Sabbath being made for us, instead of the other way around. His perspective, essentially, was this: Moses and the prophets may have set forth the schedule of Sabbath, but I—Jesus—have come to establish the spirit of it. And the spirit of it is one of peace, not of prohibition. An early realization I came to in my bedhead-day observance was that I could be the most scheduled, efficient, dutiful person on the planet and yet if I missed the spirit of the Sabbath, I was missing the glory God intended for it.

In this world, we are promised a little chaos. For some of us, we’re promised a lot. “In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties,” Jesus says in John 16:33, “but take heart! I have conquered the world.” And interestingly, the way Jesus conquers the world is not by acts of war, but by acts of pervasive peace. It is peace that brings us to Christ. It is peace that saves our souls. And it is peace that saves our weeks from peril, the peace of a day of rest. God knew we’d need peace once a week, like we need our own bed after being on the road for a week. He knew we’d need a soft place to land, a plumb line to re-center our souls. And so, the Sabbath—an invitation, a gift, a small taste on the tongue of peace.

In Jewish tradition, there is a name for this: Shabbat shalom—literally, “may your day of no work be peaceful.” One person would say this as a greeting to another, and that person would respond in kind: “May your day of no work be peaceful as well.”

Since God is not only the inventor of peace but also is himself Peace, another way of saying it is, “May God be in your rest, and may you be in the rest of God.” A day of rest is a day to know peace, to experience and express the peace of God.

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Can Our Kids Thrive Without Being So Busy?

The following is a short excerpt from my new book, Addicted to Busy, which releases this Fall.  I would love your comments about the hard choices you have made to maintain sanity around your kid’s schedules. What mistakes did you make? How have you found safe rhythms for your home?

A bee is never as busy as it seems; it’s

just that it can’t buzz any slower.
–Kin Hubbard

Practically speaking, my observation is that when kids are never taught how to appreciate healthy rhythms, once they escape the frenetic pace their parents have maintained on their behalf, they rebel like Rebellion is their middle name. Busyness has become their business, and when that busyness disappears, they don’t know what to do with their lives. They don’t know what to do with an idle thought, let alone an idle day. To this point, writer of “The Busy Trap” article Tim Kreider: “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.” Most people who suffer from rickets are kids, and most kids who get it are starving. I realize that in twenty-first-century North America, a majority of kids are not starving from food, but I guarantee they are starving for something—for calmness, for quietness, for rest.

When Pam and I decided back when our kids were young to unplug one day a week, it was a counter-cultural move, to be sure.  Unlike nearly every other toddler we knew, Abram and Callie were not in gymnastics classes, dance classes, horseback-riding classes, foreign-language classes, art classes, etiquette classes, or classes that taught taekwondo. As three- and five-year-olds, they were not on soccer teams, basketball teams, debate teams, cheerleading squads, or in science clubs, and those tiny fingers never played piano once. Sure, various activities would emerge as they got older—including basketball and taekwondo. But in those early years, even in the face of mounting pressure, we chose to simply stay home.

In 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, the apostle Paul writes, “I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don’t complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple—in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out.”

Keep it simple. Uncomplicated. Dealing as sparingly as possible.

            Huh? Is this really possible, Paul?

Pam and I decided it was. And we ordered our lives according to that truth. We let the hyper-scheduled families zoom right past us, while we stayed hunkered down inside our peaceful home. And you know what? We were better for it. We recognized how well our kids did when we didn’t have plans for them on those days. We saw that if we gave our kids time and space to breathe, to exhale, to just be kids, they flourished. From time to time, we wondered if they were missing out on something—if by not learning an instrument or a foreign language at age three, they’d somehow suffer later on. But by the end of each bedhead day, we’d have our answer again. A day of rest was pure benefit for them. “Just as our children depend on us for three meals a day,” writes Katrina Kenison, “they also need us to prepare peaceful spaces for them in the midst of this busy world.” There was nothing for Abram and Callie but upside, by our choosing not to run ragged, by choosing to live joyfully at rest.

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