Socrates once famously warned, "Beware the barrenness of a busy life."
I recently read a study conducted by ABC News just a few months ago in which they addressed the increasing "busyness" of the American worker. Going back to 1970, they tracked the number of hours the average white-collar American worked and, conversely, how much time they had for leisure activities. In their findings, they noted that in 1990 Americans worked an average of nearly one month more per year than they had just twenty years earlier. Also of note was the fact that this trend "hasn't been reversed in the last decade." What are the side effects of this increased "busyness" as reported by ABC News author Dean Schabner?
"Road rage, workplace shootings, the rising number of children placed in day care and the increasing demand on schools to provide after-school activities to occupy children whose parents are too busy have all been pointed to as evidence that Americans are overstressed and overworked."
It would seem that perhaps Socrates was correct in his warnings about being too busy. If the results of being too busy are rage, murder, and much less family time, then I think it safe to classify the effects of being excessively busy as barrenness indeed.
Jesus Christ knew the value of rest - in stepping away from the hustle and bustle of life - and the positive results it can have on your relationship with the Lord and those closest to you. Mark 6 is an incredibly busy chapter: Jesus teaching in the synagogue, praying for his disciples and sending them out, healing the sick, teaching from village to village, feeding thousands of people, and then, after all that, more healing. Interestingly enough, right in the middle of this flurry of activity, the apostles were reporting to Jesus all that they had done when He sent them out. Jesus' response to them, recorded in verses 31-32, is one that speaks of the importance of spiritual rest.
"The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.' So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place."
Are you too busy? Is the church too busy? Are we so continually caught up in a flurry of activity that we run the risk of spiritual barrenness? I have often wondered if those who suffer from "burnout" in ministry have simply subjected themselves to prolonged periods of "busyness" and have neglected spiritual rest.
If you find yourself not listening to those closest to you, becoming apathetic about others, or even just not spending quality time with family, then you may well be on the path to spiritual barrenness. If your schedule is such that prayer is absent, reading is an afterthought, and family is relegated to weekends, or worse, then consider taking this advice from Christ: Come with me to a quiet place by yourself and get some rest. May we not get to the point where we are so busy trying to rescue the perishing that we forget to care for the rescued, including ourselves. At times, the call of Christ is to labor for the harvest, and at other times His call is to be refilled with prayer, solitude, and fellowship. May The Lord continue to provide us with His wisdom and discernment as we seek this balance in serving Christ, serving our family, and serving others as well.
Each week this blog will be updated with a word for the week from my current studies.