Me, Myself, and I: Confronting Selfishness in our Busyness

Recently, someone in my microchurch admitted they were selfish and didn’t know how to break out of it.  Selfishness is more widespread than we believe…

Yesterday’s post dealt with selfishness that is the result of being sucked into our consumeristic culture.  Today’s post is related, but from a different angle…

Our busyness.

Many of us are so busy that we may feel like we’re “running around like a chicken with its head cut off.”  As a rule, chickens that have their heads cut off run around for a little while and then drop dead (there have been very rare exceptions).  Our lives, if we’re not careful, can end up like that–we’ll run around like crazy for a little while, and then drop dead.  We’ll have been very busy, but will our busyness have any real purpose or meaning?

Most of it will not.

Our culture encourages busyness.  We want to be “productive.”  Unfortunately, we’ve equated busyness with productivity.  Even worse, we’ve equated busyness with significance.  We pack our schedules so tightly with work, kid’s activities, activities for self–the list goes on and on.  What ends up happening?  We have no time for stuff that really matters.

There are some things we cannot help.  Our jobs are one of those areas.  We have to work, and usually the hours our boss gives us.  Some of us have jobs that, when quittin’ time comes, we can leave at work.  Some of us do not–we have paperwork that has to get done at home, etc. 

There are some areas we can help.  Some of us with kids have them scheduled for a ton of activities, and most of our evenings are consumed with them.  Yeah, we want our kids to be well rounded, but by having them do piano, karate, soccer, and scouts, aren’t we teaching them that busyness equals significance (aside from the fact that they’ll be a jack of many trades, but master of none)?

Think about this:  we’re very good at compartmentalizing our lives.  We have work, home, church, activities, etc.  Each area consumes a slice of life, like a pie chart.  Many of us who follow Jesus see the idea of “serving others” as another compartment of life… something else to add to the schedule.  And what happens?  We don’t have time.  We’re… so… busy.

Yesterday’s post mentioned a story Jesus told about a rich dude who was very busy.  He was a farmer–and farming is a busy occupation.  He built his wealth up through busyness on the job.  He had a huge surplus… which he kept for himself.  The result–he lost his life because he wasn’t rich toward God.  Our busyness is often (not always, but often) related to us–our wants, our needs, our desires.  Everyone else, God included, gets pushed out of the picture.

What would it look like if we “redeemed our time”?  First, what are the areas of our life that we can simplify?  We may not be able to cut our work hours (some of us could), but what other areas of life can we simplify so that our schedules are less crowded?  Second, what would it look like if we allowed God to change our attitudes, perspectives, and lives to the point that we don’t add a compartment for serving others like Jesus did, but see the things we do–the job, the activities, etc.–as mission fields, channels to express and pour out God’s love?  What if we were always looking for opportunities to ambush people with God’s love in the midst of our lives instead of in addition to them.

To simplify it:  what if we actually started living life as God intended, imitating Jesus?

Leave some feedback:  what areas of your life are you busy, but not productive; busy, but not significant?  What needs to be done in order to redeem your time?

Tomorrow, we’ll look at how our own problems actually increase our selfishness.

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About Aaron

Aaron is a follower of Jesus. He's married to his smokin' hot wife Laura and is the father of three adorable girls. He enjoys a robust cigar, a complex root beer, a good movie, writing, football, thought-provoking books, and rousing discussions about subjects you're not supposed to talk about (like theology and politics). Religious people irritate him (because he once was one). He's on a quest to find the perfect dry rub and sauce for ribs.
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4 Responses to Me, Myself, and I: Confronting Selfishness in our Busyness

  1. Aaron says:

    My experience will be unlike everyone else’s (well, in our churches). The “professional ministry” can be very busy. It often looks like the things preachers and church planters do are significant, and many are. But if we’re not careful, we can get so busy that we lose sight of why they are significant… and that’s true of most jobs. There aren’t “sacred” jobs and “secular” jobs (well, unless they involved a long metal pole and a thong… or black lights in closets or trying to acquire a ton of OTC cough meds). For the most part, our jobs are sacred–we can, and should, do them as if we’re doing them for Jesus.

    I sometimes “punch the clock” and want that “me” time. Some of which is fine (and needed), but some of which could–and needs–to be used for serving others.

  2. Laura says:

    I am lucky in this aspect. Because I am a nurse my job allows me to serve others. And I try to remember to be like Jesus when I am working. When I have difficult patients, I pray for patience before my visit. I ask God to help me be a reflection of Jesus to these people. Unfortunately, I don’t always give God the credit. People often thank me for stopping by to see them and it’s hard for me to tell them that I do it because Jesus loves them and I love them because they know I’m also doing it for a paycheck. I do try to go above and beyond what my job requires of me so that they know that I truly do care and I’m not just doing it because I get paid.

    What areas of my life am I too busy in?!?!? Let’s see — I think I watch too much t.v. Honestly, work takes up most of my time. If I’m not working, I’m cleaning the house or I’m home with the family watching t.v. I don’t know where I need to cut back at. Maybe you can tell me, honey.

  3. Aaron says:

    I think you’ve already named it. TV is one of the biggest time wasters in our culture. Americans on average watch several hours of TV a day. How many of us have those “can’t miss” shows–multiple ones, probably at least 1-2 every night? And Tivo-ing them isn’t the answer either.

    The internet is quickly gaining ground on TV usage (and, for many people, has already passed it). I know I waste time on the internet some evenings.

    If we would cut back on these things and start using some of that time serving others, we’d start seeing a big difference in our lives, our faith, and the lives of others. Now we (including myself) need to start doing something about it.

  4. Heather says:

    Whew I’m still glad we don’t have Tivo for that exact reason! There is nothing that we need to see that badly!

    I’m so lucky with my job because all my work and thoughts of work stay there and when I’m off, I’m really off. I used to be on call and that was such a life-ruiner. I waste some time on TV, internet, etc., but when I started thinking about what I do when I’m by myself and have free time…it’s definitely cooking. The thing I missed most when I was recovering from surgery was cooking! Since that’s what God made me enjoy, I am trying to be more selfless with it, especially with stuff like sharing food with my neighbors. Believe it or not, it’s even easy to be selfish because sometimes I make something so good and if the ingredients were expensive, it’s easy to want to eat it all and not “waste” the money. Well, that’s dumb. So that’s it for me…

    Also, I can’t believe you actually looked up that chicken video.

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