It’s often stated that the antidote to living a busy life is to live a balanced life. There are two problems with this. 1) The Bible doesn’t teach balanced living. Did Paul live a balanced life? Did King David live a balanced life? John the Baptist sure didn’t eat a balanced diet? (Matt. 3:4) 2) The Bible doesn’t teach compartmentalised living. This is a very western way of viewing life. The notion of balance often implies equality. We think of life like a pie. How much of the pie goes to work? How much of the pie goes to family? How much of the pie goes to hobbies? How much goes to church? We compartmentalise life and we stress out trying to make sure we have enough pie to go around.
God designed us to work. Work is a means of God’s provision for us. Laziness and apathy are not godly characteristics as the writer of Proverbs notes many times.
4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. Prov. 10:4
25 The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labour. Prov. 21:25
As much as laziness can be a problem so too can busyness. But as stated in the previous post (http://wp.me/p1gDan-3z), busyness is not always the real problem – distractedness and restlessness are truly our problem.
SO WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
REDEFINE THE WHY
Your ‘WHY’ is your game changer. Often people are distracted or restless because they don’t know why they are doing what they’re doing. A lack of purpose will lead to constant distraction, a lack of productivity and a sense of restlessness. MOTIVATION DETERMINES EXPECTATION, WHICH DETERMINES GRATIFICATION. ‘I’m doing ‘TASK A’ for reason ‘A’, therefore I expect to receive ‘B’ from TASK A.’ Your ‘why’ really matters to how you feel about what you do.
Have you ever done something for your spouse or loved one, like cleaning the house or washing the car, only to receive an absence of acknowledgement or thanks from them? How did that make you feel? If you’re anything like me, you got a little ticked off and felt unappreciated. Why? Because your ‘why’ was multifaceted. In one sense you did that task to GIVE to your spouse; in another sense you did it to GET from them. The reason you got a little ticked off was that part of your ‘why’ included receiving acknowledgment and thanks. However if your soul purpose were to serve and love them, then it wouldn’t matter what you receive in return. They received what you set for them to receive. Which was your ‘why’.
Now the above example is a little simplistic and obviously couples should acknowledge and thank each other regularly. So don’t take the illustration too far. But it does highlight the importance of knowing your why. And it shows how easy it is to be drained and frustrated by a task if the why isn’t clearly defined nor the expectation met.
Why that relationship? Why that career? Why are you studying? Why do you work those hours? Why that home? Why that car? Why that suburb? Why that school? WHY?
Sometime busyness isn’t the problem; it’s a lack of purpose. Redefine your why and you can remove distractions, increase purposefulness and regain a sense of joy and satisfaction in what you do.
The characters in the Bible that we seek to emulate didn’t live balanced lives they lived purposeful lives. They didn’t compartmentalise their life and give equal amounts of time, money and energy to everything. Rather they had a clearly defined purpose in life and lived towards that end.
A Christian worldview gives me a clear purpose in life – live in love to God and love to my neighbour. When I work – I work as a means of loving God and loving my neighbour. When I’m at home – I parent and husband as a means of loving God and loving my wife and children. When I hobby, when I hang with friends, when I study, when I preach at church, no matter what I do I have a sense of divine purpose which immediately brings value and joy to what it is I do.
31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Cor. 10:31
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col. 3:17
There is a big difference between living to get and living to give. When God created the world he didn’t create to get something. God is by definition self-sufficient. He needs nothing. He’s not lonely. He’s not bored. He doesn’t have a low self-esteem. He’s God and he works from fullness not emptiness. Do you see how this works? As humans we often work ‘to get’. When we get that certain job we feel good about ourselves because we’re working to get an identity. It’s easy for us to work in order to get power, get possessions, to get security and to win approval. The ‘getting’ becomes our why! It’s our purpose for doing.
Now there’s nothing wrong with power, possessions, positions or popularity. These are neither good nor bad. They’re morally neutral. The difference is, unlike God, we work from a place of emptiness looking to get something to bring us to fullness. What difference would it make if you were able to work from a place of fullness rather than emptiness?
In a Christian worldview you already have a secure identity. You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. The creator of the universe already declares you incredibly valuable and has adopted you in as a part of his family. You can never be more loved or approved than you already are. Likewise you have a secure eternity. There is nothing you can do to ever lose you relationship with your new perfect Father. You are secure in his hand forever. Your future is secure. You may lose a job, you may lose a house but you cannot lose that which is eternal.
This now means that you can see work as not something you do to ‘GET’ but something you do to ‘GIVE’. It’s your way to love God and neighbour and to be a blessing to the world.
The solution begins with redefining your why?
In my next post we’ll look at a few more.