Jesus is Coming, Look Busy

Jesus is Coming, Look Busy

It’s the holiday season, and there is a volunteer opportunity at every corner. It is easy to be overwhelmed with the thoughts of what we should be doing or could fit into those blank spaces in our daily planners. There are cookies to be baked, parties to be planned, kids’ programs to be coordinated, donations to be collected, and the list goes on. During this time of year, it is natural to be busier than usual, but for some, overcommitment is a way of life. In some cases, especially with women, it becomes almost a weird competition of who can serve the most, and who can best balance the busyness of life. Lately, it’s broken my heart to hear so many of my newly-married friends joke that they are so busy that they barely see each other.

The struggle is real. I have been guilty of letting the service become a vice as I have exalted my own busyness, letting it commandeer my time and resources. The color-coordinated stickers flooding my Erin Condren planner served as a badge of honor of how I could effortlessly multitask my many obligations. My avenues of service filled voids and fueled a sense of pride of what I could juggle in my own superpowers of time-management and altruism!

The objective of this article is not to have you drop all your commitments, but to examine how we can prevent our deeds from becoming our identity, and how to make our time commitments purposeful.

Case Studies

The Mom I remember when I was younger, our family was part of a small group starting a new church, there were more service opportunities than bodies, and my mom was there to fill the spots. The typical middle child, my mother is the ultimate people-pleaser, peacemaker, which made her the perfect target for overcommitment.  Though she worked full time, she was also on the startup committee at church, the worship team, the counseling ministry, women’s Bible studies, and health groups… it seems like the only place she wasn’t, was at home. When she reached a burnout stage and took a break from all her volunteering venues, it was the greatest gift. I didn’t realize how much I missed my mother’s presence in the home until she took a break.

The Best Friend– Recently, one of my best friends in the entire world did an incredibly brave thing; she said, “No!”.   Though it seems simple, it really is not as easy as it seems. This girl has an amazing heart for service, but after years of giving some weeks here to missions organizations and some more hours over there with youth groups, and a few extra hours helping out in the schools, etc., she found that she had scheduled herself out of her own life. Her life because stressed and frenzied because she had sacrificed her schedule to anyone who needed it. She became an easy target for time-hijackers, because she volunteered for so much already, people would assume that she was available to volunteer for EVERYTHING. This year I am praying for her as she intentionally cuts back on her service opportunities in order to allow God to minister in her own life.

The Self- Do you ever feel like your purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others? College was a rude awakening that, although I could “do everything”, I need to choose not to. I was burning out quicker that a student in Boulder. Serving in these different ways made me feel like I had a tangible outlet for my love of God… however, it soon became addicting. These service opportunities started filling other voids in my life. Soon, I had to to a self-assessment and ask myself why something that started as good, was not becoming an unhealthy idol in my life. Life’s cheerleaders tell you that you can do anything; yet, it doesn’t mean you have to do everything.

Why Do We Overwhelm Ourselves?

  • Feels Good to be Needed– Let’s be honest, it feels good to be the hero, sweeping in to save the day! It does generally give you the “warm fuzzies”knowing you helped someone out. That’s not a bad thing… but can be if it becomes your avenue for affirmation and sense of purpose or worth.
  • Fills a Void- Transition periods in life are difficult, whether you are going off to college, moving to a new city, in between jobs, or in between relationships. Trying to find your identity in these times can be confusing, and it can be much easier to cling to things you’re involved with or do, as your identity. We can easily fill the void of relationships by scheduling ourselves out of loneliness. Busyness can distract you from other feelings you are working through during these times.
  • Hides Our Flaws– There has been many a time when I pull into a coffee date 5-10 mins late and I want to say, “I’m so sorry..I’ve been so busy with {insert current stressor here}”, when really I should say, “I’m sorry that I’m late. I would have been here on time, but I have a deep character flaw with procrastination that I need to work on…I let my lack of self-discipline impede on your time!”  We all have our own weaknesses and vices that somehow can find justification from our overcommitted schedules.
  • Sainthood Through Deeds– Are we seeking to be justified by what we do? Are we chasing our halos through our bake sales and our blood drives? All joking aside, I know there have been times I needed to check the motivations of my heart for why I was getting involved in something.
  • Easy Target– There is a sense that if you are single or married without children, that you have all the time in the world to serve, and others will heap the sense of responsibility on that population. I think people with signup sheets have a special radar built to identify the kind-hearted, burnt out, weak-willed individuals individual who struggle to say “No!” If we don’t establish boundaries, our time and resources will not be respected by others.

How Do We Balance Service and Rest?

  • Do Less, Do It Better– There is a scene from The Lord of the Rings, where Bilbo describes his weariness, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter spread across too much bread” When you have your hand involved in too many projects, not only do you expend yourself too quickly, but the effort you give in each area becomes minimal. It’s better to do less, but do it well.
  • Protect Time with Family– Dr. James Dobson said it eloquently, “What is the biggest obstacle facing the family right now? It is over-commitment; time pressure. There is nothing that will destroy family life more insidiously than hectic schedules and busy lives, where spouses are too exhausted to communicate, too worn out to have sex, too fatigued to talk to the kids. That frantic lifestyle is just as destructive as one involving out-broken sin. If Satan can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy, and that’s just about the same thing.”
  • Schedule out Spontaneity-If we schedule every moment of our day, are we allowing space for God to use us in spontaneous moments?  There are going to be times that others do need a helping hand… there are times when I simply couldn’t help a true need of those close to me because I had over scheduled myself. Are we creating space for opportunities to connect with new people, help a neighbor with a project, have an important conversation, or simply be in the moment? We often, unknowingly, schedule out opportunities that God would use to shape and use us for his service. Be available for God to use you.
  • Rest for our Being– The renown psychiatrist, Carl Jung, simply put it, “Hurry is not of the Devil. Hurry is the Devil”. Our physical, mental, and emotional health is put at risk when our lives are defined by stress.
  • Communion with God– In the quiet… Whenever you saw Jesus commune with God, it seemed that he went off to be alone. Christ instructed Martha to put down the dishes and pause the baking to be present with Him. God did not speak to Elijah through bombastic signs before everyone else, but in seclusion through a whisper. How often does our quiet time with the Lord suffer at the expense of our schedules? We can serve in the name of our Father all day long, but if we are not spending time with God, is it all for naught?

Let’s not find our purpose in what we do or produce, but in the character of God and how He is shaping our life. Let’s extend a helping hand where we can, but not overcommit ourselves to the point where we are inflexible to respond to spontaneous needs. Above all else, protect your time with your family and Jesus this holiday season and throughout the year!

Many Blessings,


8 thoughts on “Jesus is Coming, Look Busy

  1. Pingback: Gumption & Grace

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