Busyness = Burnout
“Ask anyone running through the halls of a high-tech company how they’re doing. The informal poll I did on a random Wednesday resulted in 99.9% answering ‘Crazy busy’ or some version of that. When I dug deeper and asked what was causing people to be so ‘crazy busy,’ they offered the typical responses: back-to-back meetings, hundreds of emails in their inbox and no space in their days to think.” (Melissa Daimler, Huff Post 2014). Does this quote sound familiar to anyone? We live in a place where busyness is praised and those who take pride in being busy gain a sense of feeling important because so much is demanded of them. But, is busyness good for our soul and could it be distracting us from something more important?
In the book of Exodus Chapter 5, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and told him that God said to let the Israelites go from being enslaved so that they may hold a festival for the Lord in the wilderness. Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh how they met with the God of the Hebrews and if he did not let them go to offer sacrifices to the Lord, plague and disaster would strike them.
Pharaoh ignored their request and decided not only would he not let the Israelites go, he was going to increase their work. So he commanded his slave drivers and overseers of the people to increase their responsibilities.
6 That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people: 7 “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. 8 But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.” Exodus 5:6-9
Now the Israelites were busier than ever and they had double the work to do. But notice the lies and plan of the slave drivers in verse 9. They called the Israelites lazy (lie), wanted them to become busier and make their work harder so they would pay no attention to the lies. This makes me wonder if we take pride in being busy because we have believed in the lie that we are lazy? If this is a lie we believe, we will do all that it takes to make sure we are not seen as lazy.
In different parts of my life, I was told that I was lazy because I didn’t measure up to the others that were around me. Of course I didn’t want to be seen as lazy so I made sure I worked harder than everyone else. All those years of trying to compete with others and prove that I wasn’t lazy drove me to a place of burnout and little did I know that I was drowning in busyness and becoming ineffective. It is hard to live in a high performance society and not distinguish the line between being busy and being a good steward of the amazing responsibilities that are given to us from the Lord. It took me lying in bed and recovering from surgery for several weeks to see how my life had turned into busyness and that I was officially burnt out!
This year, I sense God wants us to take a close look at our lives and see what area(s) in our lives are on their way to burnout. He has not created us to work as slaves but has chosen us to be His children and work from the place of son or daughtership.
- Ask God to show you the area(s) of your life where you are working as a slave instead of a son or daughter?
- What would it look like to work from the position of a child of God instead of a slave to our responsibilities?