Too Many Irons…Not Enough Fire
Do you have too many irons and not enough fire?
We love to be busy. It helps us feel productive and like we are an asset. Whether we are busy with family things…work things…school things…church things…sports things…hobby things…whatever things…being busy means we’re needed and accomplishing something.
Years ago—too many for me to want to admit—I worked for Burger King in Rutland, Vermont. They had a pretty simple unwritten policy…stay busy. Even if there was nothing to do there was something to do. During slow periods of business we were to be cleaning, sweeping, stocking, organizing…we were to be doing something other than just waiting for customers. Sometimes we were busy just for the sake of being busy. That kind of busy-ness can be frustrating.
Most of the busy-ness of life today is productive busy-ness and we gain a sense of significance and accomplishment from it. We believe that what we are doing matters and it is making a difference. Teachers, for instance, are among the busiest people I know. They put in a full day in the classroom and then spend a significant amount of time at home getting prepped for the next day. In the end their investment of time and effort should translate into educated children.
Every segment of life has opportunities for us to be busy…and sometimes too busy.
The Problem of Busy-Ness
There are real problems that are evident when people are overly busy. Consider these:
These are some of the conditions that we see increasing today as work-loads increase and opportunities for rest and down-time decrease. Families struggle and often pay the price for our “industriousness.” We try to justify ourselves by declaring we are so busy to provide for them, but what if what they really need is the one thing that our busy-ness takes from them. Ourselves.
Before proceeding check out this video by Casting Crowns
What Does our Busy-ness Mean Spiritually
Being overly busy can also be a hindrance to our relationship with God. Let’s face it, often the first thing we let go of in the crush of life is our grip on God. We start skipping prayer and quiet times and we pour more and more of ourselves into other pursuits. We find ourselves exhausted, tired, spent, and have nothing left to give to the One who gave us everything.
We start letting go of the commitments and calling that God has placed in our lives, again justifying it the whole time to quell the conviction and guilt we feel through it.
- It’s for the kids
- I’ll get more involved later
- It’s not for very long
- God will understand
- No one else is having to do all I do
Whatever phrase or excuse fits best, they all say the same thing—something we would never say aloud.
“GOD ISN’T THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO ME.”
Does that seem harsh? Certainly that’s not the message you intended, right? But, that’s exactly what we’ve declared. These things I’m involved in…good as they might be…have replaced God as the center of attention and affection in my life.
What Can I do?
So, what can I do to change this situation? Mind you, none of these come easy, especially if we have a tendency to be “busy” people.
- Learn the hardest word to say – “NO.”
- Sometimes we just have to say no to things…even good things, so that we can focus our attention and affection on the best things—the God things.
- Learn the hardest practice of life – Let Go
- Like saying “no” to opportunities that are offered to us, letting go of some of what we are already involved in can be difficult, but we have to measure the amount of our attention and affection these pursuits are sapping from God in our life.
- Learn to take “Time Out” daily
- Somewhere in every day we need to get some time away from the noise, the activity, the busy-ness, and get our focus right. Let me share an experience from Scripture that illustrates this.
Take a moment and read Joshua 9:1-15 <–Click here to see it online
take note of verse 14…
14 Then the men [of Israel] took some of their provisions,
but did not seek the Lord’s counsel.
Isn’t it strange that after all that they had experienced and seen these leaders didn’t take the few moments it would have taken to consult the Lord about this? Were then too busy? Too arrogant? Too deceived?
Fact is, if we don’t pause to consult God because we are too busy for Him then we are going to eventually wind up in a mess. Overloaded and underprepared…like “Pedro” here.
So, take an inventory. Are there things that you are not doing in the kingdom because you are so involved and busy with other things? Ask, “what difference will this effort and endeavor make when I’m gone from this world?”
Invest in the eternal…in the kingdom…and let your attention and affection be on God.
Need a simple formula to follow? Here’s what I strive for:
- 1st Place in My Life – God, Jesus, and the things of the Spirit and Kingdom
- 2nd Place in My Life – Family (My wife and then my kids)
- 3rd Place in My Life and Beyond – I sincerely believe that if these two are in their right place the rest will fall into place and I won’t have to worry or wonder about what my priorities are.