How can we achieve a balance between work and rest?

This post is adapted from material in my book, The Busy Christians Guide to BusynessThe Busy Christians Guide to Busyness is available in the US from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

How much extra time each day do you need to complete all you need or want to do? Thirty minutes? An hour? Two hours?

It seems as if God made a mistake when he first spun the world into space. That initial twist with his fingers that set the earth spinning was just a bit too energetic. If only God has spun it a little slower we would have had 25 or 26 hours in the day. Then everything would have been all right. Then we would have time enough for everything. If only.

But of course God doesn’t make mistakes. Twenty-four-hour-days were part of the world God declared very good. So the problem is not that there is not enough time for what we want to do. The problem is we are trying to do too much. We haven’t come to terms with the fact that we are finite.

God does not expect you to do more than you can do.

The question to ask yourself as the end of your day or week is not ‘What have I left to do?’ Instead we should ask ourselves: ‘Have I used my time well?’ We still need to ask the hard questions. But we should ask possible questions. If you ask ‘What have I left to do?’ you are bound to fail. So look back on your day by asking: ‘Have I done the sort of things I ought to be doing?’

Three key questions:

  1. How can I use my time more efficiently?

This is the issue with which time management books and courses deal. There’s a lot of wisdom in them. But at best they will only take you so far. I suspect of lot of us have read the books and still feel overworked!

  1. What are my priorities?

Managing time is not so much about reducing waste time – that just leaves you a relentless whirl of activity. It is about ensuring you spent your time doing what is important. And that means deciding your priorities and it means deciding what you can leave undone – planned neglect.

Reflection

  •       When do you use time inefficiently?
  •       What are your core priorities?
  •       What should be core priorities?
  •       What are you spending too much time doing?
  •       What are you spending too little time doing?
  •       What could you leave undone?

But the key question is this:

  1. What creates the pressure I feel to do more than God expects?

The person responsible for your busyness is you. It is your heart. Jesus says that our behaviour comes from within, out of the heart. ‘For from within,’ says Jesus, ‘out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.’ (Mark 7:21-22; Luke 6:43-45) And to that list we might add busyness. External factors can trigger our behaviour, but we can’t blame the providence of God, says James in James 1. It’s our own evil desire that drags us into sin.

So in a future post I want to look at some reasons why we may be too busy. And they all symptoms of a lack of faith in the God. They all turn out to revolve around what we believe about God – not confessional faith (what we say in the creeds), but functional faith (the faith that actually shapes our lives). We are too busy because we do not believe the truth about God – not really, not in a way that shapes our lives.


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