Summary: The major challenge facing people should have been what to do with all the leisure time provided by our technological advances. Instead, technology has been more of an enemy than an ally. It only enabled us to do more. Thus, most people are busier than ev
Choosing What Matters Most
When You’re Running on Empty
How many of you consider your lives less busy than they were a few years ago? Raise your hands. How many of you consider your lives just as busy as a few years ago? How many of you consider your lives to be busier than a few years ago? How many of you would like your lives to be less busy than they are today? Busyness now defines our lives. And it seems to be taking a toll. As we learned last week, when busyness fills our lives, we feel more stressed, you’re actually less productive, you’re more run down and tired, you begin to lose the joy of life and you can’t hear God in your life. That’s a high price to pay for a life defined by busyness. And what we know is that busyness is an equal opportunity demon.
Kirby Anderson writes, “In the last two decades, free time has grown scarce and hence become a valuable possession. This is the decade of the time famine. Leisure time, once plentiful and elastic, is now scarce and elusive. People seeking the good life are finding it increasingly difficult to enjoy it, even if they can afford it. According to a Lou Harris survey, the amount of leisure time enjoyed by the average American has shrunk 37 percent since 1973. A major reason is an expanding workweek. Over this same period, the average workweek (including commuting) has increased from fewer than 41 hours to nearly 47 hours. And in many professions, an 80-hour week is not uncommon.” This has caught most people off-guard. Optimistic futurists in the 1950s and 60s predicted Americans would enjoy ample hours of leisure by the year 2000. Computers, satellites, and robotics would remove the menial aspects of labor and deliver abundant opportunities for rest and recreation. Testimony before a Senate subcommittee in 1967 predicted that "by 1985, people could be working just 22 hours a week…." The major challenge facing people should have been what to do with all the leisure time provided by our technological advances. Instead, technology has been more of an enemy than an ally. It only enabled us to do more. Thus, most people are busier than ever, speeding up life and heightening expectations to accomplish even more. This efficiency has also fostered a desire within us to take on additional responsibilities and thereby squeeze even more activities into our already crammed calendars. As the pace of our lives has increased, over-commitment and busyness have been elevated to socially desirable standards.
The busyness of our lives has given rise to three myths. First: there’s not enough time to do everything. How many of you would like just one more hour in the day to accomplish what you set out to? The truth is there’s just enough hours in your day to accomplish what God has given you. So when we come to this feeling “I wish I had more time”, that means somebody mismanaged their time and there’s only two options: you or God. I’ll let you figure that one out but know this God has given just the perfect amount of time to accomplish His will for your life.
The second myth is: It’s just a busy season I’m in right now. The arrival of Fall reminds us that seasons always come to an end. And we believe that when we accomplish everything keeping us so busy, life will slow down. That’s just not true. Today people don’t have seasons. They have only one season and it’s called busy. It’s not the season that’s busy. It’s the person. And many of us have become busy addicts. We just don’t want to admit it. Even when we have the opportunity to slow down, we look for even more activity to fill our time.
A third myth is that if I am busy then I’m important. People almost expect us to be busy and overworked. Steven Covey writes, “It’s become a status symbol in our society - if we’re busy, we’re important; if we’re not busy, we’re almost embarrassed to admit it. Busyness is where we get our security. It’s validating, popular and pleasing. It’s also a good excuse for not dealing with the first things (the most important things) in our lives.”
In our Scripture today, Jesus visits with two sisters at their home, one who chooses wisely and the other doesn’t. Now the custom was when you entered somebody’s house, your feet would get washed and then you would be fed as an honored guest. The impression we get from this text is that Martha was not only hospitable but that she was probably going overboard because it was Jesus. It’s quite possible that this Martha was the original Martha Stewart. She was busying herself making some lavender place mats out of yak hair or something like that. While she’s consumed by all her busyness in trying to be hospitable, her sister Mary chooses instead to enjoy Jesus’ presence, sitting at His feet and taking advantage of every opportunity to be with Him. Mary chose the more important option while Martha chose to remain busy.