Busyness is a mentality that many in the American culture strive for. We see how it can take away from family, cause medical conditions, and lead to burnout. Pastors in America are not immune to this, in fact many churches where the badge of being busy as an honor. “Look at everything I’m doing” is a common generalized approach for pastors on social media. “Our church is doing it all and we are ‘doing it with excellence.'”

While I’m not against meeting the needs of your community and congregation and never would push for anything less than your best at what you do, I believe that busyness is a lie.

What Is The Lie?

The lie is that we need to have more time in our day to accomplish everything we should be getting done. The lie is we need more time if we are going to achieve success. The lie is that without more time, we won’t live up to our potential. Problem is, there is no more time. God has given us what we need and no more than that.

Many people speak about time in a couple of different ways. Some focus on how everyone has the same amount of time only. Others talk about priorities. I love Bridget English’s quote that I see as all-encompassing.

Everyone has the same amount of hours per day, it’s not that you don’t have enough time, it’s that you don’t have a clear focus

Bridget English

The lie is not on the quantity of the time and time management nor even the priorities we give, though these things are important. It’s on what we are focusing on within that time as we do what we believe is important.

“Chosen The Good Portion”

Jesus actually demonstrates this understanding of focus with Martha and Mary. Here’s the Scripture:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)

Both women are making Jesus a priority, both women are not complaining about having more time. But the focus, the thing that demands attention for Mary is to not focus on the anxiety and worry of everything else, but instead to focus on Jesus.

We allow our anxiety, our need to appear busy because of pride, to distract us. We’d all say Jesus is our priority, but we lose focus.

The ESV translation ends the passage as such: Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.

Do Not Be Distracted

If you feel you struggle with burnout, the question is, is your focus on the right thing? Maybe you let go of creating a great online presence for your church and simply be with people more as you share life in prayer, worship, and Scripture.

If you feel you are not living up to what you believe is a good pastor, maybe you need to jump into a discipleship with an elder and figure out what it means to be a good pastor. I’m betting you’ve lost focus.

If you feel like you are running around too much and getting nothing accomplished, stop.

Like, right now. Stop.

Be still.

Let go of the unimportant and non-urgent. Focus on God’s will for you.

We see this with Jesus at the prime of His ministry. He’s preaching, performing miracles, completely changing Jewish theology as He fulfills the law and prophecies. So what is His response?

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

Mark 6:31-32 (NIV)

Jesus even spent hours every day praying without ceasing in the early morning just so He had time with God.

We are no more than He.

We need to take time for ourselves, focus on what is important, and then we can serve with excellence.

As a moment of inspiration, enjoy this video that hits on these very core principles and then go and be still some more.

Published by Jeremy Smith

Jeremy is a Licensed Professional Counselor working with adults and youth. Jeremy has a history of working as a ministry director for Youth for Christ for 8 years and then working as a mental health and substance use adult counselor in Ohio, specifically running an Opioid Residential Treatment Center.

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