Busy times cannot be avoided. We might manage the busy times better, but that topic is for another discussion. What about the times we convince ourselves that we are overloaded? That is the topic at hand.
The discussion about perceived busyness reminds me that many battles begin in the mind. Paul speaks of the importance of being “renewed in the spirit of your mind.” (Eph. 4:23) Thus, the struggle with busyness begins in the mind.
In sorting through this discussion, I find a few questions I need to ask myself. First, what am I doing with the time I have been given? Paul speaks of “redeeming the time.” (Eph. 5:16) Every person is given the same amount of time. How is it that some people seem to accomplish more? Some people are executives over large companies. Some people are highly productive with their time (writing books, creating things and building companies). This is not an easy question to answer, but it is important to ask, what am I doing with my time?
A second question is, am I doing busy things that someone else could do? I have observed that many times when I seem to be most busy I am doing too many small things that someone else could do. Busy activities can add to the stress or serve as guilt relievers. Suppose the pastor of a small church spends a lot of time running errands for senior adults in the church. Such activities can draw praise from the recipients and bring perceived value to the pastor. But the issue that must be addressed is am I doing too many busy things? Are there others could do these tasks and would they grow in their ministry by doing helping?
A third question is how much time am I devoting to planning? Every minute I devote to planning will save me time down the road. When I fail to plan and follow a schedule I feel like the tail being wagged by the dog. Some people are too rigid in planning a schedule. Their schedule produces stress for them. They can also can become too rigid in following a schedule.
The opposite effect visits the person without a schedule. They are victims to every person who comes along. They are victims to people’s planning and not their own. I found this to be especially true in the small churches I have pastored. Small churches are generally not too demanding. The demands of the church do not produce major stress for the pastor. That is a good thing; however, the lack of demand may cause others to plan your time or for small things to occupy your time.
The Bible instructs us to “Be anxious for nothing.” (Phil. 4:6) Perceived busyness may cause us to violate this principle. God does not want us stressed by real stress or perceived stress. Both items cause anxiety.