I recently finished an accelerated college program for ministry. The program was 18 months long, with only three breaks in that time. Each of my classes was only five weeks long–imagine getting nearly the same amount of information from a regular quarter or semester class, but condensed into five weeks! I’m pretty sure it’s a miracle that my brain didn’t explode.
I knew God wanted me in that program. I’d prayed about it and God confirmed that it was what He wanted for me. But the program went so fast and I was busy all the time–too busy to spend time with God outside of my assignments for school. If I hadn’t been sure this was what God wanted for me, it would’ve been a really busy waste of my time.
A pastor friend of mine, Brian, once told me his personal definition of laziness. “The Bible,” he said, “doesn’t define ‘laziness’ as we do. We often mistake activity for work, while according to Scripture, busy people are the laziest of all. I define laziness as doing everything except what the Lord has commanded and/or doing the work but not in the way the Lord has commanded.”
This means that we can be busy doing Christian stuff, but still be lazy Christians. What? The Lord isn’t going to care if you had a perfect church attendance record if, while you were there, you spent the whole time on Facebook on your phone. The Lord won’t care if you volunteered in the children’s ministry twice a month if you did it without love in your heart while He was trying to push you into a ministry that serves the homeless.
Sometimes we get really busy volunteering or doing things that we think are godly, but that God didn’t actually ask us to do. The result of being busy with the things God hasn’t asked you to do is something called burnout. Burnout is what people warn you about when you start a career in ministry. It means that you get so busy and overwhelmed doing “the work of God” that God didn’t give you that you get frustrated, angry and eventually just stop caring altogether. It happens gradually, but it can take years for people to recover from burnout.
Being “busy for God” isn’t the same as being obedient to God. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30,
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
The Lord doesn’t want us to simply be busy. Busyness can be like noise. Have you ever seen a toddler play with pots and pans? They bang on them and crash them together to make lots of noise, but lots of noise doesn’t necessarily mean they’re making beautiful music; sometimes noise is just noise. Busyness is like that.
We can spend most of our time doing things because they make us look good or because we aren’t sure what God wants us to do right at that moment, but just because we look and feel busy, doesn’t mean we’re being obedient to the Lord. Busyness can lead to feeling overwhelmed, but according to the verse from Matthew, obedience should never make us feel that way.
Obedient Christians are always hard-working Christians, but busy Christians are not always obedient Christians. Sometimes the busiest Christians are also the laziest when it comes to true obedience.
What do you think, girls?
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
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