I’ve just finished Eugene Peterson’s memoir on being a pastor. It’s wonderful. I commend it, and not just for pastors. It offers much wisdom for growth as a disciple in company with other disciples – i.e., the church.
In it Peterson touches upon one of his favorite themes, namely how pastors (and others) are too busy. For years I have felt guilty about being too busy. But I’ve given up on that – not on being busy, but on feeling guilty! I’m taking Peterson’s exhortation to heart, but I’m reframing it. I don’t want to give up being busy with what matters, just on what doesn’t matter. As for what matters most, I want to pursue that intensely for as long as I can. And I’m happiest when I’m doing so.
Actually, it’s a bit more complex than that. Unlike God, we live with finite time and energy, which means that we can’t pursue everything that matters. Thus we must pursue the part of what matters that God gives to us for this season of life. Getting specific about our part in what matters is what makes busyness faithful.
That and having busyness paired with “unbusyness.” For along with a calling to be about what matters, the Lord has given us another calling, the Sabbath – a day apart from busyness. The Lord sets the pattern himself. He creates the universe in six days (how’s that for busy?!), and then takes a day to be unbusy – to go slow and enjoy what he has made (Genesis 1:1 – 2:3). Then he tells us to do the same, as one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11).
It looks to me like God was pretty busy for a while there. Read on, and you’ll find that he has stayed busy guiding the universe he made, along with the jillions of people made in his own busy image. But he pairs that busyness with unbusyness, as a pattern for joyful living. The unbusy day stands as a shield against the megalomania that comes with being all-busy all the time. It’s easy to get an inflated sense of one’s importance in the Kingdom, especially if our busy pursuit of what matters is not punctuated by God-designed and God-modeled Sabbath unbusyness.
There’s more to be said about how we can be busy with the portion of what matters that God has specifically given to us. But that will wait until next week’s blog… I’m too busy with several other pursuits to take that on right now!