The Gluttony of Busyness

The Gluttony of Busyness January 13, 2012

I’ve been too busy to post here recently. I’ve been too busy for a lot of things. And that should tell me something…

A paradox has emerged in this new millennium: people have enhanced quality of life, but at the same time they are adding to their stress levels by taking on more than they have resources to handle. It’s as though their eyes were bigger than their stomachs.

– David Allen, Getting Things Done

It’s more than likely that you’ve heard a message, read a book, or done some thinking about “busyness” in the last year or two. Slightly less likely, but still entirely possible, is that you’ve heard a message, read a book, or done some thinking on “gluttony” during the same time.

It’s highly unlikely that the two were connected. But maybe they should have been.

Why do we say yes to so much? Is it because we are guilt-ridden, co-dependent angst monkeys who lack the willpower to say no? No. We say no to a million things a day. Usually to things that are good for us, but still…when we want to, we know how to say no just fine, thank you.

Is it because we have a drive towards self justification that works itself out in our work and an ever-increasing load of commitments through which we seek to earn the favor of others and God? In part, yes…

But maybe it also has something to do with our appetites.

You know, our appetites for recognition and “importance.” To be liked, appreciated, admired. Even our appetite to “get things done.” And honestly, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But like all things in this broken world, left unchecked by the Spirit and un-submitted to God, our appetite to be liked and our desire to achieve will run out of control.

I’ve been thinking about busyness as though it is a problem to be managed – increase my productivity and I could, of course, accept and keep more commitments, more on my plate… more to feed my ego.

Maybe the problem with busyness isn’t it. Maybe it’s me. Me and my ego and pride.

Conceived of this way, busyness isn’t an issue of time management and productivity, it’s an issue of desire. When is enough, enough? When am I doing enough good things through which that God-given desire to feel productive and useful in this world can be fulfilled? When do I cross the line between finding satisfaction in the good day’s work I put in and trying to find my identity through an ever-increasing load of ego-enhancing commitments?

I spend a lot of time thinking about how people can be more productive in ministry. And don’t get me wrong, I want to continue to work on productivity/time management and all the rest. But until I work through the inner issues of why I try to do so much, all the productivity hacks in the word really just add up to enabling.

In other words, most days I don’t need any more help being productive or managing the stress of work. I think I need help in managing my appetite for applause and the stress of opportunity.

I fear my busyness is simply a sign of my gluttony.

Bob and his beard.

bob hyatt

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  • A good word, Bob. You’re right on target when you say that your “busyness gluttony” is due to ego and pride. A look at the history of what became The Seven Deadly Sins shows that all of them spring from egotism in one form or the other. The old gospel song got it right: “It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”