We live in a busy world and a busy society. Yet people still pretend to be busy - why is this?
In this episode, host Robert Martin speaks with Peter Adam (Vicar Emeritus of St Jude's Anglican Church) about busyness. They diagnose why we're busy and how to work out if my busyness is because we have a lot to do or we're trying to be significant.
They reflect on the Proverbs in the Bible and unearth a solution to busyness - trusting God. But how can I trust someone who is invisible? Peter shares a fascinating story of an unbeliever who tried trusting God for a week - listen to hear what happened.
A potential paradox is created when we consider another Proverb which advocates taking responsibility. How can one simultaneously trust God and take responsibility? How is this paradox resolved? Peter provides a way forward in an enjoyable and thought-provoking conversation.
This episode of Bigger Questions was recorded under the show's previous title 'Logos Live', and part of the Words to Live by series of March 2016.
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Bigger questions asked in the conversation
The smaller questions were on 'being busy’.
Why are we crazy busy?
So why do you think many of us pretend to be busy?
In our culture busyness has become a virtue. Hence people are terrified of hearing they may have empty time, as Tim Kreider wrote in “The ‘Busy’ Trap” where he said,
Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.
Do we feel we have to be crazy busy to be significant?
So our busyness problem isn’t simply poor time management?
Why are we busy?
What are the problems with being too busy?
Do you think we like being busy?
How can we tell if we’re too busy or we’re just being busy to feel significant?
Peter, what convinced you to become a Christian believer?
Bible Reflection - Proverbs 3 - Trust in the Lord - practice trust
The part of the Bible we’re reflecting on today comes from the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a book from the Old Testament part of the Bible. It offers short pithy insights into the nature of life in the world. It offers practical, memorable wisdom for living life.
Would you say that the Proverbs was a bit like the Twitter of the Ancient world - wisdom found in just 140 characters?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight
How does this help us with busyness?
But it does sound a little like abdicating my personal responsibility? I let go and let God - it sounds like I don’t take any responsibility for my life and actions.
Isn’t it hard to trust someone or something that you can’t see?
What if we’re not a Christian believer? What do we have then?
Bible Reflection - Proverbs 6 - Go to the Ant - practice responsibility
But this would appear to contradict another passage, another Tweet of ancient wisdom in Chapter 6 of Proverbs.
Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
7 It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.
Here the ant is praised for its industry and prudence. Ants don’t have a commander or overseer, yet they store provisions for the future. Ants sound busy. So don’t we have a contradiction here - on one side we’re saying to Trust the Lord and then to be busy like an ant. Is this saying that being busy is not always bad?
Often responses to busyness is to stop and take time out, go on a retreat, rest. Yet the average worker ant works some 19 hours per day. When they sleep, they sleep standing up and they take power naps. Does the ant say something to the idea that the solution to being busy is to stop?
The Proverb encourages us to consider the ant and be ‘wise’. What does it mean to be ‘wise’?
So we’re left with a seeming paradox - trust the Lord and take responsibility. How do we negotiate that?
How has this affected you? What difference has this made to your life?
How can we live amidst the busyness of life?