Full Version: When is too much no longer an option
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I had a friend write me recently to air some concerns about becoming overly busy with all of life’s duties. When does busy become TOO busy?

This friend is a wife, parent to a couple of kids, with all of the personal duties those “positions” bring. Add to that, she’s involved in the government of her congregation, plus the social fabric of that congregation, and is the primary lead worshipper. She has also been involved in a couple of other activities outside of church and another five or six biggie responsibilities within the congregation. She’s not pulled her hair out—yet—but she’s really feeling the pressure cooker of becoming overly involved to a point of frustration at not being able to do some things to the level of excellence that she knows is right and that bothers her greatly. What’s a person to do??

What DOES a person do when they have over committed themselves? I’m one who just loves to say “yes”. Part of it is wanting to be needed, or glad to know that I’m needed or something like that, I suppose. Part of it is knowing that I can indeed do those things and do them well. However, it all boils down to good stewardship of one’s time and talent, in addition to one’s treasure. We are accountable to our Lord as regards how we utilize our time and where we employ our talents. He gave both, and there is strong scriptural evidence that He wants us to use time, talent, and treasure well and for Kingdom purposes. Those purposes can be either directly or indirectly associated with “the Kingdom”. Being a good musician and wanting to please Him means asking where the best use of that talent lies. It could actually be outside the four walls of church and that would be fine, yes, so long as God is directing and leading and we’re following. Not all great cooks are “called” to prepare or oversee church dinners or fellowship lunches. Every God-gifted administrator is not necessarily designed to be church treasurer or board secretary. Yes, they COULD do that and probably do it well, but is that what God is calling forth for that administrator??

Okay, I’ve ranted enough about my philosophy on this thing, and shared with you that I am prone to get myself burdened beyond my capacity to accomplish. What does one DO about it when you’ve said “yes” too many times and you feel things closing in on you? You recognize that your candle has been charred at both ends and there ain’t much middle left. What to do???

Modest bunny trail as an example. I had a friend in the construction business. I ran into him as I was going to lunch and he was just finished eating in the same restaurant. I asked him how a particular project was going that was for a national fast food chain and on a very tight and rather impractically short time line. He said, “This thing is driving me nuts. It keeps me so busy and preoccupied that I sometimes forget to give thanks for my food. That just isn’t right somehow. A man ought not to be so busy that God gets left out.”

A favorite quote from Paul Yonggi Cho (he’s David Yonggi Cho now, I think): “I pray and I obey.” He left out the obvious “I listen” part, okay? PRAY like crazy, listen really hard, and do what He says. Sounds simple, but when we’re that wound up in things, it’s often hard to get our spirits quieted down enough to pray effectively, let alone hear how our loving heavenly Father wants us to handle our quagmire.

I think that Father will hear almost any prayer, even the most basic, “O God, HELP!” He knows my heart, but He wants to hear my voice. Think about the so-called prodigal son. Here was a young many too foolish to say no to the wiles of the world, too foolish to say no to the things that took him from a righteous life in his father’s house. God did not intervene until he lifted his eyes to heaven and said, “I’ve sinned against my father and in Your eyes!” He figured out that he was in deeper than he could handle and hollered for help. God met him there and softened his heart enough to lower his head in humiliation so that his ego got out of the way enough to go home and ask to work as a servant, no longer worthy in his own eyes to be called “son”. The fog had lifted! So it can be with us, I believe, when we realize that we’re buried and that we need guidance for a graceful exit. Some talking with Father, maybe a conference with the powers that be in the various organizations to which we’ve made commitments, and reprioritizing of our lives can happen in a way that does not leave those other folks stranded and so that we might be able to continue fellowship without ill feelings. We might even be able to re-assume some of the commitments once we work through the current burden and get some of the finite stuff resolved.

One of my personal favorite New Year’s resolutions is to not say “yes” right away, but to take a day or two to see if the request is something that I can realistically accomplish in the necessary time frame without compromising other things that I’ve promised. Same with assuming on-going responsibilities (church or civic organization leadership and activities). Will this “sink my boat”? Will it become another straw on this camel’s back and will it be the one that breaks the back? Does this request remove my margin/headroom? Being too busy, even with good things, is a problem in our society overall, IMO. There was a book written about 10 years ago, <URL url="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1576836827/?tag=zionf-20">Margin, I think, that dealt with the too-busy syndrome. Their premise was that time in a person’s life was much like money in corporate life. If your money budget or your time budget is already at or over its maximum, there are precious few ways to take advantage of special opportunities. If I am so busy that virtually every waking moment of my life is spoken for, what happens when God or my wife or anyone significant in my life offers me a splendid opportunity, a “divine appointment” if you will? “Sorry, I can’t do that, doggone it. I’d love to do that, but I already have 54 meetings planned for those two days, and I just can’t get out of them.” And honestly, if I’m that booked, have I got prayer and personal worship times built into those days? Probably not, speaking for myself. Too often I forget to schedule those and end up dry at the end of the week and wonder why.

Something to think about, perhaps. Surely is for me.