The “Virtue” of “Busy-ness”

What do you suppose the most common answer to the question “how are you” was ten years ago? It’s not a trick question. The most common answer was “good” or “fine”. What do you suppose the most common answer to that question is today? If you read the title of this article, you might have guessed it:  “busy”. Yep, according to a scientific survey conducted in 2013, the most common answer to “how are you” is “busy”. It took me a moment, but it definitely matches my experience. “How are you?”, “Oh, I’m busy!!”.  “Oh yeah, me too…swamped.”  We use it as an excuse for not getting things done, for not keeping in touch with our friends, as an opportunity to brag about how much stuff we have going on in our lives. Pretty much for everything.  And I have this theory: it seems to me that in our culture, “busy-ness” has become something of a virtue; something to be honored, and respected.  The busier you are, the more important you must be, right?  Makes sense, sort of.

I found this interesting, so I decided to do just a little bit of research to find out what everyone is so busy doing. Without dwelling on a bunch of statistics, I’ll share just one from the “American Time Use Survey” by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:  The average American spends 5.26 hours per day on “leisure activities.” This doesn’t include eating, nor does it include social events. It simply includes relaxing, sitting around doing nothing, watching tv, browsing social media, etc. 5.26 hours out of the average 13.5 hours left in the day after sleeping, getting ready in the morning, and eating.  5.26 hours are spent on leisure activities.  And we’re BUSY!!??  No wonder we can’t get anything done!!  We’re busy doing NOTHING…

As Christians (and, yes, the stats are similar for Christians), this ought to bother us at least a little bit. Because here’s the reality:  James says that we are a mist that appears for a little while, and then vanishes.  And in that moment, we enter into a new phase of time, which we call eternity.  We have just a short time to accomplish what God has called us to do, and Paul exhorts the early church in 2 Corinthians 4:18 to live THIS life IN LIGHT of eternity…the never ending…not the temporary.  If we’re busy with “leisure activities” 5.26 hours a day, we are not living in light of eternity.  Let’s get busy with something truly meaningful, in light of eternity as we live “sold out” lives.

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