Is that your ‘busy ness’?

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No, I did not misspell the word “business”. The title reads exactly as it should.

We live in a very fast paced world in which we all seem to be so busy these days with so many things. With the continual advancements in modern technology, one would think that our lives should be a little more organized and our pace should not have to be so hurried. Instead, with each new electronic gadget that we acquire, we seem to add more and more things to our already busy lives. The electronic marvels, though intended to help put our lives on track, often become cluttered with more and more notes and to do lists. Even those who have not stepped into the age of modern technological wonders find that with each passing day there seems to be more and more things to be done with so little time to do them.

Busy WomanBut, let’s just slow it down a notch and stop and think about this for a minute. Although we may say or think that we are extremely busy, how busy are we really? And, in all of our ‘busy ness’ what do we actually accomplish? The problem is not necessarily that we don’t have enough time to do all the things that we “think” need to be done, the real problem is that some of us have never learned how to manage the time that we have. There is not one day that is shorter than another as far as amount of time is concerned. There are 24 hours in each day. Yet, some of us seem to always run out of time. Why is that? Are some of us stressing ourselves out by always keeping ourselves busy so as not to have to deal with perhaps some more important matters? Or, do some of us think that the busier we seem to be, the more important we appear to be to our peers? Is that what our ‘busy-ness‘ is about?

It is good to have things to do, for as my dear mother used to tell us kids, “Idle hands and an idle mind are a devil’s work shop”, but the danger arises when we become so busy that we allow life to pass us by and miss out on those things that matter most such as family and others that need some of our time and attention. How often have we been found guilty of saying, or have heard others say when asked to do something, “I would, but I just don’t have the time,” or “I am so busy right now that I can’t even pay attention.” Isn’t it amazing that people will say that they are too busy to do something, but yet they seem to have enough time to tell you just how busy they are?

Perhaps we have also said, or have heard someone say, “I know that I should ______, but I guess I will have to get to that some day.” Why is it that it seems that “some day” never comes, or it only comes at times of emergency, grief, or sorrow? Why do some of us sometimes wait until we are faced to live with “should have”, “would have”, or “could have” before that “some day” becomes a reality, only to have arrived a day late and a dollar short. Are these things included as part of our ‘busy-ness‘?

Thomas Alva Edison once said, “Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”  I particularly draw attention to the last part of Mr. Edison’s statement, “Seeming to do is not doing.” How often do people appear to be busy doing something, but in reality are doing nothing at all? We find this type of behavior often in the workplace. People appear to be busy just to keep the boss off their back, but at the end of the day if asked to give an account of what they accomplished during the work day, their actual production levels are extremely low.

We also find this type of attitude and behavior in the home. For example, a mother after numerous times of asking a child to clean his room finally issues an ultimatum that the child is not allowed to do anything else or go anywhere until the room is cleaned. Reluctantly, and perhaps half-heartedly, to keep his mother from constantly reminding him about cleaning the room, the child spends some time in his room appearing to be busy and doing what his mother had asked. When he thinks that he has spent enough time on the task and has put everything out of sight so as to make the room appear cleaned to his mother, the child then asks if he might be able to do something else. Upon an initial inspection of the room it appears that the child has done exactly what was asked of him; however, if the mother were to conduct a careful inspection of the area under the bed, the closet, or even under the rugs, she would discover that in all of his ‘busy-ness’ the child merely spent time putting things out of sight and very little time actually cleaning the room.

Lorene Cary, an American author, educator, and social activist, once said, “I’d been busy, busy, so busy, preparing for life, while life floated by me, quiet and swift as a regatta.” How very sad it is that some people get so caught up in their ‘busy-ness’ that they literally forget how to live. More importantly, they become so wrapped around themselves and their busy lives that they also forget how to love and appreciate those around them. Dr. Kristen Lippincott, a Director and founding member of The Exhibitions Team which is a consortium of museum professionals specializing in heritage consultancy, project management, curatorial and conservation issues, and 2-D and 3-D design, once said, “A lot of our ‘busy ness’ is a way for us to avoid thinking about what is most important. There’s a difference between being busy and being productive.”

It is not a matter of how busy we are, but why we are so busy. This author personally echoes the words of Thomas Jefferson when he said, “May I never get too busy in my own affairs that I fail to respond to the needs of others with kindness and compassion.” I would hope that we would all heed that wise counsel. And so, in closing my dear friends I ask you, what is your ‘busy-ness‘ really all about?

I leave these humble thoughts with you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.