FRIEND: Hey, Scott! How are you?
SCOTT: Me? Busy, man. So busy. You?
FRIEND: Me too! But hey, it could be worse. We could be dead!
SCOTT: What? Uh … yeah, I guess so.
If you’re like me, you have that conversation at least once a week — with or without the dead part. What I mean is that we’re all busy. Busy, busy, busy.
How was my weekend? Too short. Very busy. Busy, busy, busy.
Tim Kreider wrote about “The ‘Busy’ Trap” for the New York Times this weekend, and I appreciated his observant real talk about our busyness. For one thing, he points out that our busyness is “purely self-imposed.”
But why would we choose jobs, activities, and other pursuits that busy us to the point of exhaustion? Of us Kreider says, “They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.”
And it’s with this sentence that Kreider makes me think he’s some sort of post-modern Emerson in the making: “The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it.”
I don’t agree with all Kreider’s conclusions about the antidote for a nation of busyness, but I’m nevertheless examining my acquiescence to the frantic pace of our day and age.
We know we have important work to do and important lives to lead, and so it’s only natural that we wouldn’t want to waste a minute. It’s understandable that we’d want to “accomplish” as much as possible.
I think it’s important we distinguish between doing our most work (quantity) and our best work (quality). Of the two, which kind of work is more likely to tell a compelling story? Which kind is more likely to meet someone where they are and give them a taste of the gospel of grace? I think the answer is our best work.
In order to create our best work, I think we have to make space. We have to make space for healthy relationships, self-care, rest, pray, and worship. We also have to make space to read, think, and dream. The cup, once poured out, must be refilled.
There’s a kind of unburdened wondering that only happens when we’ve shaken free of deadlines for a moment or two. There’s a kind of mischievous spark that only happens when we’re not worn down to a nub. There’s a kind of creative passion that only happens when we’ve been allowed to restock our reserves of energy and enthusiasm. These are the things that induce our best work but are antithetical to our most work.
We need your best work. Make space for it.
Scott McClellan is the Editor of Echo Hub and the Director of Echo Conference. You can follow him on Twitter: @scottmcclellan.