One of my first mentor-friends, Mike, gave me some great advice about work ethic. He said, “Keep hitting the side of the truck to keep the chickens in the air.”
That’s a humorous metaphor for how he lived his own life—he always had something cooking, kept an iron or two (or three, or four) in the fire. He was never complacent, never hung his hat on his life to grow old and fat. What I liked about my friend Mike is that he was always busy, but rarely rushed.
I think Jesus was that way too, and the Gospels show us that if we’re doing anything for the Lord, we will find ourselves busy.
I’ve noticed a trend lately in both sermons and secular leadership teachings. Pastors and mentors alike are subtly fostering a snobbish snub of busyness. Slow down, they say. Jesus often went off alone to pray, they admonish. Live a Sabbath lifestyle and let go. Find a place of rest and solitude in prayer. I don’t think they mean to be snobbish, but the basic gist of all these sermons is busy: bad; solitude: good.
I want to make a case for busyness. Well, purposeful busyness.
The Gospels point out three things about Jesus’ work ethic, one specifically and the others incidentally. First, they specifically point out that Jesus often sought rest as well as solitude for prayer, so that’s one mark for the pastors urging us to slow down. Indeed, we need to heed Christ’s example and mark out time from our busy schedules to let God do the talking. However, the Gospels don’t stop there. Incidentally, we find that Jesus was always working, even when he was physically tired. Most importantly, we see that his rest and his work ethic were centered around one thing—being near to the Father.
I know that most of us feel like our lives run amok when we’re busy, and I’d dare say that’s for one of two reasons.
First, a lot of us need to work on time management, but that’s a whole other blog post. I’ll talk about that sometime soon.
Second, I’d dare say that many of us are busy for the wrong reasons. Most of us are toiling over our own tiny, meaningless kingdoms of possession or power. We sweat for years to earn temporal gains, even though Ecclesiastes says “…there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who has not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil.”
You can’t keep what you earn here. Jesus knew that truth intrinsically and in turn set about his Father’s business. Make no mistake; Jesus was a busy man. He reset the whole of history in just three years. I had trouble getting out of bed to write this morning.
Jesus showed us that if God is at the center of what we’re doing, we’ll be connected to Him by default, and while there will be times we’ll find ourselves exhausted, He promises to lead us by still waters and restore our souls.
To be clear, I’m not saying that you should quit your day job and go into the ministry. We’re not all called to be pastors or missionaries. God made some of us to be plumbers, welders, teachers, musicians, and so on. What I’m saying is that we need to ask ourselves, “Am I living according to my calling?” Because if we live according to our calling, God will be at the center and that means we’ll live as Jesus did, in nearness to the Father.