Kevin DeYoung has written a book entitled, Crazy Busy. The book is helpful as it gives biblical tools for thinking about our priorities. He offers 7 diagnosis for our busyness. He brings biblical wisdom to bear on our schedules and attitudes towards work. Some people are certainly too busy. But simply being “busy” may not be the problem. DeYoung summarizes in chapter 9, “the reason we are busy is because we are supposed to be busy.” Work is not bad, it is good. Busyness in and of itself is not necessarily bad either. But why do we often find ourselves running around in a frenzy?
I have a working theory that much of the reason we are frantically running from place to place is because we fail to plan well and execute our plan. As the old adage goes, when you fail to plan you plan to fail. Many of us are “crazy busy” but really, could it sometimes be that we are lazy busy? I would like to interact with a few Proverbs that offer pithy and poignant counsel for how to order our lives.
Plan your work, work your plan. In Proverbs 6.6-11, Solomon garners some wisdom from ants. Ants are always at work, at least they are in my yard. I never cease to be amazed at how quickly ants can build their little mounds. Solomon took his son to an ant hill and taught him a lesson. “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” (v 6). The wisest man finds nuggets of wisdom from one of the tiniest of God’s creatures. Ant hills don’t make themselves. Your daily responsibilities are not going to do themselves either.
Take Responsibility. There is one of our kids that has a famous line, “No one told me to do that.” At some point, you expect simple things, like putting on your shoes before leaving the house, to no longer need to be spelled out. Without a ruler standing over her shoulder, the ant gathers in gathering time so she is ready for the lean time. Solomon says it this way: “she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” Solomon then asks the question: “How long will you lie there, O sluggard?” In essence, Solomon says, “You see, son, this ant with a microscopic brain has enough sense to gather and work yet you are lying in the bed as if you had nothing to do. Get your lazy self up and get to work.”
Many times when we are frantically running out the door to make it to work or an appointment on time, it’s simply because we did not plan well. If we had started 15 minutes earlier, we probably would not have the mad dash. Sure, there are seasons where our calendars back up on us, but generally speaking, most of us have some margin. Just like the ant, we need to think ahead. Currently, I have a number of projects, sermons, and obligations staring at me. I’m not looking for sympathy, particularly since most of this is self induced, but I’m simply making the point that if I wait until the last minute, there are not enough hours to do all of that well. Most of the time, we can spot a busy season and plan for it. I wish I were the model here. I’m not. Too many Saturdays, I look up and I can’t believe what I have left to do for Sunday. Most of the time I can look back and see time that I did not use well during the week. We are capable of much more than most of us recognize.
Stop Making Excuses. There always seems to be a reason not to work. Proverbs 22:13 is probably my favorite quote on laziness. “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!'” We love coming up with reasons not to work, don’t we? This line about the lion is comical. The lazy person imagines the worst case scenario and uses that as leverage for justifying their laziness. How often do we do similar things? It may rain, next week, so I’m not going to cut the grass. I have something to do tomorrow afternoon, so I guess I won’t plan to get anything done in the morning either. We get locked up because we have something on the calendar a week from now. Sometimes we seem to be waiting on the planets to perfectly align so we can actually do something productive. Productive people are not time wasting people and they are not excuse making people. Redeem the time, even in 15 minute windows. This time of year makes me laugh. People who claim they are “crazy busy” somehow find 4+ hours on a Saturday to watch football. I love watching sports too, but let’s not pretend like we do not have time to accomplish our responsibilities when we so easily commit large blocks of time to entertainment.
Get Out of Bed. I don’t like mornings. I have a 9 year old morning person in my house. She loves to get up early and greet the sun. I’m not wired that way. I have to admit though, it is interesting how many Proverbs mention sleep in a negative way (see: 6:9-11; 19:15; 24:33-34; 26:14). The point is not what time you get out of bed, necessarily, the point is sometimes you have to get up and get to work even when you would rather be in the bed. As has been said, “The world is run by tired men.”
Biographies are not written about people who wake up at 11, eat fruity pebbles, and watch Sports Center. Productive people get up and get on with the day. Whether an “early start” for you means 4AM or 7AM, take time to give God time early in your day. Commit your day, your ‘to do’ list, and priorities to the Lord. John Bunyan said it well: “He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find him the rest of the day.”
We have a limited amount of time on planet earth. Let’s use it today for the Lord and his glory. We will give the Apostle Paul the last word:  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV)