More on Being Busy…


It used to be that people would ask me how I was doing, and I would reply “busy”. I think I liked being busy even though I complained about it at every juncture.

And then Eugene Peterson challenged that thinking in his book The Contemplative Pastor by saying that ‘busy’ and ‘pastor’ used together ought to sound to us as jarring as ‘adulterous’ and ‘husband’ or ’embezzling’ and ‘banker’.

Below are comments on this which I have since found worthy of frequent reflection. They are direct quotes from Peterson’s book, and have application no matter one’s profession.

“I (and most pastors, I believe) become busy for two reasons; both are ignoble.

“I am busy because I am vain.

“I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy?… I live in a society in which crowded schedules and harassed conditions are evidence of importance, so I develop a crowded schedule and harassed conditions. When others notice, they acknowledge my significance, and my vanity is fed.

“I am busy because I am lazy.

“I indolently let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. Let people who do not understand the work of the pastor write the agenda for my day’s work because I am too slipshod to write it myself…. It was a favorite theme of C. S. Lewis that only lazy people work hard. By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for us; then we find ourselves frantically at the last minute, trying to satisfy a half dozen different demands on our time, none of which I essential to our vocation, to stave off the disaster of disappointing someone….