If you’re like most Americans, when people ask you how you’re doing, one of the words that escapes your lips before you even think about it is “busy.” We live in fast-paced times. That reality can be exhilarating, but (as we discussed in Part 1) it can also be overwhelming, distracting, and unhealthy. Especially to our children and teens. Before we attempt to evaluate and re-prioritize or trim down our schedules, we need to examine what’s at the heart of our overly busy lives.
It’s a good thing to seek out godly counsel (Proverbs 11:14) or put others’ needs above your own. But whether you call it “peer pressure,” “people pleasing,” “keeping up with the Joneses,” or “codependency,” many of our reasons for over-committing ourselves and our kids are tied to what the Bible calls “fear of man” (Proverbs 25:29).
In his new book Crazy Busy, Kevin DeYoung explains the dilemma this way: “You’re always trying to meet people’s expectations. So you’re not living life for God’s priorities, but for other people’s priorities.” In the meantime, of course, those fear-driven yeses are, by default, forcing you to say nos to plenty of better things.
First John 2:16 mentions “pride of life” as one of the three main fuels to temptation; if we’re honest, many of the choices we make are motivated by a combination of fear and pride.
Kevin DeYoung refers to Pride as “The Villain with 1000 Faces.” It can masquerade as self-deprecation or even seemingly selfless service. “It’s a fine line between serving others and just being proud. I try to ask myself, ‘Am I doing this activity so that I might help others be good, or so that I might look good?’”
We care a lot about how we come across, how people perceive us. If we’re truly motivated by love for God first, and then love for others, we should prioritize our nearest neighbors (our family) highest, whether others see us or not.
Often, our fear and pride combine with a selfish perfectionism that one author refers to as the “idolatry of the ideal.” We have an internal felt need to “do it all,” and the modern world of technology provides an endless potential of things to do and Pinterest-perfect examples that can deceive our prideful hearts into believing we can do anything, everything, we try to do. We might even claim Philippians 4:13-19 and expect God to supernaturally supply the strength we need in order to do everything we desire to do.
James 4:3 tells us why God often denies us what we ask: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” Ouch. Could our over-busyness really be caused by selfish desires? Aren’t pride and fear both tied to selfishness, as well?
As we take the time to examine our overly busy lives and the lives we’re constructing for our kids, we’ll be in a better place to analyze particular aspects of our schedules (see Part 3) and shave off those motivated by unbiblical priorities.