The circumstances of my life create an interesting schedule during the week for me. Although I have a regular school schedule, I have a couple online classes and I also work as a substitute teacher, neither of which provide me a definite schedule every week. There are some weeks that I am overwhelmed with responsibilities and some weeks that I feel like I just float through without really anything productive to do. As a full-time college student with a part time job, my level of productivity often determines how good I feel about my life in general.
This is what I like to call: The Curse of Productivity
The burden to be busy. The weight hanging over your head telling you that unless you fly by the seat of your pants, filling up each empty space in your planner, you are not contributing anything to society. It’s this lie the world tells you that in order to be valuable, you must produce something, work on something, work towards a degree, push society to a better tomorrow. You must contribute to the economy, you must take a full load of classes, you have to fill up your schedule with extracurriculars, go to parties, and make straight A’s. Otherwise, you’re just lazy.
It’s this glorification of busy.
I feel it often. On the days that I don’t work, or have a few moments of free time, that little voice back there says what are you doing with your life? Any spare moment I have, I feel like I’m missing something. I feel like I need to be doing something. It’s a burden of perfectionism. You run around from place to place, going to meetings, class, work, hanging out with friends, not to mention studying for all A’s with a forced smile and forged strength, all the while your heart is crushing under the weight of busy.
But this Curse of Productivity steals something from us: Peace. Bliss. Comfort. The endless nudging to keep going even though you’re tired, to take on more responsibility despite the fact that you’re already overwhelmed, steals our joy. When did it become unthinkable to have free time? Why does the value of my existence rest on how productive I am or how many tasks fill up my planner?
Doing things is not really the problem. The problem comes when those things strip all of our time away from God. The problem comes when your responsibilities cut into your time at church or Bible study. I think it’s important to decide what things are important to you. The nudge to stay busy forces you to take on things that you have no interest in, or things that don’t really contribute to either who you are as an individual, or more importantly, who you are as a Christian. There are so many things that either others throw on us, or we throw on ourselves, that cause unnecessary chaos in our souls.
Busyness is not a blessing.
“Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10)
There is nothing wrong with being still. Free time should not have to be a luxury. It’s not a sin to say no to something when you’re overwhelmed. There is no room for peace and comfort in your heart when you are overtaken with stress and exhaustion, especially when it’s caused by unnecessary things.
If your life has been overcome with the Curse of Productivity, it’s time to check back with your priorities. Time with God, your relationship with Him, or being at church should never have to take second place.
The depth of the “things” is more valuable than the amount of the “things”. Things that contribute to who you are, who you want to be in the future, or your life as a follower of Christ are things to be treasured.
It’s not ok to say yes to things simply to fill up a time slot or days on the calendar. It creates busyness and stress that is unhealthy for your soul. It’s not ok to say yes to things that do not add value to your life.
It is ok to have free time. It is ok to only have a few time slots on your planner occupied.
God will give you all the peace and strength and ability you need to take care of everything that He has called you to do when you put Him as first priority in your life (Matthew 6:33). You have no need for anything that cannot be used to glorify God, or that isn’t in line with the values that we find in His Word. Society pushes us to constantly keep moving, but God tells us that it’s ok to be still. There’s a burden placed on us to supply the demands of anybody and everybody, but in reality it’s ok to say no. This glorification of busyness is dangerous. It places things in our life that we have no need for.
Calm is ok, and peace is ok. Actually, those are things to be treasured. The urge to be productive and busy does nothing to contribute to our walk with Christ. Put your relationship with God above all else, and then only allow in other responsibilities and tasks that line up with Him and His will.