Eugene Peterson once said, “Busyness is an illness of spirit.” I think not only is busyness an illness of the spirit, but busyness will also cause your spirit to be ill. Given this, I would implore you to stop being busy! I’m not certain when being busy became a badge of honor, but it seems like it has been in my lifetime. I hear my father tell stories of people sitting on porches and just talking with their neighbors, passing the days as if they had all the time in the world.
Previous generations seemed to put a lot more stock in building relationships than we do today. And no, Facebook and WhatsApp do not count in this context. I’m talking about deep, personal, and lifelong relationships. I believe our obsession with busyness is killing our ability to forge true relationships with others.
If you are on the younger side (which is subjective, but I find one of the interesting things about aging is the number of people on the younger side seems to keep expanding exponentially!), you may be tempted to say, “So what?” Why do we need relationships built on anything deeper than photos of what we had for breakfast or 280-character quips throughout our day? Isn’t the fact we can now get to know people around the world at any time of the day or night better than it used to be?
To be sure, there are incredible advantages to the increased reach of our communications these days. I have readers in France, the Philippines, India, Africa, China, and many other countries. I could never have hoped to reach people in these locations when I began writing in the 1980’s. The enhanced opportunities to tell people in contexts other than my own about Jesus is both incredible and amazing. But so much of our communication these days is superficial. We end relationships with a click of an “unfollow” button. It shouldn’t be this way. We are called to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), and we can’t do that at a superficial level. We’ve got to go deep.
Going deep in relationships is going to take time and a lot of it. Many of us (and I am looking hard in the mirror here) do not take lightly to having our plans interrupted. We’re so busy we simply don’t have time to build relationships anymore. Our lives are planned and scheduled down to the half hour or sometimes even more. We don’t have time to go deep with anyone.
The truth is, discipleship requires us to go deep in our relationships. We are all called and commissioned to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). This happens one on one, not in large groups. To teach someone to be a disciple, we’ve first got to gain their permission by forming true and trusted friendships. Stop being busy. Start getting intentional. Forget your plans. Throw out your Day-Timer. We have one job, and that is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Stop being busy. Get to the work at hand. The harvest is plentiful, but those willing to do the work are few (Luke 10:2).