Under it.

That’s the way I’ve felt most days. Understaffed, under-rested, and under a deadline.

Of course, I’m not alone. Douglas Adams of Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe fame said, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

My sudden burst of laughter revealed how close that hit to home. When did I allow time to become the boss of me?

Jesus didn’t live that way. Although he had many people to see and many things to do, his life was not lived under the clock. It was lived under the loving gaze of his Heavenly Father.

Something about my way of life has gotten out of whack. It’s been that way a long time.

The Busiest People

One day back in seminary, my Christian Education prof made an off-handed comment, “The busiest people in life are the deadest.” The sentence stuck in my mind like a spear.

That can’t be right,” I inwardly protested. “The busiest people are the ones who are getting things done. They are the movers and shakers.”

Only later did I discover what he meant. The busier I am on the outside, the deader I am on the inside.

Too often, my busyness has led me to live like a mummy: spiritually dead to God and others, dead even to myself, and all of it under wraps.

Tips for Mummies

In this new year, I’ve been reflecting on how to do life differently. If you or someone you know have also noticed a connection between busyness and deadness, here are three time management tips for mummies.  

  • Reimagine Time

Which is more important: what you do or who you are? It’s not an easy question. Our world values the doers. Period. If you want to get noticed, promoted, or applauded, show us what you can do.

But Jesus focuses on who we are. He told his disciples is it not what goes in our mouths that defile us. It is what comes out.

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Matthew 12:34 (NRSVUE)

For Jesus, being comes before doing. Everything we do comes out of who we are.

What if the primary purpose of time was not to get things done but to become a new creation in Christ?

Would that change how and what we do?

  • Renewable Energy

Awhile back, I had a phone that worked fine for a day or so, but all of a sudden, the battery would go out. I finally replaced it, because I was never sure when it would stop working.

Turns out, at some point every day, our batteries go out too. The problem for many of us is we keep trying to eek energy out of a dead battery.

Jesus took a different approach. He cultivated a regular rhythm of work and rest. When he was most in demand, he would often withdraw to a lonely place and pray (Luke 5:16).

Even though the time to accomplish his mission was short, he observed a day of Sabbath each week for worship and rest. Rather than fret about his “To Do” list, his peace with God ran so deep, he could fall asleep in a boat in the middle of a storm!  

What if we rearranged our time to create a life rhythm of work and rest that allowed us to work from our rest instead of rest from our work?

Would that lengthen our battery life?

  • Radical Focus

When I head to the gym, I like to multi-task. I run on the treadmill, listen to music and pray – all at the same time. While I feel good about engaging body, mind and spirit simultaneously, I know I’m not getting the full benefit of any of them. I can’t. My focus is divided.

King David wrote,

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.

Psalm 86:11 (NRSVUE)

Is there anything dividing your heart right now? Every commercial or advertisement we ever see is after one thing: our attention. Companies and organizations know when they have our attention, they have us.

What if we intentionally set aside time each day to withdraw from attention-grabbing devices and simply spent time alone with God?  

Would that increase our ability to say “No” to distractions and live with an undivided heart?

On the Other Side

God never intended us to be mummies. If we reimagine time, find rhythms that renew our energy and practice a radical focus on God, we’ll get out from under the deadening weight of busyness.

There’s new life on the other side. It’s time to unwrap it.

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Roger Ross

A native of Cambridge, Illinois, Roger has served as a pastor in Texas, the British Channel Island of Guernsey, and Illinois. While in Illinois, he led teams that planted two new churches and served for 10 years as senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Springfield. It was his privilege to serve as the Director of Congregational Excellence in the Missouri Conference before coming into his current role as an executive coach and specialist with Spiritual Leadership, Inc. (SLI). His passions include SCUBA diving in warm blue water, playing board games with family and friends, and teaching evangelism and church planting as an adjunct professor at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. He also has a weakness for golf.

Roger is the author of three books, “Meet The Goodpeople: Wesley’s 7 Ways to Share Faith,” “Come Back: Returning to the Life You Were Made For,” and “Come Back Participant Guide,” all through Abingdon Press. Roger is married to Leanne Klein Ross, and they have two adult children, Zach and Jane (who’s married to Sam).