Can I get a busy badge?

You’ve had the same conversation a thousand times. You meet up with someone who asks how you’ve been and you answer by telling them … ‘busy’. Their question isn’t about your level of activity, it’s about your personal wellness, yet you still feel the need to assure them that you’ve been a productive member of society. I know this because I get caught up in it too.

Many people have written about this before but it still seems to be such a problem for so many.

Busy speaks about a level of activity, often a flurry of exhausting exertion, without considering whether all that hustle and bustle is effective in any way. There may well be a more productive way of achieving what we need but when the goal is being busy, and telling everyone how busy we are, that doesn’t really matter.

Can I get a busy badge?

Why do we feel so compelled to assure everyone that we’ve been busy? Is that really the measure of our worth to others … or even our own attempt to justify our worth to ourselves?

I guess the starting point is convincing ourselves that ‘busy’ isn’t life’s ultimate aim. There’s nothing wrong with being busy when we need to be but it’s not the goal we should be seeking above all else,

Wasn’t technology going to save us all?

On top of the constantly growing expectations of others soaking up our time, we now add more busyness into the mix with our use of technology.

Advancements in technology promised us an easier, more productive life, yet all that seems to have happened is that we’ve lost the ability to switch off.

Our technology usage has blurred the lines between work and play like never before. We’re checking personal emails and social media updates while we’re at work and checking work emails and catching up on work projects while we’re at home or out with family and friends. That means that our employer never has our full attention and sadly, neither do those closest to us.

We’ve sacrificed that which should be most precious to us on the altar of frantic activity.

Hanging Out for Holidays

We’re a couple of days into December and well into what many call the ‘silly season’. The lead up to Christmas and New Year festivities pound us with activities and deadlines. Everything needs to be ‘finished before Christmas’.

Many of us take annual leave at this time and so we feel the need to complete every project on our desk before taking that leave. That usually means that we crawl across the finish line of the year, battered and bruised from the frantic pace we’ve held for the year, having just enough time to bandage our wounds and ‘almost’ recover before the whole thing begins again for the next year.

We’ve got to stop going at full speed towards the end of the year, imagining that we just need to get to the start of our leave so we can collapse in a heap.

We don’t just need that extended time to stop and refresh at the end of a busy year, we need time weekly and daily.

Jesus is coming. Look busy.

Sadly, those of us in the church have bought the lie that we have to be forever run off our feet too. In fact, a lot of the time we buy into the whole busyness thing even more because we have this strange image in our heads of God watching us and shaking his finger at us whenever we sit down to breathe.

This constant striving to work harder and harder within our daily lives and the church says more about our idea of who God is than anything else. If we imagine that we’d better look busy because we don’t want Jesus to catch us taking time out, we’ve missed the point entirely.

The truth is, God is the one who came up with the idea of rest. If we think God wants us to be constantly striving without rest, we’ve given in to a ‘religion’ that requires our efforts to appease God. That was never his plan.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Psalm 127:2 (ESV)

Been Busy?

The next time someone asks you how you’ve been, how will you answer? Will you keep on assuring them that you’ve been busy or will you give them a deeper answer that speaks about something other than frantic activity?

You know that the world will keep crowding out times of rest and recreation so how about being more intentional in planning time daily, weekly, monthly and annually for time aside from the craziness? Then once it’s scheduled, guard it jealously. Don’t let it be the first thing that gets bumped from the schedule when something ‘more important’ comes up.

If you’re too busy to schedule in those times it’s a very clear indicator that you need to say no to those things that scream for your time but aren’t necessarily beneficial. Learn to say no so that you can say yes to the right things in your life.

And don’t forget that we are spiritual beings. Spend time connecting with God. You might just discover he doesn’t want you to burn out trying to achieve your busy badge.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or illfitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)



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Family Road Trip

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It’s been a long time since we had a family road trip so I must say that I really enjoyed the day driving from Perth to Kalbarri today. It would be almost twenty years since Pauline and I were last here and Emily and James have never been to Kalbarri so I’m sure there’ll be lots of exploring to do tomorrow.

We stopped a number of times during our journey north from Perth, including a stop off at The Pinnacles.

The Pinnacles are limestone formations contained within Nambung National Park, near the town of Cervantes, Western Australia.

I think we might need to schedule a return visit when we can spend more time wandering through the area looking at the amazing natural structures. I took a bunch of photos of the Pinnacles, some of which I’ll post in coming days, but I’d love to spend more time there practising my very amateur photography skills.

Over the next few days we’ll explore a bit more of Kalbarri as well as heading a little further north.



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Having a Wonderful Time …

As you probably know I’m on holiday, so instead of a long post today, here are a few photos from the past few days, including yesterday’s visit to Movie World. Just click on any of the images to have a better look.



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No Reason is Reason Enough

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I’ve been to the Gold Coast twice before. The first time was for a day and a half. The second time a little longer. Both were for conferences and I didn’t have time in either of those instances to see much of the area.

This time it’s different. Both previous times I was here for a specific reason. This time I have no real reason to be here but that’s reason enough.

Of course saying I’m here for no reason isn’t completely true. What I mean is I’m not here for reasons of work or for a specific task.I’m here to kick back and relax with my family and that certainly is reason enough.

We’re here for just over a week and we don’t have to follow a schedule or be anywhere particular at any time. Our routine is very much about having no routine.

We spent today at Movie World meeting super heroes and cartoon characters. I’m not really a roller coaster person but those in the family who are had an amazing time on a number of stomach turning rides.

Routines are wonderful. They help us create systems that make day to day life run more smoothly but when we set up hard and fast routines we can become slaves of those routines,rather than using them to serve us. Slipping out of routine is a great way to remember that routine should never become our master.

I often find that holidays and breaks in routine remind me that I’m dispensable. The world can survive perfectly well without me. Strangely enough, far from being a depressing thought, understanding that the world doesn’t fall apart when I’m not following my normal routine is incredibly empowering. It tells me that I don’t have to carry the world on my shoulders but at the same time I can choose to play a part that will make a difference in the lives of others.

My break in routine is a great way to recharge then get stuck back into my regular life, ready to take myself less seriously while being more effective when my routine cranks up again.



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Forced Stillness

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Four hours in limbo. Four hours in the air. Four hours away from the distractions.

We’re just over half way to Brisbane. When we arrive we’re heading to the Gold Coast for a family holiday. I’m trying to remember the last time we had a family holiday which means it’s been far too long since we did.

I’ve travelled a fair bit over the last couple of years but it’s always for work or for a cause of some kind. It’s so very good to have my family sitting in the seats next to me rather than a stranger who’s travelling for some unknown reason.

The great thing about flying, whether it’s with family or for whatever other reason is that I’m forced to stop for a few hours. I have to stop tweeting, checking Facebook, reading emails and everything else that life is about these days.

I’ve just read several chapters of a book … and it was so very good. I’ll probably read a few more after I’ve typed this post.

The busyness of life often means that those things we love doing, like reading, get forced to the bottom of the ever rowing pile of ‘things to do’. Forcing me to spend five hours in a hollow metal tube, a dozen kilometres above the earth, short circuits the usual rush of things that shout for my time, yet are so often so very unimportant.

Over the next week or so I’ll be a different kind of busy. I’ll be ‘family stuff’ busy. We’ll be doing all kinds of stuff with a bunch of people that I love. I hope that there’ll also be time to relax, refocus and even read. (It’s so good to have a virtual library with me on my iPad.)

What does it take to stop you long enough to enjoy some time out? Are you a good time manager? Are you someone who has the ability to switch off and power down at regular intervals to lose yourself in the pages of a book or to just ‘be’ with those you love? I’d really appreciate your comments.

(This post was written while in the air and posted while relaxing on the Gold Coast.)



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