Friends! Last week we discussed our need for pushing pause and how to do just that, thanks to an excellent book by Shauna Niequist (Present Over Perfect—Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living).
This week, I have more good news for you! Thanks to a lovely God-incident, I came across a skinny little book (only 118 pages long) by Kevin DeYoung. The book? Crazy Busy—A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem.
The author, Kevin DeYoung, is the Senior Pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. Kevin’s married to Trish and they are blessed with, get this: seven children. That is one full quiver, God bless ‘em!
You can go online to Kevin’s church’s website, www.universityreformedchurch.org and check out his sermons. I was blessed to hear Kevin speak at a Together for the Gospel Conference (www.t4g.org ) here in Louisville a couple of years ago. (You can also go to that website and watch any of the talks from the conference. Amazing speakers, Kevin included.)
As funny and brutally honest as Kevin is, he’s equally passionate about believing in, abiding in, and trusting in our Sovereign Lord. For which we can thank him, because his book we’re about to talk about will steer you away from chasing unnecessary wild rabbits.
From the first word of the first chapter, Kevin pulls us readers in. Let me show you: Chapter One’s title: “Hello, My Name is Busy.”
Kevin begins, “I am the worst possible person to write this book. And maybe the best. My life is crazy busy. I don’t say that as a boast or a brag…How did I get this way? How did you get this way?…There’s a pervasive sense of being unrelentingly filled up and stressed out.”
Here’s where I picture Shauna’s red wagon we talked about last week brimming over with her lugging it with great difficulty behind her. Kevin’s been doing likewise.
In fact, when Kevin’s friends asked him about his next book project, upon hearing his answer about a book on busyness, they were stunned. They reminded him his schedule was a mess and busyness was one of his biggest problems. Precisely why he took the project on.
This is the same scenario years ago for me when I began to study the meaning of margin. (And the lack thereof, in my own calendar.) I confessed to many of you, had my Mother been living then, she’d have howled out loud and said, “Oh, this should be good!”
Kevin tells us upfront the layout of the book: “My outline is as simple as three numbers: 3, 7, and 1: Three dangers to avoid (chapter 2), Seven diagnoses to consider (chapters 3-9), and One thing you must do (chapter 10). Excellent and succinct. Choose your chapters per your interest. You don’t have to read them in order.
My favorites of the seven diagnoses, while all good, are “Diagnosis # 4: You Need to Stop Freaking Out About Your Kids”, “Diagnosis #5: You Are Letting the Screen Strangle Your Soul”, and “Diagnosis #6: You’d Better Rest Yourself before You Wreck Yourself.” To which I reply, “Thank you, but really: Ouch, ouch, and ouch.”
While Crazy Busy is crazy full with helpful tips, I’d like to share a couple of quotes to get your laughter endorphins cookin’. I firmly believe, especially when we’re stressed out (a/k/a crazy busy), laughter is the best medicine.
Straight from Scripture: Proverbs 17:22 reminds us, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Cheerful hearts come from laughter, but crushed spirits come from being crazy busy.
Kevin quotes Tim Chester from his book, The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness where he offers “twelve diagnostic questions to determine how ill we’ve become with ‘hurry sickness’.” They’re all worth exploring, and I’ll tease you with just two of them:
Tim: #6. “Do you often feel tired during the day or do you find your neck and shoulders aching?”
Kevin: “Mountain Dew, ibuprofen, not a problem.”
Tim: #12. “Do you eat together as a family or household at least once a day?”
Kevin: “More or less. When one person is eating, someone else is usually in the house at the same time.”
In the chapter on not freaking out about your kids, Kevin says, “Parenting has become more complicated than it needs to be. It used to be, as far as I can tell, that Christian parents basically tried to feed their kids, clothe them, teach them about Jesus, and keep them away from explosives.”
“Now, our kids have to sleep on their backs (no, wait, their tummies; no, never mind, their backs), while listening to Baby Mozart and surrounded by scenes of Starry, Starry Night. They have to be in piano lessons before they are five and can’t leave the car seat until they’re about five foot six.”
Hysterical and comforting… Oh my.
Kevin doesn’t promise immediate change or transformation, or a money-back guarantee (!!!) for us readers, but he does say,
“I hope you’ll find a few ways to tackle your schedule,
several suggestions for reclaiming your sanity, and
a lot of encouragement to remember your soul.”
Friends, those are some kind of powerful verbs: tackle, reclaim, remember.
For those of us trying to do everything for everybody, this book will help us literally put those worries to bed and sleep better. No foolin’…
Finally, Kevin saves the best for last in “The One Thing You Must Do.” No spoiler alert, just a phrase or two to leave you with:
“We have to believe that the most significant opportunity before us every day is the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus.”
Kevin quotes another one of my favorite authors, Paul Tripp. Paul gifts us with a quote not just for people in pastoral ministry, but for all of us in our ministries, whether with our family, friends, small groups, the grocery store, Home Depot, wherever:
“I am more and more convinced that what gives a ministry its motivations, perseverance, humility, joy, tenderness, passion and grace is the devotional life of the one doing ministry.
When I daily admit how needy I am,
Daily mediate on the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and
Daily feed on the restorative wisdom of His Word,
I am propelled to share with others the grace that I am daily receiving at the hands of my Savior.”
Dear friends, let’s all be more intentional about these next few weeks, to not be so crazy busy, to enjoy and savor moments with family and friends as Thanksgiving and Christmas approaches.
Thank you, Kevin, for a wonderful, helpful, and blissfully short book!
‘Til next time!