the shape of leadership

Stop Hiding Behind the Word ‘Busy’

Slow down, and take time for people God sends your way

Monty L Hipp on July 31, 2018

Oh, the barrenness of busyness. It’s funny how the word “busy” has become everything from a pedestal to stand upon to a mask to duck behind.

Nearly everyone reaches for this word when describing their life. It strengthens our sense of significance and validates our ego. It allows us to shrink time into a box of self-identified priorities and write off those things and people who don’t fit. With that word, we dismiss some individuals — and distribute flimsy badges of honor to those we deem worthy to enter our space and time.

We point to that word to excuse our time management shortcomings. (“I was so busy.”) We use it as a permission slip to leave good things undone and relationships shallow. (“Sorry, I’m busy.”) Our allegiance to this word is such that we offer it our health and well-being, sacrificing them on the altar of unrelenting activity. (“I’m too busy to eat right, sleep enough or take a break.”)

Somehow, we convince ourselves that speeding toward the next mile marker is more important than the place, the moment, in which we find ourselves. Tragically, that means we often rush past people God places in our path.

A few years back, I spoke at a leaders’ conference, and afterward, people lined up to speak with me about what they had experienced. One man approached me and began by saying, “I know you are really busy right now, so I will only take a minute of your time.”

Somehow, we convince ourselves that speeding toward the next mile marker is more important than the place, the moment, in which we find ourselves.

As I looked at this individual who seemed to be in a rush, I said, “I don’t feel busy. Are you busy right now?”

He paused and said, “No, I am not, but I just assumed you were.”

That was the day I eliminated that word — “busy” — from my vocabulary. I can say without hesitation that not using it has kept open many doors for meaningful moments and conversations. The change has been truly remarkable.

Is that word, and the dismissive attitude behind it, making you unavailable or detached from people who need your attention and compassion — from strangers to your own family members? Are you allowing that word to become an excuse for living any way other than as God intended?

If so, it’s time to make some changes in the way you think, act and talk.

Here are some of the phrases I have coined to describe my “busy” replacement strategy. These have created so many opportunities to change the dialogue and my own mindset.

Instead of saying “I am busy,” try these:

  • I am seldom bored.
  • Life has my full-time attention, and I like it.
  • I’m following where God leads.
  • My life and time are God’s.
  • I am trusting God to provide everything I need to do what He calls me to do.
  • I am allowing all the moments to matter today.

In other words, do yourself and everybody around you a big favor. Give the word “busy” a rest. You will discover a freedom that will allow you to live peacefully, serve joyfully, and receive God’s interruptions obediently.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 edition of Influence magazine.


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