Am I Enough 2 (The Lie of Crazy Busy)
Passage: Ecclesiastes 3:13–3:13, Colossians 3:23–3:24, Luke 15:22–15:30, Ecclesiastes 5:16–5:17, Romans 5:8
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 - I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
The gift of God is to find satisfaction in your work. But us humans…we have turned our work into this driver of our Enoughness. We have used our work to answer those life questions of “am I good?” and “who is my tribe?”
Like Matt shared last week, we as humans are hardwired for love and relationship. We quickly learn that if we are good those in our tribe will love and accept us. So we quickly want to know what we need to do to be good and we desperately want to know who our people are. Work provides an easy trap for us to do this.
The Atlanticdid this article about this “Religion of Enoughness” regarding our time and our work: “The economists of the early 20th century did not foresee that work might evolve from a means of material production to a means of identity production. …it would morph into a kind of religion, promising identity, transcendence, and community.” --Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, February 24, 2019
A kind of religion promising identity, transcendence, and community. Isn’t that what church is supposed to be? Used to be?
Another quote from this Atlantic article: “Today’s rich American men can afford vastly more downtime. But they have used their wealth to buy the strangest of prizes: more work!” Work has become play.
Isn’t the goal of working to buy you free time?
We have this ridiculous identity shift going on. And we are all so tired.
Proverbs 23:4 - Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. We think we are being clever, making wise decisions. But this Religion of Enoughness is so hard on our souls, minds, and bodies. There are physical ramifications. Can I get an “amen?”
There is a reward given to us when we say we are tired. Especially when we say we are “crazy busy.” What kind of validation are you getting or seeking when that is your response to the question “how are you?” Is it “look how important I am?” Or “I am so busy so I must be important.”
Research from Columbia, Georgetown, and Harvard has found that “busyness” is an actual way people signal their importance—and that marketers are responding to it. Ugh, marketers have found another way to take advantage of you.
“Luxury goods are losing signaling value” as more people can afford them. (Talking about a scarcity of time is) “a more nuanced way to display (importance) that doesn’t go through conspicuous consumption. It’s implicitly telling you that ‘I am very important, and my human capital is sought after, which is why I’m so busy.’” –Silvia Bellezza, professor of marketing at Columbia University and co-author of the study.
So now you don’t need to have that new Coach bag to signal your importance. You can just tell us how busy you are so you get the same affirmation. Or for the rest of us who can’t afford a Coach bag, we can have the same validation by saying “crazy busy.”
When is the last time you sat still? How long did it take for you to pick up your smartphone and appear busy again?
Was the last time you sat still in front of a screen? Netflix?
From the CEO of Netflix: “We actually compete with sleep. And we’re winning.” —Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix (New York Times, July 10, 2017)How does that quote make you feel? Do you get righteously angry at how marketers are continually making you feel like you are not enough? And then they smugly say they are winning?
In the New York Timesarticle it went on about all of the more offerings Netflix is preparing. In one sentence he used the word “more” 23 times. More, more, more. You are never enough. You can never watch enough. Can you hear that message? Psalm 127:2 - In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.
We love to brag about multitasking. But multitasking isn’t a bragging point. It is actually hurting our brains. According to neuroscientists, our brains aren’t built to do more than one thing at a time. And when we try to multitask, we damage our brains in ways that negatively affect our well-being, mental performance and productivity. This is an easy Google search to learn more.
“Repeated multitasking leads to anxiety, which raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the brain, leading to aggressive and impulsive behaviors.” So says Cognitive psychologist Daniel J. Levitin. Have you seen such behaviors in others? In you?
Culture no longer holds the church as an authority. So we’ve created our own religion that doesn’t have a savior of grace and forgiveness. And we are all suffering from it.
As I’ve told you often, I’ve been a youth pastor a long time. Teen anxiety is extremely high. I know it wasn’t this way before. Here are some new youth stats from Pew Research for you on teens.
- 95% of teens say having a job or career they enjoy would be extremely or very important to them as an adult.
- This ranked higher than any other priority, including “helping other people who are in need” at 81% or getting married at 47%.
- Finding meaning at work beats family and kindness as the top ambition of today’s teens.
And we wonder why teens are suffering from anxiety like no other time before? Stop it adults! Save the kids!
Are you in some exhausted tension right now? Good. I had to bring you here. Eyes are open, right? You feel the tiredness of your soul, right?
Because now I want you to discern. What part of your crazy busyness is Northern Virginia running you and what part of your crazy busyness is you seeking approval for your identity?
I’m not shaming you for working hard, for providing for those you love, for spending too much time on 95. There are enough other people out there who will shame you. You already wrestle with shaming yourself. This religion of enoughness is rooted in shame. Shame is your storystealer. Shame wants to keep you small.
And work is good. Work is what you do to make sense of your life. To provide for those you love. To buy yourself play time!
Colossians 3:23-24 - Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
This is the go-to verse on our standard of work. You are serving the Lord when you work. And work is good.
You know about our boy Kenneth who is starting year 20 of a prison sentence. Magically he got transferred 2 months ago to a work center.
He is now living with men who work 40 hours a week earning 35 cents an hour. That is creating an entirely new living situation for him. And it is good.
When you are “crazy busy” who are you serving? Discern that one for a moment.
I’m calling out here your standard of “crazy busy” when this has become what gives you value.
Let’s jump in mid-story to a famous Bible story about this:
Luke 15:22-30 - “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
You know this story, right? Now here this part again with this tension you are feeling right now.
Back to the story. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ 28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
Where did the older brother gain his identity? This set up an unrealistic expectation of approval. Every son wants his dad’s approval. But if you are slaving yourself to prove it or earn it—when you’ve always had it—you become miserable.
From The Atlanticarticle again, “The problem with this gospel—Your dream job is out there, so never stop hustling—is that it’s a blueprint for spiritual and physical exhaustion. Long hours don’t make anybody more productive or creative; they make people stressed, tired, and bitter.”
Ecclesiastes 5:16-17 - And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. 17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.
Stressed, tired, bitter…frustrated, discouraged, and angry. This is the fruit of the approval you are looking for—and wrecking your brain—meanwhile you’ve had the approval all along. Luke 15:31 - “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’
Who are you without your work, without the hustle? What is this fear that drives you? Shame lies to us and so does fear. Fear helps us think we can control our world. Fear is justified because we think it is making us a better person. Fear becomes our friend, something we are so comfortable with we don’t even hear the lies anymore. Fear keeps us in our scarcity of never being enough. You believe the lie that if you do just this one thing more…you will be enough.
The lie of crazy busy never lets us be quiet enough to hear this truth. Crazy busy is actually a numbing behavior. Numbing ourselves from our true identity.
Here this morning, with our music, and now with our sermon time from the Bible we’ve quieted you down just a bit to hear this truth. For the truth to be revealed to your tired heart.
What is driving you to exhaustion? Why are you pushing yourself to maintain that pace? Look past the obvious reasons and listen to your soul.
We are doing an extended time of worship so you can listen to your soul.
Slow down. Stop flying by at the speed of anxiety, deadlines and exhaustion. God’s time is gentle and generous. It moves at the speed of love. In God’s time there is enough.
And God says to you, Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This is the start of our identity. You begin by being accepted because I love you—and I showed you through the giving you all of my love through Jesus. God says “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’
Do you see the fear that is driving you? Can you stop the hustle that you are so comfortable with? When you slow down a bit is when you can find those good things. Your play time. Your memory makers.
You do realize you are not making lifetime memories while you are working?
What do you really want your identity to be?