Thursday, 3 January 2013

new year 2013

Life is busy. Fact.

Short of signing up to a monastic order, this kind of pace will continue in the coming year! Truth is I would not have it any other way. I have a wonderful family, good friends, enjoyable leisure pursuits and a fulfilling ministry.

However, too often my life is characterised by “the tyranny of the urgent.” I allow responsibilities, deadlines and other people’s expectations to dominate my thinking and influence my actions. I caught a glimpse of the danger of this recently from two very different sources.

At a conference last month I heard the story of a woman who asked her neighbours to sum up what marked her out as a Christian. The majority response had a one word answer – “busyness.”

In “Life of Pi” the central character describes Christianity as a religion in a rush…(it) bustles like Toronto at rush hour.”

It is sad that others looking on see this as the dominant value of an individual Christian and of the faith in general. My reaction is not so much a desire to change the outer circumstances of life as a longing to alter the attitude with which I look at, and live in the world.

Therefore, as I anticipate the coming twelve months (and look back to the issues I have just reflected on) I seek to make the following commitments:

Live with greater intentionality.
Avoid being driven by all that takes place in life.
Be more deliberate in my approach to life and ministry.
Do what I can to foster a greater sense of community in the church.

Cultivate a godly approach to all that I think, say and do.
My aim is to read the Bible more in order that I may cherish it more to the end that it will shape my character and influence my behaviour.  However, I will seek to do this more in the company of others this year in order to escape the individualism that has been a scourge in the church for some time now.

Life is busy. Fact.

However, busyness does not need to be the defining characteristic of my life. Living with godly purpose is a far greater approach with which to enter 2013.


  1. Sad that being busy is seen as a mark of being a christian. Reminded me of story of mary and martha. Hope your new year is a balanced and effective one. God bless.

  2. Thanks David, I agree. I think I was once impressed by those who seemed to be constantly busy in church life. I no longer consider this as something to aspire to!
    Trust you have a good year too.

  3. Thanks for the post, Iain. It's something i have been thinking about alot. A good friend of ours recently stepped down from eldership in his church to " save his marriage". I find it so sad that christians are indeed marked by our busyness because i know it to be true. This is the first person i know of who has challenged the excessive commitments/meetings that we think our crucial to sustaining the life of our church when actually they can be causing huge (unseen) damage to our family lives and witness in the world. I guess the danger is we are so busy at meetings to plan evangelism to our neighbours, that when our neighbours call round in need we are never actually home, or with any spare time to help them. It's so difficult and often painful to get a balance.

  4. Jenna, there are no easy answers to this issue but what I do know is that we need to work to change the culture of the church. How do we encounter God in worship and thus be equipped to live for Him to the end that we will more effectively engage with the world around us? These three values have become of increasing importance to me and ones that I hope to explore over the month of January.
    The short illustration I used in my post about the lady whose neighbours said that busyness marked her Christian life completely floored me. They said to her we don't know what you do but you are in and out of your car, back and forward constantly to your church. I guess she had little time left to engage meaningfully with them.
    Much to ponder...!

  5. After what i said about mary and martha my ears pricked up in church on sunday when the minister said (paraphrase). "Be careful not to be like martha-she was busy doing something good while the God of the universe was in her front room."

  6. David,that's such a poignant comment

  7. Iain, I found this discussion incredibly relevant, thank-you for your post.

    The belief that Christian Busyness = Godliness was an undiagnosed cancer in my life for a long time. I have come to realise that it is in fact in direct opposition to Grace, and fuels (amongst many things) guilt, bitterness and burnout.

    The comments about busyness affecting evangelism are spot on. In my recent stay-cation from church, for the first time in my life I have genuinely come to accept, understand and love dearly people who don't believe in Christianity. And to love them not as projects or challenges, but as people: sometimes broken, scarred and wounded, other times full of joy, passion and purpose.

    The challenge I find myself facing now is re-entering this world of 'church' with a fragile faith, whilst retaining and protecting this new-found love and dependence on grace. I wonder if it can be done? How would Jesus do it? Answers on a postcard..