I love being busy. Finishing tasks makes me feel that I am a useful contributor to society.
As an engineer writing proposals, I would justify working half-time (8 AM to 8 PM Monday through Friday, plus a few hours on an occasional Saturday) as giving back to the community. A winning proposal would not only further my future employment, it would make additional jobs in the community: not only at my employer but also at services my colleagues would use.
Now, as a pastor, my work week can easily extend to seven days. Even on my “day off” I can easily spend a few minutes answering a phone call, responding to an email, reading a church growth blog, studying a chapter or two of a theology book, jotting some notes about an idea for a future blog, and so forth.
But even the protestant work ethic had a limit; strict observation of the sabbath: a day of rest to enjoy God.
A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh,
but passion makes the bones rot.
— Proverbs 14:30 (NRSV)
Instead of asking what else can I do, I should ask: “What is God calling me to do now?”
Instead of assessing recently completed tasks, seeking to do my best on the task at hand, and plan for upcoming tasks, I am allocating more time each day to simply sitting and listening. At first I could only sit still for a few minutes. Currently I can sit for 15 minutes. My mind still wanders, but I can more easily set those thoughts aside until later.
I hope that taking time to sit and listen for God will teach me to listen more patiently with the people I meet, to calm my heart to fully enjoy this day, and to focus on what God is calling me to do so I can leave the rest for other people to enjoy completing.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or what you will drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food,
and the body more than clothing? …
But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
— From Mathew 6:25-33 (NRSV)