“How are you?”
The answer to this common formality of the question has some of the most templated answers in the English language.
“Good! But busy.” “Tired, but good!” It’s amazing how many of our answers are some sort of combination of “good” and “busy” as if those two go together like peanut butter and jelly. We wear busyness as a badge of honor. But is it? I guess that depends. After all, I think a more precise word people mean is “hurried.”
Let’s parse this out a bit more.
We will always be busy but we do not have to be hurried.
There is a difference between being hurried and being busy. John Ortberg says it this way:
“Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart.”
Think about what the word “disorder” even means. It is literally when things are out of order. The quality of our life is diminished when we lose the proper order of things. Cosmologists revel at the fine tuning and order we find in the universe. What would happen if the universe became disordered overnight? Our cosmos would become a chaos and all life would cease to be! That’s how important order is… our very existence depends on order. Disorder is no joking matter! Yet, often we try to learn to cope with our disordered lives instead of having a severe wake-up call to re-order them so that we can thrive again.
The solution isn’t to stop, the solution is to simplify. So, what does it mean to simplify? It means putting our focus on the right things instead of just on more things. Part of the work of the gospel in our lives, according to Paul, is that the light of Christ “produces only what is good and right and true” (Ephesians 5:9). God’s values will always follow suit with what is good, right, and true. When Paul is speaking of what pleases the Lord (verse 10), he is not simply saying what makes God happy. He is saying what God is truly looking for and what He values. Spoiler alert: Living hurried and disordered lives isn’t it!
God’s values are all about the things that draw us into a healthy and whole relationship with him and also with one another.
That’s the key! We see these all over Scripture and there are too many that can be identified that we often have to be selective in what ones we want to focus on.
Just as the goal is not to stop but to simplify, so also the aim is to be busy with the right things, without being hurried. Dallas Willard, the late, great, well known Christian practitioner was once asked what the greatest enemy of the spiritual life is. His response?
“Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
That answer means something. And so step one for us involves discovering (or re-discovering) God’s values. And second, we must allow God’s values to shape our values.
Carefully determine what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:10, NLT).
Or in other words… what the Lord values. After all…
God’s values breed life–the kind of life our soul so desperately longs for; the life our world so desperately longs for but cannot grasp in its hurry and pursuit of all the wrong ends.
This is all about directing our energy toward what matters most. In the long run, being Kingdom-minded is what matters most. So I have to be honest with myself about what is helping me become Kingdom-minded. The best way to do that is by looking at my values and my time.
Simplifying our energy comes down to two key things: having a simplified vision of my values and a simplified vision of my time.
As we say, our calendar and bank account will show us real quickly what is actually valuable to us. Simplifying my values will simplify how I use my energy. Why? Because if we value everything we value nothing.
John Mark Comer, the author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, says this: “We achieve inner peace when our schedules are aligned with our values.” And he is right! Much of our frustration, we would venture to say, stems from an incongruency between what we value and how our lives are actually spent. We are exhausting ourselves for the wrong things instead of establishing a legacy in what matters most.
And the tricky part about all of this is that the enemy of the great is often the good. In other words, we can find justifiable reasons to keep doing everything we are doing even if it is not the pace of life we are supposed to be living, and yet the question remains:
What is most important? Notice how the question is not “What is important?”
There is a legion of things that are important, but only a few make the list of what is most important. And the answer comes down to determining what Christ-centered values we are going to live by.
We have written before about how to create personalized, Christ-centered values for your family. You can read about it HERE. Here is a sample of what it may look like:
Simplicity – The ability to be satisfied with the abundance of less. We are simple in that we do not clutter our lives with too many possessions or time commitments that take us away from the simple joys and priorities that deserve our devotion. Simplicity allows us to be deep and abiding human beings. It also helps fight anxiety, after all, we tend to make life more complicated than it needs to be. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out” (1 Timothy 6:7–8, CSB).
If we don’t live according to Christ-centered values, our lives will be reactive and not proactive. Values are not just words or mantras, they are the fire that ignites everything we do. We structure our calendars around our values. We make big and small decisions according to our values. Living in alignment with our values ensures that we are living a life of simplicity and purpose, not hurry and haphazard coincidences.
With all of this said, our hope and prayer for you are this…