Dear Family of St John’s

I’m swamped, I’m slammed, I have a lot on my plate, I’m tied up, I have my hands full, I’m up to my eyeballs in work, I have a lot of irons in the fire, I’m snowed under, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, I’m run off my feet. I’m BUSY!

Have you ever used any of these phrases? I’m sure we could all answer that question with a ‘yes’.

I know that life feels a little overwhelming at times, there are seasons where our diary seems a little fuller than we’d like. I think that’s normal and just part of the rhythm of daily life. But, is every day like that? Do we feel that we need to fill each moment of the day?

My concern is that we have reached the point where we glorify busyness. In conversations with friends and colleagues, I often find a sense of competitiveness in relating how busy we are. I don’t think we even realise that we’re doing it.

We say things like, “My day is busier that yours. I never get any sleep. I can’t remember the last time I sat down to read a book. I don’t have time to cook / exercise / visit friends / go to movies / go to church / read my Bible (the list is endless). I thrive on being busy!”

It’s as if being busy validates us. It makes us feel important. It makes us feel needed. And so, many of us have developed a busy mindset. We feel that we need to fill every moment of every day doing some or other productive task. There’s always something to do. This mindset makes us feel that we should always be ticking something off our never-ending To-Do List.

It means that we schedule back-to-back appointments to get the most out of the day without allowing any time to catch our breath. It means that we feel guilty when we go on leave or aren’t doing something productive.

Surely this isn’t healthy.

Banning Busy

We have decided amongst our staff recently that we’re banning the word ‘busy’. We’re going to try and slow down a little bit, in the way we run around the complex from one meeting to the next and in the words we use to describe our diaries. What prompted this was the realisation that more and more people were engaging with us by saying, “I know you’re busy, but would you have some time to come and see me.”

We’ve realised that we’ve created the impression that we’re too busy, that we’re unavailable because of busyness. And it’s made me think. Are the things that I am busy with, really the most important things? We need to evaluate what we’re filling our time with.

Certainly, some of the meetings are important. But can they be done more efficiently so that we have time for the things that are more important. Things like: spending time with our family and friends; taking the time to cook a meal and chat over supper together; reading a bedtime story to our children; coming to church or attending a cell group, being available to the friend who needs a listening ear.

The things that are most important are those where we have the opportunity to show our love for each other and for God. That’s the most important. Perhaps that should be the yardstick for deciding how we fill our diaries.

I am never too busy to talk to. If I appear that way, please remind me of this letter. I am never too busy to come and see you at home or in hospital. I am never too busy to pray with you. This is what I want my day to be filled with, this is what God has called me to do. There will always be meetings to attend and emails to answer. But for the most part, they can wait. I am never too busy for relationship, for showing others God’s love.

This is what is most important. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39)

May we never be too busy for this.

With love

Your friend and rector