Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Look at all the busy people this way, that way, everywhere

 Review: The Busy Christians guide to busyness by Tim Chester

The first thing you notice about this book is the cover, it’s awful, but if we let that slide it’s a good book. The first thing I thought when I read the title of the book was something like, with great sarcasm, “great, a book that is going to tell me how if I was more organized or even more holy I be able to do all the things that have to get done.” 
My hopes weren’t high, but actually the book turned out to be less about how not to be too busy or deal with being busy than the attitudes that being busy creates and even the attitudes that lead to us becoming so busy in the first place. The first few chapters admittedly are a bit of a social comment on how life has got more and more hectic and how the idea of a work/life balance has also changed with time and then there’s a chapter looking at what I dreaded – How to be time efficient, full of techniques and tips to manage your time and workload, but then the book takes a different tack.
Rather than just assume people who are busy, should be less busy because that easier and more fun the next few chapters explore what it is that makes Christians busy and whether or not that’s a good thing. Chester looks at the things we do and what their purpose is before settling on the helpful definition for life that, whatever we are doing, we should be looking to glorify God all the time. In one chapter he concludes that both Jesus and Paul could say at the end of their lives that they had completed the job. Not because they had done everything that could be done, but because they had worked faithfully in the time they had. They had put the kingdom of God first in their lives, in whatever they were doing.
The second section of the book then looks at 6 “lies” as Chester terms them. The reasons people give for why they are busy. Things such as “I’m busy because I need to prove myself” and “I’m busy because otherwise things get out of control”. As you read the chapters it’s easy to see the different elements we all combine to explain why we do things.
The problem with that for the reader, is that it’s equally easy to see how those reasons translate to our attitude to God, or more often, the attitude we impose on Him and his expectations of us.Chester’s one sentence summary, if he had one, is that the heart of busyness, and the answer to all our reasons and excuses, is that God doesn’t expect us to do more than we can do.
I’d really recommend this book to anyone, whatever stage of life you’re at, whether you are busy or not, because we all face different issues with regards to time and work and busyness, but they all come from wrong thinking about God. I was really challenged when I read this book, that even though I didn’t think I was too busy – It was all too easy to end up doing the things we do, for the wrong reasons. That however much time we spend doing things, whether its too much or even too little, it’s the attitude behind that that is important.
In the conclusion of the book Tim Chester gives what could be an answer to the title of the book when he says “In the end, neither doing more or doing less is ever going to be the answer – the only answer is faith in God”.

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