I’m often busy…with family, work, ministry, volunteering, etc. You’re busy, so you know what I mean. We’re rushing from here to there, trying to keep up with our never-ending to-do lists.
Being busy isn’t always bad, but it can sometimes cause problems.
How is being busy a problem?
You probably can think of many ways in which being busy can be bad. Look around in your life and others’ lives, and you likely see how being busy leads to missed opportunities of one kind or another.
One way that busyness can be a problem for me is it sometimes keeps me from making time for relationships. I enjoy encouraging and being encouraged by others, and so if I’m too busy to make time for relationships, then those are missed opportunities to encourage and be encouraged.
Our 12-year-old, Avery, just finished 6th grade. Over the past several months, he and a 7th grade girl, Savanna, developed a really sweet friendship. This wasn’t a “boyfriend-girlfriend” kind of friendship but simply a healthy, non-romantic friendship—as friendships should be at this age. They ate lunch together every day and were generally an encouragement to one another at school. Because their relationship mattered to them, it mattered to me.
Savanna’s family relocated to another state at the end of the school year, as they do every couple years for job-related reasons. This, in itself, makes me sad—to think of a child having to readjust to a new school and new friends so often. But, as we were saying goodbye to Savanna and her mom on the last day of school (a half day), they both were clearly feeling the sadness of leaving, and this also tugged at my heart. Others gathered around them to say goodbye. Avery and I also spent time saying our goodbyes before hurriedly leaving the school.
Notice that word “hurriedly.” I wanted to hurry home and finish cleaning our house, which was due to be shown by a real estate agent just an hour later. In hindsight, I wish I would have planned differently and could have then made more time to say goodbye and perhaps even invited Savanna and her mom to lunch. Instead, I missed opportunities to encourage Savanna and her mom. I missed opportunities to be encouraged by their friendship. I missed opportunities to demonstrate for Avery the importance of making time for relationships.
We have to be realistic about our limits.
I know—I can’t be all things to all people. I also know that I can’t be everywhere, do everything, etc. After all, being busy can be a problem but so, too, can overextending ourselves. And, yes, it’s true that selling a house is important and requires time and energy. But, relationships matter more in the big picture. I know that, but in this instance, I let my to-do list keep me from spending just a little more time with a couple of important people who could have used a little encouragement before leaving the next day for their new home hundreds of miles away.
How can we avoid missed opportunities?
We can be realistic about our limits, but what else can we do to be less busy? How can we avoid missed opportunities? Certainly, you and I can prioritize better between what matters most and what matters less. We also can be more flexible to capitalize on opportunities as they arise, which may mean changing our plans without feeling badly about doing so. After all, life is always changing around us. As I tell my children, we sometimes “just have to go with the flow.”
Another step we can take is believing that missed opportunities aren’t always the end of the story. I missed an opportunity to further encourage Savanna and her mom on the last day of school, but I did at least give them our email address and encourage them to reach out once they get settled. Hopefully they will write, but even if they don’t, we’re still praying for them and trusting God for a safe and smooth transition.
Less time for to-do lists, more time for relationships!
One last possibility of many, and for me, a most important step is learning to love others like God loves us (John 13:34-35). God cares about each one of us beyond our comprehension, and He makes time for us no matter what. Unlike me, He doesn’t say, “I’m busy. I don’t have time.” He, instead, demonstrates time and again throughout history that relationship is His ultimate goal (John 3:16). I know this, yet I clearly still have a long way to go to love like God loves.
Being busy is an ongoing problem for many of us. If busyness is a problem for you, I hope you’re aware of and learning from the missed opportunities that sometimes come from being busy. Those missed opportunities are important reminders to us of what matters most!
Thanks for reading!
Before you go…
How are you handling busyness and missed opportunities? Share your thoughts below in the comments section. I’ll do my best to get those posted as quickly as possible.
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Scripture references in this article are from the New American Standard Version and linked to www.Biblegateway.com.