The Empty Promise of a Full Schedule

Apr 27, 2020

“How’s it going?”

“Oh, you know… just busy… really busy.”

“Yeah, me too. Always running from one thing to the next.” 

a blurry look at my daily planner

That’s something you would have heard a lot of 2 months ago that you don’t hear that much today*. If COVID-19 has done anything, it has stripped away a lot of the little things that puffed up our schedules. Baseball practice? Postponed. Dance class? Do it from your iPad. Work meetings? Attend from your couch in PJs. Almost everything on hold.

As someone that’s perpetually “busy” — I was initially relieved to be at home, like many of you. But after a few days, when someone would call and ask what I was up to, I noticed that I almost felt ashamed at responding with “uhhh… nothing. Just sitting on my porch.” Why did I feel this way? Everyone I know is in the same boat! Where was this shame coming from? I realized that I had developed an unhealthy attachment to doing.

Let me say this — I’m a firm believer in working hard, and as someone that does ministry as a vocation, I believe that I should work with a certain intensity. For as long as I can remember, I’ve put in the early mornings and late nights. But where I’ve gotten off track is in this — I wasn’t just working because there was work that needed to be done. I started relying on a full schedule to put a patch on my insecurity and anxiety. My value came from my calendar. I needed to be busy. 

Remember the story in Luke about Mary & Martha? Jesus came to town and stopped by… the place was full of people. Martha, like anyone would, got straight to work. There was a lot to do! There were a lot of people to take care of! Who could blame her? Grab the windex, check on the chicken in the crock pot, wipe down the table!

Then there was Mary. Mary wasn’t caught up in any of the busyness. She was sitting and listening to Jesus teach. When Martha stopped to complain, Jesus responded…

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41–42)

Jesus gets to the heart of the issue – not the hard work that Martha was doing, but what was fueling it. The anxiety to be seen as a good host — as someone who is really taking care of things, that is what was fueling the work. Being a good host is good! Working hard is good! But as in all things, motives matter and that’s what God sees.

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

As I look to the future, I think it’s important to remember that being busy can give you a counterfeit feeling of self-worth. Our true value comes from sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Here are four observations I’ve come away with from this season.

  1. It’s okay to be busy.
  2. It’s okay to not be busy.
  3. In all things, examine your heart.
  4. Our worth doesn’t come from our calendar, it comes from the cross.

Blessings to each of you!


*I know that there are many people that haven’t experienced this season the same way. From healthcare workers to first responders, many are busier now than they have ever been. We certainly remember them in our prayers, extend our sincerest thanks for putting themselves in between us and real threats on a daily basis. Still, I pray that the lesson here is helpful for those in any season.

Let’s keep in touch!