The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Busyness: A spiritual issue

Being comfortable with 'what we have done and what we have left undone'

It all started with a microwave dinner.

As a parish pastor dealing with an overworked, short-staffed congregation, I had tried to manage my schedule with precision. I routinely shopped for groceries Thursday evenings so I could take it easy on Friday—my day off.

Then came the Thursday that changed my life. After a day of meetings there I stood in the frozen foods aisle at 10 p.m., tossing a microwave dinner back into the freezer because the cooking time was eight minutes. That was just too long.

I had wondered for quite a while why, with all the convenient services and machines, life seemed busier rather than easier. The more tools we have, the higher the expectations. It’s as if the technical world adds to our lives as much as it helps.

I also had noticed the frantic pace congregation members kept, balancing every bit of time among their children, jobs, parents and one another.

I realized at this point that in order to offer any suggestions to those in other church communities I would need to find a few answers on my own. This process involved setting time boundaries and literally rethinking the business of the church. It was the beginning of a new kind of spiritual journey that would not be as carefully planned out as I liked life to be.

I would need to enlist others in my congregation to join me. Any time we suggest change—whether in a major organization, our family or our congregation—it’s risky business. Taming busyness involves risking new patterns. And risk-taking is one of the best ways to increase our journey with the Spirit.

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February issue


Embracing diversity