The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness – book review

I am almost half way through reading Tim Chester’s book called
The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness (affiliate link btw). Apparently you can read the first 50 pages online on Google books

As someone who likes to be busy and love his work (and dare I say driven?) – this book has been a timely reminder personally. How much do I love my work? Well, I am currently on holiday and I am using it to plan for my career (had finished some coding tests and learning for my certification. So I am glad to pick up this book for my trip, I have bought it few years ago, but never got around to finish it.

What is this book about? From The Goodbook UK:

While offering practical help to busy Christians, Tim Chester also opts for root-and-branch treatment: it’s not enough to slow down, or to simplify your lifestyle, you need to deal radically with the things what are driving you.

If you’re busy because of the following:

  • ‘I need to prove myself’
  • ‘Otherwise things get out of control’
  • ‘I need the money’

Think again! At the root of our ‘slavery’ are serious misunderstandings, often reinforced by our culture. If we want to be free, then we need to counteract them with God’s word. It’s important to manage our time, but it’s more important to manage our hearts.

God has promised his rest to all who are weary and burdened (Matthew 11:28). It’s up to us to accept it.

The book is easy to read, but the points Tim makes are loaded with biblical truths and to be honest they are personally confronting to me, I definitely felt rebuked as I read through the pages.

Reading the book has helped me refocus ‘why’. As a side note, I was introduced to Simon Sinek’s Start With Why – which highlights the importance of knowing your personal why. As a Christian though, my why comes from my creator, as Tim alluded in the book, for a Christian the ultimate why (including the reason for work) is to have God say in the end “well done, good and faithful servant”.

The ultimate why for a Christian is to have God say in the end – well done, good and faithful servant.

In the early part of the book, Tim gave practical tips to avoid being too busy – I guess that’s the how bit, but on the subsequent chapters he deals with more important question – why are we (Christians) so busy? A question that he asked is, is it possible that we do more than God wants us to?

It’s important to manage our time, but it’s more important to manage our hearts.

I am looking forward on finishing the book and perhaps re-read it every year or two, I think this is one of the books that worth regular re-read.

Some interesting points that I picked up:

  • People are getting busier at work, our secular age gives a material answer to spiritual problems (I forgot why Tim identifies busy as a spiritual problem). For example: going to the gym to relax. But in the end you must work harder to afford this leisure (gym membership).
  • Access to data doesn’t make you wise, wisdom takes study and reflection. Study and reflection needs time.
  • People used to work to maintain a standard of living, but today we work to attain higher standard of living.
  • Greeks and Romans aspires a life of leisure, free from work. Work is seen as necessary evil. I guess that thinking permeates to today too, for example: people work so that they afford overseas travelling.
  • Our culture assumes that holidays are the answer to busyness. But holidays are a modern invention. 48 weeks work, 4 weeks holidays, 40 years work and then retirement, this cadence is human invention. The bible for example, does not recognise the idea of retirement. This is challenging for me, having been involved with an investment community, the majority of the group is driven by the goal of retiring early or at least retire comfortably. While it is certainly nice to have that option, God does not ask me to retire early – it’s not what important to him and I better not make it as a goal in life either.
  • Value people over schedule. I am guilty of this – I like my days planned (and packed), but if I do that I will not have time for people. My God is a god that values relation – so I need to reflect that in my life too.
  • The goal of Christian living is not to achieve work life balance – but to use both work and life to God’s glory.
  • Christians should not compartmentalise work, life, leisure, ministry, family time – all of them should be ministry.
  • What you do matters, not how much – so sort out your priorities.
  • How you do it your work matters, not how much – so glorify God in all that you do.
  • Why you do your work matters, not how much – so identify your desires.