[BOOK REVIEW] Tim Chester, The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness, 2006

busy-christianI picked this up whilst working as a caretaker/cleaner on an Oak Hall ski holiday in 2007. I was to give my testimony for the first time and was thinking around the tissues that were/are relevant at this time. Having taken redundancy, I was looking forward to some idle time, alongside some de-cluttering to really think things through. By April I wasn’t sure I was getting anywhere fast, the to-do list was as long (if not longer) than ever, my emails were still un-dealt with for anything up to 3 years, I’m still doing things I think I shouldn’t be doing, guilt is piling up, and I feel that life is on a fast-forward.

The back-cover of this book drew me in – offering practical help but also noting that we can’t just slow down/simplify our lives – we need to deal radically with the things that drive us. Do you:

  • Need to prove yourself?
  • Feel ‘otherwise things get out of control’
  • Think ‘I need the money’

Chester describes this as re-submitting ourselves to slavery when God/Christ has set us free.

In Matthew 11:28 God promised rest to all who are weary and burdened, and it’s up to use to accept it (and we need to not take responsibility for other’s busyness either!).

An extract (p94-5). Psalm 119: 120 I stand in awe of your laws

So if you are busy because of other people’s expectations, or you can’t say ‘no’ to people then you need to learn the fear of the LORD [Not terror-fear, but respect-fear]. For the fear of God can be taught and learnt [through meditation on God’s glory.]

And this fear is liberating. It is liberating because it sets us free from every other fear. Proverbs 19:23: The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble. The fear of God leads to ‘rest’. Fearing God sets us free from the frantic busyness that is driven by the desire to please others… We are no longer controlled by other people’s expectations. We are controlled instead by God’s expectations.

We still serve other people. That’s why we’ve been set free (Galatians 5:13). We take other people’s expectations seriously because we want to love them as God commanded. But we’re not enslaved by them. We don’t serve them for what they can give us in return – approval, affection, security or whatever. We serve them for Christ’s sake. By submitting to his lordship, we’re free to serve others in love. When people are disappointed in us we need to be able to say to God: ‘I’m sorry they’re disappointed, but it doesn’t matter because I’ve done what you expected of me.’

Prepared for use as as an Oak Hall leader.