Lately, I’ve caught myself responding to the question, “How are you?” with the lame answer: “Busy.”
I actually despise that answer, so I’ve sworn it off.
Is it accurate? Sure.
But I’ve also found that a lot of people equate importance with how busy they seem.
And busy doesn’t actually share any real life that people are interested in when they ask about how I’m doing. In fact, it probably just makes them feel bad for taking up more of my time.
Our culture is accelerating at an incredible pace – for EVERYONE. Singles, marrieds, college students, older and wiser, even the “retired” all now have access to endless opportunities of involvement.
I hear about friends starting new businesses regularly.
Everyone is having babies.
Students I know are attending conferences and taking over the world.
The crazy thing is, I don’t see life slowing down. At all. In fact, I anticipate that it will only get more intense. Which boggles my mind.
So how does one navigate all of this busyness?
There are really only two options for dealing with life’s fullness:
1. Say No. As a lover of peace and quiet, I have made it a priority to guard my space and time with healthy boundaries. I say No. A lot. I function best when I have margin in my soul and some extra to pull from. This takes prioritizing and hearing from the Holy Spirit. What has God set in your hand for this season? If you’re not sure, take some time to find out. He gives grace for what He’s called you to. The book Margin by Richard Swenson is an excellent resource.
2. Increase Your Capacity. This is by far the more uncomfortable of the two options, but has profound implications on our fruitfulness as people. I have clung to comfort for far too much of my life, and the Lord is thrusting me into a season of growth – outside of my comfort zone. What happens when the Lord calls you to more in your life that you can comfortably handle? You seek His face, and all the things on your very full plate are a very clear YES? This probably means that He wants to work through you and stretch you to increase your capacity.
You see, growth doesn’t happen with a mental decision – at least not the full process. Long term, fruitful growth happens when we are stretched and forced to reach beyond ourselves.
However, burnout is always lurking if we aren’t careful. This happens far too often to well-intentioned people.
The key to growing and stretching your capacity without hitting burnout is one simple word:
Here are three ways to Connect and experience incredible growth:
1. Connect to the Vine. John 15 is my jam right now. God is the Vine, and we are the branches. We have to stay connected to Him in order to thrive. I believe He wants to give us more than we can handle sometimes, so that HE CAN HANDLE IT through us. That creates a dependency and intimacy that is pretty incredible. When life gets busy – get super protective of your time with the Father. This one thing will keep you. Even if you’re tired, worn out, or have a list of to dos 3 pages long - making this a priority will smooth out everything else.
2. Connect to People. During busy seasons of growth, it is tempting to pull back from community simply because it can feel like you’re just trying to keep your head above water. Who has time? It’s not high on the priority list! But it should be. I’ve heard an African Proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” As Christians, we are in this for the long haul. We have to go together. And who knows what the people around you can offer you in this season? Find friends who are willing to speak the Word to you – encourage you – bring life to your situation. Studies have even shown that pausing to play and have fun can energize us to work longer anyway!
3. Connect to Renewed Thinking. Pastor Paul Daugherty shared an incredible word this past weekend at Victory Christian Center on how We Were Made for More. He shares on increasing our capacity by changing our thinking and perspective. So often, we are limited by what we think we can or can’t do. I don’t want my own thinking, I want the mind of Christ. What does He think I can do? What does He have in His heart for my capacity? Again, this requires getting in the Word and allowing our mind to be transformed. Maintaining is ok, but we are called to multiply! We are made to Grow. Even if it feels uncomfortable. Even if we have to step out into something new. When God is leading, it’s always a fun adventure!
As we are all evaluating our priorities for 2017, I urge you to live in the tension of caring for your own needs and keeping healthy boundaries, but also allow room for the Holy Spirit to knock some boundaries down. Accept the invitation into the uncomfortable so that He can grow you into the nature of Jesus Christ, and you can walk in the fullness of His capacity!