If you are like me, when summer arrives you are looking forward to a less hectic schedule. Yet, if you are also like me, those dreams of spending long, uninterrupted hours reading a good book; enjoying relaxed summer evenings with friends around the grill; and just being home with the family for a night drift away like the fuzzy seeds on the dandelions in your lawn. Life is just too busy, it seems.
Perhaps then the first summer book you should read is Crazy Busy, with the great subtitle A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem. Written by Kevin DeYoung, the pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI, and popular author and blogger, he offers in this short work a well of wisdom, often delivered with dry humor, on how to think Biblically and address practically the busy, hectic lifestyle most modern American Christians lead.
DeYoung admits that he wrote this work as much for himself as anyone. He thus opens up his own life by first confessing his “addiction” to busyness and then describing personally what he has learned in his own battle to lead a more peaceful yet mission-directed lifestyle. After warning of three dangers that being overly busy can bring to believers (having our joy ruined; having our hearts robbed of gospel treasure; having rotting souls covered up to our own hurt), he then gives seven brief chapters that diagnose the root causes of our busy lives. He also offers in each of these chapters immensely applicable advice on how to remove from our hearts and schedules much of what plagues us. He concludes by reminding the reader that there is a good amount of busyness that is God-given, as we are called to be hard workers for his kingdom (like Martha); but, even more-importantly, we are called to sit and rest at Jesus’ feet (like Mary) that we might have as our greatest priority knowing him.
The chapters on subjects such as pride driving much of our busyness or technology filling our lives with distraction would perhaps be anticipated in a book on this subject, but DeYoung helps you to think about these issues in refreshing ways. It was the chapter on children that really grabbed my attention. Entitled “A Cruel Kinderarchy,” DeYoung explains how so many Christian households have been turned upside down by parents in this generation as they center family life around their children’s desires and activities, not realizing how much this has led them into a frantic and even panicked lifestyle. DeYoung humorously describes this as parents “becoming little more than indentured servants attending to their children as if they are direct descendants of the Sun King.” He goes on:
Parenting has become more complicated than it needs to be. It used to be, as far as I can tell, that Christian parents basically tried to feed their kids, clothe them, teach them about Jesus, and keep them away from explosives. Now our kids have to sleep on their backs (no, wait, their tummies; no, never mind, their backs), while listening to Baby Mozart and surrounded by scenes of Starry, Starry Night. They have to be in piano lessons by five and can’t leave the car seat until they’re about five foot six.
It’s all so involved. There are so many rules and expectations. Parenting may be the last bastion of legalism. Not just in the church, but in our culture. We live in permissive society that won’t count any sin against you as an adult, but will count the calories in your kid’s hot lunch. I keep hearing that kids aren’t supposed to eat sugar anymore. What a world! What a world! My parents were solid as a rock, but we still had a cupboard populated with cereal royalty like Captain Crunch and Count Chocula. In our house the pebbles were fruity and the charms were lucky. The breakfast bowl was a place for marshmallows, not dried camping fruit. Our milk was 2%. And sometimes, if we needed to take the edge off a rough morning, we’d tempt fate and chug a little Vitamin D.
With this playful style, DeYoung avoids coming across heavy-handed and guilt-inducing. Rather, he pokes fun at his own busyness in ways in which you can readily self-identify, then leads one to consider the means for striving for greater sanctification in those areas. Again and again he draws your mind back to Jesus in his earthly ministry and his work with his own disciples to address particular areas of the anxiety that can lead to busyness in concrete ways. For instance, seeing how Christ stayed on track in His earthly mission without trying to do everything, demonstrating the limitations His own humanity placed on Him, helps you to realize your own responsibilities also end at a certain point.
With this approach, this book helps you recognize and address the truth of this quote that gets at the heart of the issue:
Things are not the way they are supposed to be because we are not the way we are supposed to be.
From recent graduates to overworked businessmen to new moms, this little book is worth putting into your own and other’s hands.