Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Review of Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung

What is one of the greatest dangers facing all of us? What is one of the most debilitating issues with which we will constantly deal? I think the frantic, hectic, all-consuming nature of our cultures day-to-day existence could possibly be the answer. Never in history has there been so much to distract, so much to fill every waking hour and every quiet moment. If Pascal is correct that "All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone," then most of us are so omni-connected and our lives so full that we will never even have a chance to not be miserable.

DeYoung warns the reader from the beginning that he is not speaking as an expert on how to be not busy, but rather as a fellow pilgrim struggling through this particular issue. Crazy Busy is a short, simple and clear presentation on a very practical issue. DeYoung outlines his book as 3,7,1; three dangers to avoid in chapter 2, seven diagnoses to consider in chapters 3-9, and one thing you must do in chapter 10. 

DeYoung cites many culprits in the struggle against chronic busyness including people pleasing, pats on the back, poor planning--all rooted in pride. One of the greatest, for me at least, is when the believer attempts to do what God doesn't expect them to do. DeYoung argues that the believer needs to understand that they are not the Savior. They do not have to do everything because, quite frankly, they cannot do everything. "Along with the Apostle's Creed and the Belgic Confession and the Westminster Confession, make sure you confess John the Baptist's creed: I am not the Christ."

Just because a cause is worthy does not mean that God expects you to engage in it. Just because there is a need, does not mean that God expects you to meet it. Learning the difference between "care" and "do" is crucial for a believer to maintain their joy. Apathy is not an option, but I am still not God and not capable to fix every problem, right every wrong, and cure every woe. As DeYoung puts it, "Not giving a rip about sex slaves is not an option for the Christian. Not doing something directly to combat this particular evil is an option."

This is where it is important to remember that the Christian does not walk this road alone. He is a part, a member, of something greater. The church definitely has to care and do in regards to sex slaves(and all injustices), but that doesn't mean that each individual Christian is bound to do for each individual woe. We are a whole made up of parts with different passions and giftings and remembering that will allow each of us to operate in our passion and with our giftings without feeling the condemnation for not doing everything. We are finite, created beings. We cannot do it all.

DeYoung takes the point that all of us are finite creatures and applies it most strikingly, for me at least, to the role of parents. His point is clear. Parents need to chill out. Good, loving, caring, Christian parents need to acknowledge their finitude in reference to their children. Do I need to love my children? Yes. Do I need to teach the Bible to my children? Yes. Am I responsible for my children? Yes, but not ultimately. I need to recognize that my children belong ultimately to God and relieve myself of a burden I am incapable of bearing and a responsibility that is inappropriate for me to take as my own anyway. Parents, especially Christian parents, have a tendency to overemphasize their impact on their children. We have to discard the determinism that drives so much of our time, focus and effort because, while we may influence, we do not have the power to determine our child's future. Good or bad. "(E)ven the kid hooked on Angry Birds who just downed a pack of Fun Dip and is now watching his fifth Pixar movie of the week still has a decent shot at not being a sociopath." The fact that my child belongs to God drives me to be attentive and loving and a good parent, but with a freedom and peace in knowing that one much greater, much more attentive, much more loving, is ultimately responsible for them.

DeYoung begins to end his book with a good reminder as he deals with the topic of busyness. The book's main focus is on why and how a believer should avoid sinful busyness. But he includes a chapter that is necessary to keep everything in proper perspective Sometimes, we are meant to be busy. Busyness is a way that we suffer and we need to be ready to suffer well in it. That means not being caught up in busyness that is sinful, but it also means not idolizing a clear schedule. There are times where we need to be put upon, times where we need to drop everything and help someone, times where our schedule needs to be blown up by an urgent, or not so urgent, request, so we can love people and serve people and suffer for people for the sake of the Gospel. It is not wrong to be busy, it is wrong to be busy for wrong reasons.

So what is the one thing that DeYoung wants the reader to do? His suggestion is simple, choose the greater portion. DeYoung concludes the book with a look at Mary and Martha and leads the believer to a simple conclusion, Mary chose the greater portion. She chose to spend time with Jesus. He encourages the reader to do the same. He suggests setting aside time each day to sit at the feet of the Teacher, to choose the greater portion. DeYoung concludes the book with a simple call to simple obedience for us to simply spend time with the One who is worth it all. Groundbreaking? Probably not. Soul-stirring? Probably so. 

A daily quiet time is the solution?!?! Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe your life will still be as frantic and busy and you will have to do something more drastic and radical and extreme. But no one will be sorry that they spent time with the Lord, so why not sit at His feet and see what He has for you everyday?

I received this book from Crossway for review purposes through