Many of us are crazy busy! Our schedules are full. They drive us. They overwhelm us. As Rob Bell has said, “Busy is a drug.” We use busy-ness to cover up our pain, our sadness and our insecurity. Many of us fear the silence. For the next few weeks at the Vineyard, we’ll be talking through the book Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung.
Here's the thing: crazy-busy is a symptom of a sick soul AND crazy-busy makes the soul sick. The busier we are, the more strain we put on our bodies and our relationships. The busier we are, the less likely we are to get the sleep we need, but also the less likely we are to give our souls the rest they need. Busy-ness keeps us from self reflection and self awareness. Similarly, some fill up their schedules to cover up our emptiness. Others fill up their schedules to try to fill the hole they feel inside. Yet others fill up their schedules because of pride.
Pride is the villain with 1000 faces, says Kevin DeYoung. To name just a few of the ways pride can lead to crazy busy lives, he lists some “Killer P’s”: people pleasing, pats on the back, performance evaluation (overestimate our ability and capacity), possessions, proving myself, pity (people will feel sorry for me if I’m busy), poor planning (unwillingness to delegate), perfectionism, position, prestige, posting (social media).
When living out of one (or many) of the Killer P’s, we will fill up our schedules because we are seeking to elevate ourselves and/or the way people perceive us. Even when we do real good, often our motivation is so that others will think we are good. One way to determine whether we are motived by pride, whether it be saying “yes” to something or posting on social media is to ask ourselves the question: “am I trying to do good or make myself look good?”
People pleasing is perhaps the most common and most subtle manifestations of pride. Jesus warns us in Luke 6:26, “There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them.” While at first glance, you might not think of people pleasing as prideful, in reality is has everything to do with pride. People pleasers want everyone to like them because people pleasers primary motivation is that everyone thinks “well” of them. People pleasing is not at its root “serving others,” but self serving. Don’t think you struggle with people pleasing? Psychology Today lists 10 warning signs that you might be a people pleaser: 10. You can’t handle when others are angry 9. You act like the people around you 8. You need praise to feel good 7. You avoid conflict at all costs 6. You don’t admit hurt feelings 5. You pretend you agree with everyone 4. You feel responsible for how others feel 3. You apologize often 2. You can’t say no 1. Your are really [crazy] busy! I bet that covers pretty much all of us! But don’t think that just because pride (or people pleasing) is common, that it’s healthy.
You might be asking, “what’s the problem with pride?” From a Christian point of view, pride is the worst of all sins. In part, this is true because it is the root of all sins. Greed, sexual immorality and hate all flow from pride. But it is also true because our pride is antithetical to trust in God. Instead of trusting God, pride makes us believe that we are self reliant and self sufficient. Pride makes keeps us from asking for help at the most basic level: our need for salvation. But apart from trust in God, pride is also the chief cause of human misery. Pride does not find satisfaction in a thing for itself. Pride wants to be the best and have the best compared to everyone else. Pride makes a person unhappy with their good life, their good car, their good house or even their good spouse because they see someone who is more popular, with a nicer house (or cleaner for that matter), a newer car or a more attractive spouse. And because we want all those things, we become busier and busier.
How can we combat pride, the root of much of our busy-ness and unhappiness? The Bible tells the story of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in Daniel 4. King Nebuchadnezzar is the most powerful and prosperous man the world had ever known. At the very height of his power, he has a troubling dream about a mighty tree getting cut down to the stump. Daniel (God’s prophet) interprets the dream saying to Nebuchadnezzar, “you are the tree!” Twelve months after the dream, Nebuchadnezzar is walking on the roof of his palace and boasts, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” At that very moment, a voice from heaven decreed, “Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox.” For a period of 7 seasons, the mighty king lost mind. Believing he was an animal, the Bible tells us that he walked on all fours, ate grass like an ox, his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. His punishment fit his crime. Just as pride ultimately isolates us from others, now Nebuchadnezzar was isolated from all humanity. He was shown the true ugliness of his pride when was made to believe he was an animal. This went on until he lifts his eyes toward heaven and his sanity is restored as he declares that God (not he) was worthy of honor and glory. At this point Nebuchadnezzar is restored to his throne and is made even greater than before. His story ends with these words, “And those who walk in pride, he [God] is able to humble.”
Nebuchadnezzar was right. The antidote for pride can only come from God’s power, not our effort. We see in this story how Nebuchadnezzars pride was only defeated when 1) God showed him the true nature of his pride by making him like an animal 2) Nebuchadnezzar turned toward God by looking toward heaven and declaring God’s power.
Likewise, the only way our pride can be defeated is to 1) realize the ugliness of our pride 2) repent and ask God for his help. Sometimes, God will go to great (and painful) lengths to help cure us of our pride. But the amazing thing is this: even though he might not go as far as with us as he did with Nebuchadnezzar, even Nebuchadnezzar praised God for what he did.
Pride is the most destructive force in our souls. It is the the great disease that drives us toward busy-ness. The best news in the world is that God can save us and wants to! Don’t let the very pride he wants to cure keep you from asking for help!
How would you describe the busyness in your life? What feels overwhelming? How did your life get this way?
Which of the following expressions of pride have you fallen into in the last week: people-pleasing, possessions, proving yourself, poor planning, perfectionism? What do you think made you vulnerable?
Reflect on the present decisions you need to make about how to invest your time and energy. How could the question, “Would I be trying to do good or make myself look good?” help you make wise decisions?