Addicted to Busy

Recovery for the Rushed SoulAn interview with author Brady Boyd

We are all spread too thin, taking on more than we can handle, trying to do so much—almost as if we are afraid that if we were to take a moment of rest, we might discover that all our busyness is covering up an essential lack in our lives. But God never meant for us to be so busy. God desires for us to have rest and peace. In his book, Addicted to Busy: Recovery for the Rushed Soul, pastor and author Brady Boyd shows you how to live a life that embraces stillness and solitude, so you can find the peace that God wants for you.

cars in rush hour traffic

Q: This book reflects your own journey from “chaotic, busy living” to a more restful and rhythmic life. How bad was your own busyness addiction?

A: My wife, Pam, and I were married at twenty-two, and within five years, I was running my life at unprecedented speeds, even for me. We lived in Shreveport, Louisiana, at the time, where I taught junior- and senior-level English literature at a prep school of several hundred kids called Evangel Christian Academy. That role alone would have meant a full plate for me, but I treated it as a mere side dish, adding to it half a dozen other appetizing things. I was the boys’ Varsity basketball coach. I was the girls’ Varsity basketball coach. I was the boys’ JV basketball coach and also the junior high boys’ basketball coach. I was the high school track and field coach, one of the campus pastors for the school, and the volunteer youth pastor at the church associated with the school.

I was gone from six or seven in the morning until ten or eleven at night, teaching, conducting parent-teacher conferences, grading papers, tutoring students, leading practices, driving buses, coaching games, washing uniforms in the locker room’s laundry facility, and more. During that season of life, the greatest compliment you could have paid me was, “Wow. You’re always so busy.” To me, busyness equaled movement, and movement was necessary for me to get ahead.

I had exactly one day off a week, which was Saturday. But even then, I refused to rest. Instead, I added a huge Saturday ministry commitment for my wife and I. Then, just as I was at my “busiest for God,” I took on one more commitment, and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My wife was done, D-O-N-E, with the chaotic life I’d created for us. Her bags were packed and I had a decision to make.

I wanted to stay married more than I wanted to keep coaching, or teaching or volunteering every day of the week. So I begged Pam to give me 24 hours to prove I could change, then I proceeded to resign every position I held. Every single one.

I continued to work hard in the years that followed, but with a loving wife and then, eventually, two small children at home, I gladly kept my schedule in check. They were my magnetic north, my motivation to stay healthy and whole. And I did, largely. I went to work in radio making stagnant stations profitable.

Q: You write about “bedhead days” your family implemented. What did they look like?

A: . Along the way, my family and I sort of institutionalized the practice of ditching impression management and working toward a quiet, gentle spirit instead. Once a week, we’d hole away for an entire day with nothing on the agenda and nobody to impress. My wife and my kids and I would wake when our bodies were done sleeping, instead of being jolted up by a blaring alarm. We’d ignore the hands on the clock, and open our own hands to an unscheduled day. We’d eat when we got hungry, move when we got antsy, rest when we got weary, and let the day come to us instead of maniacally chasing it down. Smartphones weren’t the rage yet, but desktop computers were, and we took pains to keep ours shut down, to experience life not virtually but firsthand, here, in real time. Mostly, we puttered. We ambled. Once a week, beautifully, we took a long, slow stroll through our day. “Hurry is the sure sign of an amateur,” writes Ann Voskamp. If she’s right—and I think she is—then once a week, we Boyds were total pros.

‘Bedhead days,’ we came to call them, these times of extricating ourselves from the clutches of busy and intentionally focusing on rest. We didn’t have any rules on our bedhead days—in fact, rules would have mucked everything up. But if there were three guiding principles that emerged over time, they were be lazy, be together, and give grace.

Q: You lead a mega-church, so how do you keep your leadership and staff from busyness addiction?

A: New Life staffers know full well that I expect them to do their jobs in under fifty hours a week, and that they are not to be away from their homes more than two or three nights a week for the purposes of doing ministry. If they choose to work more hours than what I mandate, then I pull them in for a little chat. One of two things clearly is wrong: they have too much to do and we need to revisit their task load, or else they are not working smart. Either way, something has to change. I know it. They know it. Their spouse knows it. In fact, a call from a spouse is typically how I discover that a particular staff member is working too many hours. New Life staff spouses know that I expect them to call my cell if their husband or wife is violating my fifty-hour rule. I’ve received a few of those phone calls over the years, and you’d better believe I take them to heart. I pull in the staff member, we have a conversation, and together we chart a new course.

During those conversations, I remind them that if they do wish to burn out, there are plenty of churches around this country that will welcome them with open arms. But New Life is not one of them. I help them remember that they are part of a church community that is staunchly anti-burnout.

Q: What one idea would you like our readers to ponder?

A: If you and I had margin, if we weren’t chronically stressed out, if we weren’t forever dashing from here to there to there … I wonder what we’d do differently, what we’d attempt, who we’d become.

Three pieces of advice, if you’re interested in answering that question for yourself. First, unplug. Decide now that the rhythmic life is worth living, that peaceful describes the person you want to become. Next, be filled. Know what brings you alive and pursue it. Be intentional during unplugged times. And third, give your best away. Share your sense of peace with a world in chaos, letting the abundance of your life overflow.

This is how we quit dying inside. It’s how we come alive.

book cover of Addicted to Busy

Pastor and author Brady Boyd offers help for the harried.

Brady Boyd
is the Senior Pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Follow him @pastorbrady.

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