When I first began writing, ages ago, my blog was entitled “Be Still And Know…”. I was probably about 18 years old and, even at that point, had realized the importance of solitude, silence and stillness.
Now, 16 years later, I get the sense that I’m learning about this profound power all over again.
Life has sped up, changed and become exponentially more complicated than it was then. And I believe that it’s for this reason that the concept of stillness is re-emerging for me.
A Full Life
Many people have lives that are way more hectic and overfilled than mine, so I don’t claim to have the corner on “scheduling eccentricity.” But life is full. A growing ministry, a growing business, a growing family; sometimes it feels non-stop. There is no idle “boredom time” filled with TV or social media in my life. The term “full” implies both a joyful/thankful life, as well as an exhausted one.
So when my 5:30 mornings aren’t already committed with diaper-changing or early-risers, I’m fighting hard for time with the Lord and squeezing in a few more pages of an inspiring book. This year, those books have introduced me to some ultra-productive, deep-thinking writers who have made me question my ways.
“There’s a hole in the Matrix”
Busyness is not a badge of honor.
I think it all started with the “4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss. He talks about how being perpetually busy is a form of laziness, not a perverse badge of honor.
That hit me.
In a world where we commonly respond to “how are you doing?” with “Phew! Been busy!”, this perspective is refreshing and — in my opinion — dead on.
We’re WAY too busy, and with absolutely the wrong types of stuff.
Overactivity isn’t necessarily moving the ball forward, and certainly not the most important ball.
It feels likes productivity, but it’s likely missing the point.
When I stop to be still, I remember what really matters:
- I’m small.
- God is big.
- Invest in the things that’ll cry at your funeral… people matter.
So, making money or growing a church or running for office; they’re all good things. But they’re not eternal things. And if they aren’t your wife, children or the people that God has called you to… they really are the wrong things to be spending your life pouring into.
I’m wrapping up a book called “Deep Work” by Cal Newport, in which he makes a convincing case for cutting away from the things that are “shallow”, such as social media, email and distraction-heavy tasks, in exchange for blocks of time that are dedicated to high-value tasks that require the deeper parts of your mind to engage.
He argues for strict “no work” times because the brain needs space for rest. And then he uses science to prove that the brain truly needs that resting space in order to do it’s best productive work while in the office.
The prevalence of the smart phone, and the pull of unfinished projects at work, tug at me while I’m supposed to be lavishing attention on my kids and wife. Thoughts like these, from Cal and Tim are emboldening me to make steps towards “mental freedom” and slowing down enough to be present with my family… with the people that matter most; to be still and know that there is a God, and I am not Him.