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The Busyness Dilemma

Many have written about the challenge that busyness poses for disciple-making. Normally the warning goes like this: if you’re too busy with all sorts of activities, you won’t have any margin in your schedule for building relationships with people. At one level this warning is convicting and warranted. We simply cannot be effective disciple-makers if our schedules are overloaded with the pursuit of everything and everything.

On the other hand, the warning is too simplistic. It’s not activity level, per se, that poses the problem. People who are busy with family, clubs, sports, hobbies, and the like have myriad opportunities to make disciples in those spheres. Effective disciple-makers are often quite busy, but they make the most of their 24 hours by investing purposefully in the lives of other people.

It would be better to address the busyness dilemma by highlighting three specific shortcomings that we struggle with as we allocate our time:

  1. Some of us use up our hours in the day on things that don’t provide us with quality opportunities to minister to others. This means that we are so consumed with our own solo pursuits that others really aren’t on our radar screen.
  2. Others don’t capitalize on the quality ministry opportunities we do have. Here I’m talking about the person who has lots of interpersonal interactions in his or her sphere of life, yet does not view these interactions as opportunities to impact people for Christ. I’m convinced there are more people in this camp than in the first.
  3. Still others view their ministry opportunities strategically, but they are spread too thin because they are involved with too many people. This struggle particularly afflicts the extrovert, the ministry entrepreneur, and the disciple-maker who doesn’t have the discipline to limit himself or say no. Such people love to engage new ministries and people, but because they have used up all their relational bandwidth, they are exposed to ten times as many needs as they can pray for, much less follow up on.

Next week we’ll talk about solutions to these shortcomings, but in the meantime, which of these camps do you find yourself in? Leave us a comment!

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