Busy but Bored

I’ve read two authors whose books end up having more underlined than not, leading me at times to…dare I say…dog-ear pages (gasp). But I can’t help it. They’re both priceless. Their words are salve for the soul, especially the soul of a Christian leader. I am speaking of Eugene Peterson (whom I’ve blogged about before and before) and Henri Nouwen.

I have just begun The Dance of Life by Nouwen and already applied multiple sticky notes to mark sections, underlined, written lines to write about later, and so forth. The following is what made me go daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang, Henri. Tell me this doesn’t get into the nooks and crannies of your soul:

“It is remarkable how much of our life is lived without reflection on its meaning. It is not surprising that so many people are busy but bored! They have many things to do and are always running to get them done, but beneath the hectic activity they often wonder if anything is truly happening. A life that is not reflected upon eventually loses its meaning and becomes boring” (p.46). 

Remember that old Rascal Flatts song “I Melt”? Yeah, me neither. But I did.

Especially upon reading the phrase busy but bored. What an apt description of my life, so often due to a lack of reflection, a failure to frame experiences and responsibilities with purpose or intentionality.

If you’re busy but bored, perhaps it’s time to create some space to sit in silence, to stop the chatter–both internally and digitally, and to ask What’s the point of what I’m doing? How does this fit into God’s design? And then sit with it. It’s sometimes terrifying what we hear.

Grace be with you.

Dear Leader, Become Irrelevant

I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. ~ Henri Nouwen

These words were penned by one who made himself irrelevant by serving in an out of the way community for the last years of his life. Though highly capable and aptly credentialed, Henri Nouwen died caring for men and women with developmental disabilities.

His words reminded me of Eugene Peterson’s counsel for pastors to avoid wanting to be “where the action is.” In layman’s terms, be wary of the spotlight. Above all, don’t seek it out. Seeking such things opens the door to a monstrous world of soul-deep evils.

How do you keep from seeking center stage? Or have your eyes opened if those grotesque evils start seeping through?

It takes being known. The moment you begin closing yourself off to being truly known and WANTING to be known, be certain that your desire for relevance and subsequent invulnerability will distance you from good leaders and potential co-laborers.

Before long you will have a ‘yes’ team around you that doesn’t bother challenging or prodding. Or, if they do, you’ll ignore their counsel and do what you want regardless. And you’ll be weaker for it. The body will be weaker for it.

But Christ will not be stalled. His work will endure.


A recovering spotlight seeker