|Close Up: Kevin DeYoung|
|Written by Leslie Santamaria|
|Monday, 05 August 2013 03:03 PM America/New_York|
Latest project: Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem (9781433533389, $11.99, Crossway).
How is Crazy Busy different than other books about living busy lives?
I hope Crazy Busy hits that sweet spot between theological and practical. Some books do well at the macro-level and remind Christians about pride, idolatry and the need for rest. These are helpful reminders, but sometimes they don’t get down to the nitty-gritty of our busy lives. On the other hand, and the greater danger, I think, is that a book on busyness ends up being nothing but common-sense suggestions for time management. I hope Crazy Busy can take the important truths of the Christian faith—sin, salvation, Sabbath, childrearing, mission, vocation—and show how the Bible has a lot to say about our busyness.
Could you explain why you describe yourself as “the worst possible person to write this book. And maybe the best”?
In most of my books I’m writing about something I’ve seen that I hope others can see. I’m often trying to correct misunderstandings or misguided theology. I’ve written this book, however, more out of my sense of need than out of my sense of having arrived. Busyness is something I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager. For that reason, this is a very personal book. I’m not writing for the vantage point of semi-retirement in a quiet cove somewhere in the mountains. I have five kids, a 600-person church and more responsibilities than I know how to handle. I wrote this book first of all to help my own soul.
Why is being “crazy busy” a problem?
On one level, it’s not a problem. We are meant to be busy. We are meant to work, to “spend and be spent,” as the Apostle Paul put it [2 Cor. 12:15]. And yet, there are huge dangers with being crazy busy. Busyness can ruin our joy, it can rob the seed of the Word, and it can cover up the rot in our hearts. The biggest dangers are not physical, financial or even relational. The biggest concerns are spiritual.
What is the structure of your book?
The outline is as simple as three numbers: three, seven and one. In this short book, I unpack three dangers of being crazy busy. Then in the bulk of the book I look at seven diagnoses for the bane of busyness in our lives. These seven chapters cover topics like pride, mission, priorities, parenting, technology, rest and expectations. In the final chapter I turn to Luke 10 and look at the one thing we need to do most: sit at the feet of Jesus. As quaint as it may sound, I’m convinced that when we make daily time with the Lord our first priority, so much of what ails us as busy people can drastically improve.
Why do we end up doing so much?
It’s hard to say whether people work harder than they used to. On the face of it, that seems like an absurd conclusion. Most of us don’t plow or push or build or church or write by candlelight. Our lives have more conveniences than ever before. But at least two factors are unique in our modern world: complexity and opportunity. Our world is terribly complex. We may not write with parchment and quill, but now we have to manage insurance policies, bank accounts, home repairs, technological innovations, heightened parenting demands and a gaggle of other responsibilities. On top of that, we suffer from never-ending opportunities. Part of the reason we do so much is because we can do so much. The results, though, are not good. We are working more, sleeping less and paying little attention to our souls.
Do you think Christians carry unnecessary expectations? If so, why?
Absolutely. Many of us suffer from the terror of universal obligation. Every world crisis, every unevangelized person, every unreached people, every un-dug well, every un-adopted orphan, every new Bible study feels like our responsibility. Well-meaning pastors, writers, parents and friends communicate the not-so-subtle message that nothing is ever enough. We can never give enough, never pray enough, never study enough, never share our faith enough. Most of us live with low-level guilt year after year. We can scarcely believe that a faithful, obedient, normal life is even possible.
What else would help Christian retailers to promote Crazy Busy?
The chapter on parenting where I encourage us all to relax a bit will be eye-opening to many parents. ... It should work well as a graduation gift, [for] a church small group, a book for pastors and even a non-threatening Christian book we can give our non-Christian friends.