Review of Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung
(Reviewed by Brandon Jordan)
It seems to be that the main response you hear today when you ask someone how they are doing is, “Busy.” We often lament or even disdain being so busy that we lose track of time or the things we love. Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung is geared for those whose lives seem overcome by having so much to do. The overworked, ever-stressed Christian who cannot find any other time to do ministry much less do it well. However, DeYoung also writes as one who is trying to learn about priorities himself. He does not write as someone who has all the time in the world, but as a pastor who also deals with these issues. Crazy Busy was written to an audience whose greatest desire should be to orient the busyness of their lives around Christ, not the other way around.
DeYoung gives an outline for how to take control of our busyness and care for our souls in the midst of task oriented lives. He uses three numbers that give the quick summary of the book: 3 (dangers to avoid), 7 (diagnoses to consider), and 1 (thing you must do). His three dangers of busyness are the intro and he covers them relatively quickly. Busyness robs our joy, robs our hearts, and covers up the rot in our souls.
The crux of the book is the seven diagnostic statements to consider regarding busyness. He begins with pride, which he says “is the villain with a thousand faces.” This is especially true when it comes to our busyness. Pride shows up in people-pleasing, pursuing possessions, or proving our worth. His other diagnoses are just as revealing. He explains that many times our busyness is a result of doing what we feel obligated to, not what we were commanded by God to do. He shows how we should prioritize our time, but often don’t. He even asserts (and rightly so) that we instead often try to prioritize others' time for them. DeYoung goes further to explain how parents even schedule their lives around their children, forming a sort of “kindergarchy.” This results in stressed parents who forget what is central to parenting: the love of Christ.
Crazy Busy forces us to grapple with how little time we take away not only for rest, but also for examination of our souls. This reveals a deeper fear that we often feel, the fear of quiet. This is a great fear for many people because it reveals that there is something missing, a deeper longing, which we know only God can fill. In the last part of the diagnostic section he affirms what we know to be true: we will always be busy. Life was not meant to be easy he explains. We often long for a less busy life forgetting that we must suffer here and now, but look forward to the day to come when Christ returns. As it turns out, the greater the desire to be free from a life of busyness the more of a burden it becomes. Investing in people, ministry, and relationships is busy and taxing work.
The last chapter, his prescription for change, is the weakest part of the book. DeYoung states that he is still searching for all the answers, which (in his own words) may make him the best or worst person to write this book. Perhaps we may never know a sure answer to the problem of busyness. Despite this weakness, he gives a superb inventory of questions for our hearts and enables us to ask serious questions about our motives in our use of time. He concludes by telling us we need to be wired like Mary in Luke 10. We should prioritize Christ over all of our obligations and prioritize our time with God and his word.
Crazy Busy is unique in that it tries to tackle a serious problem in an open ended way. DeYoung offers good insight and analysis that should help us to ask serious heart questions about the way we spend our time. At only 118 pages, you should have time to read this book…well, unless you are crazy busy!