I have a weird piece of advice for you.

Be lazy.

Okay – of course I don’t mean like legit lazy. There are 10% of you that might actually be lazy, and you people need to get off your butts and get to work. But my basic premise is this – 90% of  us need to slow down.

I was having lunch with a friend who is a speaker and author, and I asked him if he could do the afterward for a book I was writing.  He said he had to decline, and I told him I understood, and that he was probably crazy busy and didn’t have time to do it.  He looked at me with a little bit of confusion, and said words I’ll never forget.

“Well… No.  I’m not busy.  Busy isn’t the goal.  I turn down most of the opportunities that come my way because I have no desire to be busy…”

This wasn’t coming from a person that was afraid of hard work.  He speaks all over the world and writes amazing articles and books. He’s a great husband and father to two teenagers.  But he was able to find the beautiful balance between how full his schedule can be, and how productive he can be.

It’s been popular in the last few years (decades?) to talk about how our culture has made the word “busy” synonymous with “successful.”

It’s gotten to the point of being a cliché topic at conferences and training days. And while on the surface anyone with half a brain knows that these two things are not the same, it doesn’t change the fact that our instincts go down that road. When people ask me “how’s work?” I want to answer “busy!” When I fill out my annual report each January, I want to sound like we’ve been very busy (and are planning to be busy in the coming year). Even though I know busy and successful are two completely separate things, I don’t like telling people how successful I am… but I have no problem telling them how full my schedule is.

I’m guessing you’re schedule is too full.  I say that because I know that my schedule is too full. I’ve been working on finding this magical balance where I can one day say with certainty… “No, I’m not busy.”

When I’ve looked at my youth ministry calendar, I feel the need to make sure there’s something (retreat/event/etc.) on the calendar each month other than the normal programs. But why? Does busy make my youth ministry better?  Or just busier?

A few years ago I was challenged to look at a different cliché – “Less is more.” It’s a simple idea…the less things you do, the more time and energy you have to make those few things great. And it makes sense why – the more you do, the more likely you are (for time and energy reasons) to settle for “good.” In the years since that challenge, I have experimented with how far this idea can go. Lessons, retreats, events, the calendar, weekly programs… it applies to all of them.  It goes far… REALLY far.

People that really buy into “less is more” can look very lazy to those on the outside. When people say things like “So I bet you’re schedule is pretty nuts right now” you can come across as lazy when you say “No. Not really.”

When people are at staff meetings talking about how busy they are, you can look lazy because you refuse to do that. Understand this – I’m not lazy.  I work very hard … I simply do fewer things in order to raise the bar of excellence.

We really can stop worshiping “busy.” We can raise the bar without raising our blood pressure. Let people say what they will. Let them call you a lazy youth pastor. Don’t allow busy to rule your life.


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About The Author

Jonathan is the director of youth ministries at the Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli, Pennsylvania. He has worked in professional youth ministry for more than 16 years, including churches in New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania. He has spoken and/or led worship for multiple camps, retreats and events around the country. He took karate in high school because he thought it would help make him cool. He was wrong. Jonathan and his wife, Carolyn, have two beautiful daughters, Kaylin and Julia. He loves golf, can juggle two balls skillfully, and does a halfway decent impression of Kermit the Frog. He's also a big fan of the Oxford comma. Follow him on Twitter @jonhobbstweets.

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