If we are too busy, we have only ourselves to blame. Beaten down by the hammer of our schedule, we become nails in coffins of discontent.
As equally worthy causes clash on our calendars, competition for our time becomes an emotional taffy-pull.
Focus on best
What we focus on, we become. It’s a question of allegiance.
The Savior said, "No man can serve two masters, for either he will love the one and hate the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon" (Matthew 6:24).
A house torn between two loves is disloyal to both and loves neither.
If we are too busy for family prayer, scripture study and one-on-one ministering, we risk the world’s diversions. Those diversions are a quicksand that can bury our family in "busy."
Elder Dallin H. Oaks counseled, "In choosing how we spend time as a family, we should be careful not to exhaust our available time on things that are merely good and leave little time for that which is better or best" (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Good, Better, Best," Ensign, November, 2007).
When I was in law school, Elder Oaks took time from his schedule as president of Brigham Young University to teach a law class in trusts. Because I wanted to be a litigator, trusts and tax law were low among my priorities. A world-class teacher in a world-class environment with a stellar subject, and I was not engaged. I was too "busy" with more important things. Years later when I told Elder Oaks he gave me my worst grade in law school, he chuckled and wisely remarked, "We reap what we sow."
By focusing on the best things, an appropriate balance of work, service and wholesome recreation blossoms into view with fresh eyes.
Focus on Jesus
If we are too busy for Jesus, we are too busy for joy. By shifting our focus toward the Savior and his teachings and life, we see with an "eye single to the glory of God" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:67).
Even in church callings, we sometimes confuse busy with engaged, or meetings with ministering. Again, Elder Oaks counsels, "We must not confuse means with ends. The vehicle is not the destination" (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Weightier Matters," Liahona, March, 2000).
President Deiter F. Uchtdorf said, "We all can think up a list of tasks that overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list" (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Of Things That Matter Most," Ensign, November, 2010).
In the same way freeing ourselves from addiction is worth the withdrawal symptoms, so it is when we free ourselves from addiction to clocks and calendars. These things are tools, not tasks. The schedule is not the end but the means.
Mom may have to cancel the taxi service. Our children will survive.
Dad may have to turn off the parade of characters on TV and tune himself to the character of Christ. Family and personal scripture study are good starting points.
Our children may have to forgo soccer, piano lessons and the flying-thumbs concert of text messaging for the music of family messaging. Loving communication around the dinner table, or in family councils, is best.
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In the end, our calendars will crumble, but our character will endure. A legacy of discipleship is not written in stony to-do lists "but in fleshy tables of the heart" (2 Corinthians 3:3). We should never be too busy for the heart of that mighty change.
William Monahan is a 1980 graduate of BYU Law School, practicing in Gilbert, Ariz. A former Phoenix stake president, he serves as a high councilor for the Queen Creek Chandler Heights Stake. He is active in Interfaith, and a U.S. Air Force veteran.