Monday, June 19, 2006

Tim Chester 'The Busy Christian's Guide to Busyness' (IVP)

Read this book!

I am by nature a fairly critical critic, but in this case there is very little negative to say: Chester knows the human heart, knows the Scriptures, and brings the two together in a very challenging yet constructive way. I've put an overview of its contents below these thoughts.

Why read it?
This is a particularly important book in the current climate of massive busyness - which we all notice in ourselves, in our diaries, at church, and everywhere... It is a topical book getting at an obvious flaw within much modern Christian practice.

It would be a great book to read 1:1 as part of ongoing discipleship, or to read before a men's or women's dinner and then discus after food. I will be reading it with a number of people over the next 6 months, and we are currently wondering how it fits into our church programme as we plan the next year or so.

And although it is not aimed at ministers / pastors specifically, we can certainly learn a lot from it - being challenged ourselves to model this as well as teaching it! Just as we can probably think of many working in the city who live fairly dysfunctional lives for the sake of their careers or bank balances, so also many ministers forget that running our households (and thus ourselves) is a criteria necessary for Elders (1Tim 3:4-5). We excuse our excessive busyness (which may very well be because our lives are out of control, our priorities unconsidered, our idols still worshipped, etc) because it is busyness in gospel work. How silly we are! All work done by Christians on earth is gospel work - and the kingdom grows despite our feeble ministries not because of them (1Sam 5:1-4 shows Yahweh overthrowing the Philistine 'god' all on his own, without the help of the Israelites). We can exhaust ourselves in Christian-looking things still craving popularity or recognition or positions or power - and not understanding & living in the rest of God.

Anyway: enough rant; read this book!

These overview the business of life, with all the negatives that entails for the Christian, and remind us of the right focus for Christians: working and resting for the glory of God.

These talk through 4 key steps to addressing busyness:
  • use your time effectively,
  • sort out your priorities,
  • glorify God all the time,
  • know your heart's desires that drive you to do more than God expects of you.
These examine and expound 6 reasons for busyness and offer Christian defences against them, with meditations from the Psalms at the end of each chapter to help those counter-measures stick.
  • I'm busy because I need to prove myself
    • The liberating rest of God
  • I'm busy because of other people's expectations
    • The liberating fear of God
  • I'm busy because otherwise things get out of control
    • The liberating rule of God
  • I'm busy because I prefer being under pressure
    • The liberating refuge of God
  • I'm busy because I need the money
    • The liberating joy of God
  • I'm busy because I want to make the most of life
    • The liberating hope of God
The conclusion then summarises these, in teaching us to find rest in the midst of busyness - rest in God.


Blogger Marc Lloyd said...

Sounds like a great book. Wonder if its in the library? seem to have misplaced my entry card. Or maybe the college book room? Could it be good honeymoon reading? But then maybe I'm not too busy to stop for afternoon tea....

Towner, thanks v much for the new material on your blig. V helpful to point us to good stuff. Even better to summarise it so that we needn't bother readimg it for ourselves...

2:25 pm, June 21, 2006  

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