The Role of Commitments in Balance

Dobson

OVER-Commitment & OVER-whelm

When I look around at my too-busy friends, I think to myself, “Never again. I don’t want to go back there.” That “there,” is an OVER-loaded, OVER-whelmed and OVER-committed life. It’s feeling constantly tired, behind schedule and often simply inadequate. I was “there” once to the point of crash and burn, and I swore I’d never even get close to be that OVER again.

Yet, I do. Get close, that is. Far too close. I somehow let myself get OVER-committed all too easily, leading to OVER-whelm. My focus then gravitates to a to-do list and away from relationships. Projects become more important than people.

Yes, all to often, I find myself “there,” and asking, “How did I get here… again? How did I once again get so out of balance by becoming again OVER-committed and OVER-whelmed yet again?”

The Heart of Commitments

The heart of making commitments involves doing what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it, right? Making a commitment involves pledging or promising, obligating yourself, to someone or something. When you commit, you bind yourself; you promise you’re going to do something, usually under a reasonable time frame.

But OVER-commitment leads to broken promises and missed deadlines. It leads to disappointment and letting others down and perhaps even to low self-esteem with the realization of failure to keep promises.

Commitment Trends

Approaches to commitments seem to be following one of three trends these days. Many people just don’t fully make commitments anymore; instead, they contribute but can’t be fully counted on regularly. Others OVER-commit and see no problem with not meeting commitments or just partially meeting most commitments. Do you fall into either of these trends?

Another trend involves feeling trapped in OVER-commitment. This involves basically keeping commitments but often missing deadlines and never having the time for anything anywhere near excellence but instead settling too often for “good enough.”

Feeling trapped in OVER-commitment, often accompanied by its cousin OVER-whelm, involves a high level of stress from the never-ending to do list and the complete lack of any time to truly rest. Letting go of commitments seems impossible because doing so involves letting others down, saying the word “no.” At the same time, the pace of OVER-commitment is simply too much to sustain.

How do commitments impact balance?

Commitments provide one gauge of the existence or absence of balance in our lives. Too few commitments results in boredom and idleness, maybe even feelings of insignificance and unimportance, while too many commitments result in lack of consistency and settling for less than your best. Both extremes lack balance, both fail in effectiveness.

Instead, perhaps an approach to commitments with the goal of effectiveness may be what we need to reach and maintain balance. When I find myself “there” – in an out-of-balance state – that stressful place of OVER-whelm again, my focus is more on efficiency instead of effectiveness. In other words, I’m looking to accomplish as much as I can as quickly as I can and not looking much at whether I’m doing what’s most important. I’m not considering what activity makes my life the most effective.

Moving from Efficient to Effective

Somehow, focusing on effectiveness, on how my time is best spent rather than on how much can I get done, keeps OVER-commitment and OVER-whelm at bay. But how do we know the best way to spend our time?

The answer to that question, my friends, is truly at the heart of living a life of effective commitments that lead to balance. How do you think a person can move from a focus on mere efficiency to one of effectiveness?

Let’s figure this out together and help each other keep from going “there” again… to that place of OVER-commitment and OVER-whelm. I don’t much like it there.

Overcoming Laziness & Idleness

idleBecause I have two boys involved in different sports plus school activities plus church activities along with a husband who travels frequently for work, our weeks are very full at times. After an especially busy week, my oldest son said, “I want to be lazy tomorrow and watch TV all day.” This began a conversation about the importance of rest and why a habit of laziness needs avoided.

We all need regular rest, even more so after particularly busy times, but we all also need to avoid establishing the habits that lead to a lazy mindset. In order to live productive and significant lives, understanding how to overcome and prevent laziness and idleness is important.

Habits Leading to Laziness and Idleness

Pockets of laziness and idleness exist in everyone’s life. Through our choices, they either become dangerous  with far-reaching impact or opportunities for growth.

The path to a lazy and idle lifestyle almost always includes the following bad habits:

  1. All talk with no action. (Acts 17:21)
  2. No progress. (Proverbs 26:14)
  3. Making excuses. (Proverbs 22:13)
  4. Failing to plan ahead. (Proverbs 6:6-9)
  5. Caving to culture. (Proverbs 26:15)
  6. Instant gratification. (Proverbs 26:15)
  7. Lack of purpose. (Ecclesiastes 4:5-6)
  8. Being enabled. (1 Timothy 5:13)

While we must first identify any pockets of these bad habits in our own lives, we are not exempt from identifying them in the lives of others. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 5:14 tells us to warn the lazy of the dangers of that lifestyle. Before we can do that, we must understand why rooting it out is essential as well as be actively  overcoming it in our own lives.

Why This Lifestyle Needs Overcomelazy

The most important reason to fight against a lazy and idle mindsets involves obedience. Consider the following:

  1. God expects fruitfulness. (Ephesians 2:10) Laziness and idleness mindsets oppose fruitfulness.
  2. Got gives us new natures. (2 Corinthians 5:17) We’re no longer bound by the desires of the flesh.

Knowing God expects fruitfulness and that He also equips us for it, we must step into obedience of His will and overcome any lazy and idle ways in our lives.

Overcoming Laziness & Idleness

Overcoming for some means a complete lifestyle and mindset change. Perhaps you have pockets of laziness and idleness in your thinking, and you want to grow out of them. Regardless of the status of laziness and idleness in your life, the approach to overcoming is the same

The following mindsets can renew your mind and create a lifestyle of productivity and purpose.

  1. Stay enthusiastic. (Romans 12:11) Fill time with enjoyable activities and encouraging people, and stay connected to your purpose. Enthusiasm will ebb and flow, and these things help prevent losing focus.
  2. Love others. (Hebrews 6:11-12) Truly loving others keeps life exciting and prevents dullness and indifference. Loving people gets focus off self and on love. Loving others amplifies purpose.
  3. Develop an awareness of time. (Proverbs 20:4) Those with lazy and idle mindsets lack awareness of time’s preciousness. Overcoming idleness and laziness requires valuing time.
  4. Enjoy sleep’s benefits instead of sleep itself. (Proverbs 20:13; 19:15) Enjoy sleep for it results – energy, alertness, restoration. Consider that a love of sleep is simply a way to avoid responsibility and awareness.
  5. Be productive. (Matthew 25:26-30) Just like laziness and idleness are learned habits, so too is productivity. And remember, productivity is really well-disguised idleness when it lacks purpose.

As my family discussed, everyone needs regular rest. At the same time, we must balance our thinking with an awareness of the habits that produce a lazy lifestyle and stay connected to our purpose for productive living.

In addition to today’s discussion on overcoming laziness and idleness, we’ve spent time Defining Laziness and Idleness as well as talked about The Dangers of an Idle & Lazy Mindset. Next, we’ll look at The Importance of Time & Purpose in Rooting Out Laziness & Idleness and then conclude our series with A Look at Rest & Productivity.

DISCUSSION: What other habits lead to a lazy and idle lifestyle? What other mindsets help reverse the process?

Check out my guest post GPS Leadership at Dan Black on Leadership. Dan’s blog is a great resource!

Another good blog to read, especially for some though-provoking conversation, is CycleGuy’s Spin.
Check out my guest post, Abundance, there too.

Thank you to Bill & Dan for inviting me to guest post… tremendous honor!

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The Dangers of Laziness & Idleness

The post Defining Idleness and Laziness provided in-depth definitions of idleness and laziness and notes their almost twin-like definitions. The graphics accompanying this series sum up those definitions.

Today’s post delves into what makes an idle and lazy mindset so dangerous. Be warned. This is not a feel-good message. Scripture clearly shows the danger of an idle and lazy mindset, an understanding essential to overcoming and preventing their grip.

A lazy and idle mindset…lazy

  1. Lacks purpose. (Proverbs 12:27) An idle person completes activity without purpose, kind of like a hunter shooting an animal and leaving the carcass to rot. Is this what happens to my brain when I watch television?
  2. Brings destruction. (Proverbs 18:9) An idle person pulls others down. In my more idle days, I wondered why people avoided me. Perhaps they wanted to avoid feeling destroyed by my negativity.
  3. Shows ignorance. (Proverbs 26:16) I’m ashamed to admit the times when I just knew my way was the right way only come to find out later that it was the lazy and foolish way. Yet in my ignorance, I just didn’t see that lazy habits controlled me.
  4. Results in poverty. (Proverbs 10:4) While this can apply to monetary wealth, it also applies to relational, emotional, spiritual and physical health too. Laziness in any area brings desperate hunger for real connection.
  5. Results in lack. (Proverbs 24:33-34) When I taught college classes years ago, several students every semester were surprised at their poor grades. Their laziness in studying and doing homework showed up in lack on the report card at the end of the semester.
  6. Makes one a slave. (Proverbs 12:24) Someone with a lazy and idle mindset has fewer options. Choices regarding work become limited when laziness exists, and opportunity for advancement sees significant limits within an idle mindset.
  7. Breeds dissatisfaction. (Proverbs 13:4) Junior high boys tend to have at least periods of idle and lazy mindsets. As a result, satisfying them at times becomes impossible. Most, thankfully, grow out of this; although, that seems to be the case less and less these days.
  8. Allows selfishness to determine actions. (Proverbs 21:25-26) During my lazy times (past and present), I am motivated by selfishness. I’m usually avoiding something when I’m lazy, and my selfish desires to satisfy my flesh chooses those actions.
  9. Leads to neglect. (Proverbs 24:30-31) Outward signs of laziness always show themselves, and they often do so through a lack of concern and an inattention to responsibilities.
  10. Breeds gossip and meddling. (1 Timothy 5:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:11) Gossips meddle and meddlers gossip, and they usually do so to avoid focusing on issues such as laziness and idleness present in their own lives.

I do not believe I have a lazy and idle lifestyle (not anymore anyway), but I do have pockets of idleness in my life that show themselves in one or more of the above ways. I believe that most people, if they are honest, find this to be true of themselves.

A Note About Laziness in Leadershipidle

One of the dangers of a lazy and idle mindset involves the impact on others. This holds especially true for anyone in a leadership position, from presidents to parents. Isaiah 56:9-12 provides tremendous insight on the negative influence of lazy and idle leaders. It says they…

  1. Fail to warn followers of coming danger.
  2. Give a false sense of security.
  3. Dream but fail to follow up with action.
  4. Are greedy and impossible to satisfy.
  5. Frustrate and discourage their followers.

Laziness and idleness produce nothing positive for anyone, but they are especially detrimental in the life of a leader. Even if you don’t consider yourself a leader, know that any laziness and idleness in your life does impact someone other than yourself. We can’t escape this ripple effect.

The next posts in this series Overcoming Laziness and Idleness gives direction for avoiding these dangers, something with which everyone struggles.

DISCUSSION: What other dangers do laziness and idleness pose?

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Defining Idleness & Laziness

lazyThe posts The Benefits of Time Travel and God’s Perspective on Time Travel talk about God’s view of time and how He wants us to view and value our time. Evaluating your stewardship of time is always valuable, and resources like Life of a Steward can help you do so consistently and effectively. Today’s post begins a series that addresses the value of time related to a struggle most people have occasionally and many have regularly.

Probably one of the most poignant and effective lenses for assessing time management involve idleness and laziness if for no other reason than because the Bible – especially Proverbs – addresses these topics frequently. (This repetition means they are important).  Idleness and laziness present serious mindsets that devalue time. Understanding the meanings behind laziness and idleness can help root out any areas in which we are poor stewards of our time through lazy and idle habits.

Laziness and idleness connect in many ways, and the Bible even uses idleness and laziness interchangeably at times. Take 1 Thessalonians 5:14, for example, where we are told to warn the lazy. The NLT uses lazy, the NIV idle, and the NASB unruly. Other words used include irresponsible (Holman), undisciplined (NET), wrongdoers (Aramaic), those not living right (God’s Word) and disorderly (ASV).

As our graphics for this series indicate, the dictionary provides similar definitions of both laziness and idleness.

idleThe Pulpit Commentary also explain laziness/idleness referring to them as “unruly” or “disorderly” in 1 Thessalonians 5:14. Pulpit explains that this scripture is a military reference expressing the character of soldiers refusing to keep rank. Instead, they neglected their common duties and basically abstained from working. These individuals broke ranks but still expected to be treated as if they were doing their duty.

Gill’s Exposition says these individuals busy themselves with other people’s matters and are contentious, quarrelsome, turbulent, headstrong and unruly. It goes on to say they also cause animosity and division. Think about the consequences that lazy and idleness have, especially in a military or war setting.

When considering the differences, idleness seems more deceptive because there can be the appearance of busyness with no real progress. Laziness, on the other hands, seems obvious and easier to identify because being slothful or a sluggard stands out.

Laziness also indicates a greater degree of idleness and is always held in contempt; no one ever thinks laziness is good. Even when I say “I’m just being lazy,” and it’s not a habit for me, I feel a sense of almost shame.

Laziness also seems worse because it happens by choice, while idleness can sometimes be due to circumstances. For example, a person can lose his job and be idle, and we can have an idle 5 minutes between one activity ending and another beginning with not enough time to start something new. Idle periods sometimes happen in our lives and not because of our own choices. Laziness always happens by choice.

The differences between idleness and laziness are subtle and perhaps unimportant. Once someone succumbs to either of them as a lifestyle, do the differences really matter? Yes, idle periods can happen apart from our efforts, but we ultimately choose an idle and lazy mindset.

Today’s post laid the groundwork by defining laziness and idleness, and the post, The Dangers of Idleness and Laziness, begins the journey of application by taking a deeper look at  the far-reaching impact of a lazy and idle lifestyle.

DISCUSSION: How does having a deeper meaning of laziness and idleness change how you think about them?

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