DeYoung, Kevin. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 118 pages.
Most time-management books have authors who are, you know, good at time management.
Not this one.
Pastor and author Kevin DeYoung admits as much in the very first sentence: "I am the worst possible person to write this book" (11). His schedule is frequently out-of-whack. He has more responsibilities than he can handle. He overlooks important relationships because he overcommitted in other areas. In other words, he is just like most of us.
And that's why I recommend this book.
Crazy Busy is not a book that will answer all the questions you have about your schedule. It will not help you get your inbox to zero or tick off your to-do list or learn to say No. If you need help in those areas, read David Allen's Getting Things Done or Matt Perman's forthcoming What's Best Next. Instead DeYoung goes after the heart. He identifies idols and sinful patterns of thinking that contribute to our frantic pace, our underdeveloped relationships, and our restless hearts. In this short book he identifies three dangers of busyness (chapter two), offers seven diagnoses to consider in light of our busyness (chapters three through nine), and concludes with the one thing we must do (chapter
To say that Crazy Busy is not a classic time-management book but goes after the heart does not mean it is impractical. It may not be a comprehensive guide to getting one's life in order, but it touches on many day-to-day matters, like creating margins in our schedules (27–28), the danger of people pleasing (35–40), hospitality (41), limiting Christian service involvement (47–50), the myth of multitasking (59–60), parenting (67–75), technology and social networking (85–88), rest (94–98), and spending time in the Word and prayer (113–16). But unlike, say, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Crazy Busy situates issues like these in the context of a justified sinner who desires to grow in his sanctification.
The book might be more useful if it offered some cohesive system for implementing its advice. Even some suggestions for putting it all together in a given week would suffice. But then it probably wouldn't
be (mercifully) short. And crazy busy people might be less inclined to read it.
Crazy Busy seems to me to be a perfect vacation or retreat book, short enough to be unthreatening, stimulating enough to provoke reflection, challenging enough to inspire repentance and faith. It hits the stores September 23, so there's plenty of time for you to get a copy before your fall or winter getaway.
DeYoung's contribution won't be the last book you read on the subject. It may not even be the next. But when you do pick it up, you'll find a helpful guide to identifying some idols in your heart, reminding you of the mercy of Christ to sinners, and resting on God's grace when you can't help being crazy busy.
Matthew is the pastor of The First Baptist Church in the city of New York. He has a Ph.D. in Theology from Bob Jones University. He is the author of Assurance of Salvation: Implications of a New Testament Theology of Hope, an adaptation of his dissertation. He has also written articles for the 9Marks eJournal, The Gospel Coalition, and SharperIron, and he blogs at Debtor to Grace. He and his wife Kimberly have been blessed with four daughters and a son.
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