Daily Riches: Busyness and Laziness (Eugene Peterson and Thomas Merton)

Busyness is the enemy of spirituality. It is essentially laziness. It is doing the easy thing instead of the hard thing. It’s filling our time with our own actions instead of paying attention to God’s action. It’s taking charge. … The word busy is the symptom not of commitment but of betrayal. It is not devotion but defection. The adjective busy set as a modifier to pastor should sound to our ears like adulterous to characterize a wife, or embezzling to describe a banker. It is an outrageous scandal, a blasphemous affront. Hilary of Tours diagnosed our pastoral busyness as ‘irreligiosa solicitudo pro Deo,’ – ‘a blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for him.’” Eugene Peterson

“Set me free from the laziness that goes about disguised as activity
when activity is not demanded of me.”
Thomas Merton

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.Luke 10:38-40a

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you see how busyness might be the “enemy of spirituality” in your life?
  • Do you ever fall into the trap of “activity when activity is not demanded” of you? What does this say about you?
  • Are you offended by the charge of laziness in your busyness? How often are you guilty of “doing the easy thing instead of the hard thing?” Can you give an example of when this happens to you?

Abba, remind me today
that it doesn’t really matter
what progress I make
or what I accomplish
or how I feel,
only that I love
as Jesus loved.
Only that.


For More: The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson


The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

4 thoughts on “Daily Riches: Busyness and Laziness (Eugene Peterson and Thomas Merton)

  1. Dear Bill
    Just wanting to say how much I love your very thoughtful, provocative and inspiring daily riches. I receive a number of auto-emails around Christian spirituality, mindfulness etc, and often give them a quick glance or even gloss over them completely, but I have found that I always want to take time, not only to read yours, but to dwell on them and respond to them. On more than one occasion a reading of yours has reminded me of the importance of letting go of the perceived “urgency” of some task, and I have instead made the choice to take time to reconnect with God, and with quiet Being.

    Thank you for these regular oases in a noisy, demanding world.


    • Dear Sharon, thank you for your encouraging words. You made my day for sure. I couldn’t hope for more from my readers than the response you’ve described. I’m really writing for myself first, and most of all, and hoping others will find value in it too, so I’m glad that was your experience. Let’s pray for each other on this journey of a life-informing union with God.


    • I looked over the web site for your retreat center. I wish I lived (much) closer. I’d like to visit. Thanks again for your interest and encouragement. Please share with others as the Lord leads.


  2. Dear Bill
    Thanks for your comments about the retreat centre. It is a wonderful space and I feel deeply privileged to be participating in something that seems to be unfolding in God’s uniquely creative way.

    I have already been sharing your daily riches with others, and will continue to do so – thanks again for the daily encouragement.


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