“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness,” one author (Tim Kreider) wrote. “Obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.”
We buy more house than we can afford, we elevate vacation stories to epic proportions, we proudly tout our stuffed-full schedules, and we refuse to let others see us rest. Oh, the things we do in the name of impression management. We all want to be important. We all want our little lives to count. And yet we’re going about it in entirely the wrong way. All the posing and posturing and performing may help you hit the quota, win the award, and be the guy who saves the day. But in terms of encouraging the stuff of righteousness? It won’t even get you to step one.
Jesus said that all our boasting may get us some things, but it won’t get us the one thing we truly seek, which is the soul-filling love of our Father, the sense that we’re acceptable as we are. “Everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16 NIV).
In the gospel of Matthew, we are told not to be like the hypocrites, who love to pray to be seen by people, who love to flaunt their spirituality and their superiority, who love to devote themselves to trying to impress. No, instead, Jesus says we are to work on the inner self, spending our energies developing things such as a gentle spirit, which, according to 1 Peter 3:4, is “of great worth in God’s sight” (NIV).
A gentle spirit—something we humans can’t cultivate on the go.
Along the way, my family and I sort of institutionalized the practice of ditching impression management and working toward a quiet, gentle spirit instead. Once a week, we’d hole away for an entire day with nothing on the agenda and nobody to impress.