In trying to make sense of our crazy busy lives, it’s not always easy to tell when honest hard work and commendable responsibility slide over into people pleasing and pride.
Let me suggest one diagnostic tool that may help. As you find yourself anxious and overwhelmed by the needs of others, or simply by your desire to serve others, ask this question: “Am I trying to do them good or trying to look good?”
Consider, for example, how this question might sanctify our approach to hospitality.
Opening our home to others is a wonderful gift and a neglected discipline in the church. But we easily forget the whole point of hospitality. Think of it this way: Good hospital-ity is making your home a hospital. The idea is that friends and family and the wounded and weary people come to your home and leave helped and refreshed.
And yet, too often hospitality is a nerve-wracking experience for hosts and guests alike. Instead of setting our guests at ease, we set them on edge by telling them how bad the food will be, and what a mess the house is, and how sorry we are for the kids’ behavior. We get worked up and crazy busy in all the wrong ways because we are more concerned about looking good than with doing good. So instead of our encouraging those we host, they feel compelled to encourage us with constant reassurances that everything is just fine.
Opening our homes takes time, but it doesn’t have to take over our lives. Christian hospitality has much more to do with good relationships than with good food. There is a fine line between care and cumber. In many instances, less ado would serve better.
It’s okay to be busy at times. You can’t love and serve others without giving of your time. So work hard; work long; work often. Just remember it’s not supposed to be about you. Feed people, not your pride.
Adapted from my forthcoming book Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem.