Why Do We Take On So Much?
by Steph Beth Nickel
Last month, I talked about paring down our To Do list.
Today, I’d like to talk about why we take on as much as we do.
While I can only speak for myself, maybe you can relate.
There may be responsibilities you would like to set aside, but you have bills to pay. I can relate.
For the most part, I enjoy my work outside the home, and we do need the money. Still, there are many days I’d love to stay put and work in my home office and spend time decluttering the stuff I’ve accumulated over the last 30+ years.
I feel for those who have to hold down an “evil day job” in order to make ends meet.
I see this as a two-sided coin. We depend on others and they depend on us. That’s the way life works.
However, when others are so dependent on us that we get drained and have nothing left to give, we need to re-evaluate our To Do list and prayerfully consider what needs to change.
We’ve likely all taken on tasks because someone else thought we should—maybe a family member, employer, or church leader. Maybe it was a casual acquaintance, but we didn’t feel we could say no.
We ought to be able to expect things of one another, but when those expectations become unreasonable, we have to be able to let go of them without resentment or fear of hurting the relationship.
Our Own Expectations
How many times do we think we could take on “just one more thing”—even though we don’t have adequate time or energy?
In my case, the answer is “at least several times a month.”
So, if I could do without sleep and never binge watch Netflix, I could do a lot more than I do now. However, that time would best be spent completing tasks I already have on the go.
The New, Shiny Syndrome
Are you like me?
Do you see something new and shiny, something you already have the skills to accomplish or would like to learn, and jump in with both feet, only to remember you’re carrying the weight of all those other responsibilities and find yourself going under—and then binge watching Netflix because you realize you don’t have the ambition to do anything at all?
Sometimes we take on a task because we’re grasping for something. Maybe it’s a sense of acceptance, worth, or accomplishment.
Do we want to admit these truths to ourselves? Definitely not!
Does it help to do so? Absolutely!
We may have a passion to do something, but that, in and of itself, is not a reason to do something—or not to do it.
Some people refer to it as balance. I like to see it more as tension, the good kind.
Every day we hold things in tension. How much time do we spend on this or that task? How much time do we spend interacting with our family? How much time do we devote to our friends?
Wisdom, we need it in vast amounts.
As Christians, we often ask ourselves, “What is God’s calling on my life?”
Sometimes, that calling corresponds with our passions, our expectations, our need to earn an income. But we have to be in His Word and spend a significant amount of time in prayer, as well as seek godly counsel, to truly discern what His calling is on our life.
Calling Plus, Plus, Plus
Even after we do have a sense of what God has for us, we may want to do whatever it is—as well as oh, so many other things.
I am definitely in this boat. In fact, I’ve actually made it my houseboat where I spend most of my time.
Is that easy to admit? Nope!
Feel free to hold me accountable as I work this one through.
Though we wouldn’t want to admit it, we may be living in out and out rebellion toward God. Perhaps, we know we should invest our time differently, but we don’t want to.
That’s the bad news, but the good news is that God will forgive us and change our heart if we ask.
An Overinflated Sense of Importance (aka Pride)
Don’t get me wrong. I believe God values us highly. After all, if we had a price tag, it would read, “The Life of God’s Son.”
However, He is God, and well able to accomplish anything He desires—without our help.
Yes, He chooses to accomplish much through His people, but we don’t have to take on every opportunity that comes across our path, thinking, “If I don’t do this, who will?”
Trust God to give you wisdom and to raise up others to accomplish what He isn’t calling us to.
An Unwillingness to Set Aside Already Spinning Plates
I once heard a speaker say she never took on something new unless she knew what other task the Lord would have her set aside. Such a great perspective!
I definitely don’t live this way. I want to keep spinning all the plates.
So, why do you take on the tasks you do? Are there those you believe you ought to set aside?
As believers, we can count on Him to give us the wisdom (and the desire) to do what He’s calling us to—and only those things. But I’m pretty sure this is a lifelong learning opportunity. I’m trusting that I’m on the road to learning this lesson now that I’m staring down my 60th birthday. (Okay, so, it’s two years off, but when you get to be my age, two years flies by.)
Thanks so much for taking the time to take a closer look at why we do what we do.
Sometimes we take on a task because we’re grasping for something—a sense of acceptance, worth, or accomplishment for example. (Click to tweet.)
Wisdom, we need it in vast amounts. (Click to tweet.)
God is well able to accomplish anything He desires—without our help. (Click to tweet.)
Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org;
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or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.