Confronting Our Greatest Addiction

Seems that addictions have become synonymous with modern culture. But one of the greatest addictions facing us today may not be the ones that comes to mind.

It’s not the kind of addiction you may think of that I am referring to. It’s an addiction all its own.

I’m not talking about the addiction to drugs, pornography or alcohol, although each of those areas have become pandemic battlegrounds.

It’s the addiction to staying busy. . .chronic, unending, restless busyness.

Getting Sober About Busyness

Don’t get me wrong. Life is full of responsibilities, tasks, meetings and issues that require our attention. But each of us knows in our hearts that certain areas of life are pulling on our time and energy more than they should.

We often lie to ourselves in the midst of chronic busyness, saying, “I will slow down, once this issue is over.” Only to find yourself stacked up with a bunch of other things that fill its space .

Now I can sit you down and talk about your need to get healthier, to pay attention to the little things in life and care for your relationships. Til I am blue in the face, I can encourage you to make changes with your nutty schedule and constant go-go life.

But nothing will change unless you get a sober look at where your rat race life is driving you.

Thrown into Busyness

“I gotta stay busy,” becomes a motto for many who want to stay out of trouble and keep themselves from falling into lazy patterns.

I get this and believe it is important to have an intentional and purpose filled life.

But most people I help are not sitting on the couch doing nothing. Their lives are jam packed with constant things to do, while their adrenaline is always kicking in. Stress becomes something they get used to. Their body’s fight or flight response is constantly geared up to match the intensity of their lifestyle.

If you are one of these people, you may be slowing tapping away at your body’s ability to stay healthy.

Addicted to the Rush

As each generation passes, there is a passing on of the addiction to the “rush” to constant busyness. It has taught our generations to live in only two modes: 1) full gear, non stop stress-out busyness or 2) tired, wiped-out, burnout boredom.

We no longer know how to live in the in-between anymore. That middle ground is where relationships flourish, but we don’t have time for them. We only have relationships if they are running with us in our busy world. Without the busy culture, we are left to our lonely hearts that have been empty for quite some time.

Busyness is addictive. Deep down, no one wants to be anxiously stressed, but there is a “buzz” that one gets from a stress filled day. Just as a drug addict needs a hit of the chemical, a “busyness addict” needs constant stress and drama to fill that need for a rush. Science can show us that it can demonstrate a high that is equivalent to morphine. They crash at the end of the day, crying that their day is so stressful, only to return to the same patterns the next day.

My Personal Awakening

Without a busy schedule, withdrawal symptoms kick in. I learned about this in a personal way when I left a staff pastoral position many years ago. As I began to start a whole new ministry venture, I was confronted with new margins of silence, emptiness and quiet. 

It was in that season that I truly saw how busy my life was. I thought my schedule was fairly tame, until I was forced to slow down and face myself. It was during that season that I went through a deep personal transformation. But it would have never happened if I continued in the constant rush of ministry work.

I’ll be honest. It was painful at first. The silence was deafening. Guilt washed over me. I felt that I wasn’t “being productive.” I had to face my fears, insecurities and identity issues. I couldn’t “busy” my way into ignoring them.

But I am so thankful for that time, because it gave me a new compass for what is really important.

The Fear that Drives Us

Living in that constant stress is driven by fear; fear of being seen as a failure, not measuring up, feeling like we are not contributing or fear of finances. Stress is often the achievers word for fear. When we say, “I am stressed out,” we are sharing the pressure that fear has brought into our lives to keep us from peace.

We live in an age of hustle. It’s admirable to see someone sleep less, not be home much and always working around the clock. Other achievers get jealous and feel they are not measuring up to that unhealthy standard. The motto is, “work yourself to the bone, get yours and work til you drop.” But ask these people how their relationships are doing. Ask them if they have a fulfilled heart. Do they have time for what matters most?

Don’t get me wrong. Hard work and diligence is a much needed trait. But people are dying from working themselves so hard its killing the life of their emotional and physical heart.

The Japanese have a word for it: Karōshi, which means, “overwork death.”

Ignoring the Heart

The buzz of constant busyness creates a noise of buzz, where we don’t have to pay attention to the broken and empty areas of our hearts. That’s why most people crash land into a counselor’s office one day. They ignore the signals of brokenness for so long, until i got so bad.

Most people do not realize how much stress they are under and do little to manage their day and lifestyle. One day, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue or adrenal burnout manifests and they wonder why their bodies are not functioning well.

Confronting the Cycle

But there is a cycle that keeps moving. Once something is achieved or completed the next thing is pursued, with little rest, refreshment or time to refuel. We are living in perpetual burnout.

At the end of the day, we are angry about it. Our families get the brunt of it. But it doesn’t stop, because we are addicted.

We are so addicted that many people cannot live without some kind of drama or crisis. They either create drama or find it, so they can live in what they are used to–constant stress filled busy living.

What are we doing? We’re ignoring the issues of the heart, in the name of staying busy. People say it all the time, “Gotta stay busy! Or else things get bad!”


But we will never change until we want to get well and live a better life. The vortex of constant busy living will call at every moment of every day, filling in every spare second, so you do not have the space to get still and let God refresh you.

But it can be done. You may have to fight against the current, but it’s worth it in the long run.

It all starts with a sober decision to change.