Focus on the Family Broadcast

Breaking the Busyness Habit

Breaking the Busyness Habit

Pastor Brady Boyd warns of the relational dangers of excessive busyness as he describes how being driven by numerous ministry duties almost cost him his marriage and family.


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Pastor Brad Hoefs: We were worshipping in a sanctuary that’s seated 400 people and so, I preached I don’t know how many years I did it, at least four sermons a Sunday morning. And then many times I did a fifth or sixth service that weekend and I did all the weddings. And I was just busy, busy, busy, busy, busy. I’d sleep maybe a couple of hours, but I just got so exhilarated, so excited about what I was doing and planning and then I’d come back and dump it on the staff. But I knew what was going on behind the scenes and so did my wife.

End of Teaser

John: A stark admission from Pastor Brad Hoefs about the torrid pace at which he was living life and it was all in the name of Christian ministry. Now you might not be a pastor. Maybe you just show up for work every day. You’re a mom. You’re a student, but you’ve probably told some people this week about how busy you are. We seem to wear that as a badge, but you know inside it’s not a good thing.

We’re gonna talk about over-commitment and finding balance on today’s “Focus on the Family” with Focus president, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and our guest happens to also be a pastor.

Jim: He does, John and this conversation today is so important and it’s gonna hurt and that’s a good thing. It’s a healthy hurt. You know, sometimes it’s unhealthy. Today it’ll be healthy, because we’re gonna talk about the epidemic of busyness.

And you know, I remember for years Dr. Dobson talking about the No. 1 problem that we have in the family is the hectic pace of life. And you’re right; unfortunately in our culture, we wear it as a badge of honor.


Jim: And we talk about it. When guys particularly—

John: Oh, yeah.

Jim: –we talk about, hey, how busy are you? It’s almost like a scoreboard for us. And so, we want to attack that today with a good, good friend of mine, in fact, my pastor, Brady Boyd. He’s written a book, Addicted to Busy and we’re gonna delve into this. Brady, great to have you back at Focus on the Family.

Brady: Yeah, thank you. It’s a joy to be with you guys and this is a great topic to talk about today, no doubt.

Jim: Now we’re gonna fess up. This is actually your day off and we’re pullin’ you in here. (Laughter) I’m outing you right from the git-go.

Brady: Exactly. No problem though, (Laughter) y’all are way too much fun for this to be work, so it’s great.

Jim: Well, we appreciate it and what is goin’ on in the culture? I mean, why do we wear that as a badge of honor?

Brady: Well, I think you touched on it a minute ago, both of you. People believe if they’re busy, they’re important. There’s two things at work here. It’s to tell people, that you really don’t have anything on your schedule, that your family kinda hung out on Friday or Saturday or Sunday with nothing to do, doesn’t make you seem very important.

And in the age of social media, we are so prone to promoting ourselves and showing what we’re involved in, promoting what we’re engaged with. And I just feel like that there’s two things at work. One, it makes us seem important.

There’s a bigger issue at work, Jim that we’ll talk about more later, but I think if people really slowed down, they would have to pay attention to what’s goin’ on in their heart, in their marriage and with their kids. And busyness is a way to medicate, to ignore bigger issues. So, if I’m just too busy to deal with it, it kinda gives us a way to ignore big problems in our lives.

Jim: Well, it’s so true. It’s a fear factor what you’re saying. I’m thinking of the Scripture John 10:10, where it says, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.” By keeping us busy, he accomplishes so much of that without really a dramatic entrance or a dramatic expression. He kills us with busyness. And if we fall prey to that, it can cost us our marriage, our family, right down the line, right?

Brady: Absolutely and the way the Holy Spirit works in our lives is through contemplation. I mean I just don’t think the Holy Spirit is gonna compete with us with our chaos. So, when you’re rushing through life, there’s very little time to stop and to listen and to really be contemplative to what God is saying to us through the Holy Spirit, through the Scriptures, through relationships even. And I think that’s what the enemy’s plan is, is to keep us so busy, we don’t hear God’s voice.

And that’s the reason I wrote the book, because what I’ve discovered is, that the reward for slowing down is the presence of God and hearing God and knowing God. In fact, I had a young man tell me yesterday. He says, “I just can’t hear God.” But also know that he is rushing through life and I encouraged him yesterday. “Listen, you’re gonna have to slow down. God’s not gonna have a drive-through conversation with you.” I mean, we’re into microwaving. God’s into marinating.

And I think that this is the big issue for people right now. We want instant God. We want instant communication with God, when God’s into intimacy. God’s into relationship, and that requires time and that’s why the enemy has made time such a big deal with us, because time is what builds relationships with God and with people.

Jim: I gotta ask you the question, then, I’m sure many listening are wondering. You don’t know what I’ve got in front of me though. I’ve got so much to do. I’m a single mom. I’m working two jobs. I mean, it’s as if it’s easy to find the excuses as to why we can’t relax, why we can’t become less busy.

Brady: Well, there’s a fascinating story in Luke chapter 5, where Jesus is really busy. I mean, really busy. There’s crowds of people gathered and they all needed healing, it said in Luke chapter 5. And that’s in like verse 15.

In verse 16 though, it says that He often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. And I know exactly. I have two teenage kids at my house right now, (Laughter) that are really busy. They’re involved in the youth group. They’re playing sports at school. They’re getting black belts in Tae Kwon Do. I get all that. But I tell people that no matter how busy you are, Jesus modeled a rhythm for us. And Jesus never rushed from one thing to another, and this is what’s fascinating. If you read the stories of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus was never in a hurry. He never ran to something. He was purposeful in every step that He took.

And so, I say to single moms, obviously, I’m not a single mom, but I’m the pastor of hundreds. And I just tell ’em, look for the gifts of time throughout the day. There are gifts of time that God gives us, no matter what our schedule is; it’s a gift from God, ’cause He wants to connect with every one of us, no matter who we are and what stage we are in life. God wants to connect with us. So, He gives us this gift in space of time.

Jim: As I was reading your book, Addicted to Busy, it caught me, you learned this. You were a pastor who was handling the youth ministry at work. You were coaching four teams, teaching English literature. I didn’t know that about—

Brady: I did.

Jim: –you. That was your …

Brady: Well, by listening to me, you wouldn’t know that I once taught (Laughter) Shakespeare, that’s for sure.

Jim: Well, yeah, I hear that certain Texas twang, so (Laughter) but you know, it’s not like you were born with an idea that you knew you had to carve out this time. Tell us about how God got your attention. What happened to you?

Brady: Well, I was born with a severe heart defect and my parents were told that I would not live past 15 or 16-years-old. And because of back in the early 70s, the technology was not there to repair the heart condition that I had, so, I grew up with this feeling that I had to live life really full, because I wasn’t gonna live very long.

And so, that got into my psyche, into my emotions. And I just lived life. I mean, I said yes to everything and I had this idea–I wasn’t aware of it at the time; I’m more aware of it now–that I was just gonna say yes to everything, ’cause if I had a short time on the earth, I was gonna make the most of it.

Jim: Give us an example. Tell us what your schedule was like at the top of the busyness. What did it look like?

Brady: Well, I was married to a beautiful Southern girl and we were living in North Louisiana. I was coaching three or four sports teams. I was teaching four or five classes. I was involved in probably the most extensive neighborhood outreach that our church had ever engaged in, and I was leading it on Saturdays, on my one day that I had off. On Sundays, I was teaching Sunday school, attending church service, going back on Sunday night to be a part of a small group for young couples.

So, I was literally engaged morning to night seven days a week, with the only time I ever had to be quiet was when I slept. I had no time to stop and pause and really think. And I thought and everything I was doin’ was good. It was good stuff. I mean, I couldn’t point to one thing that was sinful necessarily or evil. I[t] was all good stuff, but what I found was, I was tryin’ to prove something to somebody. And that is a big issue for most of us. We’re trying to be impressive. We’re trying to prove something to somebody.

Jim: Did you zero in on that? Who–

Brady: Absolutely.

Jim: –were you trying to prove something to?

Brady: Well, I was just tryin’ to prove something to people that I admired. I mean, I had a pastor that I admired, that I wanted to prove something to. I wanted …

Jim: That you could do it.

Brady: I could do it and …

Jim: Give me more.

Brady: Give me more; put more on my plate. Pile it high. I’m very ambitious, you know, and that’s not a bad thing. But what happened is, I realized that I was acting like a slave. I was living my life like a spiritual slave, trying to prove something to my Master, instead of really enjoying the fact that I was an adopted son.

And once I got to that place where I realized I didn’t have to work for my salvation, that works are important to people, but not so much to God and that’s what changed my life. And (Clearing throat), my wife also with her bags packed one day, tellin’ me that if I didn’t slow down, she was gonna go home and be with her parents.

Jim: Well, you say that quickly. That’s a pivot point.

Brady: It was a gigantic …

Jim: I mean—

Brady: It was.

Jim: How did that conversation go that night, that she realized this is not working for her?

Brady: Well, she was very gracious to me, No. 1. She’s not troubling, she was a young lady that loved me. I loved her. We were very much in love in our early days and we still are. We’ve been married 25 years now. But she came to a point in her life where she just said, “Brady, I’m a single woman. You’re never here. You’re always gone. We never go on dates. We are friends, but we’re not married necessarily. We see each in passing at night.” And she said, “I just feel like I need to go be with my parents if I want to be a single woman again. And until you get your life right, until you decide that I am priority, then I’m gonna be with my parents, because I just simply need help living life and my husband’s not available to me.”

Jim: Wow. I mean okay, then how did you process that?

Brady: I told her … I’m a pretty decisive person and I’m really crazy about her. I said, “I will resign three of my jobs tomorrow.” And I was workin’ all kinds of things.” And she said, “No, you won’t.” And I said, “Well, listen; give me 24 hours. If I don’t resign from all these volunteer/paid positions that I was doing, then I’ll help you. I’ll drive you to your parents’ house.” I said, “But give me 24 hours to prove to you that I will resign.”

And I walked in to my boss the next day and to my pastor and I resigned from being the youth pastor, which was a volunteer position at a megachurch. And I resigned from the school where I was doin’ about four different jobs. And they were stunned. They couldn’t believe it. And I said, “I’m sorry; I’m gonna choose my marriage over this chaos that I’m living in.”

And in fact, I left the school and I left the ministry and I took a job at a radio station, making less than $7 an hour the next week. But it proved to her that I was serious; it proved to my wife that I was serious, and it saved my marriage and it was humbling. Everyone was asking me, “Brady, you were doin’ all these great things.” I said, “Yeah, but I was neglecting the greater thing”—

Jim: Yeah.

Brady: –which is really my walk with Jesus was suffering. I wouldn’t admit it and my walk with Pam, my wife was suffering and she made me admit it.

Jim: Let me ask you, ’cause that conversation is probably taking place across North America, across the world, tens of thousands of times a day, where a spouse– and it’s not necessarily just a male issue, because more women are in the workforce, more women are stretched and pulled in more directions today and are experiencing that same kind of busyness, I think they tend not to derive so much of their identity like men do out of busyness and what our label is.

Brady: Uh-hm.

Jim: But how can that conversation be most constructive? Let’s go ahead and role play it, that a wife is feeling like Pam, your wife was. What can she do tonight to address this with her busy, addicted spouse?

Brady: Well, I think for a wife and a husband, they need to sit down and write down what they’re doing. Just say, let’s write down our weekly schedule, our weekly commitment. And I think what they’ll find is a lot of unnecessary clutter on their schedule.

So the next step after writing it down, I mean, write down what you’re committed to, what are we saying yes to? What are we doing as a family? Then you’ll see there’s a lot of stuff written down that may or may not be really important to our purpose as a family. So, if you don’t have a mission statement or a set of values that you’re living your marriage with, if you don’t have a set of guidelines that you’ve established for your home, well then you’re just runnin’ out in a[n] open field.

So, I tell people, treat your marriage and your home like a thoroughbred racetrack. So, there’s a broad place to run, but there are some guardrails. And there’s a saddle and a bridle to help the thoroughbred get to the finish line.

*And so, I use a horseracing analogy often with men to say, listen, what are the boundaries, the guidelines for your marriage, for your family? So that you’re not just running wild out in the open, because you’re not accomplishing anything like that.

But have a finish line. Have some guard rails. Have some values, something in place so that when you write down all of these things that you’re committed to, now you have permission to say no to things, because they don’t line up with your values and your principles for your home. But if you start out marriage or a family without any values or principles or any kind of mission statement, well then, you’ll say yes to everything, because there’s nothin’ to make you say no.

Jim: Let me ask you that practical question, which is what does it sound like? If you’re willing, describe that for your family. What would be the broader saddle and bridle that you have placed for your own family?–

Brady: Well—

Jim: –to help us.

Brady: –first of all, what does it require for our marriage to thrive is the first question.

Jim: And that may be a little different for everybody.

Brady: Exactly, that’s not the same answer for everyone. Knowing what’s important to Pam is quality time. So the love language is a good way to start with that. You know, I love that book, The 5 Love Languages and for Pam, her love language is quality time. So, in order for my marriage to thrive with Pam and I didn’t know this when I married her, okay? But she needs time with me. So, in order for my marriage to thrive with my wife, I have to have space and time with my wife, all right? And that’s probably true for all marriages, by the way. You can’t rush through a marriage and expect it to thrive. All right.

So, the second question is, what is it gonna require of us to make disciples of our children? Because if you’re gonna have kids, not every married couple will have kids, but most do or most want to have kids. So, we live in Colorado. We live in a secular culture in Colorado. We live with two teenagers and so, Pam and I write down or talk about what are we doing to purposely make our children into Jesus followers?

Now again, that’s a broad question with a lot of answers. But if you don’t even talk about it, you don’t even write down one or two things. For example, bor us, local church is important for our kids. So, I have a daughter, who’s in the eighth grade, who’s [a] pretty good athlete. I wouldn’t say she’s spectacular, but she’s getting all these opportunities to play club sports, you know.

Jim: Right.

Brady: We made a decision like she was 7- or 8-years-old, getting opportunities to play club sports. I mean …

Jim: Travel regionally.

Brady: Yeah, travel teams—

Jim: Yeah.

Brady: –right, on soccer, softball, basketball.

Jim: Saturdays and Sundays.

Brady: Saturdays and Sundays. Well, for us, we’re local church people. Even if I wasn’t a pastor, which I am– Sundays are a work day for me–but even if I was not a local church pastor, the local church is important. So, we decided early on, in order for us to build disciples of our children, they need to be a part of the local church, okay? That’s one of the three or four things that we’ve made a decision at our home, to encourage, all right.

So, then what do you say no to for that to happen? Club sports. Like she can’t play in club sports when she’s gone Saturdays and Sundays, ’cause it pulls half the family away from the local church. And so, that’s an example. If you don’t know what you’re saying yes to, you won’t know what to say no to.

And I think you first have to know what’s our family always going to say yes to? All right, now write that down. We’re always gonna say yes to this. Well, now you have this permission to start saying no.

Jim: Yeah—

Brady: And I don’t think—

Jim: –creating the boundary.

Brady: –most families even know what to say no to.

Jim: Right.

Brady: It all looks good to them.

Jim: Well, and there’s so much to do in culture and that’s what pulls on our hearts.

John: Well, as Jim said at the beginning of this “Focus on the Family” program, a little bit of a convicting and hurting kind of conversation to have, but a good one. You can hear where we’re going with this, the kind of encouragement that we’re offering. Our guest is Pastor Brady Boyd and this topic touches us all. If you need some follow up, we have articles and downloads, a CD of this conversation at . In fact, you can make a donation to Focus on the Family today to help us get this kind of practical encouragement to families around the world. We’ll send this book to you as our way of saying thanks and as a tangible way for you to maybe get to that point Brady was talking about, of defining what the what the “no’s” are in your life and what the “yes’s” are.

Jim: In your book, Addicted to Busy, you have a quote that I thought was really good and you have a lot of great quotes, by the way.

Brady: Thank you.

Jim: But you said, the greatest risk to restfulness is success, because failure invites us to pause, to regroup, to take stock and to rest. You know, that says to me that when we hit failure, the Lord actually uses it to get our attention.

Brady: He does. He doesn’t … I don’t think God causes failure. We cause our own failures, I think. But God looks at us as He’s looking for places to invade our lives. He’s looking for space to come in. And sometimes failure, when we just stop and throw our hands up in the air, that’s when God is right there. He was right there the whole time, inviting us into a different kind of journey with Him than probably we were experiencing during success. And the problem with success is this. When we are successful, we tend to give the credit to the wrong person.

Jim: (Laughing) If we’re honest about it.

Brady: If we’re honest. I mean, we are a success culture. We’re a celebrity culture. We are a “get it done” very independent culture, where a self-sufficiency, self-promotion is actually celebrated in our culture. So, it’s very common, even for Christ followers to go through a season of success and take a lot of the credit that really is not due to them. AndI do think success is problematic. It takes faith to believe that in the middle of great success that you can pull away and stay connected to God and that when you come back, success will still be waiting for you.

Jim: Do you think this statement is accurate? Do you think the hectic pace of life and the way that we stay busy is the No. 1 road to our failure? Meaning adultery, all the downfalls in marriage and in family, could they be rooted in this one core cause?

Brady: Here’s the way I would say it and I’ll read it to you. Most of our problems are either caused or made worse. I don’t think our schedule is the cause of every problem, ’cause it can be a lot of spiritual issues involved with other issues. But I think the pace of our life causes or makes problems worse.

And let me give you an example. When you’re struggling in your marriage, okay, that could be rooted in all kinds of issues, you could be coming from a broken home or you could have some addiction issues. But pace exacerbates that.

Jim: Right.

Brady: Pace–

Jim: Adds fuel to it.

Brady: –makes it worse. When you’re struggling with finances for example, I tell people all the time, most of the big mistakes we’ve made financially if you were honest, was because we got in a hurry and didn’t stop to ask for advice. We did not stop to pray. We got impatient. Quick decisions are normally bad decisions.

Jim: Impulsive.

Brady: Impulsive decisions are only bad decisions, for sure. And so, I think the pace of our life is probably causin’ some of these root issues to blossom and be made worse. So, I don’t know if it’s the cause, but it’s certainly not helping.

Jim: Brady, it strikes me that a man who’s lived with his mortality since the day you were born, with your heart defect, and going through trying to live every day to the full and then hitting the wall. Thankfully your wife, Pam bringing you to that place of ultimatum to say, it’s either me or your schedule; pick one. Because your schedule really became your mistress, didn’t it?

Brady: It did. And the spotlight in success is a very seductive mistress —

Jim: Tell us …

Brady: –that can lure us away from the good things that God has for us.

Jim: It’s true and again, I love talking to people that have faced mortality, have faced death, because I think they have so much to tell us, because very few people have that experience, until the moment comes.

Brady: Right.

Jim: Tell us about your heart surgery and what happened.

Brady: Well, this is the journey of this book, actually, started in 2011, where I was laying in a hospital room and I’d signed all these documents before my surgery. And every document said, you know, you’re gonna risk death. This surgery’s is a risk for death.

And I remember laying in my hospital room for nine days after open-heart surgery to replace my pulmonary valve. And in that room with the windows open, full moon rising over the Front Range of the Rockies, it was really the first time in probably 10, 15 years that I had to rest. I was required to rest to recover from that surgery.

And alone in that hospital room late at night, you can’t sleep in hospitals, you know. And I’m trying to recover laying there. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t go. I couldn’t engage. I couldn’t do my job. I was in a bed for nine days. It was there that the Lord spoke to me and said, “Brady, this is a gift from Me to you.”

Jim: Huh.

Brady: This is a gift. And nobody would see that as a gift, right? I’m in pain. My chest cavity’s been broken open and heart surgery’s been done and I’m … oh! And … but He says, I remember the Lord that night. The moon was rising. My window’s open and the Lord says, “These nine days in the hospital are a gift.”

And then I couldn’t go back to work for seven or eight weeks, you know. So, He says, “I want you to see this as a gift from Me to you.” And that’s what started me to write this book.

I just said, no matter what goes on in our life, God wants to give us this gift of space and time. And my heart’s great now by the way. I’m in good health. I feel really energized. I’m grateful for, you know, technology and medicine that has allowed me to keep goin’. But I’m so grateful for the gift of rest that the Lord introduced me to during that recovery time.

Jim: Hm.

Brady: And I hope I never stop receiving it from the Lord. It’s changed my life.

Jim: How do you parlay that into your relationship now with Pam and with the kids? I mean, you talked about that busy schedule.

Brady: Yeah.

Jim: How do you really do it?

Brady: Well, it takes discernment in order to … I say this very sincerely. If you’re going to find this rhythm of Jesus, you’re gonna have to learn to say no and by saying no, you’re gonna have to have a great deal of discernment from the Holy Spirit about what to say no to.

So, I make Pam and my children priority in my life. And I have a lot of people pulling on me. a pastor, a large congregation with a lot of demands. But I tell people, you know, I’ll get invited to do something and I’ll say, “I have something scheduled for that day.” So, literally on my schedule is, “Stay home with Pam and the kids” on Friday night.

Jim: Yeah.

Brady: “Be with Abram; take Abram to breakfast,” which is my 16-year-old son, or my daughter, “Do something with Callie,” you know. Or make sure I have regular date nights with Pam, my wife. So, it’s on my schedule, so that it’s prioritized.

And through that, I’ve found first of all, I had to get rid of this fear of man, this guilt, which if we were honest, the reason we say yes to things we really don’t want to do, is because we’re afraid of disappointing people. And once you get free from that, it doesn’t mean that we’re mean to people. It doesn’t mean we’re not helpful to people. I want to help, but I also have learned to say no and feel good about it and be okay with it. And that’s the biggest issue with people is guilt.

Jim: What does it feel like to experience God’s peace? Define that for us.

Brady: Well, God doesn’t give us peace; God is peace. He is the source. He’s the fountainhead. He is the Creator; He’s the essence of peace. So, it’s not just somethin’ that God doles out in spoonfuls. It is at His core; it’s who God is. By being with God, you get peace, because He is peace.

Jim: But you have to be with Him.

Brady: You have to be with Him and that’s it. Just turning off the radio, you know. I know we’re listening to radio now, but (Laughter) after this show (Laughter), you know, take 10 minutes and just shut off all the sound inside your vehicle, you know, ’cause it actually is not near as good as this one. (Laughter) So, for …

Jim:  We’re not saying …

Brady: Every radio station now is just panicking. (Laughter) But what I would say is, just find some quiet. And you don’t have to talk to God. You just say, “I’m so glad You’re here with me. God’s not ever far from us. He’s right here with us, whether you know it or not.

And looking for those gifts throughout the day. God’s a gift-giver and He wants to give us good gifts, right? He says, a father on the earth would want to give good gifts to his kids, why wouldn’t Me, the perfect Father, not want to give good gifts to His kids? And I think this gift of peace is what He wants to give us.

Jim: It’s so true. Brady Boyd, author of the book, Addicted to Busy, I think every busy person, which is probably all of you (Laughter), need to get a copy of this. And John, we’ll make that available. Thanks Brady for bein’ with us.

Brady: Yeah, thank you so much, guys. And I hope this conversation’s been encouraging and helpful to people for sure. Thank you for having me.


John: Well, it’s been helpful to me and I know a lot of listeners, as well. And you’ll want to follow up by getting a copy of the book and perhaps a CD or download of this program, so you can review it and take to heart some of the insights that Brady Boyd has offered us here.

By the way, when you get the book, you’ll learn more of his story and further principles that you can apply in your life and he concludes each chapter with questions for you to pray about and then, steps to take to kind of break free of that busyness habit.

And the title again is Addicted to Busy and it’s available from us when you donate a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family. Remember that when you contribute to our financial needs, you are changing lives and families and impacting the world for Christ. And so, request that book when you make a donation, at or when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

And you know, this is Clergy Appreciation Month and so, I’ll suggest that at the site, you can find some ways to offer some encouragement and support to your pastor, folks like Brady, who serve day in, day out and give so selflessly. Find some great ideas for honori

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