Hardworking Sloths: Disguising Spiritual Laziness

Kara Powell | Jun 21, 2011

Like you, I’m a busy person. But as my husband and our FYI team would tell you, this seems to be an even more busy season than normal. Maybe that’s why this Christianity Today article on how our busyness is actually laziness really hit me. Our spinning around makes us seem busy but we’re missing out on the most important work. In the article, Carolyn Arends quotes Eugene Peterson’s comparison between slothfulness and busyness.

Peterson: Sloth is most often evidenced in busyness in frantic running around, trying to be everything to everyone, and then having no time to listen or pray, no time to become the person who is doing these things.

A little later in this short article, Arends points out the most important job for humankind:

The mandate can be stated even more succinctly regarding my task as a human: Pay attention to God. If I don’t, I’m guilty of spiritual sloth, no matter how hard I’m working. In truth, there is an inverse relationship between how overwhelmed I am doing things and how much energy I can give to being attentive.

Even as I write this blog, it’s tempting to think that I’ll slow down during my actual vacation time this summer. That’s when I’ll be able to pay attention to God.

I don’t want to give into that lie that it’s only on “vacation” that we can slow down. For one thing, those of us who are parents know that “vacations” are not quite as relaxing as they were sans kids. For another thing, I spent the vast majority of my life not on vacation.

I hope you are as encouraged and nudged by this reminder as I have been.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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