The first time I read this book was when I was in my late teens. I somehow grasped the general idea. I read it again in my twenties, I think I got a clearer idea what Gordon McDonald was trying to convey. Now, I’m Thirty-One (phew! time flies) and I’m still reading this book (again! this time it’s an updated version and I’m using the study guide!) – it’s a life-long struggle.
And more and more I feel Christian leaders MUST work through the concerns and concepts in this book. In fact, humans must struggle through with what he’s highlighting here. The past few years, the chance to be in touch with numerous “crashes” in people’s lives, marriages, work, etc, convinces me that the cultivation of the “inner life” is critical and crucial. It saddens me again and again when one is engrossed in so called “busyness” (which is a symptom of something deeper) it’s like termits eating away the “hidden” structures of our lives quietly but surely. There are warning signs. There are ways to prevent (and recover from) such “disasters” (read about the Sinkhole Syndrome) and it’s got to start now.
Consider the maturity of McDonald’s thoughts: “Now, there is a busyness that reflects a plan of activity, a pattern of priorities, and a sense of purposefulness. It is good and satisfying busyness through which one grows and increases competence… But there is also the busyness (destructive busyness, actually) that reflects a chaotic way of life – a way of doign in which one is simply responding to the next thing in the day. The next thing! It makes no difference whether or not it has significance; it’s just the next thing, and one does it because it’s there to do.” (p. 1)
But, of course the whole issue of “busyness” is just scratching the surface. The deeper concern lies beneath the surface inside us!