Review: Crazy Busy, by Kevin DeYoung

by Oct 11, 2013Books, Piety2 comments

17152690What do you get when you put together a gifted, kind of techie young communicator from the culturally conservative end of the neo-Reformed spectrum with a contemporary topic like our culture’s crazy busyness? This book had the feel of one that wrote itself—to take nothing away from that young communicator, Kevin DeYoung. He said all the things he was expected to say and yet managed to hold my interest the entire time. He also managed to write a Young, Restless, Reformed self-help book. And it actually worked.

In Crazy Busy, Kevin DeYoung admits to needing the book himself as much as he expects any of his readers to need it. He keeps his advice “mercifully short,” which seemed to mean that every paragraph was written right to me. No extraneous chapters. Got the book done in time for the next item on my to-do list.

DeYoung also kept his advice gospel-centered without letting the jargon that has developed around that theological meme do the work for him. Without advertising his gospel-centeredness, he applied the same balanced approach to sanctification found in The Hole in Our Holiness to a particular problem, busyness, and he genuinely edified this reader.

I’ll offer only a small sampling of the thoughts that helped me:

  • It was helpful, coming at just the right time, to hear that some people will grab for your time until you have to cut them off—and that the most helpful thing you can do for them is to do what no one else has probably done for them: sit down and tell them that there must be limits to your friendship.
  • It was helpful for DeYoung to expose his own desire to please people that sometimes makes him too busy. He would rather let down the people he loves the most than let down a random person who asked him to do something.
  • Likewise, I also liked his thought that the compulsion to post regularly, to show up online without big gaps in between, may really boil down to serving a bunch of people who don’t really care about you at the expense of those who need you the most.
  • DeYoung stands a bit to the left of me on the always-obsessed-over theological spectrum, and yet I feel that it is I rather than he who feels more pressure to eschew legalism. He’s also more spiritually mature and more life-experienced, so he helped me spot (just as he did in that aforementioned excellent book, The Hole in Our Holiness) an overreaction to legalism in my own life. He really hammered on the importance of daily devotions, and he carefully denied that doing so was legalism. One helpful additional thought there (that I listened to as I crazy-busily mowed the lawn): he urged that devotions be the immovable rock which dictate other priorities. That is, if you know you are going to get up in the morning and read your Bible, there are some desserts or drinks or TV shows or Internet-rambling sessions that just won’t happen.
  • It was nice listening to a fellow tech-maven complaining about what the Internet has done to our brains while trying to be careful to hold on to baby and rid himself only of bathwater.
  • I found it helpful that he ended the book by defending the idea that busyness isn’t always sinful. Don’t let that point erase the truths in the previous portion of the book, he said, but recognize that working till Jesus comes—and even suffering along the way—are to be expected in the Christian life.

Readers of DeYoung’s blog will pick up on several sections of the book that were either lifted from his blog or posted there, apparently, during his work on the book. But they won’t feel cheated. I was glad to be reminded of his words about parenting, for example.

If you are Crazy Busy, give this book a read/listen.

Note: I received review copies from Crossway, NetGalley, and Christian Audio. I wasn’t required to say anything nice; I genuinely liked the book. (Oh yeah, and Adam Verner did a fine job on the audio narration.)

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  1. Don Johnson

    Hey, Mark, on this one:

    sit down and tell them that there must be limits to your friendship, how does DeYoung describe doing that without actually nuking the relationship?

    To me, it seems that when some friend has a brilliant suggestion to volunteer my time, it is much simpler to simply say “I can’t make that one” than to “have a talk” about limiting our friendship. You do have to be careful about your commitments, but what kind of friendship is a “limited” one, anyway?

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

    • Mark L Ward Jr

      Maybe I didn’t communicate what DeYoung was saying very well. That’s not quite the situation he was talking about. Looks like you’ll have to get the book to find out what he said. =)


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