Why it is good to do something frivolous — the lie of productive

It’s easy to take a look around Pinterest or Facebook and see “side hustle” and “how to make money.” These posts are right beside other posts talking about not having enough time to spend with your own children. Let’s be honest — society wants us doing things, productive things, and doesn’t want us to sit idle.

Watercolor work in progress

And there’s some, small, truth to that. There’s a small truth to every good lie. Just sitting around idle constantly is laziness and isn’t a virtue by any means. But in Psalm 46:10, we are asked to “be still” so let’s take a closer look at what’s going on here.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Certainly, we’re not being asked to be lazy (the Bible has a lot to say about being lazy, especially in Proverbs), but we’re also clearly being asked to pause for a moment.

What are we doing when we are trying to accomplish this “side hustle” or drive the kids around to 8 different activities a week? Under the guise of “productivity” we are actually trying to take control of the situation.

Watercolors

It’s easy to notice this when times are stressful and it’s obvious we’re not in control. But more dangerous are when times are good and easy. The self says, “Look, I can put together a side-business on Etsy and make this money all on my own.” You see, by staying busy it’s easy to think that things are happening just because of the business.¬†“If I work harder and harder things will get better.”

But, instead, God asks us to stop being busy (“Be still”) and acknowledge him as supreme (“and know that I am God” and “I will be exalted”).

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,”¬†Colossians 3:23

Is starting that side hustle for the glory of God, or for your own glory (“Look what I can do!”). Especially when, at the same time, it’s proving difficult to find time for the things God has already asked to be done.

But this pull to “do things” doesn’t come from nowhere. We are meant to be productive. But society tries to turn our being into a commodity. It wants our work not to be for the glory of God, but to be for the glory of the business or to create a more voracious consumer.

Even now, as I type this, there’s a little section below where I type in WordPress telling me how “SEO-friendly” (search engine optimization) this post is. As this post is just being drafted, it’s being graded on how well it will be able to pull people into the blog — how useful it will be to the blog. We’re treated no differently. We’re constantly being graded on how useful we are and how much we do.

Staying so busy keeps us from enjoying God’s creation. The weird little hobbies and activities that do not produce income or
are unlikely to produce income. Essentially, what society says “don’t quit your day job.”

Watercolor art of a hand

It shouldn’t all be about our income though. There is a time to work, but we are also asked to pause and enjoy the beauty and greatness of God and his creation. “Silly” little hobbies like painting or hiking. Things that “make no money.” Things just for enjoyment.

I ask that you do not feel guilty for enjoying enjoyable activities. Art was not created for you to feel guilty about enjoying it. Nature was not created for you to feel guilty for appreciating it. Take a moment to be still and widen your life beyond “productivity.”

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