NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–“Professor of Busyness” Michael Zigarelli speaks from firsthand experience: Overload and burnout are at near epidemic levels in the Christian community, and leaders are the most dramatically affected.
This epidemic of activity came to Zigarelli’s attention in an unusual way when a typo in a publication several years ago revised his title from associate professor of business to associate professor of “busyness.”
“I got a kick out of the typo — for about 10 seconds. Then it hit me. Most weeks, that typo would be more accurate than my actual business card,” said Zigarelli, dean of Regent University’s school of business.
The revelation sent Zigarelli on a quest to examine the extent of the busyness problem, not only in his own life but in the Christian community as well.
He collected data from a sample of more than 11,000 Christians worldwide. Among his findings: 43 percent of Christians say they often rush from task to task; 51 percent say they’re often exhausted at the end of the day; and 60 percent say that the busyness of their lives often gets in the way of developing their relationship with God.
The problem is especially pronounced for Christians in leadership positions, three out of four of whom admitted that their overloaded lives often crowd out God.
“I saw myself in those statistics,” Zigarelli said. “As a husband and father of four grade-school kids, a professor and business school dean, a magazine editor and owner of a small business, I simply had taken on too much and trapped myself in an escalating cycle of activity.”
Zigarelli began to search the Scriptures for guidance “beyond the comfortable, well-worn passages that caution us not to hurry through life” and began writing about practical solutions to the problem.
Soon thereafter, LifeWay Christian Resources executives were searching for experts on this topic, hoping to find material they could publish, when they found an article by Zigarelli titled, “Are You Too Busy for God?” in the online version of Christianity Today.
Zigarelli attributes his “being discovered by LifeWay” as divinely orchestrated, noting, “It’s amazing how God can use something as small as a typo to put an author and publisher together.”
Zigarelli has chronicled what he has learned from the Scriptures in a new book by LifeWay titled, “Freedom from Busyness: Biblical Help for Overloaded People.”
“This is not a book about managing your time better so you can get everything done,” Zigarelli said. “There are plenty of good ‘busyness management’ resources on the market. Instead, this book is about busyness reduction, permanent escape from the days of too much activity, too many responsibilities, too much hurry and too little God.
“People will find a message that needs to be preached pervasively in our culture. Frankly, it’s a message I needed to hear for years,” he added.
The book is designed for individual or small group use and is organized as a 20-day study. It includes practical advice on “Freedom through Saying No,” “Freedom through Slowing Down” and “Freedom through Simple Living.” Freedom from Busyness is supplemented by a DVD that contains five 10-15 minute video segments to accompany the weekly sessions.
An audio version on CD comes with the book “for those who may not have time to read it,” Zigarelli said with a smile.