Timothy Larsen has a great reflection on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the danger of self-importance. It centers around this wonderful, yet challenging quote from Bonhoeffer’s Life Together,
The second service that one should perform for another in a Christian community is that of active helpfulness. This means, initially, simple assistance in trifling, external matters. There is a multitude of these things wherever people live together. Nobody is too good for the meanest service. One who worries about the loss of time that such petty, outward acts of helpfulness entail is usually taking the importance of his own career too solemnly.
Larsen discusses this quote in light of the tendency of academics to be “too busy.” The not-so-subtle effect of telling others we are busy is, “announcing that we think we are important and that our time is more valuable than that of most other people.” Unfortunately, this is a tendency of ministers (and probably every other vocation) as well. According to Larsen,
Being worried about the loss of time is not a sign of a healthy awareness that our work is of vital importance. Quite the contrary; it is actually a sign that something is amiss in our character.
I know he’s right. Far too often when people ask me how I’m doing, I reply, “Oh…I’ve been really busy.” If I’m honest, it’s for the very reasons he describes.
I’d ask for your thoughts, but I don’t want to be a bother when we’re all so busy.