One of my favorite authors, Richard Swenson, discusses the concept of “dysfunctional math, ” when he uses mathematics to demonstrate that humanity simply can’t keep up with the speed of progress.
Here are just a few of his examples:
- The average American is exposed to 10 hours of media per day and watches 34 hours of television per week.
- Go to college and you can choose from over 500 baccalaureate degrees.
- There are 55,000 configurations of coffee at Starbucks.
- In the next century, we will have a million times more technology than we do now.
- Knowledge workers check e-mail 50 times a day, instant messaging 77 times a day, and visit 40 websites per day.
- The average desk worker starts something new every 3 minutes.
- One third of us live with extreme stress and 48% believe it has increased over the past 5 years (2008).
- There was more change in the last century than in all of recorded history prior to 1900.
- There will be a thousand times more change in this century than the last.
- Apple offers 800,000 apps in its Apps Store, and 50 billion apps have been downloaded.
- There are 90,000 governmental bodies in the U.S.
- In 1800 there was just 1 city with a million people; now there are 381.
- The percentages of households in the U.S. that are married couple households: 1950–79%; 1960–74%; 1970–70%; 1980–61%; 1990–56%; 2000–52%; 2010–49.7%.
Cutting the Fat
The facts of the world we live in are listed above. While some people (perhaps the Amish and other likeminded orders) have fallen outside of this paradigm of dysfunction, the majority of us are being rushed along a rolling river and are in desperate need of a safety raft!
In an increasingly complex world that produces information at the speed of light, where should we stand? How should we as Christ-followers adapt to this overload? How can we set healthy and sustainable boundaries in our personal lives and our families that will ensure God-centered living and priorities?
These are all questions that I have pondered regularly the last several years. Our own family has increased from 2-6 people over the last seven years. We have had to adapt and find a “new normal” with each new addition. We have had to work together to find and keep healthy boundaries a priority.
3 Tips to Setting Healthy Boundaries
1) Prayerfully determine a personal and/or family mission statement. This doesn’t have to be a complex thing, but it will help you clearly focus and define your priorities in one sentence. Some great examples are here and here.
2) Evaluate Your Current Commitments – Write out everything you do. Everything. Make a list. Look at it for awhile. Pray about it. Put it aside. Look at it again. Ask yourself some questions such as:
~ Do these activities clearly reflect my mission?
~ Do these reflect my priorities, or what I would like my priorities to be?
~ Is there simply too much on this list? Not enough margin for rest, play, or Sabbath time?
~ Is there enough time for investing in important relationships with others?
~ Is spiritual growth reflected as a vital priority based on how I have chosen to invest my time?
These are some questions just to get your mind rolling. I am sure you can think of many more!
3) Make Necessary Changes and Implement! – Make a decision to cut the fat. Be okay with saying “No,” to social events, service requests, or other activities if you know that saying “Yes” will keep you from what you consider a vital priority.
If you tend to procrastinate necessary duties such as meal planning, grocery shopping, lawn maintenance that end up stressing you out later, put it on your calendar such as “Every Saturday morning I will take 30 minutes to meal plan for the week,” or something similar.
Take charge of your life and sow in the field that God has appointed to you. As the Scripture says, “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else” (Galatians 6:4).