Have you ever heard the phrase, “If the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy”? This statement is somewhat lighthearted since believers fall short of perfection and still sin regularly. However, the truth behind the assertion hits a bit too strongly in this new year.
Is it barely into the first quarter of 2023, and you already feel overwhelmed by your calendar? Maybe you started the year with the best intentions to slow down, only to find yourself rushing from activity to activity, commitment to commitment.
The trap of overcommitment is painfully common, especially in motherhood. Why? Honestly, it is simple. Your calendar is not just your own!
Your calendar contains the appointments, activities, sports practices, playdates, and more of the tiny humans in your life. These dates on your calendar on top of your work meetings, doctor’s appointments (wait, do moms have their appointments?), church functions, and other commitments can leave you overwhelmed, burnt out, and overly busy.
So, is this a bad thing? Is it wrong to have a full calendar – even if it’s full of good things? Let’s look at the bigger picture of overcommitment, find examples in Scripture, and look to overcome the hurried busyness that can consume each day.
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Are you Overcommitted with Good Things
Take a moment and read Exodus 18:13-26. For Bible verses on overcommitment, this passage is a great example.
Or, to save time, here’s a summary of what is happening in this passage: Moses receives a visit from his father-in-law, Jethro. This visit came after they left Egypt and established themselves in the wilderness. During his visit, Jethro watches Moses judging the people from morning until evening.
Certainly, Jethro saw something that Moses could not see. In his wisdom, Jethro knew this was not sustainable for Moses or the people. He asked Moses to delegate some of these duties to well-abled men among the Israelites to lessen the load for himself. Once chosen, these men would bring significant issues to Moses, but they handled all other matters among themselves.
Was Moses doing anything wrong? Of course not! He was doing what was required of him by God for the people. The over-commitment was that he needed to do all this work himself.
Friends, we can easily fall into the trap of being too busy with good things. There is much to be done around you and in your daily life. The question to ask yourself is, do I have to do it all? Are there things of which I can let go? Are there commitments that I can delegate? Is this commitment one the Lord is calling me to in this season?
4 Tips for Dealing with Overcommitment
Next, look at Acts 6:1-7 for another Scriptural example of this concept of over-commitment.
This New Testament church was growing, which is a great thing! However, with that busyness, things began to fall through the cracks. After a complaint from the Hellenists, the apostles became aware that the Hellenist (Greek-speaking) widows were being neglected.
Scripture does not give the context around this, but some scholars believe this neglect was unintentional and had something to do with the language barrier between Hebrew and Greek. The apostles were becoming distracted from the critical work at hand. Thankfully, there was wisdom around them to address and resolve the issue.
To make this applicable to life today, here are the four steps to move out of overcommitment based on the examples in Exodus 18 and Acts 6.
1. Assess and Recognize the Issue
In both cases, Moses and the apostles in Acts needed to become aware of an issue. Jethro brought the attention of the matter to Moses, and the Hellenists brought the problem with the widows to the apostles’ attention. Moses became overcommitted as the sole judge for the people, and the apostles neglected a critical group of women who needed care and support from the church.
It is easy to become blind to such things when you are in the thick of your daily routine and schedule. In the day-to-day, you might not know what important things have been overlooked or neglected. You might not be aware of your over-commitment, but maybe another mom friend has noticed, which leads to the second step.
2. Seek the Wisdom of Others
The value of having mentors or accountability support in your life is immeasurable. For Moses, Jethro’s advice came at a crucial moment that changed the dynamic of his daily life in leadership over the people of Israel. For the apostles, the Hellenists addressed an issue and provided wisdom to resolve the oversight without adding additional burden or responsibility to the apostles.
Who can you ask to help you assess your commitments and daily habits to see what you are missing or where you have overcommitted? Allow the wisdom of another to breathe life into you by helping to free up space or reorganize your schedule.
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3. Determine the Priority
This mentor or accountability partner can help you determine the priority in your current season of life.
Looking at the current season is important because the season changes regularly in motherhood. The priority with a newborn is entirely different from the priority when you have a teenager. Work with a friend to determine the priority of your life and plan to make it the priority.
Once you find that something is not or should not be a priority, you can move to step four.
4. Delegate or Release
In Moses’ case, he delegated much of the daily work of a judge to specific men and set them as chiefs over the people. The burden for Moses was suddenly lighter, and the weight of his work was now evenly distributed.
In Acts, the apostles assigned the essential work of the widows to seven elected men better equipped to communicate with and serve the Hellenist widows.
Mama, you are not meant to carry a full load of everything on your own. Even if you do not have a spouse to lean upon for support, the body of Christ is a community to help carry loads that are too heavy for you to carry.
What can you delegate? What do you need to release to the Lord and trust that He is able to hold and carry what you cannot?
Committing to the Realistic
Hopefully, these two passages encourage the overwhelmed heart today. It is far too easy to become overburdened and distracted from the work the Lord has called you to do.
Ask for wisdom to know who to reach out to as you navigate your priorities and commitments. If you are feeling overcommitted, you may need guidance to commit to the realistic tasks in your life.
Take heed of this to keep the enemy from finding a vulnerable place to attack you. In overcommitment, we often become weak and burnt out, which is a perfect place for him to begin speaking lies over you. Grant yourself grace to know that you cannot do everything, nor are you meant to.
Written By: Brittany Thieman
Being a working mom is challenging, and the pressure to “do it all” can feel overwhelming. Thankfully, we can learn from Scripture and from other moms to live out our callings while keeping the Gospel at the center of our homes.
My name is Brittany, and I work as a Director of Operations for a company and run a small business while raising my two young daughters and baby boy on the way. My husband is a pastor, and we just recently relocated from North Carolina to Texas for a new church position. The Lord has taught us much in this busy and tiring season. I hope to encourage other mamas in their journey toward pursuing Christ in the messiness, beauty, and fatigue of motherhood.