Are you ready to break busy?

January 27, 2016

Are you a woman whose life is aimless, hurried, frenetic or just flat-out impossible? If so, you’re the very one Alli Worthington had in mind when writing Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy. In her new release, this wife, mother of five and executive director of Propel Women draws from her life experiences, research and the Bible to help women break the cycle of “crazy busy.” She sketches out a framework women can use to find God’s purpose for their life instead of succumbing to the relentless, runaway pace of today’s culture.

How she does it

Worthington is a winsome writer and skilled at keeping things practical. Her easy-to-read style and manageable book sections allow busy women to read smaller portions on the go. And her humor and transparency keep you easily engaged.

Worthington starts her book by setting a helpful paradigm for what it means to function “within capacity.” And the personal stories from her former chaotic routine assure you that she “gets it.” She lays out seven diagnostic warning signs to help women discover if they’re living within their God-given capacity. And she poses several questions to help women gauge their personal limits and embrace them. From the beginning, Worthington encourages honest self-reflection about what motivates your crazy busy life by sharing the ins and outs of her own story.

Worthington then spends the remainder of the book guiding the reader through an exploration to find “our sweet spot”: the place where one is operating at their best and fulfilling their “God-given destiny.” She explores nine areas to consider when making choices toward a more balanced life, covering a range of topics from relationships and a personal sense of calling to time management and communication styles. Each chapter concludes with a list of action steps to implement. But in the midst of the practical, Worthington does not lose sight of how a woman’s heart and mind work. She speaks to the inner fears and challenges common to women and closes her book by highlighting how the feelings of shame and worth powerfully influence our lives.

Great take-aways

One of the best features of this book is its practicality. Alli Worthington is truly gifted at breaking down concepts into accessible approaches to life. And she loves lists. So if you’re a bullet point-person, you will love the organization of her thinking through the crazy business of life.

Also, the overall mission of this book is praiseworthy. Women without friends to ask heels-on-the-ground questions about gifts and abilities will find a friend in Worthington and her practical wisdom. The author has planted deep roots in the growing field of life management, and this book bears some good fruit. But it’s Worthington’s transparency that makes her so helpful here. She’s refreshingly open about her family’s challenges and the heart work the Lord has done during those critical times. She teaches by example that “breaking busy” includes honesty before the Lord, others and ourselves.

Pump the brakes on breaking busy

Breaking Busy is marketed as using “solid biblical principles” from a “Christian worldview.” Yet the book’s perspective on knowing God and his will is the greatest cause for concern. To be sure, Alli Worthington’s love for the Lord is evident and sincere. She wants her readers to seek God’s will versus their own agenda. And she uses Scripture references throughout the book, offering helpful examples of applying biblical truth during personal trials. So, you may ask, “What’s the problem?”

The concern lies in Worthington’s paradigm for how one knows God’s will. More than once she testifies to hearing God speak specific messages to her in prayer. Worthington does not claim to hear God’s audible voice. She does, however, claim to understand specific, personal words from God through “nudges” or “senses” that seem to be disconnected from Scripture. One key example is when she felt the Lord telling her to quit the company she began. Worthington states that during a prayer time she “clearly felt God nudge me with two words, ‘Quit Blissdom.’” A second example occurred while deciding whether to take her current position with Propel Women. When describing her prayer time, she says, “As clear as day, I sensed the answer. It was very simple: ‘Do it.’”

Could these examples be just two exceptions to Worthington’s view on knowing the will of God? Unfortunately, it seems the examples are part of a pattern. In chapter two, Worthington aligns her personal paradigm in listening to God with Sarah Young’s book, Jesus Calling. The substantial quote depicts a God who speaks subjectively through any means possible: the sun, the wind, faces of loved ones or in the “depths of your spirit.” The problem here is not with the Spirit speaking to God’s people, but hearing direction from God apart from Scripture and yet on par with Scripture. (Tim Challies and Michael Horton have carefully criticized this problem in their reviews of Jesus Calling.)

Regrettably, then, Worthington’s understanding of prayer runs the risk of bypassing the primary means for divine encouragement and direction. The Word of God is the only word that is promised to transform the heart and mind of a believer. But we are told in Scripture that God’s written Word is better, “more confirmed,” than any audible message (2 Pet. 1:16-21).  

Worthington does makes true statements about the Christian life and even appropriately applies Scripture at times. But, even then, she generally maintains a 30,000 foot view of the Bible that leads her to misinterpret and misapply it in on a number of occasions. For example, during her chapter on “Editing,” she teaches that God edited Christ’s life and that his agony in Gethsemane was a struggling over a “new calling”—as if crucifixion was a new idea to Christ. Yet from the Old Testament forward, Scripture is clear that Christ’s purpose was always to die for his people, with Christ himself speaking of his own death, burial, and resurrection from the beginning of his earthly ministry (see Isa. 53; John 2:18-22; 3:14; 12:27-33). It’s what makes Christ’s willful condescension so gloriously humble!

Finally, Worthington does not distinguish clearly between believers and unbelievers when it comes to claiming God’s promises. So, when she encourages women to find their worth in God or cast their cares on him during anxious moments, Worthington seems to assume that God’s covenant promises apply to all people in the same way. This message may not be intentional. But without a ground-level view of Scripture, this kind of universal encouragement can lead to confusion and discouragement for those who do not know Christ—even a distraction from their deepest need for him.

Why it matters

Maintaining a bird’s-eye view of the Scriptures causes the reader to miss the biblical contours that explain how God prepares his people for  “breaking [free of] busy.” Our “God-given destiny” is “to proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

God has given us pastors, deacons, Sunday School teachers and fellow church members to confirm his gifts and capacities he gives us so that we can glorify Christ in our calling and in every occupation. And this same church community helps us grow in God’s wisdom as God’s Word in Scripture transforms our hearts and minds. It’s by this Word-fueled transformation we are best equipped to make life choices that free us from “crazy busy.” Then the greatest joy is realized, by using these gifts in this new-found freedom, when we all grow up together to look more and more like Jesus.

What now?

Though the concerns with Worthington’s book are significant, it still stands that Breaking Busy offers much practical wisdom that will be useful to many women. And the reader will benefit from Worthington’s heart for others to live a fuller, more purposeful life that is pleasing to the Lord. For a believer who is well grounded in the Word, I would recommend this book to be read with discernment and appreciation for its practical and profitable insights. A younger believer is encouraged to read it with someone to provide further instruction about seeking the Lord and his will.  For more resources on knowing God’s will through the Scriptures see Kevin DeYoung’s book Just Do Something or the following TGC resources.

Darla Wilkinson

Darla Wilkinson graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is the wife of a wonderful husband.  Read More by this Author

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24