Box of Crayons Blog


“… if the devil can’t get you to sin, he’ll …” (Great Work quote)

“… if the devil can’t get you to sin, he’ll keep you busy.”
~ Anne Lamott

I picked up Anne Lamott’s Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith the other day and (even as a non-believer) deeply enjoyed her funny, compassionate and messy wrestlings with her faith.

This quote grabbed me, maybe because I keep hearing the whispers of “busy busy busy” in my ear all the time.

Why is busy such a devilish diversion? It stops you stepping back and asking, “what really matters here?”  It keeps you, in other words, well and truly distracted from your Great Work.

11 Responses to “… if the devil can’t get you to sin, he’ll …” (Great Work quote)

  • Mark Silver

    I would give you my in-depth thoughts on this, Michael, but I’m a little too busy at the moment. You know, email and twitter and stuff… (sigh)

  • Angie Mizzell

    I love Anne Lamott’s, “Bird by Bird,” a humorous look at the writing life. This is another one I’ll have to pick up. Your post, so simply put, raises such an important truth. I’ve spent years wasting time, “getting organized,” and checking things off my to-do list, to create room to do my “great work.” Such a clever little devil.

  • Sherrill Leverich-Fries

    Somehow, I’m taking a minute from all my web surfing to reply to this 🙂

    I wasn’t raised in a religious household either, but my dad always said things like “make yourself useful as well as ornamental”. If I’m not DOing something, I’m somehow going to get in trouble (now that I’m 40, with whom? Don’t know, doesn’t matter, still am gonna get busted by someone).

    It raises its head in all sorts of devilish ways, including keeping myself up doing stupid stuff, instead of letting myself go to bed (“You can sleep when you’re dead; right now there’s work to be done!”), or doing something that’s truly busywork instead of the gazing at the clouds that inevitably inspires me toward Great Work (or at least more inspiring than my busy work).

    Thanks, Michael, for that “busy busy busy in my ear all the time”. Resonance.

  • Sherrill Leverich-Fries

    Hey, I just follow Mark’s link and it’s the Mark I know from Portland! Long time no see! I love how small our Internet and blog world really is, especially with like-minded people. Now THAT is inspiring. Maybe I’ll go do something Great now. Then again, there’s always Mark’s blog to check out, and then the links on his site, and then…… BUSY!

  • Michael

    Sherrill – I’m lucky enough to count Mark as a good friend. How great that you’re connected too. And thanks for the great comment.

  • April, the ispecialist

    I really needed this right now. Trying to see through the “busy” to what really NEEDS to be done. Step back. Make a plan. Follow through. Avoid distraction. Accomplish “Great Work”. Now, to check off all those tasks…

  • Carol Ann Wiley

    Sorry I missed this when it first came out, but I was too busy to find it. Oh, how busy I can make myself doing the little, unimportant things; sometimes just to avoid doing my “great work” with thoughts of “what if it’s not great?”, “what if I never get it finished?” and so on and so on. But throughout it all I am always BUSY! Thanks for such a great reminder!

  • Connie Knapp

    Plan B was a wonderful book, as is Traveling Mercies. Anne Lamott has a way of making me remember what’s really important, and most of the time what I *think* is important isn’t.

    Glad you enjoyed her book-try them all!

  • Karen J

    Oh, my! This was posted a YEAR AGO! and I just read it … musta been busy…

    And my first thought, of “Who to share this with?”, was Mark Silver at Heart of Business – it really is a small world!

    Keep up the Great Work! ;~)

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