the weblog of Alan Knox

When there is much activity, but very little progress

Posted by on May 21, 2012 in discipleship | 13 comments

When there is much activity, but very little progress

Have you ever seen a dog chase its tail? We have two dogs, and we are a foster family for the Franklin County Humane Society. So, we see dogs chase their tails all the time. Our Scottish Terrier in particular loves to chase her tail. She spins round and round and round, but never really gets anywhere… even when she catches her tail.

I thought about this a few days ago when my daughter and I were driving into town. The car in front of us decided to move over to another lane to make better time. Soon, the traffic in that lane slowed, and the car shifted back to our lane. In the next two miles, that car changed lanes more than 10 times. At the last traffic light before I turned off the highway, our lane-changing friend was right back where he started: directly in front of me.

Again, as in the case of the dog chasing his tail, that car was very busy – doing alot – but actually made very little (or no) progress.

This can happen in our walk with Christ, too. We can find ourselves very busy, with good things, things that God even wants us to do. But, when it comes down to it, we grow very little. We do not learn to trust God more. We do not find ourselves living in unity more with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We do not find the fruit of the Spirit more apparent in our lives.

Much activity… little progress.

This is the point at which I want to be very careful with this post. It is so easy to start a post like this, and then begin pointing to other people who have problems like this.

It is much harder to see ourselves in this position. But, it happens to all of us. It even happens when we think we’re following the direction of the Holy Spirit. We think we are exactly where God wants us, when, in reality, we’re simply chasing our tail – changing lanes back and forth without moving forward – doing much and go nowhere.

How would you even know it’s happening? What are some different ways that God might use to get your attention to this problem?

When you do recognize the issue, what do you do next?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 5-21-2012

    How would you even know it’s happening? What are some different ways that God might use to get your attention to this problem?

    Anger, worry, hurry, all the things that besets one back to the thinking of this worldly ways. The fruits of the flesh or the Spirit are always recognizable. Yet can take place in a twinkling of an eye

    When you do recognize the issue, what do you do next?

    Stop, duck and roll, take no more thought as in descision of what to do and hear the Holy Ghost, thank God for being already (past tense) forgiven. Then seek from God how to stay in submission to God. and all I ever hear is walk in faith in God, take no thought and all thoughts shall be captive to the obedience of his Son Jesus Christ

  2. 5-21-2012

    “This can happen in our walk with Christ, too. We can find ourselves very busy, with good things, things that God even wants us to do. But, when it comes down to it, we grow very little.”


    Thanks for posting this, it’s very timely for our church and where we at currently. We met together yesterday and began discussion and prayer regarding thsi very topic.

    Grace and Peace,

  3. 5-21-2012

    I my life being overly busy, crowds out the voice of the Lord in my heart. I think that is why Jesus spent so much time receiving from Father. Pouring in, to pour out. For me it is a down hill spiral too. Concentrating on the future, leaves Jesus’ here in this moment.

  4. 5-21-2012

    Hurried activity leads to uncorrected typos too.

  5. 5-21-2012


    If you think you are following Jesus and the Spirit in these activities, then how would you recognize that you’re not?


    I’d love to hear more. What topic did you discuss? What are y’all praying about?


    Like I said in the post, we often think we are hearing and following the voice of the Lord in these times. How do you think you would come to recognize that you’re not?


  6. 5-21-2012

    I have been a Christ seeker for most of my adult life. In those times of tragedy, disenchantment, disenfranchisement, and more, I always have believed in Jesus.His incomparable power and ability to save to the uttermost is always in my mind. Here in these latter days of my life, He has begun to speak to me. When Jesus first began to speak with me, I often asked “Is that you Lord?” But after a few years, I have come to recognize my Shepard’s voice.
    So the message I have been given may need to be polished, and maybe it need to be sharpened, but it can not be changed.
    So may I ask, is He speaking these things to you, my friend?

  7. 5-21-2012


    I was not asking about following his voice in anything in specific.

    For myself, I’ve found that when I think I’m following Jesus’ voice, it is difficult to hear otherwise. However, he always manages to catch my attention, in various ways. Primarily, he has used those brothers and sisters in Christ that he has placed in my life and with whom we share our lives with one another.


  8. 5-22-2012

    Good ? Alan I will have to watch for my EYE (I) way to get in the way

  9. 5-22-2012

    not to get involved here but I am. I do not see where Marc here is too harsh, or too straight forward. All i see is Marc stating what Marc sees and hears as fact. And So far I agree, with what has been said through him.

    Alan from the time I have posted here you have been a super spuring person, spuring me on truth that I have learned from God about being dead in flesh and alive in Spirit.
    All in all we all have stayed the test of Love here, and have loved each other, spurred each other, and I am sure flesh has wanted many times to take over and pull out swords, yet we all have just said what is on our minhds in the maner of love from God through each and everyone of us. So lets praise God all in all. For I see IRON sharpening Iron here. For I have learned a lot, by being spurred as one would spur a horse to giddy up!

  10. 5-23-2012

    Something which I find exceedingly irksome is the current cultural dependence on cell phones. To be having conversation with someone face to face and then when their phone rings, you are immediately dismissed as they default to whoever is calling on the phone…could be, perhaps compared to how we might get our priorities wrong regarding our relationship with the Lord…growing in understanding and bearing the fruit in our lives. I think sometimes we are engaged richly with the Lord in some season of life, working out our salvation, being exercised in some virtue…and then our “phone” rings and we turn our attention to some immediate excitement…and often lose the insight or the maturity God had intended.

  11. 5-24-2012


    Yes, cell phones do annoy some people. It’s amazing to think that only a few years ago (relatively speaking) there were no cell phones, but now our culture is almost dependent on them. I think your connection between being distracted by cell phones (away from other people) and being distracted away from God is a good one.


  12. 5-27-2012

    Kinda like being part of First Fellowship of the Hamster Wheel. It’s all “much ado about nothing.” Been there. Left there.

    If there is no Jesus centered goal, if there is no reaching the lost, if people are not maturing and stepping out of there own self-populated world, what is the use? May God give us all a clearer picture of His desired activity.

  13. 5-27-2012


    Interestingly, I’ve found that the “activity” that I’m talking about in this post may not seem like busy-ness at all – at least to the person who is in the middle of it. And, you’re right, we all need God to get us out of those kinds of patterns.