In data collected from over 20,000 Christians aged15 to 88 across 139 countries, The Obstacles to Growth Survey found that on average, more than four in 10 Christians around the world say they "often" or "always" rush from task to task.
Busyness proved to be the greatest challenges in Japan, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Indonesia. Christians in Uganda, Nigeria, Malaysia and Kenya were least likely to rush from task to task. But even in the less-hurried cultures, around one in three Christians report that they rush from task to task. In Japan, 57 per cent agreed.
The busy life was found to be a distraction from God among Christians worldwide.
Around 6 in 10 Christians say that it is "often" or "always" true that "the busyness of life gets in the way of developing my relationship with God". Christians most likely to agree were from North America, Africa and Europe. Christians in South Africa, Nigeria, Canada, Singapore, Ireland, Philippines, the United States and the United Kingdom are more distracted from God than those in other countries.
While across gender lines, busyness affects both men and women, the distraction from God was likely to affect men more than women in every surveyed continent except North America, where 62 per cent of women reported busyness interfering with their relationship with God compared to 61 per cent of men.
By profession, pastors were most likely to say they rush from task to task (54 per cent), which adversely also gets in the way of developing their relationship with God (65 per cent).
"It's tragic. And ironic. The very people who could best help us escape the bondage of busyness are themselves in chains," said Dr Michael Zigarelli, associate professor of Management at the Charleston Southern University School of Business, which conducted the study.
Professionals whose busyness interferes with developing their relationship with God include lawyers (72 per cent), managers (67 per cent), nurses (66 per cent), pastors (65 per cent), teachers (64 per cent), salespeople (61 per cent), business owners (61 per cent), and housewives (57 per cent).
"The accelerated pace and activity level of the modern day distracts us from God and separates us from the abundant, joyful, victorious life He desires for us," said Zigarelli.
While the study does not explain why Christians are so busy and distracted, Zigarelli described the problem among Christians as "a vicious cycle" prompted by cultural conformity.
"[I]t may be the case that (1) Christians are assimilating to a culture of busyness, hurry and overload, which leads to (2) God becoming more marginalised in Christians' lives, which leads to (3) a deteriorating relationship with God, which leads to (4) Christians becoming even more vulnerable to adopting secular assumptions about how to live, which leads to (5) more conformity to a culture of busyness, hurry and overload. And then the cycle begins again."
Zigarelli, who believes busyness and distraction may be a global pandemic, suggested breaking the cycle by "re-ordering our thinking", including "the way we think about who God is and how He wants us to live our lives".
The Obstacles to Growth Survey was conducted on 20,009 Christians.