Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. Proverbs 23:4-5 NIV
It’s useless for you to work from early morning to late at night just to get food to eat. God provides for those he loves even while they sleep. Psalm 127:2 NIRV
There you are tirelessly breaking your back,
not accepting the time that you lack.
Given your objective you strain to achieve,
not willing to accept the workers reprieve.
Unwavering, since you answered the call,
weary, but determined never to fall;
your hands move feverishly through each detail,
mindfully purposed to always prevail.
The hours of each day never suffice;
with determination, you’ll pay the price
Weighing the costs, you see the fine line,
and the goal, sweet victory, truly sublime.
All those who watch are completely amazed,
admiring your work as you push through, unfazed.
In the frenzy they whisper, pointing out this and that,
trying to figure out how to tell you with tact.
In the midst of their amazement they can’t help but wonder
how you have failed to notice your blunder.
And now ruthlessly trying to get your attention,
you barely notice that it’s you they beckon.
Reluctantly you set aside your precious work
and look around to find the family you shirk.
With longing they call you back to their fold,
and you stare and wonder how you’ve gotten so old.
The above is a poem I wrote back in 2006 reflecting on how people in the working world sometimes have the tendency to lose themselves as the years go by. Priorities are shifted. More time is spent away from home in the hustle and bustle of industry and commerce while less time is spent in the home where relationships fail to be nurtured.
Often it starts with a passion for what you love. You’ve dreamed of doing what you love, what you were born to do. You’ve spent so much time and money training for it. And now you pour your heart and soul into it. Work dominates your thoughts; it’s the first thing you think about when you wake up and your final thought as you lay your head on the pillow.
For others the long hours on the job are dedicated to the debts that never seem to go away. You dread waking up and heading off to work. There’s no joy in it anymore. You’ve lost all your enthusiasm and are left only with the looming impossibility of ever being free from all you owe. At the end of your double shift you come home to find everyone asleep and the loneliness overwhelms you once again.
And sometimes, in order to avoid the stress of home life, many prefer the extra hours at work, fooling themselves into believing that creating a distance from home will make the problems go away.
Are you a workaholic? See if you find yourself in this list of workaholic habits:
“The workaholic maintains a frantic schedule. He is consistently preoccupied with performance. He finds it difficult to refuse additional responsibilities. He is unable to relax. If someone you know exhibits these characteristics, he or she is probably a workaholic.” -Bill Hybels
To put it simply: working too much is bad for you. It’s harmful for you and the important relationships in your life. Work should only be an aspect of your life, not its primary focus. By working too hard you lose a healthy perspective on life. You miss out on so much! It’s time to shift focus and to start living – really living.
Reasons why some people become workaholics:
- Making as much money as you can
- To get out of debt
- To avoid being home
- A sense of accomplishment
- Striving for success
- To avoid dealing with personal issues
I’m sure there are more reasons, but we get the point.
“I’ve heard that hard work never killed anyone, but I say why take the chance?” – Ronald Reagan
You need to rest
Most workaholics fail to see the necessity and importance of rest. Not just getting your eight ours of sleep every night, but resting from work for a full 24 hours per week. We neglect rest because there’s so much to do and “so little time”. Or, we bypass rest because someone else will get ahead. Or, “If I don’t do it, nobody will”. Or perhaps we don’t rest because somebody else needs something from us. Everything is urgent.
God rested from work (Genesis 2:3), and ordained one day a week for his people to rest (Exodus 34:21). He commands it. Why? Because, well, we need it! We are not invincible. We need rest so that we can recharge our batteries, so that we can be refreshed physically, emotionally and spiritually. We need rest because our families need us – and we need them.
Let’s face it, we grow weary. Often. Work – and life – can be overwhelming. That’s why Isaiah said the following:
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV
It’s okay for us to rest, because God does not grow tired or weary. He is more than capable of working out the things we can’t handle. “For those who hope [wait or rest] in the Lord will renew their strength”.
We need a consistent reminder to turn our thoughts back to Him. Resting one day a week really isn’t a bad idea, is it? It helps us to reorder our priorities. It helps us to see that our family is more important than our work. Let’s not let passion for work take precedence over passion for family, and most importantly – passion for God.
We live in a world that demands so much from us. Our thinking has become warped. We’ve believed the lie that if we’re not working we’re not being productive. Meanwhile, our personal relationships suffer and our priorities are out of whack. Many turn to alcohol and drugs to numb the pain of poor decisions and failing relationships instead of doing the hard “work” and making things right.
Don’t allow the desire for wealth and recognition perpetuate the lie that by gaining them you will be fulfilled. Fulfillment comes from “seeking first the kingdom of God” according to Matthew 6:33. Let go of that desire. Ask God to set you free from it.
Finally, if you’re killing yourself at work because you’re in a financial bind, stop it. Look for godly counselors to help you make some decisions what will allow you to work healthy hours and enjoy your family while minimizing your debt.
Don’t drown yourself in your work.
Look up, and see what you’ve been missing.
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