A One-Hundred Day Journey to Freedom: Meditation #19
What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless. A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 2:22-26
God will not call you to a job or work that requires you to lead an unbalanced and unhealthy life in order to be successful.
We are all familiar with the logic formula, “if A is true and B is true then C must be true.” Using that formula, let me share with you an A, B, C formula that may prove disturbing to many of us.
A. God created us to live balanced and healthy lives. This includes time for work, time for family, time for fellowship and community, time for worship, time for rest, and time for devotion. Our lives reflect God’s intention when each of these areas is given proper attention and our lives reflect this healthy balance.
B. God created us for work. He calls us into vocations, careers and jobs that use our skills and allow us to serve him in whatever work we do. Whatever the job, it is a gift from God and he intends us to employ our skills with excellence in carrying it out.
C. If God created us to live balanced and healthy lives (A), and if he created us for work that was meaningful and productive (B), then we must conclude (C) that God would never call us into a job or vocation that required us to sacrifice a healthy and balanced life in order for us to be successful.
How many people are working 60+ hour weeks, sacrificing their marriage, family and devotional time, believing that this amount of work is necessary to be successful in the work God called them to do? Do you see the illogic of it? But worse, do you see the inherent evil that is being unleashed by a misunderstanding of God’s intent?
How many marriages are being broken by one spouse’s break-neck schedule? How many parent-child relationships are damaged by a parent that is never around, distracted by a ‘calling’ they believe to be from God? How many men and women in leadership have moral failings due a dryness of spirit that resulted from a work schedule that squeezed out every available moment for activities that built their reputations and left nothing that refreshed their souls?
It is a sin to be so driven. And it is a more grievous sin to believe that our driven-ness is somehow the will of God. It is, in fact, a tool of the enemy to rob us of the life God created us to live. Why do we succumb to such a delusion? I believe it is a result of pride and fear. In our pride we believe that somehow God needs us, our organization needs us, our employees need us, the kingdom of God needs us. So we oblige by pouring ourselves into our work lest the world come to a halt if we do anything less. Or we operate out of a fear that if we slow down we will fall behind. Everyone around us, including our pastor and other mentors, all seem to be on the same frenetic schedule. If we slow down, the world will pass us by, and we will miss out on all of the ‘rewards’ of this stressful existence.
Whether through pride or fear, we are doing ourselves to death. If the logic formula is true, then we must conclude that whatever work God calls us to do, he does so with the expectation that we can carry out that work with excellence within a time commitment that will not detract from a balanced and healthy life. If our life is out of balance and our relationships are becoming unhealthy as a result, we are NOT doing God’s will, no matter how much fruit we seem to be producing for the kingdom of God. That is a sobering reality for many, perhaps most of us.
Will you examine your life according to this A, B, C formula? Will you acknowledge the sin that may be lurking in your driven-ness to succeed?
Sit with your spouse or close friend and define what a ‘balanced and healthy life’ would look like. What kind of time commitments would you need to make to each area of your life to achieve this vision? What impact would that have on your current work schedule? If the change would be significant, can you identify what is driving you to maintain this schedule? Then pray against it and ask that God would give you a vision for a new approach to your work that aligns with his intent for you to live in healthy relationships and know the balance of life for which he created you.
Gracious Lord, I confess to you that my life is not in balance. There never seems to be enough time in the day to do all the things that I believe you want me to do. Sometimes my devotional time gets sacrificed. Sometimes it’s the time with my family, my spouse or friends. Too often I feel stressed and frustrated that I’m not able to get more done. My schedule is jammed yet there’s always more that I feel like I should be doing. I pray Lord that you would set me free from this cycle. Help me to name those things that are important to the kind of healthy and balanced life for which you created me. Help me to name what is driving my schedule and, through the power of your Holy Spirit, that I may change. I want health in my life. I want balance in my life. And I know that’s what you want for me. So I give myself back to you for whatever work you need to do for me to achieve this. In the name of the one who came to set us free, Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.