We don’t like to admit it, but our culture celebrates the idea of the workaholic. When I started in the ministry I was told to stay in the office longer than the Sr. Minister to show that I was a hard worker. I grew up with Larry Legend (Larry Bird) as my basketball hero and commercials would run of him telling how he would stay in a lonely gym for hours shooting foul shots. We hear about people burning the midnight oil. People pulling all-nighters at the office or studying for a test. No amount of work is too much work.
Not only is workaholism unnecessary, it’s ungodly. Working all the time doesn’t mean you get more work done. It just means you are working more. I’ve heard say Satan never takes a day off. My answer to that statement is, “Well, God did!” He worked for six days creating the world and rested on the seventh.
Workaholics create more problems than they solve.
First, working that hard isn’t sustainable over time. Our bodies and minds need rest. When the burnout crash comes- and it will- it just hits that much harder.
Secondly, Workaholics miss the point. They try to fix problems by throwing sheer hours at them. They try to make up for intellectual laziness with brute force. This often results in inelegant resolutions.
They even create more crises. They don’t look for ways to be more efficient because they actually like working overtime. They enjoy feeling like heroes. They will create problems (unwittingly) because it gives them reason to work more.
Workaholics make other people feel inadequate for “merely” working normal hours. This leads to guilt and poor morale. Plus, it gives you a butt in the seat mentality. They stay late out of obligation- even if they are not that productive.
If all you do is work you are likely not able to make sound judgments. Your values and decision making end up skewed. You stop being able to distinguish what can be laid aside and what cannot. You end up tired and worn out. No one makes sharp decisions when they are tired.
In the end workaholics don’t accomplish more than non-workaholics. They may claim to be perfectionists, but that often means they are fixing inconsequential details instead of moving on to the next task.
Workaholics don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is the one who figures out a more efficient path to get something done. Workaholics don’t honor God. They don’t follow the pattern he set up for us. They neglect their soul. Workaholics aren’t making life whole, but rather end up cheating on key relationships God has given them (like family and friendships). Just like the dirt must lay fallow for a while so that it might be more productive the next season, so must our life and soul lay fallow to be more productive and hold onto lasting realtionships.
Relationships are not made by working longer and harder. Great relationships are made in the margins, in the fallow places of our life- at the ball field, on the beach, at parties, on vacation, or a night out on the town. God knows this. This is why he laid down the pattern that at least once a week we need to take time to develop our relationship with Him and with each other.