Overwork

Whether or not I am willing to admit it, my identity as a male is linked not only to my vocation — but also to THE AMOUNT OF TIME I devote to it. Strip away my work and those long hours behind the desk, and somehow I feel less than a man — almost subhuman.
Scripture teaches that meaningful labor is, in fact, tied to who I am. In working, I become a loving provider (1 Timothy 5:8), a thankful consumer (Matthew 6:25-34; 2 Thessalonians 3:10a; James 1:17), as well as a concerned giver (Ephesians 4:28). But what happens to “self” not just when I work, but when I habitually over work? What do I become then…?
AN IDOLATER
“Most middle-class Americans tend to worship their work, work at their play, and play at their worship. As a result their meaning and values are distorted. Their relationships disintegrate faster than they can keep them in repair and their lifestyle resembles a cast of characters in search of a plot.”1/
AN ADDICT
“Workaholism is an addiction that our society not only tolerates but applauds and encourages in both the corporate world and our churches.”2/
A MACHINE
“The laboring man has not leisure for a true integrity day by day. He has no time to be anything but a machine.”3/
AN EMPTY SHELL
“Terence Fox was the president and chief executive officer of Iroquois Brands, Ltd., of Greenwich, Connecticut… When asked how he had become so successful so quickly he said that at fifteen his most burning ambition was to be wealthy by thirty. At twenty he quit Marquette University and went to work on Wall Street, later getting his degree by attending night school. The six years he spent on Wall Street told him there was no better place to make a lot of money legally. He saw he could make a lot if he worked hard. And what did that involve? A twenty-four-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week commitment. ‘My golf game went from a four to a twelve handicap; I stopped hunting; my marriage faltered after five years. I am never home, I am constantly traveling between our fourteen plants, and on many a Saturday night while I am having dinner alone in a strange airport I say to myself, You are here because you chose to be.'”4/
Now consider what the Word from Proverbs 23:4 says on this subject:
“Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease!” (NKJV). Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have wisdom to show restraint” (NIV). “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be wise enough to desist” (RSV). “Don’t ruin your health trying to become rich. If you are wise, you will be patient” (ETRV). “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it” (NASV). “Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; be wise enough to control yourself” (NCV).
Labor that is designed to benefit others and promote the cause of Christ must be tempered with balance, lest I rob my family, destroy my health, and limit my effectiveness. Jesus rested (Mark 6:30-32) and still accomplished everything his Father sent him to do (John 4:32). Dear friend, I want to be like him (1 Corinthians 11:1). Don’t you (Ephesians 4:16; Psalms 90:12)?
1/ Gordon Dahl, Work, Play and Worship in a Leisure-Oriented Society, 12.
2/ Rodney Cooper, Double Bind, 53.
3/ Henry David Thoreau
4/ R. Ken Hughes

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