Workaholism

The Connected Kingdom podcast discussed a widespread epidemic that is spreading through American society: workaholism, the addiction to work. They rightfully label workaholism a sin, as any addiction would be. Unfortunately, in society and even in the ministry, it is easy to hold workaholism up as a virtue. Here is an excerpt from the podcast’s transcript:

Diagnosis

So how do you know if you are a workaholic? Workaholics Anonymous – yes, there is such an organization – provides 20 questions. They include:

  • Do you get more excited about your work than about family or anything else?
  • Do you take work with you to bed? On weekends? On vacation?
  • Do you believe that it is okay to work long hours if you love what you are doing?
  • Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop doing your work in order to do something else?
  • Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships?

Does that sound like someone you know?

Causes

Idolatry is at the root of a lot of workaholism. Many make “work” their functional god, and it can be a very satisfying one too. It doesn’t just take; it gives back too. It often rewards with money, position, power, prestige, and praise

Other workaholics are motivated by greed. The work may be unsatisfying but the money sure promises to make up for it.

For some it’s all about escaping less pleasant, less “glamorous” responsibilities. Far easier to be a frequent flier than change diapers; to speak at conferences than speak to your teenage son; to chair board meetings than comfort your lonely wife.

For some, work is a matter of identity; it’s what defines them. In the 18th century most obituaries focused on the character of the deceased and rarely mentioned occupation. 150 years later, most obituaries assess a person in connection with their occupation and achievements. Probably explains many early graves as well.

Many workaholics are unable to trust God with their jobs and finances, and end up relying on excessive hours rather than on their heavenly Father.

Effects

Like all -isms, this addiction is a destroyer. It destroys marriages, relationships with children, friendships, and usefulness in the church. It destroys happiness, it destroys bodies, and it destroys souls.

And yet this destroyer is so deceptive, so plausible: “I’m doing it for my family…I’m trying to get my kid through college…I’m serving God…”

And pastors, I know, there are unending stories in Christian literature about how many hours famous ministers and missionaries worked. What many of the biographies don’t tell you is that many of them died young or suffered long seasons of disease and burnout.

The problem is not work—a lot of American society also suffers from laziness and need a kick in the pants to get out of bed—the problem is holding up our work as our functional savior and God.

The world is not going to stop spinning if we take the time to sleep.

God is in control. Let’s leave it in His hands.

To read the rest of podcast’s transcript, click here.

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