I’m a workaholic. I write these words in the early hours of a Sunday morning, while I’m logged in to work. Technically, I’m supposed to work for 8 hours a day from Monday to Friday, but I don’t think I’ve ever done that. I usually stay late at work and continue working on the way home. Recently, I also started working through emails on the way into work.
There are reasons why I do this. I considered them to be good reasons. I want to make sure that I deliver the best service possible and unfortunately there aren’t enough hours in a working day to allow me to do this. Also, I have a busy workload and I work in a very small team. However, a lot of people are in this position, but they make different choices. I have to be honest with myself here and own up to the fact that my reasons are simply excuses for making bad choices.
When I started in my current job, I was anxious (mistake number 1!) about trying to be good enough. I started with a heavy workload, so I put in the extra hours to learn the job and hopefully not get fired. And if I’m being perfectly honest about why I work so much, while there's an element of delivering a good service (and all that jazz), the truth of the matter is that nearly 3 years down the line I’m still trying to prove that I’m good enough. I’m still trying not to get fired.
Here's what I now know: this needs to stop. I’m tired. I’m so tired all the time! Most weeks, I’m running on empty from Wednesday onwards. I get very worried about work and on very busy days I’ve been known to give myself palpitations. I use the phrase “give myself palpitations” because I believe in owning the things I can control and praying about the things that I can’t. I can control how I approach my job.
I also know that this is not sustainable. I hope to get married and have kids in the future and I'll need to be available to them. I also don’t want to take my workaholic tendencies of trying to do things in my strength into my capacity as a wife and a mother, so this needs to be nipped in the bud now.
Most importantly, this is not the life God intended for me because:
- It is blatantly obvious that I’m making choices out of a place of fear. God has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
- My job isn’t my source of provision. God is. I want to believe and obey God in Matthew 6: 25 - 34 when He says don’t be afraid and worried, I know all that you need, so just pursue Me.
- If I’m putting all this energy into work, then I must be giving God my second best. There’s no point in lying to myself, all I can do is admit that work has become an idol and repent.
- The amount of hours I work has nothing to do with how well I do my job. “It’s not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord” (Zechariah 4: 6).
- I want to view and prioritise my job according to God's standards and not mine. Christianity is more than living by rules, it is the renewal of my mind in line with the mind and will of the Almighty God. It’s a wonderful experience to see the world as the creator sees it and I pray to see my job the way God sees it.
I’m trying to say that fear, anxiety and living for a job is not why I was created. God intended peace, joy and rest for me. He intended for my life to focus on eternal things as opposed to temporal things. This choice to live for work needs to stop.
Scratch the first sentence of this post. As of this moment, the truth is that I used to be a workaholic, but I have been saved by grace.