Finding Balance When You Work Over 60 Hours a Week
Work, work, work — for some, it feels like there are never enough hours in the day. Work is important. It puts food on the table, ensures you have a home, and keeps all your streaming services running so you can keep watching Baby Yoda. But all work and no play, relaxation, or rest is enough to drive anyone bonkers.
For many of us living in the Bay Area, it's not uncommon to clock in 60+ hours at work. While being hardworking is a great characteristic to add to your list of personal attributes, what's the right way to go about it? If your nose is constantly to the grindstone, there's a lot you can miss out on when it comes to personal and family time.
As Christians, we have a handy guide that's filled with Godly wisdom about a variety of subjects. So, let's find out what the Bible has to say on the subject of work.
Work and God
From the get-go, the Bible has something to say about work. In fact, the entire creation account from Genesis sees God busy making and forming everything in our world — from big things such as the skies, seas, and stars to the smallest details, including blades of grass and itty bitty ants. To cap His massive workweek, He made the very first humans — Adam and Eve. Once He saw that everything was good, He took a break, setting the precedent for a Sabbath day — but more about that later.
With this big ole world created, and as God labeled it "good," He entrusted us to roll up our sleeves and take care of business on our planet.
"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." - Genesis 2:15
And we've been working ever since.
God gave us work to do. And work, in general, is a good thing. God designed work to be a blessing both to ourselves and others, from the teacher helping children learn to read to the cashier checking out your groceries at the store. A job well done brings a lot of good:
- Gives us a sense of personal accomplishment
- Lets us use our God-given talents and abilities
- Allows us to help others and serve them
- Provides money, food, clothing, and shelter
- Helps us meet our financial responsibilities
- Allows us to support our family members
Work is a balancing act. Too little, and you'll fall into a pit of laziness that can feel hard to get out of. Too much, and you don't have time for the other things in your life that truly matter. That's why the Bible instructs us to work for the Lord.
Working for God
When you "work for God," it doesn't mean that He becomes your employer, paying you bi-weekly and giving you health insurance. Colossians 3:23-24 says:
"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ."
That's why you often hear Christians say they want to do their best at whatever they do. Even if your job isn't the most glamorous or you're having a hard time with another co-worker or your boss, it's possible to cultivate an attitude of enthusiasm and energy if you choose to give God the glory in every task.
Bible Verses About Handling Work Problems
To put it bluntly, some jobs suck. Whether it's the people, a toxic environment, or the actual tasks you're assigned, some employment is downright awful. So, how are you supposed to "do your best" when you'd rather walk over hot coals than drag yourself to work?
Jesus calls us to be salt and light. That doesn't mean we carry around a salt shaker and a light bulb. That means in this broken, often difficult world, we get to partner with Him to be part of the solution. During your prayer times, ask God for wisdom and guidance about how to handle your difficult work situation.
In many situations, you can take intentional steps to improve your place of employment. Instead of joining in on the gossip, speak life and positivity to combat that negativity. Or, if you hate your actual work, but there's nothing to be done about it, find ways to bring joy to your heart — listen to worship or uplifting music, make a co-worker smile by showing you care, or try to find the value in what you're doing.
However, this doesn't mean you should stay in harmful or abusive jobs. However, there are ways you can make the most out of bad situations.
Work and Family
As you seek out the Biblical perspective on work, you'll find that your occupation is always supposed to come second to family time. Our modern culture teaches that you should strive to balance your work and family life. However, the Bible teaches us that working is simply a tool to serve your family and community.
Work is important, but it should never be at the expense of your family. Children are "a heritage from the Lord" and a "reward" (Psalm 127:3). Husbands are called to "love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). Your family is a precious gift and should be treated as such.
Sadly, it's hard to know how to be a faithful spouse and loving parent while finding time for yourself and fulfilling your responsibilities at work. The key is understanding your priorities. You are not working for work's sake. Your work is an act of love for the good of your family. If it ever starts to consume your mind, emotions, or physical health negatively, it's time to take a step back and reevaluate your priorities.
What Does the Bible Say About Working Too Much?
Even the best work at a job you love and know is worthwhile requires exertion. If you're one of the many professionals in the Bay Area working over 40 hours a week, you're bound to get bone-weary before too long — physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is just one of the reasons God established a Sabbath day.
Remember when the Big Guy created the heavens and earth in the Genesis account? He did it in six days. Then, even though He is all-powerful and doesn't need a break, He took a seventh-day siesta and established the Sabbath day. This holy day is traditionally when people go to church and recharge, not just physically, but spiritually.
Many people overwork out of fear. They're afraid of getting fired, letting down their boss, or losing status among their peers. Fear is the opposite of faith. Psalm 127: 2 says, "It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night." It then goes on to say, "God gives rest to His loved ones." He's given you a day to put away the laptop, turn off the cellphone, and chill with your loved ones.
The bottom line here is that it's okay to work, just keep things in perspective. Give yourself a break from time to time, preferably at least once a week, and trust that God is going to protect you and your family. Keep reading the Bible, and seek out Bible verses about work problems when things get tough. Plus, with a Sabbath day as part of your week, you can check out CornerstoneSF here in the Bay Area.