There is a very popular song called the Cat’s in the Cradle describing a father who works way too hard. While the sun is young, the father works all the time, not spending any time with the family or his son. But the older he gets, the father wants to spend more time with his son.
The problem is that the father has laid the foundation and template for the sun. The sun grows up to be the same kind of person that the father was, a total workaholic. Every time the father wants to spend time with his son, the son says he’s too busy.
Just as much as a father can lay down a good work ethic for his children, he can also hinder that witness to his children if he works too hard and is never around. One of the most important jobs of a father is not what he does at a 9-to-5 job but what he does in raising his children with a godly example. And that is harder than any work you’ll find on this earth.
The second post of this series on work was all about what the Bible has to say about laziness. We found that God has higher expectations than for us to just sit around all day. He wants us to work, and work hard for him. Now we’re going to look at the other extreme, working way too hard.
The other extreme sin causes in work is to be a workaholic, or someone who does not have a balance in their work ethic. Workaholic comes from alcoholic because someone who is working more than they should is like someone who drinks more alcohol than they should.
Some work this extreme for the same reason that alcoholics get drunk, to escape the realities of the life they have chosen. Not all do this. But some find more solace in their job than their family and relationships. This is not healthy!
Working is better than not working, but working too much would be in violation of the Sabbath principle. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about work:
“A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on” (Proverbs 16:26).
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
These verses point out that the ability to consume resources is directly related to one’s work ethic. A person who does not work does not deserve to eat food. You have to pull your own weight. You have to invest productivity to earn the right to consume, as far as the Bible is concerned.
But workaholics have a disease. They do not work more because they are worried about not putting in their fair share. They work so hard for several reasons. Maybe they don’t want to return to their homes and deal with issues and their families. Perhaps they are lovers of money to work so that they can have more money in the bank.
Responsibility and Work
Now there are reasons to work two or three jobs. And these are legitimate reasons that many of us have found ourselves in from time to time. Every time that a family grows, it is up to the providers of the family to take care of it.
Much stress can be added to the family if they cannot survive on the current income. And these problems always fall to the providers of the household. If you are working two or three jobs to provide for your family, you are not a workaholic.
You are trying to be a responsible adult, providing for the needs of the ones that you love and cherish. The Bible says nothing against this. In fact, it says that those who don’t provide for their household may have a problem with their own faith (1 Timothy 5:8).
There’s nothing wrong with working your heart out to provide for your family. Provision also comes down to the matter of want and need. If you are providing for your family so they can have a giant home where half of the rooms are not even used, for a brand-new expensive car, or luxuries, you may want to call into question the idea that you are providing for needs.
There’s nothing wrong with having nice things or large houses. But if you are working at a minimum salary just to provide these things, consider that they are wants more than needs. Why work so hard to provide such a lifestyle?
But most people who must work to or three jobs are doing it because the income does not measure up to the very basic needs of all the members of the family. In this case, it is a matter of faith and honor for the provider to do everything possible to take care of those needs. This is the responsibility of the provider and God’s expectation.
All in the Family
Workaholics must consider their families in their work ethic. Perhaps there are problems at home that the workaholic wants to avoid. The problem with this strategy is you are only making the problems worse.
Your absence speaks volumes to your children and your spouse. While you are at work, you’re leaving it up to the other members of the family to fend for themselves. They are the ones that must do the jobs that you would do if you were home.
The most craved desire of your family members is your presence. Sometimes just by being there you create an environment that can bless your family members. Don’t underestimate what you can do just by being in the room.
You won’t have all the answers and you won’t know what to do in every situation. But by being with them, you are showing that you care and you are available. That may be more than half the battle itself.
In the movie “A Christmas Carol,” Scrooge spends his entire life making money by being a workaholic. But he has no family at all, and nobody likes him. On the other hand, Tiny Tim’s father, Bob Cratchit, understands the importance of being home with his family.
He was there for all of his kids, even though Tiny Tim was disabled. His children knew he loved them and they had a warm home because Bob was there. He made it a point, even though Scrooge overworked him, to be there for his family. Things weren’t perfect, but his priority made a safe and inviting home.
It’s not a zero-sum game. a provider must be able to do both, provide financially for the family, for Scripture talks about this. But a provider must also be there for the family spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally.
I put. “spiritually” on the top of this list because people do not realize how important it is to be a spiritual leader in the home. You must be there physically, but you can’t check out while you’re at home either. You must be available in the present for your family. Don’t be thinking about all of your tasks and projects when you’re at home. Leave your work at your job.
We must find a way to balance work and responsibility. Ask the Lord to guide you in the best ways to balance your family life with your work life. It’s not always easy, but I have found that the Holy Spirit has great wisdom when I lack it (James 1:5-8).
The Love of Money
One of the biggest problems with being a workaholic is if you are doing it for the money. Paul cautions that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). We get ourselves into a heap of trouble when we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Greed and ambition are desired American character traits, but they are not kingdom character traits. We must be careful to follow God’s desires for our lives before we follow our own.
The Bible talks about being content in every situation (Philippians 4:11-13). Jesus also talked about putting God’s kingdom first (Matthew 6:33). He stressed that all of our anxieties flow from our distrust in God to provide for us. He takes care of every need.
If we pursue money above pursuing Jesus, it becomes our idol. It’s not that we don’t need money, but we don’t need it above everything else. There are more important things to life than money. After all, money can only get you so far. It can’t make true friends and it can’t make people love you.
David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the ensuing monitoring of her husband and trying to cover it up all resulted from David being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Bible says that it was the time for Kings to go to war, but David was sitting on the roof of his palace (2 Samuel 11:1-2).
That led him to notice Bathsheba bathing on her roof. And of the following events led him down a dark path of sin. Being at work after hours can present a whole host of problems. It is better to be home at the right times.
How many things do you miss out on with your family as a workaholic? How many movies have been written about the parent who isn’t there during the milestones of a child’s life? You miss so much, and you can never get these moments back. Videos and pictures only go so far.
Now we’ve talked about the two polar opposites of work from laziness to workaholism. We must strike a balance between these two. It’s a good thing that the Bible gives us direction and how to do just that.
In my next couple of posts, I’m going to talk about what the Bible says about our work ethic and how it can please the Lord. Leave a comment and tell me if you can think of any other dangers of workaholism.