It’s not always easy to admit when we’re burned out. So many of us want to be the go-to person to solve problems – someone who is completely self-sufficient and a “killer” in the professional universe.
A friend recently shared an article titled, “Humble-Brag Hurrying,” which shed light on the anxiety many of us face today due to the heightened value we place upon busyness. In a world where our drive to be productive increasingly crowds out other activities, including our personal time with friends and family, it’s no wonder achieving a healthy work-life balance is a common struggle.
The article got me thinking about God’s perspective on this dilemma. How much work is too much work? Is there such a thing? Is it a sin to put the majority of our energy into our work? Does God want us to be strong and independent? I turned to my Bible to search for answers.
There are multitudes of instances throughout the Bible where God makes it very clear He does NOT approve of laziness. It’s good for us to keep our hands at work (Proverbs 12:24). But many problems will arise in our lives if we are working for the wrong reasons. Even working with good intentions (to provide for our families, etc.) can lead to problems down the road if we don’t follow God’s directions.
The story of the Israelites in the Old Testament book of Haggai gives a clear example of what God wants our work lives to look like.
God had directed the Israelites to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Fifteen years had passed and hardly any progress had been made because the people were preoccupied with building their own homes. It wasn’t that the Israelites weren’t working – they were putting their energy in the wrong things.
God told them: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill .... You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” (Haggai 1:5-6)
This passage deeply resonated with me because I have been guilty both of working to achieve my own desires and working to stay busy. Both lead to empty results.
The key to doing “good work” is to align our priorities with God’s will. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23)
This command will come to fruition differently in the lives of every individual believer, because God has given each of us unique talents and opportunities to carry out His will in different ways. We don’t have to work in ministry to fulfill God’s purpose; we simply have to make ourselves available to accomplish His plans right where we are.
God sent a message to the prophet Haggai to encourage the Israelites to accomplish the task He had given them, saying: “Be strong, all you people of the land, and work. For I am with you.” (Haggai 2:4)
Notice from this verse – God doesn’t tell us to be strong for the sake of being strong. He tells us to be strong because He is WITH us. That message is counter-cultural. We want to think we can and SHOULD achieve success by our own power, but by doing this we deceive ourselves and actually hinder true, lasting progress.
We have access to the power of the Holy Spirit when we submit to God’s will for our lives and our work. God wants us to put careful thought into our actions, and to work passionately. When we dedicate our efforts to Him, He straightens out our priorities and balances our lives for us.