Missing God's Intent
What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest.
This too is meaningless. A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil.
This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?
To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.
This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. ~ Ecclesiastes 2:22-26
God created us to live balanced and healthy lives. This includes time for work, time for family, time for fellowship and community, time for worship, time for rest, and time for devotion. Our lives reflect God’s intention when each of these areas is given proper attention and our lives reflect this healthy balance.
God created us for work. He calls us into vocations, careers and jobs that use our skills and allow us to serve him in whatever work we do. Whatever the job, it is a gift from God and he intends us to employ our skills with excellence in carrying it out.
If God created us to live balanced and healthy lives , and if he created us for work that was meaningful and productive, then we must conclude that God would never call us into a job or vocation that required us to sacrifice a healthy and balanced life in order for us to be successful.
How many people are working 60+ hour weeks, sacrificing their marriage, family and devotional time, believing that this amount of work is necessary to be successful in the work God called them to do?
Do you see illogic of this? But worse, do you see the inherent evil that is being unleashed by a misunderstanding of God’s intent?
How many marriages are being broken by one spouse’s break-neck schedule?
How many parent-child relationships are damaged by a parent that is never around, distracted by a ‘calling’ they believe to be from God?
How many men and women in leadership have moral failings due a dryness of spirit that resulted from a work schedule that squeezed out every available moment for activities that built their reputations and left nothing that refreshed their souls?
It is a sin to be so driven. And it is a more grievous sin to believe that our driven-ness is somehow the will of God. It is, in fact, a tool of the enemy to rob us of the life God created us to live. Why do we succumb to such a delusion?
I believe it is a result of pride and fear. In our pride we believe that somehow God needs us, our organization needs us, our employees need us, the kingdom of God needs us. So we oblige by pouring ourselves into our work lest the world come to a halt if we do anything less. Or we operate out of a fear that if we slow down we will fall behind. It seems everyone around us – including all-too-often even our pastor and other mentors – are on the same frenetic schedule. So we don’t dare slow down or the world will pass us by, and we will miss out on all of the ‘rewards’ of this stressful existence. Whether through pride or fear, we are doing ourselves to death.
We must conclude that whatever work God calls us to do, he does so with the expectation that we can carry out that work with excellence within a time commitment that will not detract from a balanced and healthy life. If our life is out of balance and our relationships are becoming unhealthy as a result, we are NOT doing God’s will, no matter how much fruit we seem to be producing for the kingdom of God. That is a sobering reality for many, perhaps most of us.
Will you examine your life and God’s intent for it?
Will you acknowledge the sin that may be lurking in your driven-ness to succeed?
Challenge: Sit with your spouse or close friend and define what a ‘balanced and healthy life’ would look like.
- What kind of time commitments would you need to make to each area of your life to achieve this vision?
- What impact would that have on your current work schedule?
- If the change would be significant, can you identify what is driving you to maintain this schedule?
Then pray and ask God to give you a vision for a new approach to your work that aligns with his intent for you to live in healthy relationships and know the balance of life for which he created you. Remember, God will not call you to a job or work that requires you to lead an unbalanced and unhealthy life in order to be successful.
Dr. Scott Rodin as been in not-for-profit leadership and consulting for twenty-five years. He has served as counsel to over 100 organizations across the country and in Canada and Great Britain including colleges, seminaries, schools, churches, para-church ministries and other not-for-profit organizations. Visit his blog at Kingdom Life Publishing.
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