[forthright] Overwork

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From: Forthright Magazine <ba@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 2004 13:03:40 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

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COLUMN: Fidelity

by Mike Benson

Whether or not I am willing to admit it, my
identity as a male is linked not only to my
vocation -- but also to THE AMOUNT OF TIME I
devote to it. Strip away my work and those long
hours behind the desk, and somehow I feel less
than a man -- almost subhuman.

Scripture teaches that meaningful labor is, in
fact, tied to who I am. In working, I become a
loving provider (1 Timothy 5:8), a thankful
consumer (Matthew 6:25-34; 2 Thessalonians 3:10a;
James 1:17), as well as a concerned giver
(Ephesians 4:28). But what happens to "self" not
just when I work, but when I habitually over work?
What do I become then...?

AN IDOLATER "Most middle-class Americans tend to
worship their work, work at their play, and play
at their worship. As a result their meaning and
values are distorted. Their relationships
disintegrate faster than they can keep them in
repair and their lifestyle resembles a cast of
characters in search of a plot."1/

AN ADDICT "Workaholism is an addiction that our
society not only tolerates but applauds and
encourages in both the corporate world and our

A MACHINE "The laboring man has not leisure for a
true integrity day by day. He has no time to be
anything but a machine."3/

AN EMPTY SHELL "Terence Fox was the president and
chief executive officer of Iroquois Brands, Ltd.,
of Greenwich, Connecticut... When asked how he had
become so successful so quickly he said that at
fifteen his most burning ambition was to be
wealthy by thirty. At twenty he quit Marquette
University and went to work on Wall Street, later
getting his degree by attending night school. The
six years he spent on Wall Street told him there
was no better place to make a lot of money
legally. He saw he could make a lot if he worked
hard. And what did that involve? A twenty-four-
hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week commitment. 'My golf
game went from a four to a twelve handicap; I
stopped hunting; my marriage faltered after five
years. I am never home, I am constantly traveling
between our fourteen plants, and on many a
Saturday night while I am having dinner alone in a
strange airport I say to myself, You are here
because you chose to be.'"4/

Now consider what the Word from Proverbs 23:4 says
on this subject:

"Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own
understanding, cease!" (NKJV). Do not wear
yourself out to get rich; have wisdom to show
restraint" (NIV). "Do not toil to acquire wealth;
be wise enough to desist" (RSV). "Don't ruin your
health trying to become rich. If you are wise, you
will be patient" (ETRV). "Do not weary yourself to
gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it"
(NASV). "Don't wear yourself out trying to get
rich; be wise enough to control yourself" (NCV).

Labor that is designed to benefit others and
promote the cause of Christ must be tempered with
balance, lest I rob my family, destroy my health,
and limit my effectiveness. Jesus rested (Mark
6:30-32) and still accomplished everything his
Father sent him to do (John 4:32). Dear friend, I
want to be like him (1 Corinthians 11:1). Don't
you (Ephesians 4:16; Psalms 90:12)?

1/ Gordon Dahl, Work, Play and Worship in a
Leisure-Oriented Society, 12.
2/ Rodney Cooper, Double Bind, 53.
3/ Henry David Thoreau.
4/ R. Ken Hughes.

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