For myself, as well as lots of leaders, it’s always a challenge to strike a good balance between work, personal life and family life. The work never seems to get finished. There’s always one more person, one more project which requires my time and attention. I need to create boundaries so that the work doesn’t take over my entire life. Work can be like the crabgrass in the lawn of life. If we aren’t careful, it will take over our entire lawn. Soon we won’t have a lawn, won’t have a life. Chuck Lawless shares some reasons many pastors and leaders are workaholics.
Guest Post by Chuck Lawless
Some time ago, I wrote a post on what my workaholism is costing me. I still struggle with that issue, and I’ve learned that many pastors share that struggle. Here are some reasons we’re susceptible to this sin:
- We’ve been trained to balance a lot while working hard. Sometimes we learned that trait in seminary when we worked multiple jobs while earning a degree. Our practice then has become a habit now.
- We live in a world where achievement is recognized. Whether it’s right or not, those who get recognition in the church world are often those whose churches are the biggest and whose ministries are best known. Getting there requires work.
- Many of us are competitive by nature. I’m not sure why that’s the case, but I do know that many of us would like to lead the largest ministry – and we work hard to try to get there.
- We forget what we preach: that God is the One who reaps the harvest. We proclaim one message about God’s sovereign work while living as if nothing good can happen unless we’re in the middle of it.
- We are needy people who desire the praise of others. That truth means we’re just like many other people, except that our role puts people in our lives who naturally love and affirm us – and we do what it takes to get that affirmation.
- None of us wants to let God down. He called us, and we want to be faithful. The problem is that we don’t know how to be faithful and get needed rest at the same time.
- We always see things that need to be done. That’s because there’s always something else to do. People always have needs. Communities always need a witness. Our work is never done.
- We don’t really understand grace. Somehow, we talk about grace while working as if our approval from God were dependent on our efforts.
- We use work to avoid other issues. Occasionally, work keeps us from dealing with problems in our home, or it helps us to ignore recurrent sin patterns in our own lives. Work thus becomes a cover-up to bigger issues.
- We, like all believers, still struggle with idolatry. That’s what workaholism is – and the wrestling match is still real.
- Too many of our churches expect us to do everything. They not only will let us do it all; they assume we will do it all. After all, that’s what they’re paying us for.
- We show our love for God by our actions. If that’s the case, we keep working to “prove” our love for God.
What would you add to this list? Be honest.