Pastor Greg Lubbers, a graduate of Puritan Reformed Seminary, preached a wonderful Chapel message for us yesterday on a theme that has become very dear to my own heart. I’d love for every
over-worked Pastor to hear and obey this precious and gracious invitation.
Just the day before listening to this, my wife pointed me to a passage in Anthony Selvaggio’s excellent book, A Proverbs Driven Life. He argues that the sins of sloth and workaholism are very similar sins, both resulting from pride, self-centeredness, and idolatry.
Today, I believe Christians are actually more likely to become workaholics than they are sluggards, simply because the idolatry of workaholism is more socially respectable. In fact, it is so widely praised that many Christians don’t even consider it a sin! As a pastor, I certainly became a workaholic . . . and my idolatry won me praise! People often commended me for my ability to multi-task and get things done. I often allowed the boundaries between work and rest to be blurred. There were so many “good things” to do with my time: preach, teach, counsel, discipline, go to the soccer games and plays of the children in my congregation, teach at seminary, teach at college, speak at conferences and write books. In serving “24/7,” I was trying to build God’s house without his help by shouldering all the responsibilities for his church myself.
In the final analysis, we can stop working and rest because God is sovereign. He is in control, not us. If we are not pursuing his priorities—which include rest as well as a broad range of responsibilities—our efforts will ultimately be futile, no matter how hard we work. But as we embrace a balanced life that includes work, rest, and proper attention to all our responsibilities, he will provide all we need to accomplish his will.
It’s extremely liberating to recognize that God gives us enough time to finish everything to which he has actually called us. Here are some of those things: devotional time with God; relationships and service in your family, church, and community; and matters of stewardship over your material goods. If any of these areas are suffering because of the amount of time you spend doing other things, take a close look. Perhaps you are becoming—or became long ago—a workaholic, an idolater who has foolishly dethroned God by believing that his ways, so plainly presented in Scripture, are inferior to your own.
Both Sins the Same
The sin of the sluggard is serious, but so is that of the workaholic. In fact, they are very similar sins. The man or woman who builds all of life around work is every bit as proud and self-centered as the sluggard. At either extreme we worship an idol called “Doing it My Way.” Perhaps the Bible spends a lot more time on sluggards and a lot less on anything we would call “workaholism” because the workaholic is really just a variety of sluggard by another name. Both are interested in avoiding responsibilities that don’t interest them. The workaholic simply avoids things by a different technique—crowding them out of his calendar. And where the sluggard is sure to suffer economic loss, the workaholic suffers losses that are often more relational than monetary, but nevertheless real, lasting, and painful.
Work, whatever form it may take, is a core activity of each of our lives, taking up most of our waking moments. What a tragedy to despise it like the sluggard, and live for those times when we are not doing it. to worship it like the workaholic, as we strive to deify ourselves in our little kingdom; a tiny god over a tiny world, as if we had created that world ourselves, or sustain it ourselves, or even understand its true workings.
A Proverbs Driven Life by Anthony Selvaggio.