“I took off 6 days between 1978-1984″ Bill Gates
For the past few months I’ve been writing about why work matters more than we think it does. I don’t hear churches or preachers talking very much about the other 6 days of the week, and I think that’s a shame. We’ve got to re-imagine what it looks like for a Christian to work in every sector of society.
But what do you do when work turns bad?
When the President Lyndon B. Johnson was on his deathbed he told his biographer that he had wasted his life.
Which is not what you would expect to hear a former President say.
He told his biographer that he realized that what he had really been searching for was immortality, and now that he was going to die, he watched the American people absorbed in a new President, and he realized that they would eventually forget him entirely. He told her that he wished he would have invested his life in his wife and children. Because he could have depended on them in a way he had just learned he couldn’t depend on the American people.
The Addiction of Work
One counselor who works with high ranking executives recently commented on the increasing burnout she’s seeing. She said that work is the newest addiction of choice.
There’s a guy named George Cloutier who specializes in maximizing productivity, he’s well respected in his circles, and this is what he says.
As far as birthdays and anniversaries. You should absolutely make note of them–but not by taking long visits to the country with your spouse or going off on weekend getaways. That’s what jewelry is for. Or treat everybody to a steak dinner. It takes less time, so you can get on with running your business. If you are not focused–if family, friends and loved ones fill up your busy weekly schedule–you are probably failing to deliver real profits for your company….Love your business more than your family–it’s not an easy or popular attitude to adopt. Often you will feel tremendous pressure to take time away from your business to devote to family matters. But in the end, the best thing you can do for them is to create the legacy of a business that is thriving and financially sound. When you’re retired, wealthy, and able to spend Valentine’s Day and other special occasions with your kids and grandkids at your winter home in Hilton Head, you’ll be glad you devoted so much of your time to your first love: your business.
And this guy is serious.
Do you know when God first mentions the Sabbath?
It’s right after the Israelites are delivered from Egypt. They were slaves for a jerk named Pharaoh, And God knows that embedded in their DNA is that they think they are slaves.
Sabbath was God’s answer to slavery.
It’s God’s way of saying you’re not in Egypt anymore.
Sabbath is God’s way of letting you know you are worth more than what you do.
So God’s command is to carve out a day when all work is done, even if it’s not.
See the truth is that Sabbath isn’t voluntary. You’re going to take a Sabbath one way or another, the only question is do you want it to be a happy Sabbath, or a sad Sabbath. Do we want it to be a Sabbath with you riding in a red car with a siren on top going very fast (that’s a Sad Sabbath), or one that you took voluntarily?
How many of us if we were honest feel like there is this weight that follow us around everywhere?
That we are tied to our Blackberry’s or our Iphones, as if our identities depended on them.
I’ve had times in my life when I’d wake up in a panic during the middle of the night because I missed an email or didn’t return a phone call.
Rabbi’s are fond of saying that more than Israel keeping Sabbath, Sabbath kept Israel.
When they were under siege in Masada, they kept it during famine, and in drought, some of them even kept it in Hitlers concentration camps. Because real Sabbath, comes from the confidence that God is able to take care of things,
That God is big enough to take be in charge of things while you take a nap.
Real rest can only come by recognizing that God is God and I am not.
But real work comes from that too.
There’s a guy named Nehemiah in the Old Testment, and when we first meet Nehemiah he is in Exile. But he’s got a good job. He’s the cupbearer for the King, which basically it means he drinks the King’s drink before the King does to make sure no one is gunning for his job.
And in the beginning of the book, Nehemiah is asking the King of Persia to let him go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall. And the King, who seems like a nice guy (but has way too many x’s in his name) says yes.
So the rest of the book of Nehemiah is about men building a wall. To be honest it’s got some of the more boring chapters in the Bible. Entire chapters are just filled with these random names of guys who were just stacking bricks.
But I’d like to point out something…This job is the same as the Israelites had in Egypt, they were stacking bricks. But this is different isn’t it?
They don’t work as slaves now…instead they work as partners with God.
Look at what the text actually says
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. –Nehemiah 6:15-16
They worked with the help of God. They did the same thing they used to do for Pharaoh but now it’s so very different isn’t it?
That’s why it matters so much that we rest! When we turn off the phone, when we stop checking email, we are teaching our soul who we work for and who we don’t.
Because we don’t work for Pharaoh.
We work for God.
And God is at work.