Workers in Memphis and across America spend an average of 47 hours per week in the workplace. That average includes the nearly 20% who spend 20 or fewer hours (Barna 2013). If you take those individuals out of the equation we, as American workers, are at work in Memphis or in the office an average of more than 51 hours per week. If you would have asked me in my early years of my career why I was spending so much time in the workplace the answer would have been simple. I would have told you I was spending that time to have a good income for my family. The time at the office was justifiable by looking at the wealth it would bring to my family. The scorecard was the bank account balance.
Was that a valid ideology? At the time it was a simple, yes, that is what we are supposed to do. It was when I discovered my family wanted me to see the importance of spending time with them that I realized I was headed in the wrong direction. I was also trying to set a “Christian” example for our employees. When I demanded they make work the priority I was, in fact, taking God out of the equation and showing my search for monetary reward over family. I didn’t pay attention to the instructions in the bible about money: “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23: 4-5, English Standard Version).
If you examine that verse carefully you will see that the monetary score card we often use to justify the hours at work is fleeting. The verse says “Do not toil for wealth…”.It could not be more direct in stating that we are following a dead-end path. The money is going to fly away and be gone. It is what remains in our lives that should be made the investment. For many years I have been told that there are only two investments that always pay dividends that are worth spending. The investments that count are faith and family. As I matured, I realized the validity that statement. It is the balance between family, faith, and work that is important.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “For everything you gain you lose something and everything you lose you gain something. It is a lesson to take to the office and, especially when you have responsibility over others. Set and example in your own life that can be duplicated by your peers in the office.
God give us direction for life and especially for all of us who have believed that work will get you satisfaction. He also gives us the gift of family. It is that stability by balancing those factors of our lives that can bring true happiness. When we have balance, we can also provide an example to our peers in the workplace. People see satisfaction in others. If we are going to take Christ into the workplace we must take Him in with us first before we can display His involvement in our own lives to others.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says it best, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (MEV). There is a time and a place for all the things we must get done in our lives. There is a time for work. There is a time for recreation. There is a time for self-love. But most importantly, there is a time to spend quality time with God so that we may not lose sight of the balance that we so desperately need in our day to day lives. We must lean and trust in Him if we want to achieve true work-life balance. It is also essential to spend time with our families to realize the fulfillment God provides as an objective for each of us. Before we can take the satisfaction of knowing Christ to our fellow workers, we must show the needed balance in our own lives.