Workaholics have damaged and destroyed more families than alcoholics, especially among leaders in the local church. I meet pastors all the time who work incessantly at building God’s house while ignoring their own. All the while they justify their long hours with phrases like “this is just a season and will not always be like this” or “God has given me a big assignment”. Meanwhile, back home, their spouses and children get what is left over at the end of the day.
How do you know if you have become addicted to work and performance? What are the signs that you may be out of balance? Here’s a few to consider.
•1. You have not taken a full day off from ministry in more than a month. When was the last time you turned off your phone and refused to check work emails for an entire 24-hour cycle?
•2. You have not taken more than five days of vacation in a long time. Five days is what it takes for me to detox from the demands of ministry. I cannot even rest and regenerate until the sixth day. If all you have taken are a few days here and there, your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual tanks will eventually run dry.
•3. You feel guilty for not attending every event at the church. When was the last time something significant happened at your church and you stayed home instead of attending? I know this will be shocking news to you, but your team is capable of doing stuff well without you looking over their shoulders.
•4. You have a high turnover on your team. Workaholics demand the same performance from those around them as they do of themselves. Typically, workaholics hang around each other, like alcoholics, and enable each other to continue their destructive behaviors. All those who cannot keep up with the frenetic pace are quickly discarded.
•5. You are constantly frustrated that you are not growing fast enough. Workaholics are obsessed with numerical measurements of growth. Even when attendance is growing, it is never fast enough for workaholics. Their identity is wrapped up in performance and results, instead of the internal spiritual maturity that is most important to God.
I was once a workaholic and it almost cost me everything. I am guilty of all five symptoms listed above, but I have been restored to a balanced life that allows me to work hard at the church I love while not sacrificing my family on the altar of ministry. Be diligent at your job, using your time wisely, but remember to rest well, stop feeling guilty for the occasional nap, and spend time alone with God. Talk to Him about stuff in your heart instead of what is happening at the church building. It works, believe me.