Are you a workaholic?

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.

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  1. Carol Prentiss

    July 20, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Great word Pastor Brady! This is true also for those not in ministry positions. The unfortunate thing is that most workaholics won’t have time to read it. Not sure how they can be reached with the truth then…

  2. Hi Pastor…From my own experience, I believe that a performance based outlook indicates someone still living for the applause of men or are driven by fear of not having enough….or are under an authority structure that drives people rather than leads. I speak from my own experience….You cannot serve two Masters…there is only One Lord. Quite often I will hear the Holy Spirit speak….Do not think to highly of yourself…If we teach and model a mixed cup (ways of the world with pseudo kingdom living) it will lead to death. Anything born out of the flesh will bring death anything born out of the Spirit will bring life. I am going to be bold here. Over a year and a half ago my husband and I were walking in the open space and saw a man in a long white robe, in the distance walking on the valley floor. I believe this was Jesus. As clear as day I heard the Father say…WALK AS JESUS DID.

    I then was told how to…TRAVEL LIGHTLY….Jesus never had a suitcase, a iphone, a lunch box…He knew everything He would ever need originated from the Father. Sometimes we are asked to leave the plow and follow….All things must be counted loss for the sake of Knowing Him…Next I heard…EVERY PLACE JESUS WALKED HIS AUTHORITY WAS ESTABLISHED. I sensed that we are not to take lightly the authority that is established as we walk with Jesus, and our feet touch the soil, the land where we are given a portion, and new territory to move in to. Perhaps this means less running to and fro for us. The last thing I heard was WHEREVER JESUS WALKED HE BROUGHT LIFE. There will be evidence that Jesus has been there as New Life springs forth.

    We can be a very self absorbed people who see things through our own perspective…perhaps this is why we are told over and over to have eyes to see from His perspective and ears to hear what the Spirit would say.

    Lord break off of our necks any false yokes that the world has offered us and teach us to minister under Your yoke…it is light and easy and well suited for us. I don’t know of any account of Jesus running back and forth… In fact sometimes He was late, according to His followers…but right on time from the kingdom perspective.

    Thanks for all you do, and I thank God for our men. I honor them and the role they play as the heads of our homes and churches…under the authority and headship of Christ….Teach us to walk as You Walked…one step at a time…kathy walton

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