WORKAHOLISM

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BEELINE TO BURNOUT

“God is not interested in mere quantity production … we sometimes can do more by doing less.” —Vance Havner

 

What Is Work?

Work is a physical or mental activity performed in an effort to produce a result.

 

What Is a Workaholic?

A workaholic is a person who is compulsively addicted to work, to the detriment of self and significant relationships.

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.”

(Ecclesiastes 5:10)

 

What Are Some Biblical Principles Relating to Work?

  • God is a worker, and we are made in His image.

“Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.’ ” 

John 5:17

  • God is the creator and owner of all things; therefore, it is for Him that we work.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” 

Psalm 24:1

  • Work is a natural part of this life and a natural part of eternal life.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” 

Genesis 2:15

“No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” 

Revelation 22:3

  • Work is a requirement.

“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’ 

2 Thessalonians 3:10

  • Work that is worth doing should be worth doing well.

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.” 

Proverbs 22:29

  • Work should never be done to the exclusion of rest and time with the Lord.

“For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.” 

Exodus 35:2

  • The fruit of our work is established by God.

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.” 

Psalm 90:17

  • Work must be done in God’s strength for lasting rewards.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” 

Psalm 127:1

  • People were meant to enjoy their work.

“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.”

Ecclesiastes 2:24

  • The work of God for you is to believe in His Son.

The Greek word for “believe” is pisteuo, which means “to rely upon, to trust in.”

“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

John 6:29

  • The priority of relying on Jesus applies to every area of your life, both spiritual and secular.

“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 

Colossians 3:17

Questions and Answers 

“What is a workaholic?” 

A workaholic is a person who is compulsively addicted to work, to the detriment of self and significant relationships. 

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.”

(Ecclesiastes 5:10) 

 

“Is it wrong to be ambitious?” 

Ambition is not always wrong. According to Robert Heavner’s article, “Great Aspirations: How Ambitious Should a Christian Be?” ambition has two motives: 

  • A humble desire to achieve a particular end 
    • Desire to serve others 
    • Desire to accomplish a higher good 
    • Desire to fulfill God’s purpose 
  • A selfish desire for rank, fame, or power 
    • Compulsion to look good before others 
    • Compulsion for self-achievement 
    • Compulsion to fulfill my purpose 

“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 

(1 Peter 5:5) 

 

Root Cause of Workaholism 

Wrong Belief: “I find significance in pleasing God and others through my useful productivity and performance.” 

 

Right Belief: “My significance is found in God’s unconditional acceptance of me. All my activities are in service to Him. Therefore, I am free to have balance in work, rest, recreation, and interaction with others." 

“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 

(Colossians 3:17)

 

Understanding the Causes of Workaholism 

  • The push to prove—seeking self-worth 
  • The push to produce—seeking significance 
  • The push to perform—seeking admiration and recognition 
  • The push to provide—feeling indispensable 
  • The push to protect—avoiding intimate relationships 
  • The push to be perfect—being rigid and inflexible 
  • The push to prosper—overemphasizing material possessions 
  • The push to please—viewing God as rigid 

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” 

(1 Thessalonians 4:11–12)

The Cycle of Compulsive Workaholism 

  • Pain from family of origin 

Negative messages, Performance-based acceptance 

  • Push to perform and achieve 

“If I can do enough, it will ease the pain.” 

  • Promise of success 

“The ultimate is just around the corner.” 

  • Perpetuated pain 

Burden of guilt results from neglecting others. 

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” 

Romans 7:15) 

 

The Compulsive Worker’s Checklist 

  • Do I feel that my work is the main source of my identity? 
  • Do I dive into details and lists but have difficulty starting essentials? 
    • Do I have difficulty pacing my time?
    • Do I have difficulty being satisfied with the final result? 
    • Do I feel that my work is controlling me? 
    • Do I make sure others know how much and how long I work? 
    • Do I resent others for not working as hard as I think they should?
    • Do I feel guilty when I relax or have fun? 
    • Do I often feel fatigued? 
    • Do I put work above those closest to me? 
    • Do I talk primarily about my activities? 
    • Do I fear others might think I don’t work hard enough? 
    • Do I have difficulty saying no? 
    • Do I feel that the more I work, the more I will please God? 
    • Do I have more devotion to my work than to the Lord? 

       

“My heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.” 

(Ecclesiastes 2:20) 

 

The Compulsive Worker’s Checkup 

Do I have ... 

  • Depression 
  • Chronic fatigue 
  • Headaches 
  • Grinding of teeth 
  • Ulcers 
  • Tense muscles 

Time Tips for Workaholics 

1. Erase the thought that working day and night is sacrificial and spiritual. 

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves” 

(Psalm 127:2). 

2. Write a to-do list daily. 

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” 

(Luke 14:28). 

3. List your priorities in order of importance. 

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty”

(Proverbs 21:5).

4. Establish a starting and finishing time for each task. 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” 

(Ecclesiastes 3:1). 

5. Eliminate the open door policy. 

“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone” 

(Matthew 14:23). 

6. Set aside specific time for family, friends, and for yourself. 

“Those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness” 

(Proverbs 14:22). 

 

Freedom for the Workaholic 

  • Firmly decide to live under grace, not law. (Galatians 4:8–9)
  • Release the burden of guilt. (Hebrews 10:22) 
  • Eliminate your need to please others, and focus on pleasing God. (Galatians 1:10)
  • Decide to be completely honest about your feelings, and be vulnerable to others.  (Proverbs 23:23)
  • Enlarge your commitment to time for rest, relaxation, and communion with the Lord. (Ecclesiastes 2:23)
  • Decide to be completely honest about your feelings, and be vulnerable to others.(Proverbs 23:23)
  • Obey the law of love rather than the law of fear.(1 John 4:16–18)  
  • Maintain your sense of significance and satisfy your need for security by finding your identity in Christ. (Galatians 2:20) 

How to Respond to the Workaholic 

  • Control your tongue. Negative remarks only increase the pressure to perform. 

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.” 

(Proverbs 16:21) 

  • Come to terms. Confront in love. 

 “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” 

(Ephesians 4:15) 

  • Cancel your resentment. Resentment builds bitterness. 

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” 

Hebrews 12:15)

     

Key Verse to Learn 

“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” 

(Ecclesiastes 8:15) 

 

Key Passage to Read 

Luke 10:38–42

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