My job feels as if it has become my whole life. As much as I love it, I don’t think it’s healthy for me to always be working or checking messages. How do I break the pattern I’ve fallen into?
When we find work that fits our calling, we can find a lot of meaning and purpose in our jobs. Yet we need to be careful to remember that our worth comes not first from our job, but from God. This is especially hard to do today, when so much value is put on how productive we are. For example, employees and students are often judged by how much time they put in regardless of whether this is healthy or even effective.
One way to limit how much you work is by practicing Sabbath. You can do that by not working one day per week. You can also do that by making sure that there are times each day when you don’t work or even look at your phone. This can feel especially hard to do if you have multiple jobs, work long hours, or depend on finding new clients for your income. Yet even carving out small amounts of non-work time is valuable. Practicing Sabbath is a concrete way of remembering that God delights not only in our work, but also in our rest. Furthermore, letting go of our work for a time helps us remember that it is not we who save the world, but God.
To decrease the importance of work, it helps to find other good things to invest time in. Hobbies are a great way to find rest as long as they do not become a new way to find our worth or distance ourselves from others. Finding ways to volunteer in our communities and churches can introduce us to people and situations that help put our own work and lives in perspective. Walking, biking, or running in our neighborhoods can also help us imagine how God might work in the people and the world around us.
Our calling from God is not just to our job, but to our families, friendships, neighbors, cities, and creation. Finding healthy boundaries for the role of work in our lives is important for our own well-being as well as our relationships with God and others.
About the Author
Brenda Kronemeijer-Heyink is the CRC chaplain at the University of Toronto. She attends Willowdale CRC in Toronto, Ont.