Why Are You Working? 3 Destructive Ways to Approach Work

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Unity in work effort can be a glue that binds a marriage and family together.  When there is unity about your working commitments, you’ll hear phrases like:

  • Thanks for all your hard work supporting our family.
  • Thank you, mommy or daddy, for everything you do to put a roof over our head.
  • Honey, come and sit down and relax after a hard day at work.  Can I get you anything?
If you’re hearing those types of phrases, it’s likely that your family sees work as a blessing to the home.
Unfortunately, work can also be a wedge that drives families apart.  When work is a wedge, you’ll hear phrases like:
  • Can’t you just tell them you’re busy?
  • I don’t feel like we have time to spend together.
  • Could we just unplug the phone lines and turn off the cell phones – just for a night?
  • Your kids miss you terribly, can you see that?

Interestingly, we willingly invest hours of our energy in succeeding at our jobs, but we refuse to invest moments of energy in determining if our work is helping or hindering our true values.

Despite our infatuation with work, many people in North America struggle to honestly answer the question why are you working?

Typically, we can explain why we started working, but we often struggle to justify those reasons in light of our current situation.  Our working goals and motivations start are honest enough, but it seems like somewhere we often lose our way.

3 Destructive Ways to Approach Work

1.  We think we sign over free will when we accept a job.

I’m amazed by the number of people who can’t do one thing or the other because ‘their boss is making them’ do something.  That’s interesting terminology in a free country such as America.  When we agree to work for a company, we give our bosses permission to dictate certain elements of our schedule, but ultimately we always retain control.  We have the right to work somewhere else. The right to say no. The right to negotiate for better hours.

Yes, there are times when we need to acquiesce to our company’s needs, but there must also be times when we give priority to our other life needs.

Honestly, I’m amazed by the number of people who make tremendous personal sacrifices to do exactly what the boss or manager asks without even offering a challenge to the request.  Sometimes a simple alteration to the request is all that is needed.  For example, I actually have plans tonight, but I’d be happy to come in early to finish up that project if that works well.  The answer may be that the project needs to be done this evening, but at least you’ve make an effort to compromise the request.

Remember that with work you are volunteering your time and skills, and ultimately you make the final decision about what you can and cannot do.

2.  We forget that we only have a limited number of ‘yes’ answers to give in our lifetime.

When I say ‘yes’ to an overtime shift at work, I’m simultaneously saying ‘no’ to someone else.  That might be my wife or my children.  That might be my church.  That might be my personal health.

Perhaps there was a time when you and your spouse mutually decided to say yes to extra work projects in an effort to bless your family in a certain way.  However, now you’ve ended up in a position where your drive to succeed in work is your strongest drive.  You’ll always say yes to your boss’s request, even if that means saying no to family.

You’ve drifted away from  your more important life commitments because you’ve said yes to the wrong requests.

3.  We forget that work was made for man – not man for work.

God blesses us with the opportunity to work and create just as He is the Creator.  Work serves an important function in our psychology and our development as nations.  However, if we allow work to lord over us, then work is no longer the blessing God intended.  Perhaps we need to re-evaluate our priorities to be sure work is a tool we use in our lives, not a counterfeit god that rules over our lives and decision making.

The Family Work Challenge

Work commitments and work loads are an increasing cause of conflict with families. I double dog dare you to sit down with your spouse and ask this question – what do you think about my work load and my work schedule?  Are there any changes you’d like to see me make that would allow me to be a great blessing to our home, our church, our family …?

Now, I triple dog dare you to do one more thing. Practice non-judgmental listening.  (Non-judgmental listening means not saying things like, “but”, “however”, or “yeah, right!”).

There’s only one way to be sure you’re walking in the right direction – look at your destination and look at the map.

Are your work efforts focused in the right direction, or is work leading you down a completely different pathway?



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