Most folks desire significance, meaning and appreciation, but it's when our priorities get out of line that we must admit we have a problem.
During my widowhood, I began teaching in a small Christian school. My daughter and I stayed busy, and I must say as I look back on those years that I had became addicted to my work, aka: ministry. You see, ministry can also be addicting. When we replace "who we are in Christ" with "what we do for Christ," we have a problem.
For me, it was a search for fulfillment and purpose. But more than that it was a search for approval, not only from people, but from God. Probably most people seek approval. I understand this because I could begin my own support groups for "Approval Seekers Anonymous." However, when our life gets off balance by work, no matter the "why," our other relationships suffer.
Workaholics Anonymous has 20 questions, used as a screening tool, to help determine if you're a workaholic. If you answer yes to three or more questions, you may have a problem worth discussing with a mental health counselor or your doctor.
Do you get more excited about your work than about family or anything else?
Are there times when you can charge through your work and other times when you can't?
Do you take work with you to bed? On weekends? On vacation?
Is work the activity you like to do best and talk about most?
Do you work more than 40 hours a week?
Do you turn your hobbies into money-making ventures?
Do you take complete responsibility for the outcome of your work efforts?
Have your family or friends given up expecting you on time?
Do you take on extra work because you are concerned that it won't otherwise get done?
Do you underestimate how long a project will take and then rush to complete it?
Do you believe that it is OK to work long hours if you love what you are doing?
Do you get impatient with people who have other priorities besides work?
Are you afraid that if you don't work hard you will lose your job or be a failure?
Is the future a constant worry for you even when things are going very well?
Do you do things energetically and competitively including play?
Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop doing your work in order to do something else?
Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships?
Do you think about your work while driving, falling asleep or when others are talking?
Do you work or read during meals?
Do you believe that more money will solve the other problems in your life?
Interestingly enough, most of us would have to admit to having more than three of these from the survey. However, the organization states that three or more and you are a workaholic. However, with all addictions, there is hope and healing, but it must begin with us. And, I say this as I write this in bed ... hello ... look back at No. 3! So, I am Kim, and I have a problem.
Finding balance in our lives may be painful as we look to the root of our problem whether it be quest for approval, insecurity and the search for significance, money, the escape from difficult relationships. We can find balance, and by the grace of God, we can have peace.
The Bible states that "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Now, this verse is usually utilized to talk about money, and rightfully so. You can tell a person's heart by how they spend their dollars. However, I would like to propose to you that our "time" is also our treasure. Most have heard the cliche: Life is a gift, and that's why it's called the "present."
So I am proposing: where I spend my time is where my heart is or will be.
I read an article when I lived in Chattanooga as a very young woman. The article was from a Christian magazine, and I've never forgotten the lesson: wherever you want your heart to be, then invest your money and time there. Wow! That's big, if you think about it: Not only is it a great tool to assess where your heart is, but it is also a tool to "get your heart there." So, if I want my priorities to be God, family, friends and work, then I need to "set my affections upon that which is eternal." A Bible verse that states this has rang over and over in my mind this week as I contemplate setting my affections on that which is eternal: "Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth." What will matter in 100 years? Will the house you live in, the car you drive, the clothes your wear matter? No, only God and people will matter in 100 years, and that's the bottom line. Our houses, vehicles, clothes, toys and trinkets will be in the trash dump or at least deteriorating in 100 years.
One tool God uses to meet our needs is work, but it is when the tool becomes the idol that we get into trouble. So, as we begin to realign our priorities this week, let us remember that work is good, right and even godly. But let us also remember that work is a means to an end and not the end in itself. It is interesting when we realign our priorities and make God first, he more than fills our lives and flows upon others. It is not overwork, but overflow.
Colossians 3:2- "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
(Kimberly Short-Wolfe, MA, is a homeschool mom and grief counselor/chaplain for Mountain Hospice. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 3004-823-3925, ext. 136.)