All work and no play
It’s 10:30pm on a Monday night. It’s been a long day. I was in work by 7:30am and didn’t get home until 6:30pm. After a quick bite to eat and a short hello to my wife it was off out again to our church officers’ meeting. It’s only now I can sit down and relax. Not all days are as crazy as this, of course, but getting priorities right between church, family and work can be a very delicate balance and one that we don’t always get right. We often fall into one of two traps – working so hard we don’t have time to do anything with our families and church or being so involved in church everything else suffers.
The job I do requires long hours. I work for one of the major utility companies in the UK in their flagship Cardiff Contact Centre. I am responsible for around 150 people as well as being part of the senior leadership team for the site. Weekly hours worked are often around sixty – with the pressure to work even more. The church I’m part of is very busy like many churches. We have the usual youth clubs, men’s and women’s meetings, seniors’ afternoons, mums and tots and lots of other things going on. There is much work to do. How do we balance these differing priorities?
I firmly believe that Christians should be known for their hard work. I hope that if you asked my boss, she’d tell you that I worked very hard and did my best every week. Paul is very clear when he writes to the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 3) that we are to work hard. We are not to be idle. We are not to be lazy. We are to work and we are to be hard workers (Col. 3:23).
As a student, I got this horribly wrong. I became so wrapped up in doing things for CU that I didn’t pay enough attention to my college work and didn’t go to as many lectures as I should have done. This resulted in me having to repeat a year. It is the same for many with church. They are so busy doing church things that they don’t put the effort in at work. We understand that bigger things are at stake so we minimise the importance of our secular work. We need to remember that God puts a great store in working hard. Indeed, I believe it is a great witness. A lot of people I work with are lazy, will look to take the easy option and will try and cut corners. By having a reputation of being hard working we are glorifying our God.
Rest is important
Working hard is good and right but we also need to make sure that we take a break from work. We are made to have a break from work. God gave us a day every week when we aren’t to work. From a personal point of view, I really learnt the value of this in my final year at university. I found that I was much more refreshed having that day away from the grind of everything and spending time with fellow believers worshipping the Lord.
It’s also important to rest and spend time with your family. I try to make sure that I keep all of my paid work for the working week. Once I’m home on a Friday night, I won’t do anything for work until a Monday morning. That means we have a Saturday to do anything else that needs to be done or visit family.
Use your holidays wisely. I’m very thankful for having a very supportive pastor. He once told me to make sure that most of my annual leave is spent with my wife on holiday. Out of the five weeks we have we give one week to do Christian work (helping run extratime at the Aber Conference), the other four are generally spent spending time together. It’s a time we both look forward to and where work (and church) is forgotten for a little while.
Get stuck in to church
Just because your job requires you to work long hours doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do in the church. Having a job that is pressurised and requires you to work long hours is not an excuse to do nothing in church. Of course, you may not be able to do things every night of the week but there are a number of things you can do. Being at your weekly Bible study and prayer meeting is a priority. I try to make sure that I’m organised enough so that I can be out of work at a decent time on a Wednesday. This doesn’t always happen – sometimes I’m required to go away with work – but it’s something I see as a priority every week.
Outside of that I have responsibilities that tie in with the meetings I can be at – music at our Sunday worship services, student hospitality, missionary meetings – meaning that I’m not adding to a very busy schedule. As well as those, I’m responsible for updating the church website and keeping our Facebook and Twitter pages up to date. All of which are a little more flexible and don’t need to be completed at a certain time each week.
Who are you working for?
You’re not to work hard for your boss. You’re not involved in different church activities to please the Pastor. Everything you do is for the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what I believe helps keep the balance. When Paul writes to the Christians in Colosse he reminds them of this (3:23). I find it helpful to try and keep this in mind. Not doing my job to the best of my ability doesn’t glorify the Lord Jesus. Spending so much time in work I never see my wife doesn’t glorify Him either. Being so busy with everything that I can’t contribute fully to my church won’t glorify Him at all. I don’t always get the balance right but having the focus that I am doing all things as for the Lord Jesus Christ certainly helps.
Gareth Davies is a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Gabalfa, Cardiff.