Our work has value to God. Our careers are God’s will for the season in which we’re working, and work is an incredible vehicle for the gospel. But in today’s world, work has been exalted to a place of idolatry. We don’t just work to live; we’re supposed to live to work. While God calls us to make the most of our place, He would never have us sacrifice our relationships on the altar of career.
After ten years in the workforce, I resigned my dream job to stay home with my daughter. I now work from home as a guidance counselor and freelance writer. But in all the seasons of my career – from working third shift to waiting tables to working from home – I’ve had to be intentional about the balance of work and love. Relationships matter to our God, so much He sent His Son to make relationship possible! If God doesn’t let work get in the way of relationships, neither should we. Here are my top three principles for striking this balance.
Work to Live, Don’t Live to Work
Our jobs and careers are a means of provision, and as such reflect God’s grace in our lives. We should be good stewards of this grace and work hard within the positions God has placed us. But when work becomes an obsession or we are motivated more by power than by a desire to please God, we’ve missed the point.
Work is good. But work is not the purpose of life; it’s just another way to reflect God’s glory and spread the gospel to our community. We work to earn a living and maximize on God’s gifts, but we do not live to work. When God gave Adam and Eve the responsibility of tending the garden in Genesis 2, that was not the whole purpose of their creation. God created them for relationship with Him. If work is sabotaging your walk with God and others, evaluate your responsibilities. Check your priorities. Relationships, to God, always come first.
Refuse to Be a Victim of Your Own Poor Planning
Perhaps you’ve tabled some relationships because – work. But here’s a hard question to ask yourself: How much of the problem is not your work, but your own mismanagement of time? When we spend life in constant stress and anxiety, we’re not living the way God intended. God’s intention is peace. Since one of the chief causes of stress is bad time management, take a look at your planner. Are you a victim of your own procrastination?
We can’t blame work for poor relationships if we refuse to acknowledge our part in the problem. Perhaps you do have time for coffee dates on your lunchbreak, but you don’t want to make the call, so you use your hour watching Netflix at your desk. Maybe you would complain less to your husband if you had less stress, but you don’t manage your office hours effectively and your anxiety is through the roof. These things are under your control. Be honest with yourself, create a routine, and plan for success.
Work Is No Excuse for Disconnection
Some jobs are more demanding than others. My husband and I are a case study in this! We’ve spent at least 16 months of the last 2.5 years separated by business, and Josh spend the last year working 12-hour days, sometimes longer. But in spite of our history of tough work schedules, we make an effort to prioritize our relationship above all else. Work is not an excuse for disconnection – not from your spouse, your family, or your friends.
What does this look like practically?
- Set aside time to connect each evening and assign household duties.
- Use your lunchbreaks to call or meet up with friends.
- Step out of your comfort zone and meet up after work, even when you’re tired.
- Connect via email or Skype with long distance friends.
Relationships are meant to be prioritized. We need them! We were made for community, and even in this technological world we need face to face communication. Work is good, but it is not the end-all. It is not an excuse to neglect the people we love and need the most.
How do you make time for relationships in the middle of your work schedule? Share below and check back next week for a post on how to live well with an inconsistent work schedule.