As ministry leaders, we approach each day with passion because we’re working for God, and our mission is literally to see the world saved. But the fact is, there will always be more work to do in ministry, and that’s why we must deliberately take time away from work.
God did it, resting one day after working six, so why should we think the world will fall apart if we aren’t on the job 24/7?
Here are five steps you can take toward recovery from ministry workaholism.
R – Readjust Your Values
The costs of workaholism are enormous: divorce, alcohol abuse, heart attacks and other illnesses, fragmented and fractured relationships, unhappiness, and loneliness.
Ask yourself these questions:
Why am I working so hard? Do a motive check. What drives you to do this? Are you trying to prove something?
Is the payoff worth it? Why do you keep fighting to get to the next level? What can you realistically expect? Is it worth sacrificing your life for it?
Your life is too important to waste on second-class causes. Readjust your values.
Ecclesiastes 5:15 says, “In spite of all our work there is nothing we can take with us” (GNT). God doesn’t expect you to save the world single-handedly, and believe me, your kids need you, too.
E – Enjoy Your Rewards
Ecclesiastes 3:13 says, “All of us should eat and drink and enjoy what we’ve worked for. It is God’s gift” (GNT).
Most of us never slow down long enough to enjoy what we’ve got, but it’s a mistake to postpone enjoyment. “One of these days I’m really going to start enjoying life. Just after I finish this next project . . . ”
Listen: It’s not true. If you don’t enjoy life right now, then when you do have free time on your hands, you’re not going to know how to enjoy it.
Learn to enjoy life right now, in the moment, because you’re not guaranteed tomorrow.
L – Limit Your Labor
Figure out, realistically, how many hours you should work and then hold yourself to that schedule. Don’t wear yourself out in your work.
Exodus 20:9-10 says, “You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is to be a day of rest dedicated to me” (GNT). Every seventh day you take a day off. Pastor, this is not a suggestion; this is a commandment!
God didn’t create you so you could constantly work. Your best requires rest.
Limit your labor by scheduling three things in your life:
If you’re married, there’s a fourth one: romance.
These are part of God’s plan for your life. If you don’t schedule these, you’ll never find time for them.
A – Anticipate God’s Care
Matthew 6:31-32 says, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (NIV).
A lot of our workaholism is rooted in worry. You have to put your security in something that can’t be taken from you. Trust that God knows your needs and can provide for you.
A Christian man, after struggling for years, finally said, “God, I’m going to give you my business. You’re the CEO now. You’re in charge of my career—the profits, payoffs, promotions. It’s your business now and you run it.”
The next day his business warehouse burned to the ground. He was seen standing outside the warehouse with a giant smile on his face. He said, “Last night I gave my business to God. If he wants to burn it down, it’s his business.”
He had a new perspective: God will handle it! As quickly as he burned the thing down, he can raise it up again. That’s called trust.
X – Exchange Your Pressure for God’s Peace
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, 30, “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest . . . the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light” (GNT).
Jesus came to give you a lifestyle that is easy and light. If you’re carrying a load that is heavy and overbearing, then it’s not from God.
Perhaps you have been in this lifestyle so long, you don’t know any other way. You’re dead tired, but you can’t seem to stop. God has a word for you: “Trust me. I’ll take care of you. Exchange your pressure for my peace.”
What do you want written on your tombstone? What are you living for? If you’re living for your work, you’re selling yourself short. Work is an important part of God’s plan for your life. But your work will never satisfy the deepest needs in your life. It wasn’t meant to—only Jesus Christ can do that.