Friday, September 17, 2010

Burnout Prevention

For me, the manifestation of workaholism isn't finding excuses to skip days off; it's finding excuses to skip breaks during work days. Often the days immediately before days off are the worst. The sooner I finish everything on today's To Do list, the sooner I can start the weekend. The less I have to roll over to Monday, the less I'll have on my mind to interfere with my enjoying Saturday and Sunday.

Except that my mind may have long passed the point of being able to turn off constant preoccupation with "what I have to do next."

It's some comfort to know I have plenty of company. Well-established custom says, "Finish all your work [perhaps a whole life's worth] first, and then you can rest." Many a person who lives by that principle eventually winds up taking a longer rest than he'd planned on--after his physical functions go on strike to protest the constant wear and tear.

We often forget that God gave the Sabbath commandment--not to mention the human body's built-in fatigue indicators--for our benefit, that He meant days off to be genuine times of rest (not just a switch from office work to household chores), that He does want us to "stop work in the middle of something" if that's what our bodies and spirits need. One difference between the Jewish Torah's concept of God and that of contemporary Mesopotamian mythology was that the latter's gods were serious taskmasters; they kept people on earth primarily because humans' daily work furnished religious sacrifices that saved the gods the trouble of preparing their own food. Sad to say, many modern Christians live as if our own God were like that: caring only about what we can do for Him and prone to get irritable if we take time off without a very good excuse.

And while we strive to please Him through our work, He pleads, ignored, for us to stop and get to know Him.

If you feel you're drowning in work, work, work,
Yet seem never to get much done,
You may be hard at work on the wrong "good things"--
Or at too much work on the right one!
God instructed us, yes, to do His work,
But He also gave His command
That we take some regular time for rest,
Just to rest in the palm of His hand.

So take time to work, and take time to pray,
And take time just for fun as well,
And see to your health, and see to your sleep,
And the family with which you dwell,
And your friends in the church, and those outside:
But remember these things above
All the rest--give heed to the Word of God,
And receive and display His love!

It may be, when your earthly days are done,
And you enter the golden gate,
That your Lord's "Well done" for the life you lived
Will depend upon nothing "great,"
Nor on how many hours you prayed or served
As compared to time on "the rest"--
For whenever your heart is fixed on Him,
What you do at that hour is best!

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