A recent article in the local media about burnout at work got me thinking about how our “Singaporean” dedication to our jobs can affect our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Having suffered a mild burnout myself some years ago, I feel greatly for those overwhelmed by their long hours, high stress, and neverending deadlines in the office.
Certainly, burnout is not something these workers “ask for” or deserve. My heart goes out to them. But for the rest of us who are just “busy” at work, I sometimes wonder if we need to take some time to reflect on our own dedication and commitment to our jobs.
To be sure, Colossians 3:23 urges us: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” But how can we also balance this call with our God-given roles as disciples of Christ, and as good fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and children? How can we divide our time and energy, so that we serve God well by serving our families, our employers, and ourselves?
Here’s another thought to consider: balancing these roles can also make a difference to the way we present Jesus to the world. Indeed, how we prioritise our various responsibilities can affect what people think of the Christian faith, and affect our testimony to them.
A colleague of mine, S.C., discovered this lesson when he—ironically—threw himself into church work after he became a Christian. He spent so much time away from home that his family came to a wrong impression of his newfound faith. In a moving testimony, he shared about how he had let his enthusiasm run away and forgot that he also had a “ministry” at home—to his parents and siblings who had to yet to know the Lord.
“I effectively ‘dumped’ my parents at home and I wasn’t there for my younger siblings when they were coping with insecurities in their teens,” he wrote. “It was only several years later, when I attempted to share the gospel with my father, that he made known to me his disappointment with me. He was dismayed after having witnessed firsthand how I had almost stopped caring for the family after I became a Christian. How then could he possibly be interested in knowing about Christianity, much less consider coming to faith? I teared up as the harsh realisation struck me that I had unknowingly become a stumbling block in my own family’s coming to the faith.”
S.C. still struggles with guilt over what happened, but he has made some hard decisions to cut back on his work and service in church, so that he can spend more time with his family. “It is my hope and prayer that my efforts, by God’s grace, can be witnessed by my parents and siblings, and that one day they will attribute it to our Father in heaven,” he said.
It’s a sobering thought that our commitment to work—and even to church duties—can affect our testimony of our faith. But S.C.’s prayer reminds me that God is merciful and powerful. He is more than able to redeem us and our actions, and turn whatever we do from now, in faith, into something good for His glory. As we reflect on our efforts to balance our priorities, may we also rest in the assurance that He will give us the wisdom and strength to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Lord, grant me the wisdom and courage
to make changes in my schedules
so that I can better fulfil the roles You have given me,
and let others see that in following You,
I can learn to love and care better.