Question: "What does the Bible say about workaholism?"
Answer: The modern term “workaholic” is not found anywhere in the Bible. However, biblical principles can be brought to bear on the discussion of workaholics—those whose devotion to their career, job, or ministry has reached the point of obsessiveness. Anything obsessed about, other than God, is an idol. As Christians, we have to be very careful not to let the cares and allurements of the world distract us from our devotion to Christ. Workaholics are people who are addicted to their work in much the same way an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol. Such a person rarely rests. He is constantly worried about the next sale, business deal, commission check, or task. A workaholic businessman often has difficulty seeing his friends as merely friends and not business prospects. A workaholic pastor runs the risk of seeing people more as aids or obstacles to a project than as individuals in need of ministry.
As Christians, our focus on life is to be less on our vocation and more on how our vocation fits into God’s plan for our life. Certainly, work is a blessed activity. The first man was given work to do by God (Genesis 2:15). A secular job is not forbidden in Scripture. We know that Paul was a tentmaker and Luke a physician. And, of course, there is much work to do in “full-time ministry” jobs as well. Jesus told us to pray for “workers” to serve in God’s harvest (Luke 10:2). But both in the ministry and in secular work, we need a balance. Rest and recreation are also God’s design (Genesis 2:2). One good test to know whether we are too focused on our jobs is to ask ourselves how much time we spend thinking about our jobs when we are not actually at work. If more of our thoughts are centered on our jobs than on God, we may be in danger.
Even when involved in the seemingly mundane tasks of a secular job, our hearts should be turned to heaven. We should glorify God in all that we do. We should maintain a good work ethic in our employment by doing things as Christ would, with honor and to the best of our ability. As Paul reminded the Colossians, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). In all things, we should echo the psalmist’s prayer in Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” Workaholics never have time to meditate in their hearts on the Word of God.
Being a workaholic isn’t directly comparable to worshipping idols. However, if the job takes up so much energy that it distracts from the relationship with Jesus Christ having predominance, then it could be considered idolatry. We should view our employment as opportunities to advance the kingdom of God through our talents and finances. We should be very strategic in our approach and have a balanced life where we are more focused on Jesus Christ than on our vocation.
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