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Biblically speaking, how does one achieve a proper work/life balance?

work life balance

As beings created in the image of God, we share in His communicable attributes, that is, we are like Him in certain ways (Genesis 1:26). As an example, God is productive—He creates, builds, maintains, repairs, and protects His handiwork. God is busy. He is not idle, and as living souls made in His image, we ought not be idle creatures.

Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her food in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man (Proverbs 6:6–11, ESV).

The Garden of Eden, prior to the fall, fits the description of paradise in every way, yet the first couple did not spend their days and nights lazing about in hammocks. God gave them dominion over creation, and with dominion came responsibility (Genesis 2:15). Adam and Eve kept busy. And so ought we.

The apostle Paul, whose tireless missionary efforts spanned the far reaches of the known world, heartily condemned idleness:

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living (2 Thessalonians 3:6–12, ESV).

The apostle Paul further chastised those who will not support their families as being worse than infidels (1 Timothy 5:8).

At the incarnation, the Son of God left the hallowed halls of heaven to fill the role of a servant (Mark 10:45). He traveled, taught, comforted, healed, and made lasting relationships with those who would ultimately carry on His work. What did Jesus not do? Though a King, He did not live sumptuously in a palace. Though a Prince, He shunned the finery and trappings of the privileged. Though fully divine, He did not engage His miraculous powers for the sake of His own comfort and ease. On the contrary, our Lord Jesus’ demanding schedule often resulted in weariness (John 4:6). He worked hard. He had a job to do, and He was not slack in His duties. We do well following our Lord’s example, for no one who is lazy can rightfully claim to be Christlike.

With this said, we were not created as machines without an off switch. Extreme exhaustion and burnout are not godly virtues. Just as God “rested” on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:2), we are to regularly set aside our labors for rest, reflection, and recreation. A day of rest is for our benefit. God wants us to place our tools back in the box, tend to our families, ease our minds and bodies, and devote time to Him. We are to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

While God abhors laziness, He is no cruel taskmaster. He does not stand over us with a whip; rather, He says, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30, ESV). God is the author of pleasure (Psalm 16:11), but how can anyone enjoy the fullness of His many blessings who insists on working from sunup to sundown?

Returning to 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (ESV). A perfunctory reading of this passage may lead us to believe Paul was speaking strictly of providing financial support for one’s family; however, we care for our family in ways other than paying rent and utility bills. Our spouses and our children need and deserve our time. Paying the bills is not enough—we must also pay attention to those in our household. Dads and moms overly preoccupied with matters at the office haven’t the time to attend to their families’ needs at home, and everyone suffers as a result. Children require their parents’ hands-on involvement.

How much time should be spent making a living, and how much time should be spent making a life? We must first accurately determine our priorities. Let us attend to matters based on their measure of importance. Prioritizing according to the Bible will help us achieve the proper work/life balance.

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Biblically speaking, how does one achieve a proper work/life balance?
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This page last updated: April 20, 2023