Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Hope for the Type-A Christian

Posted: December 30, 2013 by clairer in Purpose, Work

Finals week this semester was the longest…and shortest week of my life. Longest in the sense that I likely spent more hours awake in a single week than I ever have; shortest in the sense that I routinely had panic how-on-earth-is-the-due-date-tomorrow moments. The list of work to be done seemed endless and every moment not used productively felt wasted. Hours of sleep per night fell drastically…fun was out of the question… I had one goal and one goal only: to make it to the bottom of that to-do list with a straight perfect column of check marks. Yep…I’m a Type-A personality.

Between my schooling and internships, I’ve discovered just how much everyday people are bombarded with messages about work and productivity. In the classroom and the office, the “virtues” that are admired by my professors and employers are ambition, accomplishment, and advancement. From this trend comes people like me, the Type-A personally – people who are naturally driven, ambitious, active, impatient, under pressure to multitask, and keep trying to do more in less time.

Now our computers, iPhones, tablets, and 3G networks make multitasking easier and make it possible for us to work anywhere. I’ve found that as productivity is praised in every corner of society, my Type-A ambitious drive and disdain for leisure have only increased.

But added to the societal factors is the burden in being a Christian Type-A. I know for me, and for other Christian Type-As, the pressure to work hard and the guilt for resting is now even greater. After all, Christians are on earth to please and glorify God, and the Bible seems to be full of verses praising service and rejecting sloth and laziness. Rest – especially to one who is naturally inclined to stay active – seems to be a waste of God-given time and talents.

I have come across dozens of solid Christian books which have encouraged godly work and productivity, emphasizing vocation and filled with exhortations to not waste your life. But although many of these books rightly concentrate on how Christians should work, few of them explore how work should be balanced with leisure.

But this imbalance can be, at best, unhealthy, and at worst, spiritually, emotionally, and physically devastating. I know that in my life, this disproportionate focus has led me to many questions and false assumptions. Is God disappointed in me when I do something totally unproductive – like watch a movie or read a fun book? Am I minimizing God’s glory when I’m doing some “busywork reading” for a class instead of going out and starting a world-changing ministry? What do I do when my work is ineffective – when I stare at that empty Word document and just can’t get words on paper for that essay? …how can I justify sleep when it’s finals week and I have a million things to do?

Christian Type-As are finding themselves in a state of imbalance, being further encouraged to work for God’s glory, feeling guilt for necessary rest, and experiencing discouragement in unfruitfulness and ineffectiveness. Stressing God’s good purposes in work without addressing leisure has left the church in a spiritually skewed position.

While much is communicated about work in the Bible, God’s intentions for pleasure and leisure are equally clear. A holistic view of the Bible provides Type-A Christians with hope in their work and rest, not condemnation. This series – based upon a much longer research paper – is aimed at providing that holistic view.