According to Stevens and Ung, “ADT is caused by a hyperkinetic environment, when workplace pressure increases and people ‘suck it up’ without complaining. ADT people multitask obsessively, answer questions in superficial ways, hurry all the time, spend little or no time with friends, work longer hours, and sleep less. ADT people find it difficult to generate fresh ideas.”
I’m not sure that describes my current state but I can certainly relate to that as an accurate description of my life at various stages.
In situations like this, the discussion usually turns to the need for work-life balance but that is not where the authors take us. The real issue, they say, is a lack of self-control.
Work-life balance can simply be a mask for the problem of gluttony (refer to the last post in this series). We want balance so we can fit more in. The desire for work-life balance can be just another example of being driven by excessive consumption – ‘the desire to have it all and juggle as many balls as possible.’
Self-control on the other hand is a spiritual discipline (2 Peter 1:5-6) where we seek to be led by the Spirit; where our actions and priorities are according to God’s agenda rather than our desire to fit more in.
So the authors write:
“In contrast to the gluttonous urge to milk the most out of life, the gift of self-control granted by the Holy Spirit nourishes and governs the inner person – giving us control over our actions and appetites. With self-control, we no longer try to find satisfaction from excesses or the drive to have it all. Self-control helps us find satisfaction in God, accepting whatever God gives us.”
So what would self-control at work look like?
- Being able to say ‘no and ‘yes’ with integrity
- Being able to leave the workplace with unfinished business
- Being able to spend quality and quantity time with family and friends
- Being able to pursue hobbies and exercise without guilt
- Being able to pursue with passion and energy the priorities that God gives us (Col 1:29)
- Following the example of Jesus who made it a priority to spend time with the Father despite the demands of the crowds and the pressing needs that surrounded him (Mark 6:45)
How can we cultivate the fruit of self-control? Three steps are proposed:
- Identify areas where you might lack self-control: This activity will help you to confess sinful preoccupations to God
- Specify the priorities of your life: map them out with God at the centre because we are called to be whole-life-disciples.
- Put into practice spiritual disciplines that allow the Spirit to control your life:
- The daily discipline of ongoing relinquishment of the things that clutter your life
- The daily discipline of walking through the narrow gate: Making the tough choices rather than the easy ones
- The daily discipline of keeping company with Jesus: As we draw closer to Jesus, our self-control will increase unconsciously.
Next time: Joyful Relinquishment (Chapter 22)
Stevens, R. P., and Ung, A. (2010). Taking Your Soul to Work: overcoming the nine deadly sins of the workplace. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eerdmans