The next practical issue that the authors of?The Gospel at Work?(TGaW) turn to is what is often called work-life balance.? ?How do you remain fruitful and faithful at work when you also need to be fruitful and faithful as a spouse, parent, neighbor, and church member?? How do you do it all in the mere 168 hours that comprise a week?? ask the authors.
Well, the first step suggested is to realise that our one and only first responsibility is discipleship to Jesus (Matt 6:33, Col 3:23).? All our other responsibilities are sub-ordinate to being a disciple of Jesus.? When we realise this, life is not a juggling act with competing demands on our time and energy but rather we see following Jesus as our, ?? primary, overarching, undergirding assignment ? [that] will last long after every other assignment is complete.?
Even then, our balancing our secondary responsibilities creates tension and pressure in our lives so, how can we be faithful and fruitful in them within our overarching commitment to following Jesus?
- Determine if you are being faithful in your responsibilities ? this is a basic minimum requirement. To do less is to give in to idleness.
- Consider where you might be able to invest for greater fruitfulness
- Beware of the trap of idolatry that can come with being fruitful in a particular area of life ? you serve the Lord.
Principle: Faithfulness, then fruitfulness. But not idolatry.
The authors then explore how this principle works out in the domains of family, church and work pointing out the minimum standards (e.g. the requirements of Ephesians 5:22, 25 for family life), possibilities for fruitfulness (e.g. family vacations, date nights) and dangers of idolatry (e.g. taking off two Sundays a month to play soccer with the kids, Matthew 10:37).
In summary, there is no. ?? one-size-fits-all to all this ? God has simply given us broad parameters of what too much looks like (idolatry) and what too little looks like (idleness). ?And he calls us to exercise godly wisdom to figure out when and where more investment will yield greater fruitfulness.??
And to conclude, some practical advice to guide decision-making:
- Determine what it means to be faithful in each of your domains of responsibility (e.g. write out a job description for each domain ? what would faithfulness look like?)
- Evaluate yourself with regard to each of these and what it means to faithful in them (e.g. do you have a lot of free time? Are you struggling to keep your head above water? Are you saying ?yes? too often?)
- Repent of any sin you discover (e.g. idleness on one area [perhaps neglecting family] is often linked to idolatry on another [perhaps spending too much time on church/work activities])
- Consider where you might invest more time and energy to deliver greater fruitfulness (e.g. more time with your spouse, take on a ministry at church, apply for a promotion)
And finally, make this sort of reflection a regular activity (circumstances change, seasons of life etc.), do it with a trusted and insightful friend, and don?t compare yourself to others which often can lead to unnecessary guilt.?
Murray Wright (3/1/2015)