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Devotionals : Work Hard, Play Hard
 
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Work Hard, Play Hard

By Michael Lane, Executive Director, Delve Christian Ministries
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It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones.
-Psalm 127:2

I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless-like chasing the wind. - Ecclesiastes 1:14

I got my first part-time job when I was seventeen years old, working for a computer store in the small town where I grew up. The owner of the store was a charismatic man named Scott who was, from my limited teenage perspective, very worldly and well-traveled. He was an intelligent, larger-than-life character with strong opinions about almost everything, so I enjoyed the quiet Saturday afternoons we worked together when we would take a break from the world of computers and he would teach me about how the "world" really worked. He would typically start his afternoon lesson with a phrase like, "Here's something they won't teach you in school" or "Let me explain something that almost no one understands".

His favorite lesson, the one I remember most after all these years, was to "Work hard and play hard". He explained that most people waste their life by working half-heartedly at menial jobs for eight hours a day and then coming home to nothing more than television and sleep, only to repeat the entire process the next day. Eventually, they wake up and realize they are past the prime of their lives and have not accomplished anything of consequence.

For Scott, this was the epitome of a wasted life. He cautioned me to make every second count and never to waste time on anything that wasn't either hard work or serious leisure. His life consisted of long days with almost no time-off for several months, followed by two weeks in the Caribbean at an all-inclusive resort. Occasionally, he would fly to New York or London or would spend a weekend gambling in Las Vegas, but you would never catch him watching television, going out to a movie or hanging out with friends. For Scott, it was all or nothing. He was either working hard or living the good life. Anything else was a waste of time.

His philosophy resonated deep within that impressionable teenager and I vowed that I would live a life just like his. For years, I tried to emulate his style, working long hours, taking one course after another, accepting new contracts until I was inundated, all the while refusing any leisure unless it was expensive and impressive. If I took a break from work, even for a few moments, I could feel internal pressure commanding me back to work. The entire time, I could hear Scott's voice in my head rationalizing and urging me, saying, "No one understands this but us. We are the only ones who are living the good life." Except, I realize now, it was never really Scott's voice; it was the voice of the Enemy. It was no life at all.

I don't blame Scott, since he fell into the same trap as I did and he believed the same lies about what life is supposed to be about. Fifteen years later, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I see the "work hard play hard" philosophy for what it really is - a perversion of a deep truth. Every successful lie the Enemy tells us is effective because it contains some truth, and the truth in Scott's philosophy is that it really is very important that we make our time on Earth count. The lie is that a good life has anything to do with fourteen hour work days or luxurious vacations. Living a good life is about service to and relationships with God, our family and our community.

I have seen firsthand how the "work hard, play hard" mentality shatters all kinds of relationships. In practical terms, if you are living your life this way then every second of every day is accounted for. From the moment you awaken to the moment you fall asleep, you are working or learning. Everything else is an interruption. When it comes to friends and family, you are inflexible, unavailable and unapproachable. Unless the person is a business associate or is accompanying you on your next vacation, you have no time for them.

How could anyone hope to maintain a marriage or friendship in that environment? How many times do our spouses or children come to us, asking for a little of our time and we send them away because we have important work to do? We tell them that it was not in our plans for today and resent any attempt to alter our agenda. We tell our spouses that we are working hard in order to provide a better life or that we are taking on one more contract to pay for that next getaway. Sure, expensive vacations are nice, but are they really more essential than the customary dinner with your wife? More valuable than a night out with friends? More precious than holding your newborn baby while she sleeps?

Finally, we come to the most devastating aspect of the "work hard, play hard" philosophy - the effect it has on our life in Christ. When we are consumed by that lifestyle, He too becomes just one more interruption or one more obstacle in our way of getting more work accomplished. So many times I told Jesus, "I can't pray right now, I'm studying for my Theology final." or "I can't read your Word right now, I'm doing some paperwork for the ministry." I never once allowed Jesus to tell me what was important to Him.

In the ultimate act of selfishness and pride, not only do we fail to spend enough time with Jesus, but we tell Him that our work and leisure are too important to entrust to Him. We are going to control our agenda since we think we are better able to set our priorities, all in the hope of living a full and meaningful life.

Truthfully, there can be no full and meaningful life without Christ at the center, nor can we reach our full potential until all things are surrendered to Him. That includes our work and leisure time. I understand the compulsion that drives us to make every second count, but we need to surrender and trust that to God, for He is much more capable of giving meaning to our lives than we could ever be. It's extremely important to work hard when it is appropriate to do so, but we must also remain balanced and flexible. We need to keep our priorities straight.

If you've struggled with this issue as I have, then take a moment now to invite the Holy Spirit to lead you in overcoming this. Pause and ask Him for guidance whenever you feel pulled in too many directions. Ask for wisdom and clarity whenever you're tempted to tell someone you love that you don't have time for them; especially when that person is Jesus. Finally, let Jesus know that you understand how important it is to find the right balance and that you trust Him completely to help you find the complete life He intends you to have in Him.
 

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Comments


Amen Arsindelve!
(Have you ever thought of putting these lessons all together
and making a book?)
God bless you!
7/30/2008 10:27:30 AM - Ignited~Faith, Member of Delve into Jesus since 2/20/2008


The topic is very timely because as of now I feel that I am being pulled in too many directions that I don't find time in immersing myself in prayer and study of His Word. Thanks for the enlightenment and I felt released from this ordeal of working and playing hard.
7/31/2008 10:07:26 AM - anonymous


Touche! I loved your devotional and will be sharing with my family.
7/31/2008 2:07:00 PM - anonymous


Great perspective. I too have been a victim of the work hard , play hard mentality and in the end all it really does is burn you out. Have now become a proponent of the slow life society and taking time to "smell the roses". I'll use the roses as a metaphor for taking the time to read my bible and pray more. Join house groups etc, etc. I try to work more efficiently in the 8 hours a day I set aside for it. Kneel Where ? Vernon, B.C.
8/1/2008 7:53:37 AM - anonymous


If this is not Christ intervention, I dont know what is. I've been lost for a while since I joined a marketing team a few mths ago. It's mostly long working hours and plenty of eat, drink and be merry....all in the context of " Work Hard Play Hard" ...I ingested that thots until I read this. It helps put Christ in perspective again. Thank you brother. May God bless you.
8/1/2008 2:10:47 PM - anonymous


Thank you for sharing such a very personal story.

It is so easy to see how anyone living "in" this world can get caught up in the brainwashing of the enemy by him using people (puppets of the devil) to entice us into a self-destructive...TRAP!

My husband owns his own business. Yes, He is a licensed minister, but he chooses not to be behind the pulpit unless the Holy Spirit draws him. He has turned down many an offer. But God's timing is always His best! And if the Lord should not have him preach in a church, he continues to preach at me... the dogs, the cats, the horses and his customers at his shop, etc. Hahaha. So actually, I guess you could say he carries with him, an invisible pulpit. Hahahaha

Before my husband became a licensed minister, however, he too, was caught in the same fishermans net of being a proud workaholic. He told the Lord he'd surrender to ministry when he reached his "million" because he didn't want to be one of those "poor/unwealthy" preachers. Well, he reached 1/4 mil, when suddenly he was stricken with severe headaches, loss of weight and blurred vision. He had a major brain tumor on his pituitary gland. Needless to say, with only hours to live, he asked the Lord, "Why this had happened to him." The Lord told him that He had been drawing him into ministry...but that my husband kept ...putting Him OFF.

Needless to say, my husband began to "think back" and realized that when he was a Gideon for many years, (and traveled a lot), that after his speeches many people would approach him and say, "You really should consider being a minister, I believe that is what God is calling you to do." But it "never" clicked. He was too "busy" (Being Under Satan's Yoke). But before his surgery, he repented and surrendered his life 100 over to his Savior, Jesus Christ. There is still some tumor on his brain, as it was too risky to remove the rest. Yes, he is on medication and has been for 12 years now. But, it is a constant 'reminder' to my husband... WHO COMES FIRST? Work or Jesus?

When we accept Jesus as "Lord"...He takes that position...VERY seriously. (grin) Yes, our Lord expects to be our "first" love, and He deserves to be. It is an honor and privilege to be a child of the "living" God.

Deut. 6:5 says, "And thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all (100) of thine heart, and with all (100) of thy soul, and with all (100) of thy might." And that means 100...all of the time, not when we feel like it or when it is convenient.

After all 1 John 4:19 says, "We love Him, because He FIRST loved us."

Revelation really sums up God's position when we don't put Him first. Rev. 2:4 says, "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast LEFT thy FIRST love."

My husband knows, the first thing in the morning I kiss Jesus. Psalm 2:12a says, "KISS the Son..." I spend quality time with my "first" love...before time with my husband. He also knows that I love Jesus MORE than I love him and vice versa. By me loving Jesus ...first, I am able to love my husband with spiritual respect and honor. My boy's are grown and married, and they too know, whose their mom's heart belongs to.

Someone once said, "All...time, belongs to God. How are you spending His time?"

I too in my past, had been caught up in the "world's" rat race and living in sin, when God had to "grab me by the ...THROAT." Hahahaha But ...that's another story, for another time. (grin)

In His service,

lostnsavd...

P.S. There is no such thing as a "poor/unwealthy" preacher when they are God's child and anointed. A man or woman of God is "rich" beyond measure when Jesus is...First in their life and ...walking in, OBEDIENCE! Amen.
8/2/2008 1:53:55 AM - anonymous


awesome Thanks you for this
8/14/2008 1:40:32 PM - anonymous


May God bless you, and allow the world to see clearly through his eyes.
_much love
8/17/2008 5:56:47 PM - anonymous


Thank you for this devotional, today I didn't go to church instead I stayed home to satisfy my own selfish need. My spirit has not been right all day. Part of it was my reaction to having too much to do. I have spoken to God about it and now I will leave it in his hands. I know it was him that directed me to this website and this message. God Bless you for your service to us.

Bermuda
8/17/2008 7:04:20 PM - anonymous


Thank you. God spoke to me through this today. I started not to read it because I have so many things to do. I do push my time with God aside too often because of my priorities being out of balance. GOD BLESS!
8/19/2008 8:36:07 AM - sandycrago, Member of Delve into Jesus since 3/3/2008


I'm from Mexico. He sido bendecido por esta palabra, aunque no pueda escribir entiendo algo el ingles y aprecio el trabajo que se han tomado en darnos esta perspectiva de ver que mi comuniĆ³n con Cristo es mas importante todos los dias de mi vida
8/20/2008 11:23:13 AM - anonymous


Thank you. I am challenged by your message. I appreciate your openness and honesty.
8/26/2008 5:30:09 AM - anonymous


I'm so glad that there are people older than me around that do share in my belief and convictions regarding my relationship with God! I'm 18 and it's great to see solid teachings on the internet. Thank you so much for seaking God's truth.
8/26/2008 9:06:46 PM - anonymous


I read this again today.
It made me think of my Husband.
He is a very hard worker.
He works two jobs, one of which
he is the Owner.
He doesn't get enough sleep.
Today I said I thought he should take a nap.
He said he had too much work to do.
I told him surrender your business and work
to the Lord, that the Lord can do a better job
with it than he can. God can even bless
him with orders while he sleeps!
Later when he woke up he reminded me of our conversation.
While he slept, he received a fantastic order over the Fax Machine!
I thank and praise the Lord!!!!!!!
(For my husband surrendering to the Lord, getting sleep,
and for the great order!)
This has happened before too!

8/28/2008 10:13:33 PM - Ignited~Faith, Member of Delve into Jesus since 2/20/2008


Always put God first in what ever you are doing and it will turn out allright and live a balanced faith life you are can enjoy a life of leisure as long as you keep it clean.Remenber the Joy of the Lord is your strengh.
God Bless. Cal
9/1/2008 11:14:49 AM - anonymous


Thank You for the Wake Up CALL!
9/2/2008 9:27:09 AM - anonymous


I'm definitely challenged with this issue. I work a home based business part time while working a part time job 4 days a week to pay off debt. It's difficult because when you are building a business, you have to do callbacks, book appts, go to meetings, trainings, etc. I usually go out at least 1 night a week to hang out with some friends after church. I also take part of Sun off to do nothing except rest from my weekly activities. My struggle is while I'm doing a brief devotion in the mornings, I have work on my mind and am distracted.
Anyone have any suggestions?

James
9/13/2008 11:10:27 AM - anonymous


Wow, I know this feeling all to wellworking overtime, exhausting yourself until that next big trip. Returning from the trip just wish you were back on vacation or ready to go on another. Always waiting for the next big thing can leave us missing out on those irreplaceable small things that our lives have to offer. That biggest, warmest, furthest vacation cannot replace the smallest hand you've ever held, the gentlest kiss you've ever had, or the brightest smile you've ever seen. We spend so much time chasing the big moments in life that we forget that it's the small moments that add up to big moments which count.
It's the same with our time with God we spend all week doing God knows what waiting for Sunday to come to make nice with our conscious. Its not the day with God that makes our lives righteous, but the seconds, the minutes, and the hours that we devote to our lives to him through trust, love, obedience, and faith.

May the Lord watch between you and thee your descendants and mine, in Jesus Name Amen.
9/29/2008 3:33:18 PM - anonymous


this was great and it really gives you something to think about
God Bless You
FalynsMommy
10/27/2008 8:38:34 AM - anonymous


I just know that God led me to this devotional today. I have been so busy and overwhelmed with working for 8 hours in the corporate world then doing my home-based business when I get home and not having time to talk with my husband. I rationalize by telling myself that the reason I work so hard and am so busy is because I want to support him in his "golden years," but this devotional makes it very clear that God should be number 1... then our family and loved one; all else will follow.
5/6/2009 4:32:05 AM - anonymous




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