Updated: May 21, 2020
One day I was sitting at a restaurant, talking to an acquaintance of mine about the topic of addiction. A waitress walked up and shared that she had struggled with drug addiction for many years and was now sober. She mentioned that now her addiction is work and that it was a "good addiction." I thought about that statement, and I started to think about how many people in my life (including myself) become addicted to working because we think it is a "good addiction" that keeps us out of trouble.
I have a few problems with this. One, in those whom I have noticed with a "work addiction," they tend to use work as an excuse to avoid healthy tasks, such as cleaning, self-care, etc. In his article "Are You A Workaholic?" Brad Klontz, Psy.D., CFP states,
"Workaholism is a family disease often passed down from parent to child. Workaholics use work to cope with emotional discomfort and feelings of inadequacy. They get adrenaline highs from work binges and then crash from exhaustion, resulting in periods of irritability, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. To cope with these feelings, workaholics then begin another cycle of excessive devotion to work. Workaholics are so immersed in work they have little time to invest in family life and child-rearing. In the time they do spend with their children they pass down their unrealistic and unattainable perfectionistic standards: “A ‘B’ is okay, but you really should be getting ‘A’s.”
I could not agree more. Workaholism ruins relationships with loved ones, with friends, and even with coworkers. It is not necessarily the love of money that drives people to workaholism. It is the unhealthy drive mentioned above. Sometimes it is just the chance to escape reality. It can cause you to miss the most important aspects of life and always use the excuse "I have to work."
In the Bible, we see that before the fall of man, Adam worked but he did not have to toil (i.e. perform hard, back-breaking labor). Hard and painful labor (ironically, both vocational work and child-bearing) is a result of the fall. Work may not be easy for us due to the fall. I believe that though we should work hard and not be lazy, we should seek God to help us not overdo it. Jesus came to be the grace for us so we don't have to kill ourselves working more and more jobs for little reward. The Bible says that anything done without faith is sin (Romans 14:23). This statement includes work. Relying on ourselves and our efforts leads us away from the cross and gives us the misconception that we don't need God. Thus, we end up committing the same sin that drove Eve to bite forbidden fruit, asking ourselves, "Did God really say I need to rest?" Believing that he is withholding something from us by taking a break. Beloved, God rested, and we are not God, so how much more should we?
I would challenge you to ask yourself, "Am I addicted to work?" If so, seek God and others to help you find a balance so you don't work your life away. Rest. Seek freedom from toxic work.