Summary: Part 4 in series "Life’s Too-Short To...," this message addresses workaholism, ending with ways to know if one is a workaholic.
Life’s Too Short To…Work All The Time
Life’s Too Short To…, prt. 4
Wildwind Community Church
In my previous church, Christy and I became friends with a couple – let’s call them George & Liz. I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent. And the not-so-innocent. George and Liz were a young couple who worked on my staff in my previous church.
Liz was a gifted servant and helper. She was also incredibly organized, so I quickly made her the official event registrar. She handled all event registrations, money, permission slips, and all that stuff I can’t stand working with. George seemed to have a heart for our teenage boys, so I spent some time with him and began teaching him to lead a small group. He was faithful, showing up prepared every week, always wanting to learn more.
After some time of working with them I began to detect that all was not well between George and Liz. Liz never outright complained, but I could tell she would have preferred George to spend more time at home. Eventually George and Liz approached me and asked if I’d be willing to see them for marriage counseling in my office. I agreed, and we began to meet. I soon found out that in addition to the technology business he was getting off the ground, George also was into Amway – which was no longer calling itself Amway but was still Amway. When he wasn’t at his business, he was off making his Amway pitches to whatever contacts he could drum up, and when he wasn’t doing that, he was away in Grand Rapids at Amway conventions, listening to talk about dreaming the big dreams and making it all happen for his family. There were even times when George would put his wife and two small children in the car and drive out and park in front of big houses and talk about how one day he was going to buy them a house like that. It was a technique he learned from Amway – something about envisioning the dream. It was all about big houses, fancy cars, swimming pools – you know – “American Dream” kind of stuff.
One evening as we sat in my office talking I had George look at Liz and I said, “George, did it ever occur to you that in reaching for one dream you might lose the other? George, listen to me. If you don’t start hearing your wife’s heart, you’re going to lose your family.” He said, “I don’t think so.” Liz looked at the floor and didn’t say anything at all.
This is the first time I encountered the phenomenon of married single motherhood. That’s what Liz was – a married single mother. Folks, life’s too short to work all the time. Even if you don’t lose them physically or emotionally, you’re going to miss out on the best years of your life, and you’ll never make the best memories you could have made. Last week I said you can’t hang on to a grudge and still receive all that God has for you. In the same way, you cannot invest the same amount of energy into building both a career and a family. Ultimately there will be times when something’s gotta give, and the thing that gives can only be your family so many times before you will lose them. It’s not a question of if, but a question of when.
George did lose Liz. Turns out several months later Liz found out George had been having an affair with his secretary – it had been going on for two or three months. Liz filed for divorce. A year later I met George for lunch. We were reminiscing about the good old days of working together in ministry and hanging out with each other. He got tears in his eyes after a while, and he said, “You know, I’d give anything to have Liz back, and to have my kids with me. Do you think she’d take me back? If only I had known this was going to happen. I know you said it would, but I just never thought it really would.” I wanted to put my arm on his shoulder and with deep sincerity say, “George, my friend, I know you are hurting. But what on God’s green earth did you think was going to happen? How much can you expect someone else to tolerate?” But I sat and listened, and said nothing. Liz never did take him back and three years later Christy and I had the bizarre experience of sitting on the sidelines of a soccer game where our girls were on a team with their daughter. George sat on one side of us with his new girlfriend (not the one he had had the affair with) and Liz sat on the other with her new boyfriend. It was surreal. And once again it was painful.