I recently moved to the Washington, D.C. area and started work at a fast-growing tech startup. I am well aware that The District isn’t known for being a laid back city, but even still I am often surprised by the all-consuming nature of much of the work takes place there, both at my company and other companies around the city.
Though I can wear T-shirts and sneakers to work (and bring a dog if I’d like), the fun culture of a startup also comes with demanding expectations. As with any growing company, much is required of each employee in order to achieve growth, improve margins, and stay afloat. I have yet to see any of my coworkers leave the office before 6 p.m., and most stay considerably later each day. Emails come at all hours, and a prompt response is always expected. Standards are high, and strict metrics are evaluated weekly to ensure results.
As I adjust to my new workplace, I have been pondering work-life balance more than ever before. Balancing the two is something many of us strive for – But how? When the line between work and life seems fuzzy, where do we make it clear? What does the Bible say about this?
At the same time, God also made us do work to the best of our abilities. The Bible is clear about doing all work as unto the Lord. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 states, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”
If Biblical passages about the Sabbath or about work are focused on in isolation, our perspective on work and rest can become skewed. For example, if we choose to focus on Deuteronomy, we might feel guilt and lament the disobedience of Christians today in failing to rest in the midst of our busy lives. However, if we choose to focus on 2 Thessalonians, we might feel justified in a hectic work schedule that never slows down.
As I look at my current work and towards my future career, I am learning that work-life balance is not black and white. Both rest and work are Biblical. We aren’t under the Old Covenant anymore: Christ fulfilled the law perfectly for us. However, that does not negate the value that the Bible places on rest; the Ten Commandments have not suddenly lost their force!
God designed us to do His redeeming work in the world, but He also knew the toll it would take on us. The beautiful rhythm we fall into, then, is one of grace. In our workplaces, we are free to act on our God-given desires to work, create, and produce. And yet, we must also rest, knowing that our need for rest is a sign of one of the most comforting and frustrating truths of all: God is God, and we are not.
Where do I lose the rhythm of grace in my life?
Kate Moody works in Public Relations, focusing particularly on social media. She is a member of the 2015-2016 Capital Fellows Program.
Images: FreeImages.com/carl dwyer, Shaun W.