Work: How Much Is Too Much?

By Kristie Eshelman


We’ve all seen the stereotype: the successful attorney who wakes up and realizes that he or she has no real relationships with family members or friends.

It’s a situation that no one wants to be in – but how can anyone avoid it when the legal profession – and the path to success – is so demanding?

At the same time, God wants everyone—including lawyers—to glorify him through their work and this often means investing less time in other areas of life.

Balancing a demanding profession with everything else can seem like a Catch-22. So as Christians, how do we best serve God?

God Calls Us to Pursue Both

The tension between work and everything else becomes insurmountable when we forget that both are just aspects of the Christian life. God calls us to follow him first and foremost, and we seek meaningful relationships and professional excellence because of that calling. In his book, How Then Should We Work? Hugh Whelchel states,

Our obedience to our primary calling to Christ can be seen working itself out in these four secondary callings, which are the call to the human family, the call to church, the call to community, and the call to vocation.

It’s good to make professional success a priority as long as it does not come before actually serving God.

Likewise, the call to cultivate great relationships in our families, churches, and larger communities is no excuse to become lazy or complacent in our professional work.

Seasons in Life

The author of Ecclesiastes was right: there is a time and a season for everything. If you feel that your life isn’t perfectly balanced right now, know that this balance will probably shift depending on where God is calling you to be in that particular time and place.

Early in your career, you might sacrifice a lot in order to finish law school or work at an established firm, with little time to establish relationships outside of your work. Or, there might be certain times of year where you are working around the clock. There’s nothing wrong with that.

The Balance Will Look Different for Every Single Person

As Matt Perman notes in his new book, What’s Best Next,

The fact that someone is working a lot does not make that person a workaholic. Some people really enjoy their work and want to work a lot…Sometimes it is the path God has placed before us.

But there’s also nothing wrong with passing up a professional opportunity that might tear you away from your church, family, or community.

In the end, God created us as unique individuals in his image. As long as we are seeking to do everything to the glory of God, the way we balance work with church, family, and community is going to look different for every single person and situation.

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Kristie Eshelman is the Associate Editor at the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics.

The Institute for Faith, Work & Economics™ (IFWE) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) Christian research organization committed to promoting biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society.