I had blogged for years, but one wintery day, I decided to get serious about writing instead of it just being a hobby. I designed a new website and started penning a book.
Soon I was writing all hours of the night. I felt invigorated. My husband commented on my pleasant demeanor (as one who scores high in the melancholy department, this newfound joy was a welcome change).
But soon, the work started to take over and I couldn’t seem to stop.
I used to criticize those who were workaholics—especially those in ministry. How could they neglect their families for the sake of their work? But about a year into my work-from-home job, I realized that I had become one of them.
My desire to “arrive” as a writer seemed just out of reach, so I kept trying harder and working longer. Since creative projects energized me, I had a difficult time stopping to tend to the needs of others. I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I was irritable to my family.
From this place of unrest, I asked God for direction. If this book writing was just to stoke my ego, I needed to know that. But if there was a greater purpose, I needed to know that too.
An excerpt from Isaiah 61:1b (NIV) came to mind:
“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
Then He impressed upon me” ”and I am going to start with you.”
God wanted to address broken places in my heart and then use that message to do the same for others. One of the broken places was my motivation for work…striving in order to be approved. I worked to earn things, like love, acceptance, and worthiness.
For years I hustled to try and be holy instead of realizing that through Christ, I already was holy. Because of Jesus’s finished work on the cross and my belief in Him, I was already loved, accepted, and worthy—not because I worked hard but because He did the hardest work of all time (dying for my sins, so that I could be forgiven and restored to the Father).
Yes, working hard can be a beautiful expression of our love for Jesus. But we don’t have to work hard in order to earn that which we already have through Him.
I am created to be a doer. For years I thought there was something wrong with that. I like creative work and God is not surprised by that—He made me that way, on purpose.
But I need to regularly evaluate why I am working. Am I striving to be noticed, to be applauded, to be admired…or I am serving Christ because I am responding to His love and thankful for it?
There is nothing wrong with working hard! But let’s ask ourselves why:
- Is it to gain something or to give something?
- Is it to prove something or to pour out something?
- Is it to earn something or to offer something?
I don’t want to be a workaholic anymore. A workaholic is a slave to the task and insecure as she marches to the beat of a tyrannical master. I want to be a hard worker who is secure in her position as a beloved daughter. A daughter who delights in serving her Good Father because she belongs to Him.
When we receive the love that is already ours, we learn to work from a healthy place.
We discover holy hustle as we first embrace the holy that is given to us as a gift from the Holy One Himself. Then we work hard as a response to His love not in an effort to be loved.
With this seismic shift in thinking—from striving to responding—comes freedom for captives (starting with us).
a guest post by Katie Reid