“And He sold to them, Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while’. For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place In the boat by themselves» (Mark 6:31, 32).
Those who overwork usually tend to keep themselves so involved in their tasks that they need someone to warn them to take a break. It is precisely what Jesus told His disciples when He took them aside from the crowd. Today, it is easier to get caught up in working overtime than it was in the past. It is easy to take all your files and folders from work on your computer, tablet or mobile phone and continue working by being connected to the Internet for hours which previously were dedicated to family and leisure.
The Bible praises working with diligence (Prov. 6:6-8; 13:11; 14:23; 2 Thess. 3:615). But it also contains messages that warn us to avoid the excessive work. For example, apart from today’s verse, there are other texts that warn against the ambitious task of earning money (Prov. 23:4); other texts teach us about the Sabbath as a day of ceasing all work-related activities that God established (Gen. 2:3).
There is also a step above being overworked. This is called work addiction. The addict shows obsession for his work and it masters his thoughts. He is under the control of his professional activities and he uses his job as a compulsive (recurrent) way to reduce anxiety and the feeling of guilt caused by not working. It is like a drug used to make one feel better. This behavior is today classified as a common disorder, with therapy groups (Workaholics Anonymous); they use scales to measure its intensity and specially designed therapies for its treatment.
We all have a certain risk of dealing with this issue, but it is even more dangerous within competitive societies or companies where the increase of efficiency is awarded, where bonuses, raise, public recognition are offered and working overtime is commended. In the most extreme cases, the addicts work long hours, eat at their desk, read and take notes while speaking on phone, send text messages and emails continuously, avoid taking holidays and end up with depressive symptoms.
Maybe you are not work addicted but perhaps you tend to overwork. In any case, we invite you today to examine your values (Matt. 6:33) and remember that your relationship with the Creator is essential and that your family and the social bonds are important for you to enjoy balanced mental health. Of course, work and leisure are also important but in reasonable amounts.