Is your life getting more and more like it is all about your job? Are you so pre-occupied with your work that you don’t have time for your family, friends, and loved ones? Do you ever wish that you can do more with your life than go to work each day?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then read on!
Have you ever felt that you are stuck in a rat race? Life feels like a vicious cycle of paying bills month after month and after month? It seems that you are tied to your work and the pressure of earning more or earning enough is just too much that you can handle.
As you look back on your childhood, every day seems to be a great adventure. But now, as adults, we have a lot of commitments, things to do, and to to-do lists to accomplish.
Before going further, let me share with you a story that will make you think about life. I want to use this story to illustrate the main point of this blog.
The American Investment Banker and the Mexican fisherman
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.
The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked, “How long does it take to catch them?”
The Mexican replied: “Just a few hours”.
The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s needs and sell a few more fish to have something in case of emergency.
The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep just to get enough energy, read books, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and happy life.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then?”
The American laughed and said that’s the best part. “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
“Millions… Then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would get enough sleep to recharge your body, read books, play with your children, take siesta with your wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where you sip wine and play guitar with your amigos, you will have a full and happy life.”
A lesson to learn
This story illustrates the life of many people today.
Isn’t it amazing my dear friends how so many people today go through so much trouble, pain, and suffering just to get something that they already have?
The fisherman already has something that he would like to have in the last years of his life. However, the investor is guiding him to a longer and much more difficult path to what he wants to ultimately achieve.
Oh, how true it is when they say, “We work so hard to make a living that we forget to live.”
The wisest King of Israel wrote in Proverbs 23:4-5:
DO NOT OVERWORK TO BE RICH;
Because of your own understanding, cease!
Will you set your eyes on that which is not?
For riches certainly make themselves wings;
They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.
What a great truism!
I believe if more people read, understand, and apply this Proverb, we could be seeing a happier and blessed world.
We are living in a sad and depressed world where it teaches us that the sure way to happiness is to get wealthier and acquire as much possession as possible.
Well, I hate to break it to you but if your main goal in life is to get rich, then you are making the biggest mistake of your life.
When I was in college, I learned something that stuck with me to this day.
“We don’t live to work, but we work to live.”
Now there’s a big difference between the two. God has given us a few decades to live, but He never intended that we should use all those years simply to work.
Our work isn’t the end of itself, but only a means to an end.
In other words, success in our job ISN’T the ultimate goal of living this life, but we should only use our job to achieve our greater purpose in life – and that is to be part of God’s kingdom!
Japan and Karoshi, the silent killer
Do you know that Japan is among the most overworked countries in the world?
They are so overworked that they come up with a new word, Karoshi – meaning, death from overwork.
Statistics show that 1 out of five Japanese employees are at risk of Karoshi and some suicides are attributed to the inability to cope up with the demands of their work.
This is a good example of people who are working so much to get rich. King Solomon’s advice to these people is to STOP overworking!
He argued that why should we spend so much of our time and energy on things that won’t last forever? He said, “For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”
They are here today and gone tomorrow.
Wouldn’t it be wiser for us to invest our time on things that are eternal?
My personal experience
After graduating from college and took the nursing licensure exam, we had to wait for three months to get the result. So, I decided to work while waiting for the result.
I applied for a job in Mandaluyong City and was hired to be a real estate agent. At that time, I live in Dasmarinas City. Now, traveling from my home to Mandaluyong will take me about 2 hours. My work starts at 8am, so naturally, you have to be on the road at 6am.
But that’s never been the case. Manila is notoriously known for its heavy traffic and if you leave home at 6am, you will surely get caught by traffic and you’ll end up late.
So, what I do is awake at 4am, leave home by 5am, arrive at work at 7am, and wait for another hour for work to start. It is either you arrive late or you arrive an hour earlier.
Now, going home is as difficult as going to work. You have to endure long hours of traffic. So, I get home around 7-8 pm. Now, imagine this routine repeating for the next 3 months – over and over and over again, day in, day out. Thankfully, I have the Sabbath every week for me to have physical rest and spiritual rejuvenation.
Every time I commute to go to work, I feel like I’m a prisoner inside the bus as I watch heavy traffic robs 3-4 hours of my life.
There’s no doubt, there’s money in Metro Manila. It is not difficult why so many people would like to work in the National Capital Region of our country. Many get rich by living there. But most people don’t really get what they have expected. Most people instead end up living in slum areas and putting up with a meager salary.
When I finally got the result of my nursing licensure exam, I quit my job. At that time, I applied for the summer camp of our former church organization which is held in a nature park in Davao City (a city in the southern part region of the Philippines).
That’s when I was reminded of the pleasure of living a simple life. After the summer camp, I got two options at that time. It is either to go back to Manila and continue my nursing career or stay in Davao where I can work in the church office.
I chose the latter and looking back, it was among the best decisions I ever made in my life.
By staying in Davao, I discovered a job that you can do without leaving your home. I learned more about God’s way of life since I worked in the Church office. Most importantly, I fell in love with my office mate and now we’re married and have a son.
Material wealth isn’t everything
Yes, it is true that we are not rich. We can’t afford to buy our own house. We can’t afford to buy a car, but we have more than enough that we can still share our blessings to other people.
I have a wife who loves me. I have a baby boy who brings joy to our lives. We have a spiritual family who gives us nurturing support. My life is far from perfect, but what more can I ask for?
I’d say this is the kind of life most rich people would love to have. Some people who are already rich even commit suicide. Just last Tuesday, you might have heard of Kate Spade, a world-renowned fashion designer and businesswoman who hanged herself. She was only 55.
In this life, you really can’t have it all. You can’t have something without sacrificing anything. You have to give something in exchange for wealth. In most cases, people would even give up their marriage, health, friendship, principle, and even life just to get something that would never last.
Jim Elliott, a man who was killed for preaching the Gospel, once said:
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
All too often, we foolishly exchange eternity with temporary things. I hope we can have the eyes to see and ears to hear to realize that the most important things in life are not things at all. But they are the people who make your life worth living for and your relationship with God that will allow you to live a more blessed life.
When overworking isn’t good anymore
Please don’t get me wrong.
I’m not saying that we must not have any dream of having a more comfortable life. I’m not saying that we become lazy, be content, and don’t see the need to improve our lives.
In reality, the Bible tells us the importance of hard work and diligence. If you read the Bible, you will see how important it is for us to give our best in everything that we do.
We must even work as if we are working for God.
The problem happens when you make an idol out of your work a and you let your job gets between you and God.
You spend too much time in your work that you don’t have enough time for the more important things in life. You don’t have time to worship God, study the Bible, fast, and even attend church services. You neglect the emotional needs of your family, you don’t have time to re-connect with old friends, and you forget to do good to other people.
You can have an ambition in life but don’t let that prevent you from doing God’s work and fulfilling His will in your life.
A promise you can count on
My friends, as long as you know you have given your best in your work without breaking God’s commandments and without neglecting the more important things in life, then you can always count on the promise written in Psalms 84:11:
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
With this in mind my dear friends, you don’t have to worry about where you will get your food for your next meal. You don’t have to worry about the tuition of your kids. You don’t have to worry about where to get the money to pay your monthly bills.
Because you can always have the confidence that God will NOT withhold anything that is good for you as long as you continually walk uprightly before Him.
If God didn’t say “yes” to your prayer, then it could be that it is something that won’t be good for you. If He didn’t give you the promotion that you prayed for, then it might not be good for you. If He didn’t give you a new car or a new house, maybe, it is not in your best interest.
God is all-knowing and He knows what’s best for us.
Being a diligent, industrious, and productive person is highly encourage in the Bible. God blesses His people with material wealth as well.
However, we must not commit the mistake of putting more importance on our work that we forget to serve God. We must always put God first and all things will just fall in the right place. Make Him the number 1 priority in your life and “all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
With that being said, I hope that you learned a valuable lesson today. We must not let our job gets between us and God.
God will never leave us empty. He will always be there to supply all our needs as long as we are doing our part. So surrender your life into God’s hands, surrender all your worries and needs, and you will see how witness the blessings He will bring in to your life!