The dictionary defines workaholism as a compulsion to work excessively hard and long hours. On the spectrum of work, it lies at the extreme right where work is an obsession. Your passion for work is greater than everything else in your life, and it gets prioritized above everything else. Effectively, you worship work as an idol. It is your god. At the opposite end of the spectrum lies indifference. That’s when work feels like drudgery. You’re just going through the motions and really don’t care about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Indifference kicks in when our idols fail us or disappoint us. Both idolatry and indifference are opposite expressions of working out of the selfish-zone. The key to perpetual unhappiness is working in the selfish-zone.
The opposite of the selfish-zone is the neighbor-zone. If you learn to work in the neighbor-zone, you become a neighborholic. The key to perpetual happiness is working in the neighbor-zone. In other words, we are happiest when we are serving other people with our work efforts. In this context, happiness is not something we chase after, but rather something that is caught when we pause to recognize God’s goodness in it. That is how God created and wired humans for happiness. True joy is found in fellowship with others.
Simply stated, idolatry is when we replace God with work. Indifference is when we reject God’s call to work. Both are rooted in selfishness. Rather, we must work as though we are working for God by putting Him as the center of our work. Such a motive is a call against idolatry. Furthermore, we must rise above indifference by working diligently and entrepreneurially with all the skills and talents God has given us. When we’re able to align our motives and priorities in this manner, we become neighborholics. We place God first, others second, and ourselves third.
To live our lives this way requires training. Just as athletes train to compete in the arena of their sport, we must discipline our minds and bodies to master the skills needed to compete in the arena of life. We must master moderation and self-control to learn how to work in the neighbor-zone. It won’t just happen. We need to intentionally forge new daily habits that produce neighborholism. Not every desire which seems good should be followed, nor every unpleasant desire avoided. It is sometimes necessary to use restraint even with good endeavors so that they don’t become distractions. Also, it is necessary to push yourself through difficult and unpleasant things, especially when you don’t feel like it, because without those challenges, you will never learn the skills needed to be a neighborholic.
How much you eat, sleep, exercise, relax … all these are part of learning self-mastery so that you may be strong and ready for the neighbor-zone. You have the right to do anything, but not everything is beneficial, or helpful. Freewill is a double-edged sword. Workaholism vs. neighborholism. You get to choose.
Would you mind joining me in the neighbor-zone?