If you can't read the smaller version I've added to this blog, you can see the original here. In brief, Microsoft is promoting their new line of Office products by suggesting workers are wasting a lot of potential work time by being away from the office. Microsoft can enable them to work anywhere! Bathroom? Work space! Vacation? Meeting time! On a date? Email!
Just imagine being able to work every waking moment of the day, every day of the year...
Of course the sad truth is that for many people, life already feels like this. We are one of the hardest working nations on earth, but we're also one of the most stressed out, exhausted, and suffer from a variety of health problems that are probably related to the first two. We don't even take all of our vacation.
There are a variety of reasons for us to reexamine the mindset that thinks the life this Microsoft ad promotes is a good idea. But combatting overworking isn't just an economic or health issue. It's a faith issue.
I say this is a faith issue for several reasons. I think for decades or centuries, we in America came to make industriousness synonymous with being a good Christian. There are lots of reasons for this, but I put a lot of the blame at the feet of our Puritan founders. (Long story short: Puritans came to see economic success and hard work as evidence of a healthy inner-faith and therefore worked hard to "prove" their salvation.) As we've largely combined Christian and American values, for better or worse, we've come to largely assume that working hard at our jobs is both the American and Christian thing to do.
But as Christians, we are called to do more than our jobs. Martin Luther insisted that all Christians have vocations ("vocation" literally means "calling") given to them by God. And, yes, the one that pays the bills is part of it, but Luther was also insistent that God calls us to be parents and friends and siblings and spouses and many others that may not be jobs, but are key to sharing God's love in society, practicing faith, and maintaining our own faith. Ignoring our kid's soccer game or doing work while watching a movie as a family is neglecting all the other vocations God has given us to give and receive love in our lives.
God calls us to invest in relationships. Because we have been given a restored relationship to God, we are drawn to restore relationships with others. Work has its place in our society and there will certainly be times we do need to work long hours, but it isn't all that we are. We earn a living at work; God gives us life to be shared.
From the Gray,
“Today is all you’ll ever have. Don’t close your eyes.” -Switchfoot, “This is Your Life”