Recently, I came across an interview that DBS's CEO, Piyush Gupta, gave to Channel NewsAsia. When asked about his view on “work-life balance”, he described it as “all baloney”. He went on to explain that one cannot divorce work from life, as one’s friends, colleagues, growth and income are at work. Gupta’s belief is that there is no such thing as work-life balance.
I reflected on “work-life balance” and did a quick internet search. The term refers to “the ability to balance personal and professional responsibilities with adequate time for rest and leisure”. Yet, different people may understand it differently. Some may feel that the word balance provides a false image of work on one side and life on the other. Perhaps a better term may be “growth-rest equilibrium”. Similar to the demand and supply curve, one seeks the point of interaction that provides equilibrium. One knows that greater supply does not mean better results, since over-supply impacts revenue. The challenge is to get as close as possible to the point of equilibrium. Since many factors affect the equilibrium, trying to cover every scenario from fear of missing out may not be the best approach. It would be wiser to channel resources for the most likely scenario. Thus, putting more hours into work does not always produce the desired outcome.
Yes, we cannot divorce work from life. The Bible does warn us against idleness (2 Thess 3:10-12). Yet, work is not an end unto itself. It allows us to interact with the world and enables us to share the good news that Jesus came to redeem a dying world. In a battle, every soldier plays an important role. There will be blood, sweat and tears but it is not the time to give up. The pain needs to be overcome and the ground needs to be secured. When your fellow soldier falls in battle, will you take over and lift the flag high? Living and working in this fallen world is not easy. We are sure to face challenges in our work. The comforting truth is that we can humble ourselves and ask God to give us the wisdom to resolve problems in a way that glorifies Him. We cannot afford to lose our identity as followers of Christ in our workplace, our school or in our family. We are ambassadors of the Almighty. Many people may not pick up the Bible, but they are sure to read our lives. We are living testimonies of the gospel. Do others around us feel drawn to find out more about the God we worship? Do they notice the difference in the way we work, the way we seek God and how we handle success and failures?
Yet, in the busyness of work, we sometimes lose sight of the purpose of work. Do we work to live or live to work? “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labour of your hands: you shall be blessed, it shall be well with you” (Psalm 128:1-2). I recall a pastor once mentioning that in his years of ministry, he had the chance to hear the pain of dying individuals who regretted not spending more time with family and loved ones. Never had he come across anyone who expressed regret at not spending more time at work! Have we replaced God who gave us our jobs and promoted work as our idol?
Let us be content with our jobs. Be thankful for the daily opportunity of being a living witness of the gracious God who grants salvation to all who seek Him. Let our good works be like a beacon, guiding lost souls in darkness to the shining light of God’s saving grace. When our life is over, may we hear the sweet words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Let us draw near to Jesus and raise the cross as our flag. People will always view us as Christians first instead of teachers, nurses or students. Our identity cannot be separated into the workplace or the church. The victory is already decided but the fighting is far from ceasing!
_ Deacon Richard Yew