Proverbs 23:4, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness.”
According to recent studies, the American worker is the most overworked employee of all the developed nations. Americans on average work longer hours, have less vacation time, less days off and retire at an older age compared to workers in Japan, Canada, England, Germany, France, etc. Also, the U.S. doesn’t even require its employers to give extended time off with paid maternity leave for parents who have new babies.
In 1960 only 20% of mothers worked outside of the home, today over 70% of children live in homes where both parents work. In the U.S. 85% of males and 66% of females work more than 40 hours per week. For perspective, Americans work 137 more hours a year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours a year than British workers and almost 500 more hours a year than French workers; that’s almost 10 more hours a week!
What is the price Americans have to pay for being overworked? Stress. The result of being overworked is being overstressed. Doctors in every field agree that stress plays a major factor in our health. Stress affects the heart, the mind, the immune system, the muscles and even our sexuality.
King Solomon taught that we must take care of ourselves when achieving our goals because if we don’t, we won’t be able to enjoy the fruit of our hard labor due to being worn out.
Shockingly, it’s believed that stress is the leading cause for 75% of doctor visits. Whether it’s a cold or a backache, most sick days are caused because of lack of rest and proper diet, which are common symptoms for stress. King Solomon in the above proverb gives a simple, yet powerful piece of wisdom to all people- especially the American worker; “Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich, because you’re not that smart!” No matter who you are, if you get stressed out, no amount of money or success will be able to de-stress you; that’s something only God’s wisdom can give you. A great pastor once told me, “God’s best is for you to work from a place of rest!”
We may think we’re clever enough to work all these hours and not pay a price for it, but that’s foolish thinking. Humble yourself and take a day off. Learn from God’s command to the Jews and rest one day a week. Take time to honor the Lord, be with friends and family and rest your mind. Remember, you’re not invincible; you have a breaking point. Don’t wait until you wear yourself out to learn this valuable lesson. Learn the lesson of balance now. You will be better off in working less because you will be in better shape both mentally and physically.
- Ask God to give you wisdom to find time to rest and restore your mind, body and spirit.
- Identify any stress symptoms in your life- like smoking, cursing, over eating, lack of good sleep and reverse the curse. Start exercising, going to bed early and try to follow better eating habits.
- Ask God everyday to guard you from falling into the trap of “wearing yourself out.”