Thursday, March 22 , 2018, 5:14 am | Mostly Cloudy 59º


Jim Langley: Are You a Workaholic?

“My name is Jim and I’m a workaholic” would be an appropriate statement if I were to attend a WA meeting. Yes, there’s actually a Workaholics Anonymous World Service Organization, and it’s quite simple to find a local group to help these addicts on their road to recovery.

My recovery started a few days before Christmas nearly 24 years ago after a dramatic four days flat on my back at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. The road to the hospital was certainly paved with good intentions.

Twenty months before that eventful hospital stay we adopted our newborn daughter. A few months later, I decided to leave our management team and once again enter the field as an insurance agent. And then our church decided to merge with another local church, and I was deeply involved in the merger process.

My average work day consisted of nearly a dozen hours in the office, a few hours here and there devoted to church work, and then home in the evening to spend time with my wife and our little girl.

Fortunately, my doctor diagnosed the double pneumonia before it was too late. He got my attention when he explained my situation was almost identical to puppeteer Jim Henson’s condition. He did not take his doctor’s advice and it was his demise!

Those four days in the hospital turned me into a recovering workaholic. I actually consider that experience as a blessing from above. God has often had to take drastic measures to get my attention. I left the hospital with a whole new outlook on life.

Let’s talk about the addiction and how one might contract it. In retrospect, I believe mine started at a very young age. When I was 3, my Dad started grooming me to become a Major League baseball player.

We put in countless hours working on fielding, throwing, running bases and taking batting practice from both sides of the plate. Without batting gloves in those days I often left practice with my hands bleeding after taking hundreds of swings.

Eighteen months in Vietnam added fuel to the fire, and I found myself caught up in a work ethic that demanded my devotion to feeding my addiction. Two marriages later, I was still caught up in the lie that life was all about working hard at whatever the cost.

The recognition of bosses and peers helped me justify my actions. My superiors appreciated my work ethic, and I was young and caught up in the game of moving up the corporate ladder. After accepting Christ and marrying one final time, I was still caught up in an extremely busy lifestyle even though my focus had changed dramatically.

In my study of the Bible, I can easily relate to Paul, who was first known as Saul of Tarsus. Saul was a fanatic who made it his mission to persecute those who had left the Jewish faith of his fathers to follow Christ. His “road to Damascus” experience certainly changed his direction, but he remained in my estimation a workaholic only now tirelessly serving his Lord Jesus!

I’ve come to understand that we can certainly find strength in Christ, but we also need to pace ourselves. After all, Jesus, our greatest example, knew when He needed to rest and spend time with His Father to recharge His batteries.

Do take a hard look at your life. Ask your spouse and others about your work ethic and possible misplaced priorities. If it was important to Christ, I’d say it should be even more important to us. Don’t get caught up in the workaholic’s snare!

Passages to Ponder

» Genesis 2:1-3

» Ecclesiastes 6:1-4

» Ecclesiastes 12:6-8

» Matthew 11:28-30

— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara ​(Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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