Against the Pastor-Workaholic

If there is anyone who can justify being a workaholic, it’s a pastor. Our work literally never ends. There’s always a sermon to prepare, someone to counsel, or a meeting to lead.

We can also trick ourselves into thinking that the more we work, the more we show we care. But being a workaholic is not a sign of ministry affection. It’s a sign that we aren’t very good at working.

The ineffectiveness that results from working around the clock is perfectly articulated by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson in their book, Rework:

“Our culture celebrates the idea of the workaholic…Not only is this workaholism unnecessary, it’s stupid. Working more doesn’t mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more.

Workaholics wind up creating more problems than they slove. First off, working like that just isn’t sustainable over time. When the burnout crash comes – and it will – it’ll hit that much harder.

Workaholics miss the point, too. They try to fix problems by throwing sheer hours at them. They try to make up for intellectual laziness with brute force [my italics]. This results in inelegant solutions.

They even create crises. They don’t look for ways to be more efficient because they actually like working overtime [their italics]. They enjoy feeling like heroes. They create problems (often unwittingly) just so they can get off on working more…

If all you do is work, you’re unlikely to have sound judgments. Your values and decision making wind up skewed. You stop being able to decide what’s worth extra effort and what’s not. And you wind up just plain tired. No one makes sharp decisions when tired.

In the end, workaholics don’t actually accomplish more than nonworkaholics…Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.”


  1. I totally agree. One of the things that has helped me is to have a finite time where I’m going to work. This scarcity prompts me to make better decisions and hopefully be more productive with my time.

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