A few weeks ago, Trish and I were getting ready to go to bed, and the tension in our room was thick. There had been no argument. There was no disagreement. But there was distance. Something was wrong. You could feel it.
As we were laying there, I finally just said it, “What is the deal? What is wrong?”
“Trish, please tell me.”
“Ok. You are a workaholic. You don’t know how to turn it off, and not only can I not go at that speed, I’m worried about you.”
Her words weren’t an accusation, they were more like a diagnosis.
I had nothing to feel defensive about because every word she said was true. I could feel God affirming her words as they moved from my head to my heart.
I was confused and frustrated. I thought I had conquered workaholism. After our marriage imploded … after we separated, I was different. We were different. I knew my priorities. I had boundaries, and I didn’t find my identity in my job or title any more. How did I get back to this place?
The next week, we left for vacation. Our travel schedule had been hectic. Our kids’ schedule had been full. This would be a week of us together, in one place, relaxing.
Monday morning, I got up before everyone. Trisha’s words still played in my head. Tears streamed down my face, and I repeated those words out loud as a confession to God. “I’m a workaholic, God. I don’t want to be. I am asking for your forgiveness and I want to figure it out. I need you to help me figure it out.”
I sensed God asking me a question. “What are you afraid of? This is about your heart not your schedule. Fear is driving you. What are you afraid of?”
Over the next few days, I discovered four fears that I had allowed to go undetected in my heart. I don’t have them conquered, but I do have them identified. Here are what I believe to be four fears of a workaholic. At least they are four fears of this workaholic.
1. Fear of failing.
After failing my wife and kids in the worst possible way, I didn’t want to fail them again. What if going part time at Cross Point and full time with RefineUs was the wrong decision? What if it doesn’t work? What if I fail? When fear of failure drives us, we begin to think we’re in control. Workaholics always believe they can control everything. When we believe we control everything, fear of failure dominates us.
2. Fear of letting others down.
When the book came out in January, I began to realize all of the people that had helped us get to this point. Our friends, our family, our agent and our publishing team all had a significant role in our book being published. I didn’t want to let any of them down, and that fear crept into my heart. When you fear letting others down, you say yes to things you should say no to and in the process let workaholism rule more of your heart.
3. Fear of not being needed.
All of us want to feel important. We want to feel valued. There is nothing wrong with that. But when that feeling becomes a fear, we start using our work to give us security that only God can provide. Our job or our ministry actually becomes our god.
4. Fear of not being enough.
This is a fear I have struggled with since 8th grade. I think most of us struggle with this fear. When this fear is left undetected or unconfessed, our job or ministry become the best way to prove we are enough. Living to prove yourself to someone will make you an approval addict to everyone. We are enough because we have a God that knows us intimately and loves us fully. This fear is defeated as we live, not through our performance, but out of an overflow of that love.
We never arrive. We are always in process. God longs to continually refine us. These fears are defeated as we identify and confess them.
Changing your schedule is good, allowing God to change your heart is the only way to overcome the fears of the workaholic.
Do you struggle at any level with these fears?