Are You a Workaholic? by Rev. Dean Hawk

Are You a Workaholic?
by Rev. Dean Hawk

Dean Hawk is the senior pastor at Rock Family Church in Colorado Springs, CO.  He has served in the full-time ministry over the last 27 years in various capacities. Prior to starting Rock Family Church in 2004 he served as youth pastor, associate pastor, Bible college instructor, and conference speaker. He has also authored 14 volumes of H2O Sermon Source.  Each creative and illustrative sermon comes with a teaching outline, Power Point presentation, handout, and small group guide.  Dean’s success in ministry can be summed up in one word: creativity. He believes it is a sin to be boring in church which motivates him to continually seek the Lord for new and creative ideas to reach people with the good news!  Check out their H20 web-site at

Hold on to your hat! You may be sick and not even know it. Most workaholics are just like many of the other addicts who live in denial of the obvious symptoms and claim to be “normal.” In Philippians chapter two Paul references a man named Epaphroditus who became sick and almost died due to his work in the ministry. Even today in our culture we see the same patterns repeated by people in every occupation but especially those who serve in full time ministry. It’s all too easy to somehow justify it under the spiritual pretense that we are, “Doing the work for the Lord” and we push beyond the healthy boundaries. If God worked six days and rested on the seventh, who do we think we should do more than Him? I dare you to answer the questions honestly, then sit down with your family and get their feedback as well.

You Might Be A Workaholic If . . .

  • Work always seems to take precedence over family and leisure time.
  • All your emails go to your Blackberry and you read them constantly.
  • You work from 5 A.M. to 9 P.M. seven days a week;
  • You consider sleep and leisure a ”waste of time”;
  • There is no clear separation for you between work time and home time.
  • Even when at home your work is the top priority. You miss out on family activities, family meals, and children’s games or recitals because, “you have to take care of a situation.”
  • You have little time for hobbies, fun, or relaxation.
  • You can’t separate your cell phone from you hip or ear.
  • You and your lap top have a more personal bond than you and your wife.
  • You believe your self worth is tied to your success in the ministry.
  • You prefer labor to leisure. You get depressed and anxious on your day off and holidays.
  • You look forward to Monday morning (getting back to work) the way others look forward to Friday afternoon (getting off work).
  • You are overly committed and obsessed with work.
  • You have no friends or social life other then work-related functions.
  • You believe you are the only one who can do the job right.
  • Work is on your mind 24/7.
  • You feel stressed out because of your job.
  • You get offended when others recommend you cut back on your work.
  • You do not take vacations or if you do you take your work with you.

Ouch! That is a tough list. Only you and your family can determine if your life is truly out of balance. We have all faced the busy lifestyle and stressed filled times of doing ministry, the key is that we don’t operate like this on a weekly basis. I am a recovering workaholic and continually have to guard myself from “falling off the wagon.” My wake up call to the disease came many years ago when my son was three years old. I was the youth pastor with a youth group of 500 students, I was teaching in Bible College, and I was in the rotation to handle after hours emergency calls for members in a large church. One day my son said to my wife, “I wish I was sick and in the hospital.” Kim asked, “Preston, why would you say something like that?” His reply, “So then my daddy would come see me.” When I came home and heard what he had said I was convicted. The problem was not that I was being forced to overwork by my pastor but I had allowed my life to get out of balance. Something had to change. As Kim says, “Dean has never worked a day in his life. He loves what he does and to him it is not work.” I had stopped looking at the big picture though. My emotional, relational, and physical needs were fine. I was happy. But I was not fulfilling my family’s needs and taking my responsibility as a husband and father as a priority over my work.

I have actually heard ministers say, “God called me to the ministry before I had a family so it will always take a priority.” Don’t you dare abuse your family members and use God as your excuse. The new commandment we live by says we are to love as Christ loved us and gave His life for us. Why are so many ministers willing to lay down their life for a stranger but not give their life for the spouse and children the Lord has given them? Go be a Monk in Tibet if you don’t believe family relationships are a priority. “But I have to provide for my family. I am the only bread winner.” Is pursuing a short-term financial goal more important than assuring a long-term relationship with your spouse and children? We need to rethink your priorities.

So how do we break the workaholic cycle and set our life in balance? Let me share a couple of ideas to get you going down the road to a healthy life, relationships, and ministry.

1. Allow yourself at least one day of complete rest, leisure, and fun.

I work Tuesday through Friday in the church office. Saturdays are typically a free day with family and/or projects around the house. Saturday evening is my prayer time and review of my notes for Sunday. On Sunday my day begins around 6:00 am and it is usually ends around 2:00 pm by the time we get home from two services and lunch with members. But watch out on Mondays. That is my sleep in day, date day with Kim, and family time. I have zero responsibilities on that day other than to rest, have fun, and be with family.

2. Set limits on the number of hours and attention you devote to your job and ministry.

I actually log the hours I work each day in my planner. My target is to work around 45 hours per week and try to keep it from going over 50. Several weeks ago I had three 12 hour days back to back so I took off on Friday since I knew I had an easy 10 more hours coming on the weekend.

3. Schedule time on the calendar with your family, dates with your spouse and time with your kids.

At first I thought, “How pathetic that I have to schedule it.” Everybody else wants a piece of your time. Make sure and block out the people that are the most important to you. Then when someone asks you to meet on Tuesday night, you look at your calendar and tell them, “I already have a previous commitment with my family.”

4. Start or make time for a hobby.

You will be surprised what a couple of hours doing something you enjoy will recharge your batteries and make your work time more productive. I enjoy (most of the time) going to the gym. It relieves some stress and allows me to tap into the physical side of life and not have to think. However, it is amazing when I unplug from the busyness of life by blasting my worship music in my headphones and sweating like a dog, the “fog” lifts from over a situation and I know exactly how I need to handle it when I get to the office. Your hobby might be fishing, motorcycles, shopping, golfing. Just find something.

5. Confront possible fear of failure or insecurities.

Are you working hard and striving for success so people will esteem, like, or respect you? Our true self worth and satisfaction should be fulfilled by our heavenly Father. God’s love and acceptance of us is not based upon what we do and achieve but it’s based upon what Jesus Christ has already done for us.

Define your worth through God. Do not replace Him with idolizing your self or career. We need to know who we are in Christ and the power of His grace as sons and daughters of the Most High God.

The biggest hurdle with any addict is to admit you have a problem and you are vulnerable in that area. Kim and I have worked together and I have given her permission to speak into my life concerning this area. I honestly don’t even see it sometimes when I start to slip back into my old ways. Your family, friends, longevity in ministry and sanity are worth it.