Confessions of a Workaholic

By Dan Roselle

I grew up with a strong work ethic, and from an early age was accomplishment oriented. I got my first job when I was 10 years old, and kept it until I was 17.

At first the income was to help my parents make ends meet. (We’re a large family, with 6 children.) By the time I was 12, I was buying all my own clothes and other personal needs, school supplies, etc., from the money I earned. I learned the value of time and money, and I got used to working hard. The fact that I was working while other kids my age were playing didn’t bother me; as a matter of fact, I enjoyed working-and the harder the better. As a teen I thought I could do almost anything I set my mind to, and that gave me a feeling of independence and manliness.

When I made my decision to give my life to the Lord at the age of 19, I was so thrilled with serving Jesus that I wanted to give it all I had, and therefore worked long, long hours. As the years went by, I became what some people call a workaholic. I could work for hours and hours and hours without stopping. There was always plenty to do, raising a family of my own on foreign mission fields, and I enjoyed staying busy. Unfortunately, I often made life more difficult for others than it needed to be, because I expected them to work, work, work like I did. Even if I didn’t say anything to that effect, they often felt bad if they couldn’t keep up with me.

As you can imagine, with all this work I didn’t take as much time with the Lord as I should have, and therefore often labored in my own strength instead of His. It took years for the Lord to get through to me about my attitude, but eventually He did.

I broke down and cried, and admitted how wrong I had been. I was so sorry! I could see how much I had hurt Jesus, and it broke my heart.

One turning point came years ago: I was returning home from an out-of-town trip one holiday evening, and was eagerly looking forward to the special meal I knew was being prepared. We were living on a shoestring budget with a number of other missionaries at the time, and we didn’t usually have an abundance of food. But this meal would be different; there would be plenty of meat and lots of delicious trimmings. During the long drive home, that was about all I could think about. But when I got home, the plate of food my wife had set aside for me was nowhere to be found. Apparently there had been a mix-up, and someone else had eaten it.

That really bothered me! I went outside and paced up and down the yard, all the while telling the Lord how disappointed I was. I had worked hard and so looked forward to a delicious meal, only to come home to this! Where was the love and thoughtfulness I surely deserved? Where was the appreciation? Boy, did I have a bad case of the dumps!

When I finally settled down a little, I heard the Lord’s voice sweetly chiding me: “I understand how you feel unloved because you didn’t get what had been reserved for you. Perhaps this will help you understand how unloved I feel when I don’t get the personal time with you that you have promised to reserve for Me. I love you and want to spend time with you, but so often you find something else to do. Then I feel hurt. You have often promised to spend more time with Me, but then you break your promise and go off and do something else.”

Oh, how those words hit home! I broke down and cried, and admitted how wrong I had been. I was so sorry! I could see how much I had hurt Jesus, and it broke my heart.

That episode helped me change my way of doing things. I can’t say that it was an overnight change, but little by little over the years the Lord helped me get over what I now see was a handicap-my workaholic ways and being so accomplishment oriented-and strengthen and deepen my relationship with Him.

I marvel at the patience, understanding, longsuffering, and unconditional love that Jesus has had for me. I feel blessed beyond measure, and know that He’s the One who brought about the change I needed. I didn’t do anything to deserve it, I never could have earned it, and I couldn’t have done it on my own. All I did was say, “Yes, Jesus, I want to change!” Jesus did the rest.

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