Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why People Can Work LESS Hours and Be More Stressed

Two high students may take math class for the same amount of time per week, however one takes a class that is more difficult. A weighted GPA is based on the idea that some classes are much harder than others, and these hard classes should carry more weight. In other words, an 'A' in calculus represents a greater accomplishment than an 'A' in remedial basic math.

I am also of the belief that our work hours are weighted.



This may explain why you may work less hours than you used to, but be under more stress.
It may also explain why you might have the same job title in the same location, and be under greater stress this year than last year, depending on your current portfolio.

I have served as a pastor for 25 years, the last 18 of which have been with the same exact job title/position. During various seasons I have worked anywhere from 30-90 hours a week on church ministry alone, depending upon current needs. At one point my husband questioned me about why I was so stressed when I was actually working less hours than I had been previously.  My answer to him was that although I was working less hours than before, my portfolio at the time had changed and contained everything I absolutely hated to do, not to mention we were in a difficult season of the church. Functioning in such a situation can make 10 hours of work feel like 100!




You can actually work more hours and be less stressed than seasons where you work less and it's fulfilling work. To illustrate further, a pastor who is working 60 hours a week in a pleasant season where the church is moving forward in harmony and unity, who is operating in his/her primary God-ordained gifts will probably be much healthier than a pastor who is working 40 hours a week in a church that is experiencing conflict or hardship. The man/woman working in the business world for 40 hours a week doing things outside their primary area of gifting out of necessity may be less healthy than the person working another 20 hours on top of that in their sweet spot.

I am absolutely convinced of this.

Twenty-five years experience has convinced me.

I'm definitely healthier when I'm working in my God-given giftings and in a peaceful atmosphere for 60 hours a week than when I'm working under duress for 30 hours a week.

This should be so crystal clear to all of us, the wisdom of this. But it's not. We base so much on the "amount of hours one is working" and don't take time to consider the quality of those hours. I've come to believe that when it comes to work, the contents of the hours are more important than the cumulative hours themselves.


Perhaps you think, "why do that, then? Why not just do things you want to do and stay away from irritating people?"  There are times due to transitions, emergencies, etc. we need to step up and fill gaps or wear hats we don't normally wear. This is part of being a valuable employee -- that we are flexible and step up to handle unforseen things, emergencies, or transitions. Also, in any situation working with the public you will face irritating people and circumstances. Rare are the people who work absolutely alone with no interaction. So, that's how you get in these situation, whether in the business world, the church or wherever you work. At times it is truly unavoidable, at least for a while.


Do we need to be careful of the amount of hours we work, so as not to shortchange our basic need for rest, and our families? Of course. I'm certain that beyond that we also need to address the content of our work hours. For it's there that we find the difference many times between disease and health.

Monday I'm going to begin a series about workplace related stress that threatens your health. I hope you'll join me as we explore this important topic!

In the meantime do share with me your thoughts about "weighted work hours"...have you had the same experience I have, that you can actually work less hours and be MORE stressed?

No comments: