Is Working Less the Right Christian Response to Society’s Over-Work?

“I really try to put away my work phone on the weekends.” “I really want to be fully present with my family this weekend and not focused on work.”

Twice in the past week, I’ve heard these phrases from well-meaning Christians. I’ve also said similar things myself lately. Yet the more I think about our approach to work, the more I realize that our thinking might be flawed.  

As American believers surrounded by a society focused on over-work, we want to stand out. We don’t want to be slaves to our jobs and servants to our paychecks. We want our faith to be central, reflected in all we do. But in our attempts to model a different way, have we swung too far—toward under-work instead?

Consider the Old Testament pattern of work established at creation and woven throughout Israel’s framework. God—and his people—worked six days a week. They set aside the seventh as a sacred day of rest and worship.

If you study much about the culture and circumstances in which Israel lived, you’ll quickly see that most people worked their land from sunup to sundown and beyond. Setting aside a day for Sabbath was truly an act of faith as they trusted that God would multiply their time and grow their crops while they stepped away.

We can look not only at the pattern of work laid out for us in Scripture but also at the practice of work modeled by faithful servants. Consider Moses’ tireless leadership of Israel.  Look at Elijah, brought to the end of himself by exhaustion and despair. Imagine David down in the trenches of war, fighting Israel’s enemies.

In the New Testament, we find Jesus rising earlier in the morning to pray and serving people well past the time when folks usually went home for dinner. We meet Paul, making tents in the day then preaching on the weekends and into the darkest parts of night.

Did these men believe in Sabbath? Absolutely. All of them practiced the God-directed pattern of work and rest. They stepped away from the crowd. They spent time alone and with their trusted few. They prioritized worship with fellow believers.

But there’s something strikingly absent from their lives too. You don’t find them keeping an eight-to-five schedule with weekends off like the American Dream once promised workers. No, these men met the needs of those around them, however long it took, knowing also that times of solitude and worship were essential for them to continue serving.

Today, we as Christians should do the same. We should set healthy boundaries, spend time with our families, and set aside time for Sabbath. But we should also strive to get our job done regardless of what the time clock tells us. People watch how we work. They see how we serve our church. They notice if we have time for their needs.

May we, as women with numerous roles and responsibilities, rely on God’s grace to do them all well. May we follow Paul’s instruction to workers when he said: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23–24).  

Hard work, not working less, will impact our bosses and influence our friends. So let’s stand out, not for how we don’t work, but for how we do.

Will you join me?

Amanda DeWitt is a freelance writer, coach's wife, and mom. She completed her bachelor’s at Dallas Baptist University and holds a M.A. in media and communication from Dallas Theological Seminary. When she's not typing away at her computer, she's chasing her two little boys or watching her husband coach high school football.