Thursday, November 02, 2006

Time spent working and achievement...

In response to the last post, Joe wondered about how we evaluate the use of one's gifts in either "sacred" or "secular" occupations--specifically how we respond to the investment of large amounts of time (say well over 80 hours per week) in one's occupation. My response is simple; virtually anyone makes a mistake to invest that much time in one's occupation: pastor, athlete, lawyer, or business executive. Here's why.

First of all, each of us has about 110 to 120 hours of waking time each week. If we spend 80 hours at work, 5 more eating lunch, and 10 more commuting, we necessarily push out other activities. To be fair, of course, it should be admitted that a typical man's time with his wife and kids (besides watching the idiot box) is better measured in minutes per week, not the 15 to 25 hours that even the 80 hrs/week worker still has left over.

More importantly, I'm not persuaded that long hours at work actually improve the quality of one's work. Thomas Edison does appear to be one counter-example, but think about it; Menlo Park went bankrupt a few times. Perhaps a bit of time off from the lab would have helped Edison get the perspective he needed to get his 1000 patents to market, and hire men to do even more good?

To use Joe's example of the athlete, I remember a marathoner named Alberto Salazar--in some ways the U.S.A.'s last great distance runner. (sorry Mark Plaatjes and others!) He won the NY Marathon in then world record time on a training schedule of about 80 miles per week--about eight hours at the pace he typically ran. Intoxicated by this, he then increased his mileage to 110-130 miles per week, if I remember correctly--and never again came close to his world record time. He more or less burned himself out, and admitted as much. In the same way, college football players are restricted to 20 hours per week of training--but they're bigger, faster, and as skilled as ever. (except for my Spartans this year...sigh!)

In other words, I seriously doubt that any man can really exercise either mind or body for 80 to 100 hours per week without putting one or both out of commission. We should keep that in mind, especially as we view our Commission.

6 comments:

Joe said...

I get it now: we are each missing the other's points. I think you and Mercy are saying we should judge quantity of work, where I am saying we shouldn't judge kind of work. No wonder we've been talking past each other.

Bike Bubba said...

Well said. The two phenomena are certainly linked (try getting the corner office without a few years of 80-90 hour weeks), but more or less separate.

Anonymous said...

When I get too busy with just one thing my quality of life definitely goes down. It becomes difficult to really focus on it. It's kind of like staring at something; the object becomes blurry and distorted.

Mercy Now said...

Yes, it's a balance life. Too much of anything is never good.

Anonymous said...

All very good points guys. And of course, we have the Scripture which reminds us that no one can serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13). Try getting the corner office while serving God.

Bike Bubba said...

Macey, what does that say about you serving both John and Jackie? :^)