Wholly Living

Work Smarter, Not Harder

"Be intentional with your words, actions, and time and you will discover that you are working smarter, not harder…and loving it." by Tammy Darling

Several years ago, my husband had his own business. He poured hour after hour of hard labor into the business; he was constantly working, or so it seemed. But in time the financial strain became too much, and after three years of being a self-employed business owner, he closed the doors.

We both had full confidence going into the venture. We knew that it was God’s will as well as His timing. But it didn’t take long for me to see that my husband thought the success of the business depended on himself; instead of working smarter, he worked harder. And harder. And harder. When I approached him about the situation, I heard, “What am I supposed to do? We have bills to pay.” Then he continued to work harder and harder. Without God and without his helpmate.

When my husband, in defeat, closed the doors for the very last time, he shut God and his wife out even more. Bitter, angry and feeling like a failure, he returned to work for his former employer.

But God. God didn’t give up on him even though he’d given up on himself. God’s love relentlessly pursues. God’s love redeems. God’s love never fails.

It’s been six years since my husband closed the doors of his business. Six years and a very long journey for my husband back to the heart of God. My husband and I have both sensed the call from God for my husband to start another business—in the same field, but at the same time, very different. Because we now know he needs to work smarter, not harder. So, the first thing we did was sit down and discuss what that would look like.

My husband now understands that there’s more to work than physical labor. God designed us to work, but not to work ourselves to death. Work is to be meaningful, rewarding, and ultimately a way to further the kingdom and bring glory to His name. So that history didn’t repeat itself, my husband decided to make a list of what went wrong the first time around. At the top of his list was this: I stopped relying on God. 

Our workload was never meant to be burdensome. When we put the world (or work) on our shoulders, we carry a load we were never meant to bear. We are co-laborers with Christ (see 1 Corinthians 3:9). That means we go alongside Him, because apart from Him we can do nothing (see John 15:5).

In his previous business attempt, my husband became so focused on the material, mainly the bills, that he became blind to the spiritual truths he knew but had forgotten. Here’s the fact of the matter: if we always look at things in the natural, then we will always be unable to accomplish the supernatural.

The next thing my husband realized about managing his previous business was that his purpose became skewed along the way. He lost the focus of what he was doing and why.

To work smarter and not harder, we must have a clearly defined vision for where we are going. Our target cannot be the broadside of a barn. Sure, you may hit that target, but it could be way far off from what you really wanted to aim for.

When my husband compared his original vision for the business to where he was actually at when he closed the doors, he could easily see how far off track he had gotten. It wasn’t a sudden derailment, just a subtle track shift that took him in a direction he never intended to go.

To make his new business venture a success, we know that my husband needs to stay focused and work with intentionality. Intentionality means “being deliberate or purposive.” Everything we do takes us closer to one thing and farther from another. We have to be deliberate about the tasks and choices before us. Mere human effort is not enough; we must be intentional about our days and be good stewards of our time and gifts.

Every decision, every choice, is a seed. The thoughts and actions that we plant bear fruit. If we want a healthy harvest, we need to make careful, deliberate and prayerful decisions. My husband learned this the hard way, and while he is excited about the unique business opportunity the Lord is leading him to next, he’s not rushing into it as he did with his previous business.

Currently, my husband is spending time in prayer and writing out his vision for this new business. When you have a clear vision for something, all the little decisions get very easy. He knows he cannot be careless about everyday decisions; he must be intentional and have his clearly defined target in sight.

Are you working day and night with no real satisfaction? God intended for us to enjoy our labor. Evaluate your core values and passions. Take a closer look at where you may have gotten off track. Be clear about your life mission, then put the rudder in the water, turn and say, “That’s where I’m going—that’s my target.”

You may have made mistakes, but we serve a God of second chances. Begin to be intentional with your words, actions and time and you will discover that you are working smarter, not harder…and loving it.  

Tammy Darling, author or over 1,300 published articles, writes from her home in rural Pennsylvania. This article first appeared in The War Cry in September 2018.

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