I am in my mid-40s and my perspective on work and work and leisure has changed dramatically in the last decade. During my 20s and 30s, I was a bona fide workaholic: regularly working 80 hour weeks in order to advance my career. Although I was successful in that endeavor, it had significant negative repercussions in relationships with my wife, children, extended family and friends. Moreover, my spiritual life and relationship with God was nonexistent. I had a successful career, but I did not have a successful or fulfilling life.
When I hit the traditional mid-life point a few years, ago I had a reexamination of my priorities. I realized that I was too caught up in the consumer society of the U.S. This period of reflection led to my reconversion back to my faith, largely through Ignatian Spirituality.
Today’s New York Times has a great article and book excerpt on Pope Francis, which touches on the balance between work and leisure in fulfilling God’s plan:
“Responding to the question, “Do we need to rediscover the meaning of leisure?” Pope Francis replies: “Together with a culture of work, there must be a culture of leisure as gratification. To put it another way: people who work must take the time to relax, to be with their families, to enjoy themselves, read, listen to music, play a sport. But this is being destroyed, in large part, by the elimination of the Sabbath rest day. More and more people work on Sundays as a consequence of the competitiveness imposed by a consumer society.” In such cases, he concludes, “work ends up dehumanizing people.”
Some pages later, he derides people who think of themselves as Catholic but don’t make time for their children. This is an example, according to Pope Francis, of living “with fraud.””