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How to Overcome Workaholism as a Christian Entrepreneur
Episode 3022nd March 2021 • Eternal Entrepreneur—Equipping Christian Businesses • Joe Newton, Pierce Brantley — Christian Business Leaders, Kingdom Entrepreneurs
00:00:00 00:24:19

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When does hard work become compulsive work? And when does hard work get twisted in to something that goes too far for the Christian entrepreneur? Pierce Brantley walks us through what workaholism looks like and how to get back to a healthy place of work when you run a Kingdom business. He tells a story from his own life and demonstrates what it looks like to come back to a place of health and balance.

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Episode Topics

This episode covers the topics of work ethic, workaholism, workaholics, Holy Spirit, Christian business, entrepreneurship, marketplace ministry, and business as mission.


Calling: Awaken to the Purpose of Your Work – by Pierce Brantley

To read the first chapter free of Pierce's new book Calling and for more information or resources please visit


Welcome to the Lunch Break! A special weekly series of the Eternal Entrepreneur. It gives you bite-size pieces of wisdom on how to build a functional faith and business. Each episode impacts a short, actionable topic you can put into practice this week. Let's get into it. Well, hello again, thank you for joining us for lunch break.

I am Pierce Brantley, co-host of the eternal entrepreneur. And today we're going to continue our conversation around work ethic. We're going to talk about what happens when work gets a little bit twisted. What happens when we start to work hard specifically? How do we know when we move past just working hard and we moved into workaholism, workaholism.

Is it possible to be about the kingdom? Have a missional company be about marketplace ministry, and also be a workaholic. And I think this is a really important conversation to have, especially with Christian entrepreneurs, because we can be so driven by the mission. So focused on what we see as Colonel kind of the outcomes.

And you mix that with a kind of a Christian culture, which is, you know, soar up treasure in heaven and you think, well, man, I need a store up as much as I can. And before you know it, you can begin and to have a separation between what it is you do during the day and what it is you are called to do. Which can be very confusing.

We can often feel that things are disjointed before we actually can identify it. We kind of get a soul speak situation going on here. Sometimes it comes in the form of burnout. Sometimes that comes in the form of a close, loved one or friend telling us a little bit about what it looks like to have you absent from their lives.

So I think it's a really healthy conversation to have, and I'm actually really looking forward to talking to you all about, even though it feels perhaps like a sober sort of conversation, it's not really meant to be. It's actually cool. So Joe and I were planning the podcast as we do. We do it typically at the beginning of the week and it just came up in natural conversation.

What it looks like to have work ethic move from just hard work and to something that hardly looks like it's of any heavenly value at all. We got, you know, just on a really good kind of thread about it. And, you know, I was thinking, you know, I should really talk about this because it's something I'm kind of passionate about.

I'll tell you a little bit more about my story and this as well. And then I had the pleasure of being on a, another show here recently. That'll be coming out here in the next couple of months, and this is where the conversation headed as well. And so it came up twice in the week and I was thinking, you know, I should really kind of share kind of my experiences with it.

And where I've seen it show up at other people that way you know, we can keep on the up and up because it's hard to think of hard work as being hypocrisy. But if we have a business, an enterprise that's meant to be glorifying God in every single aspect of what we do then work and the way in which we work actually has something to do with testimony.

It actually says something about our relationship with God. And I don't say that any kind of condemning kind of ultra spiritual way, but the way in which we work says something about who we work for. And so if there was a twist, if there is a bent in the way we approach the thing that is supposed to be full of intimacy, then we need to see that.

And we need to do our best to repent of it because repentance is always putting us on a good path. It's just, it's like a chiropractor adjustment. It's getting us to sit up, stand up straight again, to have good posture towards what we do. And so that's why I want to talk about this today. So a little bit about my own backstory.

Some of you may know a little bit about it, but you know, I grew up well below the poverty line. And it was actually a point of pride. In my family, we go, did you know, you know, we're, we're below the poverty line and we're still surviving. It was something that we would talk about quite often that, you know did you know, we only did $8,000 this year and we still made it.

And as a kid, I didn't know whether that was good or bad. I know those who told it to me seem to think it was shocking, but also seem to have a little kind of Glint in their eye. And this kind of pride about LACC continued on all the way up through high school. And. An interesting thing started to happen in high school that didn't realize to be formative in a negative way for the rest of my life.

And it was that we moved way out into the country which is, you know, neither good nor bad. I love the country, but what happened was we started working extremely hard on the land and extremely hard doing odd jobs and. We were always behind financially. The family was always behind financially six months without making a mortgage payment or not having food.

Oftentimes having to be told that, Hey, listen, if you want to go to school, you need to find your own gas money in order to get you there. But at this entire same time, there was a a real pride in the fact that we were making ends meet regardless. Now this had a boiling point for me at a certain point when I was able to leave home and I left pretty early.

I left at 19 and didn't look back for quite a few years. I became, what is the nicest way to say this obsessed with never going back to that point? I had been in a lack vacuum for so long. I was willing to do just about anything to leave it. And so I worked like mad, like mad the stories I was telling earlier this week on a regular basis, I would work all nighters.

We're talking 24 hour stint. And then another 24 hour stint. I wouldn't typically do them back to back, but I would do two in a week. You know, something like I would start work on a Sunday night and then work through Monday. Typically I'd try that again on a Thursday or something like that, or a Wednesday start work on Wednesday and work through Thursday and not sleep.

And it was, it came from the sense of, I can make something happen and. I'm going to prove to myself that I can. And you become feverish, not in the health sense, but in the drive sense, when you're able to kind of prove to yourself that you can make a goal happen, you kind of get obsessed about continuing to make the goals happened.

What was confusing about that was, you know, it brought me a, what I'd say is a measure of success. You know, if you are putting in. 80 hours, 90 hours a week when everyone else is doing a dimple 40, well, then, you know, by inches or by miles, you know your, your vehicle of of income and that of, of initiative begins to outpace them.

But something else happens. And it's a little bit obvious, I suppose, but you begin to have no time for relationships. You're going to have no time for rest. And those have other really serious outcomes on the body, on the mind, on the soul. But I didn't really recognize them at the time because I wanted to build a business and I wanted to stay away from the, the poverty that I'd kind of grown up in.

And so that was a real kind of, you know driver for me. But what I've noticed is that my story, even though it comes from a place of literal poverty is not so different from what I'll say is the poverty mindset of work that I see in a lot of business owners, I was talking to a good Christian business owner.

The other day has a very successful company and. He told me, you know, straight faced that if he didn't see his wife or his kids for a month, that it didn't matter. And because the mission of his company was so important that it was a sprint that was absolutely worth the taking because what he was doing was so, so important to him and it shocked me.

But what I see is. You know a pattern of this and it's not across the board, but there seems to be an exchange where, you know, if we were just, you know, let's just say we were, I don't know what we were doing. We were doing something that was a business that may have not necessarily lined up with Kinga values.

I'm just going to give a hypothetical, like, let's say the arms industry or something in the adult industry and we would say, Oh man, you know you gain the world, but you lose your soul and, you know, kind of and and, and discount any of the money or the success that came, you know, from, from them pushing in that arena.

However, if you have a business that somehow has a mission behind it, We seem to be perfectly fine, sacrificing the soul in order to gain what we think is the outcome, the good outcome, the kingdom outcome of what it is, where you're trying to accomplish it, because you know, we're framing it in terms of doing the Lord's work.

We give ourselves a little bit of a pass because it's all supposed to be going towards a good thing, but it's not. And the reason it's not is because. One of the things we have to be cognizant of as eternal entrepreneurs is we're not kind of the captains of our own ship fully. We are not the the, the ultimate outcomes of our own destiny.

We are in many ways partnering with the almighty and we have intimacy with him hopefully, and we are. Trying to do things in lock step, as much as we can with the way that he would have the world work. And when we sacrifice and we overextend the amount of time we put into our businesses, what it's saying is that we are the sole drivers of whether or not it will be successful.

And while many successful business owners would never say. They identify with a poverty mindset. The reality is if we can't step away from the work, then we were assuming that lack is the only outcome of stopping when it's not the Holy spirit invites us to enter rest. Most of the time it talks about the work that the Lord has done as being finished.

And inviting us to be a part of that. Now you can say, well, Pierce, you know, that has to do with the work of the cross that has to do with the covenant. Yes. But there's a model in that, in which, from now on as brothers and sisters with enterprise we also are not working from a place of lack and to work from a place of lack.

Meaning to never stop really is an exercise in a lack of faith. And that does not by any means mean that, Hey, we need to have good business processes or actually operate a business by the science and mechanics that make a good business successful. But what I'm saying is. If your belief is that you have to continue on constantly in order to keep your business operational.

I want to say it was probably:

I never picked it up before it was Proverbs 10 22. This is the new living translation. It says the blessings of the Lord make a person rich and, and he adds no sorrow with it. How many times have you been burning the midnight oil? And you are sorrowful about the work you're doing and you kind of try and bandaid that by saying, well, I'm doing the work that no one else would do.

You know, I'm laying a foundation that no one else would be willing to weigh. You know, this is going to have really good outcomes. I'm doing what no one else would typically do. And you kind of Pat yourself on the back, but the reality is. Yes, you may be making a sacrifice that no one else has been willing to make, but it's costing you something you're in debt, in another arena in your life because of the sacrifice.

And I'm not saying there aren't points in time where you need to invest what needs to be invested, but we're going to talk about that here in a minute. If we believe. That we serve a good father. And if we believe that he owns the cattle on a thousand foot Hills, so to speak, meaning, you know he owns it.

He owns a lot as it relates to operate in our businesses, we need to realize who we are working for and who we have access to and who is willing to help us. And if we are spinning our tires and continually working for the sake, Of just trying to move something forward and it's not coming from a place of abundance.

It's not coming from a place of trust and what the Lord could do then our standard operating procedure, so to speak is not one of faith. It's one of function. One of which my only function is continuing to work because that's what I've signed up for. So the Bible talks about treasure. We were talking about this earlier, where your treasure is there will your heart be also, so what does this mean for work?

Well, if we are over working, we're not stopping our work. Then our treasure is in some way connected to the hours that we're working. That's just the truth. You may say. Well, Pierce, that's not fair. I have to do this. If I don't do it, no one else will. And Hey, listen, I've been there. The first business I sold was a sole proprietorship and it took a lot, a lot, a lot of work.

It took too much work, but here's reality. If. Our treasure is where our heart is. Then our treasures should be in places that are aspirational. And that means being committed to letting the Holy spirit give us wisdom in terms of how to operate. All functions of our business. We're all moving from dysfunction to function.

We're all moving from glory to glory. We're all moving from chaos to creative energy as the Holy spirit works through us. And so we need to give them that permission to change our perspective towards what we work towards. And this is really important as it relates to how we operate our companies.

Because vision vision is going to dictate where we put our energy. And if we believe even subconsciously that if we stop the business has going to stop, then what we have is a vision of lack. What we have is the highest thing I can aspire to is my own effort, my own initiative, my own willingness to grind.

And you're just not that special. You're not, you're just not that capable. And the anointing, whatever anointing you have on your life is not going to drive you into the ground. It doesn't work that way. You can't use a Holy function for an unholy cause if you're going to be set apart for the Lord's purposes and be set apart for the Lord's purposes and find that place of intimacy in the secret place with the Lord that is going to direct where your energy propels you to, because when the Lord blesses something, he does it without sorrow.

How many people have you met in your life who have found some kind of success have found some kind of identity in what they've accomplished in life, but there is serious sorrow attached to it. There is serious regret attached to it. And it was because on some level they were operating from a poverty mindset that said, I have to give up something in order to acquire whatever this, this title is in my life, whether that's wealth or, you know or fame, or being able to retire at a certain age or have a certain number in their bank account that came from a place of poverty in the mind and the heart.

Their heart was in the wrong place and investing in the wrong things. How do we shift where we invest, so to speak? How do we put our our investments our treasure hunting in a different place. It really starts with, with vision. And that vision starts with the foundation. The first is that I am not serving.

A father who has lack. Now, I'm not talking about prosperity theology. If you think that's where I'm headed, it's not I do not necessarily think that Christians are supposed to be the happiest wealthiest, most successful people on the planet. I think Lord gives us agency to pursue some things. But if the gospel is summed up in wealth, then we have the wrong gospel.

That's a very American mindset. Anyway, rent done off the soapbox. But vision. Vision the right vision, a vision of the kingdom is going to encompass in case be held up by kingdom values. One of which is that it is the Lord that builds the house. It is the Lord that builds the house as a Lord that builds the business.

He is the bedrock by which everything else comes up against is, is strengthened by. So with that in mind, we should not be working in a way that is disassociated from the way in which he works and the way in which he operates. All right. So how do we implement this? What's this look like on a Tuesday afternoon when we're stressed and we got to get things done and just real work to be had, the business really needs to meet certain KPIs and get certain things done.

It starts with asking the Lord for a vision or a renewed vision of how your business should exist. Here on earth, it starts with just having a conversation with the Holy spirit and saying, Hey God, I need your help here. And some ways, I don't know what I don't know, but what I want to know is, is there any part in the way I work.

That it's operating from a place of lack as operating from a poverty mindset. Is there any part in the way I work that says, that agrees with the idea that if I stopped the whole thing is going to fall apart that you weren't going to hold the thing together and maybe there isn't and that's great. And if there is he'll show you.

He will absolutely show you. And the great thing is, is that he will help you get your processes and your procedures and your ways of operating in place in such a way that there'll be wisdom behind it. You know those who know me know that I love the story of Solomon when the visiting queen comes to see him and she looks at, even at his silverware on the table, she goes, There must be something divine going on here because down to the very minutia down to the way the table is set, this guy is connected to God in some way.

And so Solomon in that sense is like an aspirational identity to me because this treasure is in the right place. The guy with the right title, the guy with all the wealth in the world has no real treasure. Around him, it's somewhere else. And because of that, there was an effect in the room around him.

And that's what we want to leave people with. We want to leave people with a testimony that shows that the way we operate says something about who we know. Okay guys, that's all I've got for this week. I hope you enjoyed it. Tune in every Monday and every other Friday to continue the conversation with us until then it turned entrepreneur.

Have a great week. Thank you so much for listening today. If you enjoyed this show, please leave us a five-star review and share this with a friend. It would help us out tremendously. Also, if you'd like to stay in touch and get a free copy of the first chapter of Pierce's new book, calling how to partner with God in any business with any boss at any place in life.

Then click on the link in the show notes to sign up for our weekly email or visit Pierce Thanks again, and we'll see you next week.