Several years ago, my husband had his own business. He poured hour after hour of hard labor into it; he was constantly working, or so it seemed. 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 him, and so instead of working smarter, he worked harder. And harder. And harder.
When I approached him about the situation what I heard was, “What am I supposed to do? We have bills to pay.” And then he continued to work harder and harder. Without God. Without his helpmate.
When in defeat he 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 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. Six years and my husband and I are both sensing the call from God for my husband to start another new business—in the same ﬁeld but a very different business at the same time. We now know he needs to work smarter, not harder, so the ﬁrst thing we did was to 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: Stopped relying on God.
Folks, our workload was never meant to be burdensome. When we put the world—or work—on our shoulders, we’re carrying 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 natural—mainly the bills—that he became blind to the spiritual truths that he knew but had forgotten. But the fact is that if we look at things in the natural, we will not be able to accomplish the supernatural.
The next thing that my husband realized is 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 may not be even close to what you really wanted to aim for.
When my husband looked at his original vision for the business and where he was 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 is “being deliberate or purposive.”
Everything we do takes us closer to one thing and away 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, 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 the 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 is a freelance writer from Pennsylvania.