The Challenges of Working from Home
- 2008 28 Jan
This is Part II of a two-part series on working from home. Click here to read Part I: Is Working from Home for You?
It’s really hard work.
When I first worked at home, my youngest son was only four. Little Robbie definitely preferred my company to playing alone. He loves physical touch and wanted to be held often. Consequently, when we were together, my concentration was on him. Because of his personality and needs, on most days, it would have been easier to work outside my home than to get something done at home.
Having children to care for is only one reason working at home is challenging. It’s also difficult to know when to stop;
to separate work and home;
to put in all the extra hours you need to start a business;
to work when you’d rather watch the Food Network;
to learn aspects of the business world that were formerly unknown to you;
to lovingly explain to children, parents, friends, and family that you need to work, even though you are home;
to say no to volunteering at the school carnival because you have a deadline to meet;
to fight the guilt when you say no because you’re sure everyone is wondering why you don’t have the time since you work at home.
When I start feeling overwhelmed by the demands, I force myself to take a break. I refocus on God and His promise to never leave me. I remember that God offers to give me wisdom, protection, strength, and encouragement if I only ask. Then I remember I haven’t asked God lately for those things, and go to Him in prayer.
Yes, working at home is difficult, at times overwhelming, but we have a God who is able to help. The author of Hebrews encourages us with these words when we are weak:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:15–17).
There is a danger of workaholism.
Psychotherapist Bryan E. Robinson, author of Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, Their Partners and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them, calls workaholism the “best-dressed addiction in the United States.” It’s depicted by the worker who feels a compulsion to work and who finds it hard, if not impossible, to engage in her personal life. Let the warning bell sound now, because if you have trouble with workaholism working outside your home, it will increase at home.
John Maxwell, in an article entitled “Work Addiction” in his enewsletter Leadership Wired, warns about this problem: “The work addict has lost the fundamental ability to disconnect and disengage from the demands of the office. Aside from personal health concerns, workaholism negatively affects job performance by depriving work addicts of rest and rendering them powerless to meet new challenges with the necessary energy reserves to solve complex problems.”
The unfortunate aspect of workaholism is that many see it as something to be desired rather than avoided. In the workplace, the workaholic may rise to the top of his or her profession and be envied or admired by others. However, this obsessive need to work often masks deeper emotional issues. While the workaholic may succeed in the short-run, there inevitably will be some type of breakdown—whether relational, physical, spiritual, or emotional.
Robinson, whose private practice is in Asheville, North Carolina, conducted research at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and found the divorce rate among workaholics is 40 percent higher than the rest of the population. Workaholics also suffer physical ailments, such as headaches, exhaustion, and muscle tension.
Work is God-ordained. The Scriptures advise us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).
But work was never designed to fulfill all of our needs. To overcome the obsession with work, spend some time evaluating your priorities in life: your personal relationship with Jesus, your family relationships, your health, your home, and so on. Seek to establish a balance by investing an equal measure of your time and energy into your top priorities.
Start by setting some boundaries, such as turning off your computer and cell phone at a certain time each day, not working one day a week, and scheduling exercise or time with loved ones. Facing the issue honestly, seeking accountability from others, and taking small steps to balance your life can address workaholism. However, for those who are unable to handle their obsession, professional Christian counseling should be considered.
You will battle fear.
It was a warm autumn night as I watched my sons practice football. Three other mothers and I lounged in our chairs, alternately glancing at the practice to make sure we saw the tackles and passes and discussing the frustration of preparing dinner on busy weeknights.
As we talked I discovered that all three of them worked full-time outside their homes. These devoted moms really wanted to prepare nutritious meals, but it was all they could do to race home from work, grab a quick snack, and then race to practice. After practice they returned home exhausted and reached for another quick-fix item for dinner.
When the conversation turned to me, I shared that because I work at home I was able to make an early dinner. After that, each woman expressed her desire to be home during the day, and in almost the same breath declared why she couldn’t do it. My heart broke with compassion because I saw the sense of helplessness in their words and facial expressions. It was as if they were resigned to a full-time job, and that was that.
My three football-practice friends are like hundreds of thousands of women across the country who wish they could stay home but don’t think it’s possible. All they see is one obstacle after another. They see a mountain of debt, the problem of health insurance, a child’s empty college fund, an unsupportive spouse, or a workplace that “needs” them.
What these women don’t see is a God who can handle all those obstacles. Instead of trusting God to provide, they work harder and longer to make ends meet. But the ends just get farther apart.
Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Although that was written thousands of years ago, I wonder if we sometimes underestimate God’s capabilities and trust in our own “horses” and “chariots.” We may have a head knowledge about trusting God, but in reality we trust in a company, or our physical strength, or our intelligence.
I’ve found that sometimes God waits for us to make the first move in faith, believing that He will take care of us. Exodus 14 tells of the Israelites’ escape from the Egyptian army. As the terrified Israelites get to the edge of the sea, with more than 600 chariots on their heels, they cry out to God and complain to Moses. They are so afraid of the future that they express a desire to be back in slavery in Egypt. Here’s what the Scriptures say:
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” —Exodus 14:10–12
Moses is a good leader, and instead of answering back sarcastically, “No, there weren’t anymore graves in Egypt! Start digging!” as I might have done, he reminds the people of God’s faithfulness:
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 10:13–14).
Moses is patient and encouraging, but God’s answer in the next verse is a bit different in tone: “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.’”
To sum up the situation, the Israelites are following God’s leading to a promised land, they’ve seen Him perform miracles to set them free, and they stand there complaining, frozen in fear, and resigned to die. All the while God is waiting for them to just move! You see, sometimes we just have to do something in spite of the fear.
Is God asking you to trust Him today? Is He saying to you, “I’ve heard your cries. I know you want to be home. It’s now time for you to move on and make it happen”?
Satan would like fear to be our constant companion. Satan would like us to believe that we aren’t smart enough, capable enough, skilled enough, resourceful enough, hardworking enough. But God says, “I am enough for you!”
Whatever fear you battle regarding working at home, God is enough. I once heard someone say, “If your problem is too big, then your God is too small.” There is no problem or challenge you face today or will face in the future that will surprise God. He is always prepared with a way around, over, or through your problem. I pray with all my heart that you discover God in a whole new and delightful way as you begin to work from home. May His faithfulness be a blanket of comfort when fear tries to sneak into your heart and dissuade you from your purpose.
Excerpted from: Work @ Home: A Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work from Home by Glynnis Whitwar (New Hope Publishers). (c) 2007 by Glynnis Whitwar. Used with permission of publisher. All rights reserved. Work @ Home is in bookstores everywhere or by calling customer service at 800.986.7301 or by ordering the book online.
Glynnis Whitwer, a founder of Transition Home, a Web-based and workship ministry is the senior editor for P31 Woman, the Proverbs 31 magazine, and a staff member for Proverbs 31 Ministries. A popular speaker for women's Bible studies, special events, and retreats, she has contributed to The Best of the Proverbs 31 Miinstry; Leading Women to the Heart of God, published by Focus on the Family; and Building an Effective Women's Ministry. She currently lives in Glendale, Arizona, with her husband, Tod, and their five children.