“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth…” (3 Jn. 2).
Last week, we began an introductory discussion about environmental wellness. This week, we will be taking the discussion a little further by beginning to focus on the fourth dimension of wellness: occupational wellness.
What is occupational wellness? Occupational wellness is “our ability to obtain satisfaction and fulfillment from our chosen occupation and effectively maintaining complete balance in our lives.” It also refers to our ability to maintain healthy relationships with our co-workers, employees, and others we partner with throughout the day. These relationships can become stressful due to the hyper-demands of today’s global community. Occupational wellness demonstrates our ability to cope with these stressful situations effectively without allowing them to transcend its boundaries and flow into the other areas of our lives.
Occupational wellness “…recognizes personal satisfaction and enrichment in one’s life through work…” and “…is related to one’s attitude about work.”
Achieving balance in every area of our lives means having the ability to allocate time to engage in activities that will enhance our lives and those with whom we have relationships. We must think carefully about the fact that we can be considered a success in one area of life while failing miserably in another area. An example of this can be seen in the life of one of the greatest people mentioned in the Bible: the prophet Samuel. In the seventh chapter of the Book of 1 Samuel, it says:
“And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places. And his return was to Ramah; for there was his house…And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel…and his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment…” (vv. 7:15-8:5).
Samuel was a great man in his vocation as a prophet and judge in Israel. He was widely respected by everyone with whom he had contact. However, in understanding the geography of the areas of his travels, he was rarely present at home. As a result, when he was older and ready to allow his sons to become responsible for some of his duties, they were unable to execute those duties as effectively as Samuel. Does this make Samuel a bad individual? No, but it demonstrates how he (and, we ourselves) had become overly involved in his vocation to the point of neglecting an essential area of life: a healthy balance between his occupation and his responsibilities as a father.
One lesson to learn about maintaining our overall health and wellness is that if we overextend ourselves in one area of life, we will not have much left to invest into others areas. Our Creator has provided us with an excellent example of how to approach our vocation through His creative activity in the beginning by taking the seventh day to rest and reflect upon His work (Gen. 2:1-3). This was not because He was tired from His creative activities. This, however, was a demonstration of how we are to follow His approach to living and enjoying life in its fullness. It allows us to be in a position to give our best in every area of life without the exhaustion that stems from overextending ourselves to meet the demands placed upon us by the world around us.
Our chosen professions should add value and meaning to our lives as they should be aligned with our purpose for living. We should be able to approach our vocations with “…an excellent spirit…” (Dan. 6:3). This attitude towards our work has the propensity to become contagious. Others will see this in us and it will allow us to change the atmosphere within our workplace. If our occupation places a demand on our time to the extent that we no longer enjoy what we are doing, or it interferes with our ability to maintain other areas of our lives, then we may need to consider exploring other career options. This does not mean that there will never be challenging moments. Challenging moments can be our friend and assist us in our professional development. But when the workplace begins to flow over into others areas of life and it begins to have a negative impact in those areas, we may need to take a sabbatical to refocus on the things that matter most in life.
Ask yourself, “How is my occupational wellness? Where do I find myself in relation to the above discussion?” Next week, we will begin a discussion of intellectual wellness. Next week’s discussion will be followed up with continued discussions on healthy lifestyle choices based on our understanding of each dimension of wellness. I would appreciate any feedback from anyone as this is a community effort to living our best life in honor of the One Who has given us this life to live. Love God…love others….love yourself!
Sean Mungin, author of “The Thorn In The Flesh”