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Do We Work To Live, or Do We Live To work? Is Work-life Balance a Myth?

by | Fri, Jul 13 2018

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Work life balance

The demands of work have never been greater. Lifestyle expectations and ideals have never been higher. Society is continually attempting to reach the elusive work-life balance. But does it  actually exist?

Mentor, speaker and author John Drury’s book ‘Integrate – Why work life balance is a myth and what you really need is to create a fulfilling lifestyle’  aims to provide some of the answers to these questions. In this breakthrough book, Drury shows an approach that integrates work with all that is precious in life. He shows what is required to pursue outstanding business success whilst building a great lifestyle for yourself and those you love.

A once successful pastor, he draws on first-hand experience as to how hard, if not how impossible it is to maintain work-life balance. For twenty years he found himself working extremely long hours, lacking time to exercise, finding it hard to relax, and sadly unable to switch off. As he puts it, “I thought I was listening to God and trying to respond to what He was saying to me. But I realised I got it very wrong.”

Just like many business owners, leaders, pastors and probably many Christians, we fall in the trap. In our hearts we convince ourselves that the busyness is God centred, but the reality is that it has just become part of the day today grind…just one more task to do and tick off the never ending ‘to-do-list’.

He describes how his level of compassion started to dwindle to the point that he would quickly get annoyed and irritated.  Short breaks and holidays would bring minuscule relieve and as good as his marriage was in many ways, he found himself not investing in the relationship. The result? Drury struggled to find happiness with himself, he was restless and became disengaged from relationships. Although surrounded by people, he felt extremely lonely.

It is only in hindsight that he realises that he was suffering from burnout.  The dictionary describes it in the following manner:

Drury’s passion is to release the potential within people and teams, and to help high achievers to pursue their goals passionately without sabotaging all that is precious in their world.  He strongly believes that it is possible to achieve extraordinary success and build a great lifestyle as well.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I wish I did not have to work?” I’ll admit there has been seasons in my career that I have wished as much, and wished I could replace work with walking on the beach and admiring a good sunrise. All that stopped for me when I was reminded that God wants us to work. Yes, this was a bit of an “Aha”moment at the time. Let us stop for a second and reflect on what the Bible says about work.

From the very first chapter in the book of Genesis and throughout the Bible, we clearly see that God is a worker. He labours over His children and creation.  However, He did one thing that probably you and I do not do so well. That is, to pause and rest.

The Scriptures tell us that God honours those who do good work:

And so it goes, I encourage you to do a study on this topic. Working is good in God’s eyes.

So, where have we gone so wrong?


Juggling life and its implications

Being a business person, whether you own your business, lead or manage an organisation—you are perceived as having kudos and being important. Yet the reality is that these roles can result in some not so positive after effects such as:

  • stress
  • uncertainty
  • social isolation
  • pre-disposition to mental health challenges
  • loss of identity and self-worth, and
  • impression management – the idea that ‘we have it all together’.

Busy business owners and executives are required to communicate, juggle multiple priorities and make strategic, high impacting important decisions 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The demands from work have never been greater, and lifestyle expectations have never been higher. The challenge today is how to juggle all the conflicting demands.

Our diaries seem to get fuller and fuller with appointments, aiming to stretch every waking minute more and more, in the hope to not let anyone down. However, this comes at a cost. If you get it wrong, you are in danger of not just jeopardising your business or career, but also your relationships and your health. Drury shares how some of his clients’ marriages have disintegrated, because they’ve been so committed to their work, that their children have now grown up and moved away from having any relationship with them.  All because they did not invest in their family.

The concept of work-life balance as Drury explains, seems to separate our life into something that resembles a seesaw.  On one side “how much time we spend working and on the opposing side how much time we spend living”.

“Mental health issues are now at the same level as those for physical accidents and injuries.” John described, saying that more and more people are struggling to function because of the pressure and stress of trying to manage busy lives. It seems that health challenges are greatest. He adds that “many income protection insurance claims are now for psychological injuries, anxiety, stress and depression.”

In his observations, he states that entrepreneurs have the biggest problems with mental health and that is because “they are going for it 24/7″.  These individuals may be enduring great challenges for weeks, months and even years trying to get something off the ground.

By the way, it seems that the challenge compounds even further if you are passionate about what you are doing. This gives rise to the accusation of a business-focused person as someone who is a workaholic. That is not necessarily the case; he or she may simply be passionate about their work. John confirms that if you are passionate about you work, it is unlikely that you are going to switch off the moment you walk out the door.

“It’s not wrong to be thinking about your work late at night or waking up in the morning with an idea. You’ve got things you’re thinking about, ideas and problems you’re solving, and if you want to be successful it does take a lot of your mind-space and energy.”


Work satisfaction – What to do?

We spend a very large proportion of our life working, so having a purpose is paramount, Drury encourages people to:

But what of those who have no choice? Their jobs are meaningless, purposeless, but they need those pay-packets at the end of the week? His advice is that no matter what your role or job is, you invest in ‘self-development. “Do some training and find what you are passionate about and connect your work to your God-given purpose.”

As business people and leaders we need to be aware that there are cases, whether at a personal level or relevant to employees in our businesses, where there is sure to be someone who may be doing their job diligently, but where the work is not the most important thing in their life except for the money.

Their passions are elsewhere. Maybe they are involved in some cause or commitment within their community. They work and build a job, but their passions are in other areas.

The power – the passion – the damage

As Christians we long to please our Heavenly Father, and although the initial intention for working hard may have been the right one, it can quickly morph  into a not so healthy beast that becomes all consuming, especially if you are passionate, a business owner, and/or are driven to succeed.

That is what happened to Drury’s own life. He was pastoring a fast growing church. He was passionate about the large number of people they were helping and ministering to. The church grew to a thousand strong congregation. He reflects on the damage that took place in his own work life …“getting lost in that, is when the damage comes.”

“I enjoyed being needed more than I should have. Some of my own emotional insecurities were being fed by the work I was doing. So a whole bunch of things came together where I made some dumb decisions,” John explained

Sadly the outcome was not pleasant. Drury had to resign from the church and he lost his marriage and his family in what he called a “shattering and devastating manner.”

The hard lessons of life is what drives him now to help others. Do you work to live or do you live to work? This a question he puts to some of his clients.


In the blink of an eye…burnout!

You may think it will not happen to you.  You love what you are doing, your business is growing, your team loves working for you and all is well on the home front.

Drury learned the hard way that when you are working furiously, even for a great cause and for the growth of God’s Kingdom, you still have to look after yourself.  He encourages us that sometimes we need to put our needs before others and we need to learn to say NO.

Quite often, people do not realise they are on the edge of burnout. Furthermore, those around them are unaware of the situation because just like him, they are still functioning. Consciously or unconsciously, they have learned to perform.

Setting boundaries in our life is so important and we can learn from Jesus since He was such a great example. When we read the Bible, we realise that the Lord did not respond to every need, or tried to fix every problem. He prioritised the care of his mind, body and soul. At times, He even separated Himself from his disciples and people around him, so that He could be alone with His Heavenly Father, to be still, to have a relationship with God and to seek His guidance and direction.

   What is taking over your life right now?

Assess, evaluate and act!

• Prioritise your God time
• Identify your God given purpose, gifts and strengths
• Seek and develop a meaningful business, job and role
• Live an integrated life
• Learn how to manage your passion
• Set boundaries

John Drury

About John Drury

John’s painful personal experience with burnout while in a Senior Leadership role, and his subsequent recovery, led him to start his own consulting business in 2010, with a clear focus to mentor high achievers (business owners and corporate executives) to a more holistic view of self-leadership.

John has developed a practical, relevant methodology that enables high achievers to pursue audacious goals without neglecting all that is precious in their world. This process enables the integration of all the elements of life into a clear and workable plan that brings clarity and peace of mind.

John Drury is a powerful presenter, trainer, facilitator and mentor. He splits his time between working with business leaders as an executive coach/mentor, facilitating strategic planning and healthy culture processes for companies, and running leadership and team training for a range of companies.

Contact: or 0405 539025 to discuss how he can help you.

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