Something New Under the Sun: Ancient Wisdom for Contemporary Living - 37. ALONE AT THE TOP

Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless-a miserable business!

Ecclesiastes 4:7-8


Before you read any further, go back and read the above two verses again. Out loud. Now think for a moment. Who do you know that fits this profile? I think every person who reads this book knows at least one per­son like the man Solomon describes in verses 7-8.

Now that you have a name in mind, I’d like to de­scribe this person. I think I know him well. I’ve met him many times. More than anything else, this man believes in the value of hard work and the inherent dignity of a job well done. He’s probably married and has at least three children whose pictures he carries in his wallet. He loves his wife and thinks about her more than she knows. It’s true he works long hours-often he’s gone by six in the morning and doesn’t come home until after seven at night.

The pressures at work are so enormous that it takes him an hour or two to unwind, so he doesn’t spend much time talking in the evening. He’s so tired that it’s all he can do to read the paper, watch a little television and then go wearily to bed. His blood pressure is too high, he knows he needs to exercise, his diet isn’t the best, and sometimes he’s irritable and snaps at his family-and re­grets it later.

It’s true that he works seventy hours a week, but he doesn’t think of himself as a workaholic. He simply loves his job-and he’s good at it. And thankfully, he’s able to bring home a nice paycheck and to provide good things for his family. One of these days he plans to slow down and smell the coffee. But not today. He gulps his coffee and heads for the door before his family knows he’s gone.

One evening he comes home and his family is gone. While he was at work, the kids grew up, his wife went back to college and found a career of her own, his chil­dren moved out, and now the house is empty. He can’t believe it. The Board of Directors just named him CEO. Now there’s no one to share the good news with. He made it to the top-alone. This too is meaningless.


Slow me down, Lord, lest I jump the tracks and ruin my life. Amen.



* Are you a workaholic? What would your family and friends say?


* Why do so many men feel that they have fulfilled their duty simply by bringing the paycheck home? Why are so many wives unhappy with husbands who feel that way?



Read Proverbs 13:22; 23:4-5; and 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12.


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