Since the fall of Adam, man has had to work in the sweat of his brow and naturally there has been and always will be the question of working hours. The working day was at one time much longer than today’s working day. Man, however, has the tendency to do less and less work and to desire to do even less work than he is doing; so that after many years have gone by the working day has been decreased and decreased to the present standard eight-hour day, and still industry and laborers are trying to decrease the day even more.
The society we live in is constantly changing and also the mode of living. We cannot remain living in the past but must adapt ourselves to living in the period in which God has placed us. We must work to live and so also we must give our working hours today some consideration.
The week contains working hours, rest hours, and leisure hours. The relation of your working and leisure hours has a great influence on your social life. There are some jobs in which it is necessary to pay special attention to this relationship. A job which requires evening labor would be such a case. Before taking a job with evening or night hours, it is especially important to take into consideration the schedule of your family, friends, and planned church activities. Daytime has always been the recognized working time. With an evening job you will have to work while others are enjoying their rest or leisure hours, and then enjoy your rest and leisure while the others work. Now naturally there is time between and it is possible to work out a good schedule, but not very probable. Often the night worker is tempted to do too many things during the day, work all night, and end up with very little rest. Under such a schedule, you are not able to do anything to the best of your ability.
Beside the physical balance or lack of balance, there is a very important factor. Evening is the time scheduled for church activities such as society meetings, catechism, Sunday School teachers’ meetings, etc. Participation in these activities is a very enjoyable use of your evenings and also profitable and necessary for good spiritual growth. Even aside from the great spiritual benefits in these activities, there is the formation of Christian friendships as a result of working with other young people. Evening work hours would eliminate these things for you.
Another job which concerns your social life is that of the traveling worker such as the traveling salesman. Here again, the same thing holds true. It is impossible to both be away on your job and attend church activities. In a traveling job, instead of putting in an eight-hour working day, you must give your work twenty-four hours in that our job keeps you away from home and normal living. In the case of a father, it would be necessary to sacrifice his home life and responsibilities as a father.
Your economic life in view of working hours is related to your social life. I do not wish to discuss wages as such but rather things such as working overtime or working wives which are generally economic in nature. Once again, the danger lies in the possibility of working hours interfering with your spiritual life. There is no real harm in occasional overtime which almost any job will demand, but what I mean is constant overtime which gradually causes your life to revolve around your job rather than your church and home. In young people this can lead to making friends among the world rather than among God’s people, and in adults this can break the unity of the family. The lack of a good sound home can cause a poor relationship between parents and children and then the Christian soundness of the home is also lost.
What about working wives? Today a great percentage of women are married, have families, and are holding a job outside of their home. Their working hours keep them away from their home and children nine or ten hours a day. What considerations should these women give to working hours? They should consider whether they can and are placing their duties to their home and family first. A mother must realize her responsibilities in raising her children and running her household. This cannot be left to Grandmother or nursery schools, because it is her home, her children, her task.
Our social and economic life are closely bound, and inseparable from both is our religious life. I have tried to bring out the importance of Christian living during the week and its importance to working hours. Now I would like to ask what consideration should be given to Sunday labor? The proper approach to the questions concerning the Sabbath is not so much in what may we not do as what we must do. If we know the proper things to do, the things to avoid are easily avoided. The basic fact is that God provides a Sabbath for man. God did that in Paradise, He does it now, He will do it in heaven and throughout eternity when we have the eternal Sabbath of which our Sabbath is now the symbol. The principle controlling our Sabbath should be devotion and consecration to God. Upon this day we must consecrate ourselves as directly as possibly to God and engage in doing things pertaining to God’s kingdom. It is true that this holds for every day of the week, but on the Sabbath we set aside all else as much as possible. But even Jesus left room for necessary things as when he told of an ox fallen into a well on the Sabbath. (Luke 14:5). Even as that was necessary, there is some necessary Sunday work, but this work must be done with the awareness that it is the Sabbath.
I would conclude that the most important question and consideration we must give our job in relation to working hours is: “Will my working hours keep me from serving my Master to the best of my ability?”