Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Enough is Enough

Written by: on October 17, 2023

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” The famous quote by Socrates, points us to the value of reflection on our lived experience, past and present. Each of us have first-hand experience with evangelicalism as well as living in a capitalist society. Whether we’ve ever thought about it or not, we are affected by both systems and perhaps in ways that go far beyond the obvious. That seems worth examining.

As Max Weber and Jason Clark would seem to agree, evangelicalism has an intertwined and tricky relationship with capitalism. Is Weber correct when he asserts that this relationship grows out of Calvinist thinking on predestination? In his view, the accumulation of wealth became a sign that one belonged to the “elect.” Thus, a strong work ethic and the pursuit of personal wealth became highly valued and, in a way, equated with the pursuit of God’s favor. [1] Or is Clark correct when he moves the conversation away from assurance of faith toward God’s providence? [2]

Whatever a Christian’s motivation, we can safely say that a solid work ethic is honoring to God. In terms of Christian virtue, we would call this “diligence,” and the Bible is full of exhortation to grow in diligence.

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 (NIV): “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.’ We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.”

Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV): “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Proverbs 13:4 (NIV): “A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”

Marvin Oxenham wrote a particularly wonderful epistolatory novel about teaching followers of Jesus to develop their character and become more virtuous. He defines diligence as a “zealous attention to one’s actions and work. It includes a work ethic, a wise use of one’s time and a sense of duty.” [3] However, as Oxenham points out, every virtue taken to its extreme becomes a vice (the exception being love). For example, it’s not difficult to imagine a strong work ethic slipping into workaholism. Oxenham additionally warns against the vices of obsessive-compulsive tendencies and overly controlling attitudes stemming from excessive diligence. The antidote, he says, is practicing rest “for diligence is also about resting well and enjoying the goodness of life.” [4]

The space I have left in the blog post is not enough to develop a robust theology of rest. [5] Regardless, this lesson is embedded deep in my soul. I grew up a bit outside of typical evangelicalism; my family attended a Church of the Brethren, and I was educated in Mennonite schools. The anabaptist traditions and values were prevalent in our area, as was a certain lifestyle that comes with rural, farming communities. Needless to say, hard work was the norm.

Just as fish can’t see the water they swim in, children don’t see their family’s peculiarities. It wasn’t until I was married (and thought my husband was a bit lazy because he wanted to relax on the weekends!) that I began to see how unbalanced my lifestyle was. I say “began” because the journey was long, and I am still on it. I have come to understand two important things about godly, holy rest in my life.

Firstly, there is value in rest because it is where God re-creates us. The word “recreation” is often synonymous with rest or leisure and it’s a word that I hold to tightly. In times of intentional rest (which usually means not just turning on Netflix or doing something mindless, but truly being intentional) God re-creates and re-news me. I walk away from intentional rest as a new and refreshed person.

Secondly, my tendency to overwork was really about control vs. trust. I was conditioned to work in order to control my circumstances. I was brought up to work hard and to avoid depending on others and certainly to never ask for help. Self-sufficiency was a key value in my family of origin, which now saddens me because, in fact, the core of the gospel is that we are not sufficient for ourselves.

In this journey of learning to rest, God has often challenged me to rely on Him alone to be sufficient. Just as Israel had to learn in the desert when the manna fell, God always provides enough for today. For the Israelites that meant enough food. For me, the challenge is usually to accept that God has provided enough time in my day, enough energy to do my work, and that when He calls me away to rest, I can trust that what I have done is enough.


[1] Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, accessed September 24, 2023, https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/weber/protestant-ethic/ch04.htm#a. Chapter IV.

[2] Clark, Jason. Evangelicalism and Capitalism: A Reparative Account and Diagnosis of Pathogeneses in the Relationship. London School of Theology, 2018. 101.

[3] Marvin Oxenham, Character and Virtue in Theological Education: An Academic Epistolary Novel. (Langham Global Library, 2019). Kindle location 5164.

[4] Ibid. Kindle location 5164.

[5] For any who are interested, I commend to you this discussion entitled “In Defense of Leisure, Play, Fun and Amusement“.  

About the Author


Kim Sanford

10 responses to “Enough is Enough”

  1. Travis Vaughn says:

    Kim, you should write more on this subject. Your commentary on work and rest, along with your recounting of your personal experience with work having grown up in an anabaptist tradition was excellent.

    I appreciate the way you affirmed hard work and then, with a twist, took your reader into the real danger of workaholism and the need for sabbath rest.

    As I read the part in your post about a good thing becoming an ultimate thing (you pointed out Oxenham’s take on every virtue taken to its extreme can become a vice), I was reminded of Luther’s commentary on the First Commandment in the Book of Concord. Luther writes, “That is: Thou shalt have [and worship] Me alone as thy God. What is the force of this, and how is it to be understood? What does it mean to have a god? or, what is God? Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the [whole] heart; as I have often said that the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust be right, then is your god also true; and, on the other hand, if your trust be false and wrong, then you have not the true God; for these two belong together, faith and God. That now, I say, upon which you set your heart and put your trust is properly your god.”

    Great post!

    • mm Kim Sanford says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Travis. And thanks too for your insight on good things which become the ultimate thing. I love the way you phrase that. I’ve seen that play out in my own life in a variety of ways, including idolizing good health, caring for the environment as God’s creation, finding “my calling” and many other good but not ultimate things. And every single time God reminds me that it truly is about where we place our trust, as Luther said.

  2. mm Tim Clark says:

    As a fellow protestant-work-ethic-workaholic I love this.

    Yes, God calls us to diligence, discipline, and productivity, but he also invites us to rest, joy, celebration, and Sabbath (which I define as a weekly holiday).

    The first (the diligence) I inherited from my culture and religion. The second I’ve spent a lifetime trying to capture. And that’s sad.

    How else have you found yourself leaning away from making the value of a Biblical work ethic into a vice? Any other tips for this still-learning man?

    • mm Kim Sanford says:

      Still-learning, I’m right there with you. There are a couple of things that have helped me reorient my sabbath rest. I think of a sermon I heard once that encouraged living out of the well-being that comes from sabbath rest as opposed to living just to survive until the weekend/sabbath. That opened my eyes to the need to change something in my heart and life. Since then it’s been helpful to seek out hobbies and activities that are truly re–creative in the sense that I talked about in my post. Sometimes that means scheduling a coffee date with a friend because that’s truly life-giving. Sometimes it means painting, which I do so poorly it’s comical but I really enjoy the process. Sometimes it simply means giving myself permission to read fiction or poetry (instead of those pesky…I mean wonderful…leadership books). So I’m curious, what comes to mind? What are those things that make you feel truly restored?

      • mm Tim Clark says:

        I’m terrible at this but growing my way forward….

        I’ve really leaned into the principle of sabbath. A full day where I don’t do work, don’t answer emails, don’t do school, TRY not to do social media. Try not to do errands or housework.

        But those are the don’ts. On that day I DO read for fun. I do usually spend extended time with Jesus…and my wife. I eat and drink something I really enjoy. Maybe use the grill. I take a long walk. Watch a good film. Anything that brings healing and restoration, and that reminds me that I’m not God, I’m not needed 24/7.

        But like I said… still in process.

  3. Jennifer Vernam says:

    What a great post! As I read your thoughts, I, like Travis, really like the way you model the tension between the virtues of work and sabbath. It makes me think about Skye Jethani’s work “With,” which refocused me on the idea of focusing on accompaniment with God rather than some of the other postures we take that can throw us out of balance. Thanks for the reflection!

    I am curious: how can this tie into your NPO?

  4. mm Kim Sanford says:

    I’ll have to look at Jethani’s “With.” I’ve heard him on podcasts, but I’m not familiar with much of his writing.

    I think the connection to my NPO comes back to the concepts of Enough and of Trust. Ultimate trust placed anywhere but in God becomes an idol and that includes trust in excellent, neurobiologically-informed, emotionally healthy parenting. In my efforts to challenge parents, I need to be careful to remind them (and myself) to pursue excellence but continue to trust God alone.

  5. mm Russell Chun says:


    I love this, “For me, the challenge is usually to accept that God has provided enough time in my day, enough energy to do my work, and that when He calls me away to rest, I can trust that what I have done is enough.”

    As a reformed (?) workaholic I am ministered too.



  6. I can definitely relate to the importance of rest and finding a balance in life. There was a time when I sacrificed family events and precious moments with friends in pursuit of work, and I must admit that the underlying motivation for this was greed. It took some tough life lessons, but by God’s grace, I began to see the error of my ways.

    One of the most significant changes I made was adopting a regular Sabbath. From sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, I set aside that time for rest and reflection. During my Sabbath, I intentionally focus on activities that bring me joy, whether it’s spending time in nature, reading, or simply being with loved ones.

    Kim, you mentioned a few times in our conversation about having a spiritual discipline of accepting God’s provisions. How did you come to adopt that?

  7. Kally Elliott says:

    My husband had to teach me to relax on vacation. His family chills, like they sit and read or sleep, on vacation. I was taught, “Get up with the sun and be the FIRST boat on the lake so that you can get the best water for skiing!” while on vacation from my father…who has a long history with high expectations and working hard. He is 75 and still working…he will never retire. Anyway, I say all that because I too, had to be taught to rest and I’m still not all that good at it.

    Recently this quote has been making the rounds amongst pastors I am in touch with and it’s been making me think more about rest and how necessary it is:
    “Instead of asking, ‘Have I worked hard enough to deserve to rest?’ I’ve started asking, ‘Have I rested enough to do my most loving and meaningful work?'” – Nicola Jane Hobbs

Leave a Reply