When Your Personal Life and Work Life Collide

by | Feb 15, 2017

We love to act like our work life and personal life are distinct and separate, don’t we?

We have no problem checking our personal lives at the office door, right?

For many years of my career, I lived exactly this way. I didn’t want bosses, peers and coworkers to see any weakness in my game. And I certainly didn’t need them to know about issues I was wrestling with in my personal life. But with age comes wisdom and experience. I have learned that 1) we live integrated lives and 2) there is tremendous benefit in having coworkers who will encourage us and pray for us during times of personal difficulty.

Look around you right now. There is a strong possibility that a significant number of your coworkers are struggling with a compelling personal issue. One of those people may be you. Why? Because life happens. I’m not talking about having a bad cold or dealing with your kid losing a basketball game. I’m talking about real difficulties like these:

  • You are wrestling with financial problems.
  • Your marriage is in a difficult season.
  • Your child is really struggling in school.
  • Your spouse is struggling with an illness.
  • You have an issue with pornography.
  • You are the caretaker of your aging parents.

So, if your personal life is colliding with your work life, what can you do?

  1. Start by developing mutual relationships with your coworkers that are grounded in truth and love. The first of the Seven Pillars of Faith and Work is LOVE. Love opens the door for authenticity with one another.
  2. Recognize that being authentic and transparent at work is appropriate and valuable to you … and to your coworkers.
  3. Put others who are are hurting first by being a great listener and encourager.
  4. Read the Bible and pray for courage to carry your burden at work through the difficult times. For example:
    “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” – Isaiah 41:10. 
  5. Be wise and prayerful about who you share your personal issues with.
  6. Ask for prayer. This is the key! 

Let’s be real. We can choose to compartmentalize our personal life and work life. But I’ve learned the hard way that when we do, it can steal much of the joy and blessings that work can offer us. When we learn to not only lean on the Lord, but the community he has put us in, we will find that there is a key opportunity to flourish within both our work and personal lives.