Is It Scriptural To Work Long Hours At A Job?

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Hi J____,
Thank you for your question. You ask:

I really have not a clue what a “Process Technician” in the chemical processing industry does, but the answer to your question is that there in nothing wrong with doing any job which does not specifically require you to break the commandments of God. No one should ever let his job become his God, but that hardly seems to be the case here, and there certainly is no injunction in scripture against 12 hour shifts.

You ask:

While that does sound like a strenuous work schedule, the answer is, yes I do believe the disciples would and probably did work 12 hours a day on many occasions. It was Christ himself who said:

Joh 11:9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.

Much of Christ’s ministry was spent walking from town to town. Christ had no concept of an 8 hour work shift. Of course he was working directly for His Father which is what you are aspiring to do. But here is what the scriptures tell us concerning our daily jobs. It is very important that we take this attitude toward our jobs, because it will save all of us much sorrow to do so:

Eph 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

What you need to realize is that if you have been given a job which does not require you to disobey any of the commandments of God, then you were given that job by God. If on the other hand you find yourself in a job which does require you to break God’s commandments, then that too was given you by God, and it will be God who will bring you out of that job at His time.
Paul deals with unfavorable working conditions when he deals with the subject of slavery, a practice which was completely legal in the Roman Empire of Paul’s day. Here is what Paul admonished the slaves over whom God had given Paul a spiritual charge:

Eph 6:5 Servants [ Greek, slaves], be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Eph 6:6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants [ Greek, slaves] of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
Eph 6:7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
Eph 6:8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Here is verse five in the NASB:

Eph 6:5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;

Paul goes on to tell slaves that if they can be free, then they should take advantage of the opportunity to have one less obstacle between themselves and their Creator:

1Co 7:21 Art thou called being a servant? [ Greek, slave] care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

So, if you are choosing between different jobs, then by all means, work in the job that gives you the most freedom to be the slave of God. But if you are asking me if it is a sin to work in the chemical processing field, then the answer in no. If you are simply asking about long hours, then the answer is that there is nothing sinful about working long hours. We are not all meant to be teachers and preachers, but we are all called to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God.” So whatever job our loving heavenly Father gives us, we should do that job “as unto Christ.”
There are many, at this time of economic and financial turmoil, who would love to have a job that required a schedule of four 12 hour work days. The fact that “it takes… time to understand the chemistry and problem solving that comes with it,” should be taken only as a challenge. If this is a good paying job and you do not want to do that job, there will be plenty of others who will.
I myself have worked 12+ hours a day for many years as a self employed remodeling contractor, and while it was not easy, I was thankful for, and am still thankful for every job I am privileged to work, and I pray that I will always do whatever I am given to do “in singleness of heart, as unto Christ.”
The tone of the scriptures is not that of being concerned with being overworked, so much as with guarding against being slothful. I am not assuming that you are slothful, nevertheless you need to be aware of what is the tone of the scriptures when it comes to working and business. The book of Proverbs is full of verses like this:

Pro 12:24 The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.
Pro 18:9 He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.
Pro 6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

We have ants on our property, and we also have some honey bees. Both work from sun up to sun down all day long seven days a week. This is not the message of Pro 6, but the message is that we, too, should be diligent and hard workers.
Here too, are a few relevant New Testament verses:

Mat 25:26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
Rom 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Heb 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

This may not be the answer you wanted to hear, but it is certainly based in the scriptures. I will close with this verse which I believe sets a proper Biblical tone in response to your question. Please realize that I am not promoting 12 hour work days, but I am promoting the sentiment and the mindset of this verse:

1Ti 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

I hope this helps to give you some Godly direction and helps you in choosing a job.
Your brother in Christ,

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