A Safety Valve for Workers

The headline is stark: “Your job is killing you.”

Writing at The Week magazine’s website, reporter Jeff Spross recapped the work of researcher Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He’s taught there since 1979, specializing in organizational behavior.

Pfeffer’s thesis is simple: “In total, workplace environments in the United States may be responsible for 120,000-excess deaths per year.” That translates to the workplace being “the fifth leading cause of death—[accounting] for about $180 billion in additional healthcare expenses.”

It’s not difficult to understand the arguments. Many of today’s workers face pressure virtually from the moment they wake up until the time they get home, unwind, and go to bed, only to repeat the cycle the next day. As The Week put it, it’s not merely the workplace hazards—often found on the factory floor—that are stressing people out. Instead, it’s what they call “mundane” factors such as “layoffs or the fear of layoffs, long hours, chaotic schedules, work-family conflict, [and] low pay, demanding jobs.”

We’re trying to keep up with our work as well as family needs, and it’s killing some of us.

While there are many policy-based solutions being offered to relieve this stress—everything from higher minimum wage, stricter time-off standards, to protection against arbitrary layoffs—it’s worth asking whether there’s anything apart from government oversight that could help people reduce levels of stress caused by the demands of today’s workplace.

It turns out that there is something. It’s called the Sabbath—the day on which God first rested “from all His work which He had done” (Genesis 2:2).

Indeed, God was so greatly interested in having His creation join Him in a weekly “time out” that He placed the Sabbath at the heart of the Ten Commandments: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates” (Exodus 20:8–10).

In simpler terms: Everyone in a household—even the servants and visitors—should take a day off once a week, and God ordained that it be the seventh day.

On the Sabbath, God wants us to make time for our families to be together, to visit those who are unwell or otherwise “shut-in,” to spend time in nature, and to join with others in worshiping Him. All of these are activities often overlooked in the workaday world, and they can all be restorative for those who participate.

A recent article on the SabbathTruth.com website, “5 Ways to Keep the Sabbath Holy,” offers excellent suggestions on how to help de-stress your life by following God’s instructions. It’s worth reading and implementing into your life! Click here to check it out.


Written by Mark A. Kellner

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