I used to be really good at demanding an appropriate level of separation between my work and personal life. While I was willing to stay late to complete tasks when necessary, I would also leave right at 5pm when possible. When the company said I had to have access to my work email on my phone, I would deactivate the notifications when I left the office. There was no laptop to take home, no files strewn about my coffee table. Other than the occasional late night emergency call, I both physically and mentally left work at the same time each evening.
Somewhere along the way, that started to change. I almost missed a very important late night message once, so my email notifications started to stay on. My laptop started to come home with me, just in case. Then the laptop and files all found their way home so I could finish up my remaining tasks with sweatpants and bourbon. Suddenly, the boundaries of the sacred space of my home, which used to kick in once I stepped foot in my car at the end of the day, have shrunk to my bedroom, the only place where I still refuse to cross a single file across the threshold.
“The problem is those walls of demarcation have crumbled,” according to Rev. Paul Koch on this week’s episode of Ringside. “One guy told me once he left the office if someone emailed him, they didn’t expect him to reply until he got back into the office the next day, because he had left the office. Now [that he’s working at home], they don’t care. They can email him at 10pm and they’ll assume he’ll get to it. Those things are going to be more disruptive.”
The problem plays out both ways too. How much time do we spend at work scrolling through social media, or texting family and friends? Those boundaries are breaking down. “The real issue is not about working at home or not, it’s about the technology. Now, no matter where you are, you’re with other people in some way. There’s an email coming in, there’s a text coming in. Casual, business, whatever. You’re literally having 3-4 conversations at all times. Now you can’t have that deep work focus, you can’t have deep conversations with people, you can’t have one-on-one time anymore,” says Rev. Joel Hess.
So much of our lives are intimately entwined with technology, and we use the same devices to both work and play. I’m not sure there is a great solution to the blurring of the lines separating different aspects of our lives, but I do think it’s important to be aware of and make the little adjustments we can to focus on the task and people in front of us, and protect that sacred space.
This article is a brief examination of the “metaphorical and theological rugby match” that was this week’s episode of Ringside Preachers. Listen to Rev. Joel Hess, Rev. Paul Koch, Rev. Ross Engel, and Tyler the Intern as they duke it out over how crazy Jesus was, following the money, virtual reality church, and more on the full Ringside Preachers episode, “Jesus is a Crazy Man”
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