— by Adam Metcalf
When I think back to when we first started ZeeMee, I am greeted with vivid images of ever-present anxious toil. Will we raise enough capital? Will we find product market fit? Can we grow the user base? Can we get colleges to pay us? Will my investors lose their money? Will the board fire me? These questions plagued me over the last 5 years and to be honest, I still think about them quite a bit today. However, my approach to dealing with these problems has thankfully evolved.
In the past, my answer to these questions was simply to grind. Wake up in the middle of the night and check emails. Stay late at work because more hours would surely compute into more success. Check Slack constantly on the weekend, while I was supposedly playing with my kids on the playground. Jump back on the computer once the kids were in bed and not spend intentional time in conversation with my wife.
We live in a culture that glorifies “the grind.” Just check out your LinkedIn feed and see how many people are liking content that is all about “you just gotta keep grinding and you can beat everyone and be the most awesome human being to ever live!” Such a solid message.
What I think is incredibly insightful is that the wisest and wealthiest man to ever live completely disagreed with “the grind.” Solomon referred to “the grind” as mere anxious toil. In Psalm 127, Solomon states:
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
All of those years, I was putting email, Slack, hours in the office before my family and even before the Lord. The Lord wasn’t building the house, I was. I wasn’t saving ZeeMee by working harder, I was eating the bread of anxious toil and ignoring the blessing that was already mine. And I definitely wasn’t saving my hair!
The second stanza of Psalm 127 is seemingly unrelated to “anxious toil.” Solomon goes on to say:
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
It is fascinating that Solomon jumps from the vanity of “the grind” to the blessing of family. Clearly there must be some connection here in Solomon’s mind.
Instead of trying to affect my future reality by pouring more deeply into my work, Solomon is saying that I don’t have to toil endlessly to build a successful company to enjoy the fruits of my labor. The blessing is already right in front of me and I can enjoy it now! That blessing looks like my beautiful wife and my three precious kids. It looks like the amazing relationships that God has blessed us with. It looks like total pursuit of my relationship with Christ.
So goodbye to email checks at 3am. So long to checking Slack on the playground. And farewell to late night work on the computer, while I ignore my wife. Hello to deep intentional time with my family. Hi to real Sabbath rest. And hola to more intimate time with the Lord and more trust in his provision to provide.
If we want to be known as people that work hard, let us be known first and foremost as people that tirelessly and joyfully press into our relationship with Jesus and recognize that the house you are trying to build is being built in vain, unless he is the one laying the bricks.