News.com recently ran an article from Germany where checking emails after work hours is so bad for your psychological state that it is considering banning it.
Apparently long hours and constant access to work aren't good for your health according to this German study. National Labour Minister Andrea Nahles says that her department has commissioned the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to work out whether it is possible to set load thresholds.
Certainly mental health issues have given rise to this preventative outcome. The European Occupational Safety and Health Administration has already identified the connection between too much work and health hazards. Moreover Nahles herself refuses to be involved in such work activities on a weekend.
Volkswagon for some years now have been desisting from sending Emails to their work force 30 minutes after knock-off time.
It all has to do with mobile phone technology. Emails come directly to your mobile phone unless you put in place some IT blocking mechanism which from what I understand has been available for years.
I for one can well understand why a company such as Volkswagon would want a 30 minute buffer as everyone is human and there may well be circumstances where someone forgot to switch off a machine or an office jockey failed save their day's communications onto the secondary hard drive.
One of my son-in-laws works in the corporate world where a considerable amount of his technical work can be done outside the office walls. It so happens that due his family situation with serious illness, he can do much of this at home, which includes after hours or on weekends.
There are many corporate people in like situations today. Technology means one can actually live in another city. The push for sea change - rural coastal means exactly this, that working from home can be optional and many have taken the plunge. I recently wrote of this.
In effect then, such a ban as proposed in Germany would only affect a certain type of employee but none-the-less according to the study, an important health step.
When turning our attention to Christian ministry and mission in relation to such a national determination of freedom from work after working hours, it seems as though we're in a different stratosphere.
The classic story of a Minister's / Missionary's attempts to plan his/her day - applies here.
"7.30am Minister plan's day. 7.40am text message. Minister re-plans day. 8.00am phone call. Minister re-plans day. 8.30m knock at the door. Minister re-plans day, and so on ... "
A minister / missionary is on duty 24/7 and this is part and parcel of the Calling. Chaplains more so, whether they be in commerce, industry, military, sport, hospital, youth, community, aged care, whatever – they are not governed by the "card in the Bundy clock" - this is as far as is the east from the west from a day job.
In my ministry, now nearing the completion of 37 years, how I ever functioned without text messaging and Emails is a little bewildering. The needs of parishioners, people wanting to talk things over, meetings, sickness, bereavements and the like are not restricted to the hours of daylight.
What text messaging and emails have done, as strange as it might seem, is to actually free up time. A question or an issue can now be handled by a reply text message or a little detailed by an Email. My iPhone sends both texts and Emails.
My wife and I can be watching Songs of Praise on the television and at the same time I'm able to send to an enquirer a very simple reply as a text message or an Email on my iPhone. It might be a simple request for a time and place to meet. It could a practical question. But that person gets an immediate reply, I don't need to get to my office at some unearthly hour. It is dealt with then and there.
In Christian ministry - how good is that!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html