“Name Your Own Vacation” sounds like a wonderful benefit package. Who wouldn’t want to have the freedom to determine their own vacation time?

My feet and the Rawa Special.

photo by yipinglim (flickr.com)

It has always puzzled me how the  American worker survives with the paltry vacation allocation that most companies in N. America offer. (Back home in Singapore, 3 weeks of vacation is more or less de rigueur and even that seems too little.)  So this blog article in the WSJ, at first glance, appeared to be a wonderful example of grace in the workplace. Having an employer who trusted the employee to know how much time off was needed, and to be in charge of their own rest seemed too good to be true. And it was. The kicker comes somewhere down towards the end of the article…


The problem with the “no-vacation” label, as I see it, is that it seems to excuse the employer from any responsibility for reducing people’s workloads enough to allow for vacation. The smoking gun in Orr’s message is the idea that “you make sure you also get your work done.” In most companies today, no one’s work is ever “done.” If my managers didn’t kindly arrange for someone to take over the tasks I handle now and then, I’d have my nose to the grindstone 24/7/365.

This is where that application of the little bit of Law negates the whole message of Grace. It is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he was pointing out to the Galatians that by insisting on the one little part of the Law, they in effect had brought to bear on their hearers the whole weight of the Demand. Eugene Peterson’s version of this passage makes it even clearer:

I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law. (Gal 5:2-3 The Message).

Whether we like it or not, the Gospel is an all or nothing proposition.