“I need you to be present,” my wife said to me a few nights ago at the end of a very hectic and stressful day.
I stood in our kitchen speechless. She was right. I did need to be present. I did need to dial in to home. I had spent the entire day…no, check that- the entire week, fully invested in my work and focused on everything I had to get done at the office that very little of me was left over for home. It consumed me like a wildfire. And, it was all important. But even though I physically stood in my house, in that moment, my mind was elsewhere. Truth was, I really hadn’t even spent much time physically being present in my house. My work days were nearing 10, 11 and even 12-hours in length.
I wasn’t very present. But I needed to be. My family needed me around.
What I’m becoming keenly aware of, everyday of my adult life, is that I need to constantly find balance between work and home and stay committed to it. I need to cross over the line of disengagement from work once I pull into my garage and walk into my house. I need to stop checking email, Facebook, or Twitter once I see my wife’s face and gather my kids up into my arms. I need to turn my cell phone and computer off at the end of a work day.
But along with being fully present and invested at home, I also need to be fully present and invested at work. After all, I am a pastor in a large church. We are in the people business! If you’re anything like me, you are wondering: how? How can you be fully invested at home, with your family, but also fully invested at your workplace? Seems like an impossible feat if you ask me.
As I said at the beginning of this post- this is tricky. And it comes down to strategically choosing which one, work or home, gets cheated. That’s right, cheated. In his book, Choosing To Cheat: Who Wins When Family And Work Collide? author Andy Stanley says,
Everyone is busy. All of us have more to do than we will ever get done. We all have to cheat along the way. When you cheat strategically, you leverage your busyness for the sake of what’s most important. Cheating strategically allows us to communicate the message our families long to feel–you are important to me. You are more important to me than anybody or anything else in the world.
Everybody cheats when it comes to work and family. It is a principle that is already at work within us. We either cheat our workplace by investing more time in our family, or we cheat our family by investing more time in our workplace. We have to decide which one gets cheated and which one receives the greater investment.
So, which is it? Haunting question, right?
Here’s what I’m learning: jobs will come and go. Careers will someday come to an end. Ambitions can change and drift off like a leaf in a fall storm. Family, however, will not. I say that even as I serve as a pastor. I love the church. I love what I do. I feel called to what I do. But it makes up a small portion of the most important part of my life. My family should always occupy the largest. They are the most important people in the world to me and I need to live that out every single day.
I need to be present. So do you. Our greatest investment should be our families. For their sake, but also for ours!
Where is your greatest investment? Work or home? Why?