Overtime or Family Time?

Priorities-“…doing what is best for those we love even at the expense of the things we love.”


We all get caught up in this world. It’s the way we are wired, we were created to work– God put Adam in the Garden of Eden and even in paradise he had a purpose- to care for the garden. We were created in the image of a God, who is certainly himself very creative. It’s just that we have gotten our priorities askew. Which, if you think about it, is the entire reason the whole world is screwed up, it is the very definition of sin- my kingdom first!

We are prone to measure our worth by what we do, what we produce, our station in life as perceived by the world is tied to titles and bank accounts regardless of how we are affecting those around us.

I remember working in a welding shop years ago and my boss called me into the office for a serious discussion. He was finally giving me the raise I had asked for and for which I was long overdue, it had been several years since the last. Anyway, he, in all seriousness, told me that he wanted this job, building asphalt patching equipment, to be the most important thing in my life.

I don’t remember how I responded, I know I didn’t agree to that but I didn’t say no either, I really needed this raise. As I sat there in stunned silence I remembered what he had told me a couple of years earlier, that he preferred to hire single guys because families just got in the way. I was single when he hired me but I was now married and had a baby girl at home, she was much more important than this job. Sure the job was important because it fed my family but I certainly wouldn’t sacrifice my family for the job– though I would sacrifice the job for my family.

Which is exactly what I did a few years later. Our second daughter Jessie had come along and I was working 60 plus hours a week. This schedule of long days had been going on from the time she was born- in fact I’ll never forget holding my new born daughter and rocking her to sleep when Donna handed me the phone. It was my boss wanting to know when I was coming back to work. I had taken a couple of days off to be with Donna and my new daughter when they came home from the hospital.

Her first birthday came and went and the situation hadn’t changed, I was still working massive overtime at my all important job. The money was great but I had a year-old daughter who barely knew her dad and a three-year-old who cried because she missed her dad.

I went into the bosses’ office and said- I know you can’t and won’t change the situation here and I am not even going to ask you to so I am giving you notice. Two weeks– I’m done.

I left my position as shop lead-man and went to work for a building contractor as an apprentice carpenter. My pay checks took a big hit but I got to go home every day after an eight-hour shift and I got my family back. Soon I was making more there than I was at the welding shop and they never asked me to make the Job the most important thing in my life. I work hard at my job because I know that even though they are in business to make a dollar they care about the people and the families that work for them and if they do well, I do well.

I put in an honest days’ work because I am respected, not because it is demanded by those who belittle and deride me. I work hard because I have a family who depends on me and a God who tells me to work as though working for the Lord.

 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Col 3

I made a decision and took action to put my family before my Job, more specifically, to put my relationship with my family, before my Job and I knew I had to put the relationships before my ability to provide them with a big house on a big piece of land and everything they thought they might need to be happy, because without a relationship, without the time to be there in their lives none of that would mean anything.

The only reason I knew this was because of my relationship with the Lord— doing my best to put the Kingdom of God, to seek first his kingdom— had taught me what was truly important. Priorities. I sought God, sought to work hard to provide for my family while trying to find a balance where I could also be in their lives to teach them what a loving Father is. In the end we lost the big house, and the land, but we kept the family together and have all in various ways and degrees, learned together to seek first his kingdom. And we have never gone hungry or not had a nice place to live.

The Kingdom of God is about character, doing what is best for those we love even at the expense of the things we love. It’s trusting God for the things while we shift our focus to who we are in him, and the kind of person he wants us to be.

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.


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