I was once told the biggest difference between a job and a career is that a career doesn’t stop with the punching out of a time clock. A career, if not kept in check, can consume every waking second of a man or woman’s day and night.
Before becoming a Children’s Pastor I taught 4th Grade. Both careers led me to a place where I had to make a choice: do I let my career own me OR do I keep it in check. You see, I am from an extremely hardworking family, and that mindset has been impressed upon me, which has its benefits and its drawbacks. The biggest drawback is that I won’t stop working . . . in other words I am a workaholic. I’ll keep going and going, but when it comes to a career there is always something around the corner that needs to be done . . . you are never truly finished. As for teaching and as a Children’s Pastor it seems to be a fact: for every one task completed ten more await your attention.
Naturally, for a family man or woman, a career can go from being a blessing to a curse in no time at all. To keep my marriage and duties as a father in check my wife and I decided to become intentional with how we set aside family time. Here is where we landed–
1. EVERY SINGLE DAY some form of family time occurs.
This means that even if I am away on a business trip my wife and I set up a way for me to connect with her and my little girl. Skype, phone calls, text messages, Facebook posts, whatever way possible to connect will occur on that day. Of course, when I am home we have a more intimate and simple approach, which leads me to my next standard.
2. When I come home from work my wife and I are intentional about what we do together.
I guess you could say we have a system, but that system can change at any moment if we think of something else to do as a family. When I walk through the door my first duty is to put away my cell phone and my laptop, out of sight out of mind (well, this is as close as I can get). My next move is to give my wife a kiss and then to take my little girl for some daddy/baby girl time so that we can connect and to give mommy a break. After a while we eat dinner together and then go for a walk. This is our norm and we love it. For the most part we are consistent, but sometimes we might go visit friends instead or throw in a trip to Dairy Queen. The point is to be INTENTIONAL with your time together. Without intentionality your family time will dwindle and turn into nothing more then a collection of people in isolation, which leads to broken marriages and failed parenting.
3. Lastly, even when the world tries to make it’s way into my family time I will push their attempts away as best as I can.
Unless I am informed of a death or sickness, everyone else will need to leave a message or shoot me an email. Even if friends call during this time, I will normally not answer because family time is simply that important. I can always call someone back or respond to an email later in the night or the next day.
The point is to work out ground rules with your spouse and try and be as consistent as you know how to be. I mess up sometimes and break some of our rules, but I apologize, brush myself off, and keep fighting for my family time. I promise you, if you are anything like me, working in a demanding field and a natural workaholic, if you do not set up these boundaries your marriage and your responsibilities as a parent will crumble. But on the other hand, if you fight for this precious time . . . words cannot express the blessings you will receive.