This is a question I’ve struggled with for quite some time. As men, we might first view good work through the lens of a career. Perhaps, we might view good work through the lens of physical fitness, or material goods. Part of my daily prayer is to ask God to orient my focus in the proper direction.
Like many men, my career is the typical 8AM-5PM weekly routine. Working from home during COVID, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to spend time with my wife and children. Is it always intentional, meaningful time? In the evenings, I’m with them for play time, dinner, baths, and bed. Each night, I come out to the garage (where I am now) and pick up where I left off regarding my work for True North, or perhaps my work for the men’s ministry at my church. My time and focus feels oriented in the right direction, but I cannot shake the feeling that all of this good work may not be the right work.
When I engage in honest introspection, I realize that I may not always be present with my wife or my children. I may be physically present with my son, playing with him and his set of blocks, while mentally miles away thinking about something career related. I may be physically present in conversation with my wife, while mentally miles away running through a checklist of things to do before our next True North event. All the work feels good, but it does not always feel right.
As I watch my kids get older and older, the recognition of times where I was not present becomes all the more sobering. I have come to realize that my level of engagement with my career, with men’s ministry, with serving God’s kingdom, has taken a toll on my home life. It is something I battle each day and it is hard to reconcile due to the nature of my work. By nature, I mean that I am not involved in any type of vice or nefarious activity, but rather work that I (at least in my mind) consider an example of Philippians 4:8
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
As I write this very blog post, am I missing a moment to go upstairs and connect with my wife through a conversation? Earlier this evening, did I miss a moment to play with my daughter because I was working on the next True North event? Did I miss a moment today to have lunch with my family because I was in a work meeting that did not require my attendance? I know what it feels like to be fully engaged with my family, and it is such a wonderful feeling. Growing up in an unstable household with domestic violence, I always envisioned and hoped for a day where I could be better than what I experienced. I realize how important it is to cherish each day, particularly with those that you love. I also realize that I sometimes fall short of my own standard.
Men, ensure that your focus is oriented toward God. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). Refresh yourself in prayer and the Bible, and ask God from time to time to aid you in evaluating where your time is spent. Is your good work the right work? Although my faith that God has me exactly where I need to be is strong, I occasionally ask for a sign or a reminder that I am moving in the right direction. In those moments where I was not moving in the right direction, God has made that abundantly clear very quickly. Do not miss those signs. Do not rely on your own understanding. Seek His providence and wisdom.
Those of you with older kids and experienced marriages know exactly how fast a newborn baby during your second year of marriage turns into an 18 year old and a 20th wedding anniversary. Irrespective of where you find yourself on the kids/marriage continuum, please understand that you are modeling behavior each day for your family, right or wrong. Be present in the moment, be intentional in your efforts, and cherish the opportunity to live a life in Christ with them each day. Measuring in years, some might say that lives are long. However, we only have one.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” - Proverbs 16:3
Be well and stay vigilant.