Every “yes” in our lives is accompanied by several “no’s,” whether we recognize it or not. When you or I say ‘yes’ to something, we are automatically saying ‘no’ to something else. The question is: Am I saying ‘yes’ to the right things?
When the subjects are work and family, this dynamic is especially important. This is the central theme of Andy Stanley’s book When Work and Family Collide. He released this book several years ago under a different title. The former title (which graced the cover of my copy when I first read this book back in 2009) was Choosing to Cheat. This former title summarized the thesis of the book, found on page 3: “Simply put, you must choose to cheat at work rather than at home.”
This book is a challenging and helpful read for anyone who has ever dealt with the tension between striking a healthy work/life balance. Stanley emphasizes the fact that though we are all expendable in our jobs, we are not at all expendable at home. The tension will always exist, “It’s not so much when we cheat, but who do we cheat.” When he says “cheat,” he is not implying that we need to somehow defraud someone or live immorally in our work lives—but that we need to be extremely intentional about how we manage our time and energy.
“In the marketplace side of the equation, you’re expendable. Even if you own your own company, you’re expendable. At home you play a unique role. You’re the only father or mother your child will ever have.”
I read this book along with several other men over this last month. As I heard their feedback on the book, it was apparent that every one of us struggles with this tension. We often find our identity in the level of “success” that we attain in our professions. The problem is, we make the excuse that we are simply working “for our family,” to support, get ahead, save, or provide. Stanley challenges this angle:
“Before long we aren’t working to support our families. We’re working to support something far less virtuous-our egos.”
It is not enough to say that we love our families. Our real priorities are revealed by how we actually spend our time and energy.
“Where you spend your time is an indication of where your loyalties lie. In effect, you pledge your allegiance to the person or thing that receives your time.”
This is such a valuable book. It is an easy read, and I think it is a must-read for every person who has ever struggled to strike a healthy balance in work and family life.
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