DADS AND WORK
Recently a young father reached out to me for advice on his job situation. He has a good, solid job and there are so many ways this particular job benefits his family life, and aligns with his values. But at times it requires some travel away from his family. He was feeling a bit conflicted whether this would negatively impact his children, and whether or not to look for other work.
Many of you fathers out of necessity have to work a lot of hours every week to provide for your families. It’s even more so in this economy with the astronomical rise in the cost of living. Currently, it costs almost 21% more to live, just for the basics of life than it did 2 years ago. One of the fathers I mentor had to pick up another 20 hour a week job on top of his other full-time work just to make ends meet, and they live very frugally.
For all you dads, I know it can weigh heavily on your heart and mind, that your work takes so much time. You can feel as though you are failing as a father, needing to be away from your family so much. While it’s always good to step back and assess your situation, to carefully observe the pulse of your family, their state of being, and their needs, it’s also imperative that you realize for hundreds of years, most men worked 6 days a week, 10 hour days, to provide for their families. Many worked from dawn to dusk. You are being a tremendous example to your families, particularly your sons, as they see their dad working so hard to provide for his family. They see up close and personal, your sacrifices for those you love, your diligence, attitude and perseverance in your work endeavor. They see you being responsible, which is essential for your son’s future as a man! This all greatly honors God and is Biblical.
For all the years my kids were growing up I worked many long hours. I was of course very fortunate to be able to office from my home many of those years, as are many dads today. This allowed for some moments during the day, to engage with my family. But I also traveled, sometimes speaking at 10 conferences a year or more. These were most often out of state, involving 4 days away per conference, at a minimum. Other times some of those trips took me overseas and those trips lasted 7-20 days away from my family.
There were several things I did to keep my family united with me, feeling close and a part of me. I communicated with them that these trips were part of our mission, our calling from God to serve him, by serving others. I let them know why I was doing them. It was also part of my job, which provided for our families needs, such as housing, clothing, food, transportation, etc.
I always made sure to call home every day and visit, sometimes more than once. These calls were so regular that my wife would sometimes say, “Mark, we just talked a little bit ago!” Many of these trips were before Facetime, smartphones, email, and cheap phone calls. I once spent $400 calling from Honduras to keep in touch with my family. Eventually, there was a Penny Talk phone card, and of course these days, you men have tremendous access to Zoom, Facetime, and your own phone plan, email, etc. The secret is to use them. Keep in touch with your family. I took this so seriously that even in the early 80’s, back in Ames, Iowa, working at the auto parts store or at nights at the video arcade, I would take breaks and call my wife to tell her I loved her, to encourage her and say hi to my kids.
I always wanted them to know, and to feel, they mattered to me, they were on my mind and in my heart!
When I was home, I was engaged. I was all in. I can’t remember one time my wife ever looked at me and said, “Mark you’re home, but you’re not here. Your mind is somewhere else.” When I was not working I was present with them, engaged with them in some way, big or small.
I did special things with my kids. I made time to take them out individually, to invest time just with them.
I also did this with my wife. As kids got older and could babysit, we might go mountain biking together, or out for lunch, or take a walk. Anything to be with the woman I love!
Men, your work matters. Never feel guilty, or ashamed that you work so much or work so hard. Just keep the other things at the forefront of your mind, and live out your Biblical values both at work and at home! This is a winning strategy!
Here is the real problem, completely overlooked. When dads are working many hours, but then in addition to that, you take the kids and put them in the public school away from the family for 30-40 hours a week, away from a godly mother’s influence, immersing them in the destructive influence of public school indoctrination, surrounding them with the foolish kids at those schools, this is what kills family life. Add to that the fact that most kids today have a smartphone, with teens spending 8.5 hours per day on their phone, using social media, gaming, texting, and this doesn’t include schoolwork. Tween kids are on their phone 5.5 hours per day. Now you have a family disaster. None of this is the fault of dads work to provide for his family. Do not let this happen to you and your family!
I know many of you could use a boost, some fresh vision, inspiration, insight and understanding. This series will be a real blessing to you. It’s called, Work With a Purpose.
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling