These are the notes I am teaching from tomorrow in Sunday School Class. Come join us in the Couples For Christ Class at Trinity UMC in Huntsville, AL.
Andy Stanley. Choosing to Cheat. Multnomah Books 2003.
· Come up with a working definition of “cheating”.
· Do you work to support your family or your ego? Perhaps some of both?
o Has your focus shifted with time? If so, how?
o Are you prone to leverage the pressures and responsibilities of work as an excuse to spend more time there?
o If you knew you were going to fail either at home or at work, where would you choose to fail? Would your spouse agree with the way you answered that question?
The tension we feel between work and family is complicated by the fact that most of us love what we do at work and we love being with our families at home. On top of that, both are ordained by God! Who gets top billing?
· We typically have more to do than we can ever hope of getting done.
· There are always loose ends
o Phone calls and emails that didn’t get returned
o Meetings that were cut short or skipped
o People that deserved and didn’t get my undivided attention
· If you stayed at work until everything was finished…if you took advantage of every opportunity that came your way…if you sought out every angle to maximize your abilities, improve your skills, and advance your career…Would you ever leave work?
· Have your kids ever looked at you and said, “Hey Dad, We’ve played enough. Why don’t you go back in the house and see if you can get some work done.”?
· Has your spouse ever complained about you coming home early?
· If you stayed at home until every ounce of affection was poured out in all the appropriate places…if you kept giving until every emotional need was met (every love tank filled)…if you did every chore, finished the honey-do list, and did everything necessary to ensure that everyone felt loved…Would you ever leave home?
Creating a healthy family environment is difficult because of the inherent selfishness of each family member. Creating a successful career is difficult because of the competition in the market place. Either one of these environments or the struggles related to both could consume our undivided attention. We don’t have the luxury of allocating all of time to one or the other. So, we are forced to wrestle with the conflict.
Our knee-jerk reaction to this dilemma is to answer the call of the squeakiest wheel. We run from fire to fire, troubleshooting our way through life, rescuing the needy and rewarding those who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Over time, our families learn that the only way to get our attention is to create a crisis.
Role of Work vs. Role of Family
Role of Work: (Discussed in Lesson #1 of this series.)
· Refer to Genesis 2:15. God created us to work! Before there was a family to support, God put Adam to work.
· Today, men and women get up at the crack of dawn to plow their vocational fields in order to produce a crop.
· Work is task-focused.
· We tend to find our worth through accomplishment.
· Rewards are tangible, progress is measurable, accolades are notable
Role of Family:
· The family is relationship focused.
· We find our value simply by who our relatives are.
· Family is about “be-ing”
· Rewards are intangible, progress is subtle, seldom given accolades
At work, I am expected to show up and produce. My family is just happy if I just show up.
Taking your task oriented focus into the home causes things to fall apart. Can you “fix” your family? Can you “fix” your marriage? Can you “fix” your kids?
You do your job. You love your family. If when we reverse the order that the tension escalates and the tug-of-war begins.
How many of us have taken the “good intention alibi” into the spiritual realm? Do you strike a deal with God and pray the following prayer when you get extra busy or are having to travel a lot?
Lord, you know my heart. You know how badly I want to spend more time with my family. So while I’m away, please watch over and protect them. Please fill the void that I have left while I am away. Lord, You understand my love for them; help them to understand as well.
If you are expecting God to do you job for you while you do a job for somebody else, you have made an arrangement with God. What is wrong with that?
1. We are assuming that God could not just as easily fill the void at work as He could the void at home.
2. We are asking God to fill a gap that only we can fill while we scurry off to do a job that a thousand other people could do.
We might as well pray
Dear God, You do what only I can do while I go do what many others could do just as well or better.
As a counselor, Andy Stanley states that he has never talked to an adult who reported that while growing up his father worked all the time, but God filled the gaps and there was no residual relational or emotional damage. He has never talked to a mom who reported that her husband neglected his family for the sake of his career, but fortunately God filled in the void, and everything was fine?
If we can’t expect God to cover for us in a way that protects our families from the residual effects of our misprioritization, then what are we to do?
The answer is simple. But it is simple in the way that telling a smoker the solution to their addiction is to stop smoking.
Holding the Rock
Everybody is willing to be “understanding” when a loved one needs to cheat a little. Why do they accept it? Easy, because they love us.
Your mental willingness was overcome by your physical and emotional exhaustion.
· When we ask our husbands and wives to carry our load as well as theirs, it is like handing them the rock.
· When we are absent at critical junctures in family life, they are left holding the rock.
· When we find ourselves pointing to the future to somehow make up for the past and present, they are holding the rock.
· When we assure our families that things are going to change and they don’t, they are holding the rock.
When the rock drops, it usually shatters into a million pieces. The grip on the rock usually fails on something that seems to trivial.
What does your family want from you more than anything else? Love, you say. Yes, but it goes deeper than that. They want to feel like they are your priority.
The problem is, you love your family in your heart, but you don’t love them in your schedule. And they can’t see your heart.
Our family’s willingness to hold the rock for us is born out of their desire to please us. Part of their reason for wanting to please us is that in pleasing us they hope to gain what they value most, our acceptance.
Whenever you compromise – or cheat – the interests of a family member in order to fill gaps somewhere else, you shuffle your priorities. Loyalty that was intended for a loved one gets displaced and given to someone else. However small, it increases the emotional load they must carry. It may not seem like a big deal. But it sends the message: You’re important…but right now something else is more important. When we take advantage of their willingness to support our dysfunctional schedules and misprioritization, we send a message of rejection.
And our actions speak louder than our intentions.
This week try both of the following:
· Spend intentional time with your spouse. Really inquire about them and what they think. Taking time to figure a woman out makes her feel valued. (Guys, this is why girls love the book/movie Twilight). Ask your spouse if you (collective) are ok? Ask if they feel like they are hold a rock in certain areas. Be honest and explore this.
· While tucking your kids into bed, as the following series of questions:
o Is everything okay in your heart?
o Did anyone hurt your feelings today?
o Are you mad at anyone?
o Did anyone break a promise to you?
o Is there anything I can do for you?