Awhile back, I read Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide? by Andy Stanley (this book was republished in 2011 as When Work and Family Collide: Keeping Your Job from Cheating Your Family). The book is must-reading for anyone who is busy AND has a family!
Incidentally, I try to read everything by Andy Stanley, lead pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. Previously, I’ve posted thoughts on two other books by him including, Communicating for a Change and Making Vision Stick.
I’ve been thinking about the book again now that we’ve brought Ethan home and have a few weeks to immerse ourselves in, and adjust to, this new way of life. Here are a few quotes quotes and thoughts on Choosing to Cheat …
So, what does it mean to cheat?
“When we cheat, we choose to give up one thing in hopes of gaining something else of greater value” (9).
Andy makes the case that none of us can do everything that we think we should do, or everything others think we should do. Therefore, we’ve got choices to make. In fact, he says …
“Daily you make decisions to give up one thing in order to gain something else. This is especially true within the arena of your schedule. You face a variety of responsibilities and opportunities: work … family … hobbies … clubs … leagues … the list is endless. Each competes for your attention. Each competes for your most valuable resource, your time. But to give each of these the time it demands or deserves would require more time than you have” (10).
As a result, every one of us must make choices. Since we can’t do it all, we’ve gotta cheat somewhere. Basically, we choose who we cheat. Why? Because …
“The problem is there is not enough time to get everything done that you are convinced–or others have convinced you–needs to get done” (21).
“Everyone is busy. All of us have more to do than we will ever get done. We all have to cheat along the way. When you cheat strategically, you leverage your busyness for the sake of what’s most important. Cheating strategically allows us to communicate the message our families long the feel–you are important to me. You are more important to me than anybody or anything else in the world” (58).
Andy argues that “the length of your workweek does not play as significant role as you might at first think” in your professional success. On the other hand, he says, “With family, success is always related to time” (99).
To help busy spouses make adjustments to their priorities, Andy suggests the following question …
“What change would your spouse most like you to make in regard to your schedule?” (93)
That may be a tough question to ask, and you may not be able to make the needed changes overnight, but it may be a good place to start, and you can at least begin working toward the goal.
When Andy asked his wife, Sandra, this question, shortly after starting North Point in the late 1990s, she said she’d like him to be home around 4:00 pm to help with their two young children. It was tough for Andy, the lead pastor of a new church, to do, but he did it. In fact, he also committed to working a 45-hour workweek. He prayed …
“Lord, feel free to build whatever kind of church You can with forty-five hours of my time. You know that’s all I have right now” (95).
This one might be tough for many Christ-followers, particularly pastors, to swallow. But if you know anything about North Point, it is an incredible church. God isn’t looking for workaholics and overachievers to build his church; he is looking for people of character and integrity, and part of that integrity is commitment to one’s family.
In 2.0, I will offer some personal reflections on how Joleen and I hope to cheat strategically so that we do not cheat our family.