“Choosing to Cheat” 2.0

I recently wrote about Andy Stanley’s book, Choosing to Cheat (see “Choosing to Cheat” 1.0) (this book was republished in 2011 as When Work and Family Collide: Keeping Your Job from Cheating Your Family). As I said, I want to share some personal reflections on how Joleen and I plan to cheat strategically so that we do not cheat our family.

To review, Andy essentially says that all of us have a limited amount of time, and certainly not enough time to do everything that is demanded of us, or everything that we’d like to do. Therefore, we’ve all got to cheat somewhere. The question is, who do we cheat? Many times, we cheat our families. The question the subtitle of the book poses is, “Who wins when family and work collide?”

This is an important question for all families to address. It’s certainly an important question for us — two full-time pastors, and now, two full-time parents. In the past, we’ve always tried to be intentional about taking time to spend with one another, and now that we have brought a child into our home, we will have to be even more intentional about family time.

Here are some commitments we’re considering as we move forward …

Be *more* focused in our work/ministries. We have a limited amount of time. In the past, if it took us extra hours to accomplish what we wanted/needed to accomplish in a week, that might not have been so bad. With a child in our lives, we will have to be more focused in our work. We will have to spend our workweek on the most important tasks (actually, focus is a good thing; we all should focus on the most important tasks, or what some call MITs). Our family life depends on it.

Prioritize Family Time. Periodically (and this will become even more important as Ethan gets older), we will schedule in family time on our calendars. We will place family events (or school/extra-curricular activities that Ethan will be involved in) on our calendars, and will treat them as any other important commitment in our lives. A few months ago, Joleen and I started more intentionally coordinating our schedules and blocking out time each week that we would both take off. We did this partially in preparation for life with a child. Click here to download a PDF of the “block schedule” we’ve been using.

Protect our evenings. It’s not uncommon for one or both of us to have 2-3 evening meetings each week. We will need to be more intentional about coordinating our schedules so that, if possible, at least one of us is home each evening, and both of us are home at a decent time to go through our evening routine (story time, prayer, and putting Ethan to bed).

Keep family commitments. Obviously, there will be times when things come up that interrupt family life. That’s true for everyone. It’s especially true for pastoral families, and particularly for families where both parents are pastors. However, we must do our best to keep family commitments as much as possible.

We will have to be intentional. Both of us are mission-driven people. God’s call and mission are extremely important to us. That won’t change. But the way we live that out may, naturally, need to undergo some changes.

We once heard John Maxwell, founder of Injoy, define success, saying, “Those who are the closest to me, love and respect me the most.”

That kind of success requires cheating strategically. What commitments have you made to give priority to the place of your family?

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