Do you ever think about when you used to “have a life”? What do you look forward to after work? Is it binge-watching your favorite TV show? Finally getting to dive into your hobby? Hiding in your room to do more work from home? Or is it spending time with your family? We tend to have a life outside of our families, forgetting that our families are the most important part of our lives.
Growing up, my dad was one of the pastors at our church in Bahrain. Sometimes the church itself seemed like the enemy because it felt like it always took my parents’ attention away from my family. My wife’s parents were pastors as well, and at times she felt the same way. The church obviously wasn’t the enemy, but it could seem that way to a young child wanting to spend time with his or her parents. My wife and I are parents to three young children, and we both work full time at a church. We are passionate about raising our kids without creating an accidental enemy.
You might not even have kids, but your family and friends may still view your work or hobbies as the enemy. In fact, this applies to everyone, not just those in ministry. Maybe you spend more time in the office, out with friends, or in front of the TV than with your loved ones. It could be that you spend a lot of time away from your spouse at the gym, which could turn into bitterness instead of a celebration of healthy habits. The way you spend your time can become the enemy of your most important relationships—even if you have the best of intentions—and you don’t want that.
While work is necessary and good, it can easily slip into an obsession. Solomon seemed to understand this in the Bible when he said:
So I hated life because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 2:17 NIV
But, there’s a way to have it all. You can have a life and enjoy your job without also making enemies of your friends and family. It can often be as simple as inviting them to experience the very thing taking your attention. For example, my wife and I have decided to be intentional about involving our kids in what we are doing in our ministry so they’re bought into the “why.”
Recently, our pastor challenged us to be bold in our witness. We knew we wanted to include our whole family in the mission of our church instead of making our kids feel left out. So, my wife and I picked up extra “invite cards,” which are small cards with our church address and service times on them to give to anyone anytime. We told our kids that we’re going to carry them with us wherever we go so we can invite people to church. They loved the idea, especially my oldest daughter. Now, it’s so cool to see her remind us when we forget to invite someone we just talked to. The church isn’t her enemy because she’s part of it!
That’s just one example that worked for my family. If you’re struggling to find a healthy balance between work and family, know this: your life is happening today. Don’t make a living at the expense of making a life. Psalm 118:24 NLT says, “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
It’s great to want to excel, and God honors excellence. Work isn’t the only place you can experience success, though. It’s good to think about the future, to work hard, to plan and to be responsible. But don’t do it at the expense of embracing today!
Ready to have a life and a family? This week, I encourage you to invite your family and friends into new aspects of your life. Take a moment to stop and reflect on your motivation and purpose. You can rejoice and be glad together with the people you love. That sounds funny, but just try it—trust me!
The next time you want to binge-watch your favorite TV show, invite your spouse to watch it with you. The next time you dive into your hobby, invite your kid to join you. For your next visit to the gym, don’t go alone! If you do have to work late, make it a point to leave early the next day and spend time with your family. Whatever you’re doing, try to invite your loved ones to join in—they’ll feel included and you’ll find that balance you’ve been desperately searching for.