by Ken Cooper
I saw a news report about how much people are working to get ahead in life. The report said that many people are working 70 to 80 or more hours a week at their jobs. They interviewed a 35-year-old attorney who was working to become a partner in his firm. He routinely spends 16-20 hours a day at work. When asked if he thought he could keep up that pace for another 30 years he said he really hoped he could and intended to try. At the end of the piece the reporter interviewed his wife. The reporter asked if he was home when the kids got up in the morning and she said, “no.” Then the reporter asked if he was home when the kids went to bed at night and she said, “no.” This dad’s annual income is well into seven figures, more in a year or two than many of us will make in our lifetime, and he plans to keep it up as long as he can. This man is an absent father. The damage he is doing to his marriage and to his children is immeasurable. While he earns a lot of money and he is working for the prestige of a partnership in a big law firm, he is losing precious time with his wife and children that no amount of money can ever buy back. Jesus said in Matthew 16:26, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (NIV).
Jesus was focusing on the eternal when he said that but let me bring the focus down to what is important in this life and say, “What good will it be for a man or woman if he or she gains millions of dollars and a prestigious partnership if they forfeit their spouse and children?” When we die, our grave marker won’t talk about how much money we made or what positions we held at work. If it has anything more than the dates of our birth and death, it will most likely say something like, “loving husband and father” or “loving wife and mother”, even if it is not true. Dads and Moms, your relationships with your spouses and children are infinitely more important than your productivity in the work force. Look at Jesus’ promise in Matthew 6:31-33, “So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” What does that mean? It means that as Christians, God has promised that He will take care of our needs when we seek His kingdom and His righteousness above everything else. It means that we put Jesus first in our priorities. It means that we put our family ahead of our job. It means that we trust God to provide us with a job through which He will meet all of our needs. It also means that we learn to live on what He provides.
This is a tough lesson for most people to learn– men more than women it seems. Our culture trains us men to believe that we are the breadwinners and we have the obligation to provide for our family. And there is some small amount of truth to that. But if we attempt to do that on our own without seeking God’s will and guidance, we are doomed to failure– no matter how much or how little money we make.
When it comes to our own relationship with Christ and our relationships with our spouses and children, to fail in either or both would be tragic. No other success in the world can make up for that loss. Don’t let this day pass without taking advantage of the opportunities you have to nurture your relationships with your spouse and family. Only your relationship with Jesus matters more.