Friday, 15 April 2011

When Should the Job Come First?

When should a person’s job come first in their life? Never! The correct answer for a married person is the job should be in third place at best, and that assumes no children.

One of the most common complaints a marriage counselor will hear is that one of the partners spends more time on the job than they do at home. There are a few professional fields (law, medicine, etc.) where the long hours come with the territory. It takes an exceptionally understanding partner to cope with the demands of such a profession and even then the partners should take special precautions so as to prevent drift and resentment.

Some partners get their identity from their work. They get their affirmation, sense of accomplishment from their work. This means that when they leave work they are driving away from what gives them meaning and purpose. In other cases the partner is actually using work to escape from family life. Both of these scenarios will have disastrous long term consequences.

There is a third reason why work seems to trump family which is as insidious as the two mentioned above and that is the desire to accumulate more wealth in an effort to accumulate more “stuff”.

What all these “excuses” for working long hours have in common is that they all involve issues of the heart. One’s identity shouldn’t come from work or from another person. IF we are children of the risen Lord our identity and purpose should come from Him. If home is a less pleasant place to be than work it necessitates a very serious conversation about what has to change because obviously the marriage isn’t glorifying God. Finally if stuff is more important than God and family our priorities are out of whack, stuff has become an idol.

As one who has spent many hours at work for more years than most of you have been on this earth, I understand the magnetic draw of work. As a task oriented people pleaser I too can get wrapped up in my work. Fortunately I love to go home, I have all the stuff I should ever need and while I care deeply about my job, I don’t get my identity from it. If this is a heart issue for you or your spouse take it to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to set the priorities of your heart in line with His purpose for your life.

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