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.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

What You Need to Know About Anger - Part I

David Powlison, author, counselor, lecturer and professor at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation addresses an issue which plagues many of us. The following is a summary of a two part article that David wrote for FamilyLife.

Anger is inevitable in marriage because conflict is inevitable.

David Powlison
What makes you angry? Are they small things, like traffic jams, lines at the grocery store, not being able to find a shoe, a waiter's mistake, or a friend's inattention? Are they big things, like when someone betrays you, experiences of injustice, meanness, violence, oppression, selfishness, or lying?

How do you deal with your anger? Do you explode? Does everyone around you know when and why you are angry? Or are you more subtle?

What is anger? Anger is your God-given capacity to respond to a wrong that you think is important. It always expresses two things:

• It identifies something in your world that matters to you.
• It proclaims that you believe that something is wrong.

This could be something as minor as being served a cold cup of coffee at a restaurant. Or it could be something as major as your spouse running off with your best friend.

Wanting a good thing more than God. Sometimes you want good things. It's not wrong to want your husband/wife to love and listen to you. It's not wrong to want your children to respect and obey you. But when fulfilling your desires, even for a good thing, becomes more important than anything else, that's when it changes into a "desire of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).

James, in the letter he wrote to the early church, said this about where wrong anger comes from: "What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have…”

Think about when you get angry. Aren't you insisting, "My will be done; my kingdom come"? And when things don't go your way, don't you judge those (including God) who are not doing what you want, as if you were God? You aren't, but when you are angry, you often act as if you were.

As you sense you are becoming angry you must ask yourself whether your anger is stemming from something that would sadden God like injustice, violence or cruelty or is it because your desires have been thwarted. This is an important first step. If in all honesty your answer is the latter – your desires have been thwarted stay tuned for part II.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Spiritual Leadership in the Home

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.Hebrews 10:25

Dennis Rainey offered the following post having to do with spiritual leadership in the home:
Ever witnessed anything like this at your house before? After falling under deep conviction during the pastor's sermon entitled "The Family Altar Will Save Your Family," Dad cranks up his courage and announces, "Tonight after dinner, we will have family devotions." Later, after finishing his spaghetti, he pushes his plate aside, reaches for the 10-pound family Bible and says, "Everyone please sit up straight and listen carefully. It's time for family worship."

Casting a pleading glance at Mom, he asks, "Honey, would you start us out with a praise chorus?" After a weak song attempt -- during which seven-year-old Tom blurts out, "This noise is making my head hurt!" -- Dad is already sitting upright and is uptight.

"Okay, now let's read some Scripture. What better place to start than the first three chapters of Genesis?" He then proceeds to read the lengthy selection.
"Does anyone have a comment?" Dad asks. A long silence follows. Tom sticks his face in his water glass and tries to drink through his nose, causing Chrissy, age five, to giggle. "Stop it, you two!" Mom exclaims. "Can't you see Daddy is being spiritual?"

"Dad, I've got a lot of homework," says Chuck, the family teenager. "Can we wrap this up?"

"Well, what about Genesis, everybody? Come on. Any comments?" Dad asks, his voice rising. Feeling desperate, he looks at Mom. She quickly averts her eyes. Finally, Chuck lobs in a conversation starter: "What do you think God was doing before the Bible began?"

"I have no earthly idea," Dad says. "Let's pray."

Does this sound painfully familiar? Well welcome to the club. Over the years I have met countless fathers/husbands who claim that they would like to lead devotions but feel totally ill-equipped. Let me recommend some books. For the husband and wife a book entitled Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, it is a devotional for every day of the year. For the dad try Long Story Short by Marty Machowski or The Jesus Story Book Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones which is good for younger children or For Instruction in Righteousness by Pam Forster an excellent book for children 7years of age and older which gives you a chance to teach your children Biblical principles.