Volume 31 Number 1

Balancing Work & Family

by Paul Faulkner

In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye poses the question, “How is it that the fiddler can keep his balance?” The answer: “Tradition!” It is extremely difficult for Tevye and all the Jewish families in his little Russian village to balance their way of life and the changing (and often oppressive) culture that surrounds them. But the traditions passed down from generation to generation provide the anchor for such a balance.

Christian families have always relied on the traditions and values of God’s word—traditions that pull together and make it possible for parents to teach children basic morality and love for God, and values that help all of us make decisions and structure our lives. Yet, today, these traditions seem more and more difficult to practice because of time challenges and external influences that pull our families apart. [See list in sidebar]

Economics, the “good life,” single parenting and time constraints have caused parents to work more, which has drastically affected our families. Arlie Hochschild, in her book, Time Bind, draws the startling conclusion that, for many families, home and office have changed places. “Home is a frantic exercise in beat-the-clock, while work seems a haven of grown-up sociability, competence and relative freedom.” And, as parents spend less time with children and experience more frustration in family relationships, it becomes easier to stay at work, thus creating a downward spiral of family satisfaction.

If time, energy, effort and the family in general are out of sync, we are at great risk of losing our families, and that is by far more destructive than losing our jobs. So, what is the way to restore balance?

Let me suggest six steps, all of which have to do with priorities. Although most of us say we are family oriented, research by Norval Glenn suggests that there is a big gap between what Americans say about theirfamilies and what they actually do to support them. “A large majority claim that family is the most important thing in” life, but surveys show that most people will put their jobs, possessions and personal freedom before family responsibilities,” Glenn said.

So, maintaining balance means first, looking more carefully at what we do than what we say we do or what we believe we do.

It means being honest in looking at how we spend our time and energy, and ruthlessly honest about our motivations for doing what we do. As Christians with a spiritual function, we may need to begin with repentance and a prayerful determination to commit ourselves to godly values.

One of the strong and effective fathers I interviewed for Raising Faithful Kids said, “We base our family on the principles found in the Bible and the people found in the church.” Effective families are intentional; they set goals; they focus precisely by choosing each day whom they will serve.

The second step is to give our families adequate time.

Ronald Levane of Harvard Medical School once wrote, “I think quality time is just a way of deluding ourselves into shortchanging our children. [They] need vast amounts of parental time and attention.” It’s amazing that good people who would not think of robbing their children’s piggy banks or stealing their possessions can be casual about stealing their children’s time. No family can prosper and grow without time for talk, fun and games and rest, or without time to show love to one another.

A recent time management survey of executives diagnosed three critical ways to divide time for maximum effectiveness. In a 90-day period, the subjects had to have a certain amount of days to focus, a certain amount of days to get the details done and at least 20 days to do nothing. Sounds un-American, maybe, but it also sounds a little like the Sabbath God commanded of Israel. And, isn’t it interesting how often secular research confirms a principle written in the Bible many years ago?

Third, we need to re-evaluate our work.

Are the ends of financial success really worth the means to get there—moms less functional, dads less a part of the family and children with too much money to spend? If we need to aim at the second rung of the ladder instead of the first, we need to be humble enough to do what our family needs rather than what our pride demands. At the very least, we can thoroughly examine our financial situation and correct what we can.

The next thing we can do is learn to live down, to appreciate the simple life.

This may mean taking a step back in our expectations, perhaps by limiting exposure to the culture. It probably means resetting our family’s “want” button. Author and psychologist Mary Pipher suggests a good way to begin is by spending more time in nature. The simplicity and timing in the natural world is an excellent antidote to the frantic materialism that often saturates our lives.

We need also to be mindful of all the biblical admonitions toward self-control and learn to live within our limits. It is a great model for children to actually set limits and stick by them. This works not only for income, but for activities as well.

Fifth, many good strategies can be put into play to help families get control of their schedules.

The key is good communication and participation by everyone. Dads and children need to help with the work at home. Moms need to make sure everybody knows how to pitch in so the family can function as a team, with everyone contributing.

Finally, we must avoid the temptations that tear away at balance.

We have a different value system from the world, a different set of priorities that puts family over job. We must not allow ourselves to buy into the idea that our success is attached to money, fame, power, prestige or consumer goods. As Christians, we must have the courage and determination to let our satisfaction and peace come from an eternal perspective.

We must be serious about the heritage we leave our children, the social, emotional and spiritual legacy we pass on from generation to generation. We have been given a charge to make memories, and we can’t “do it later” with children. Parents are the only really effective teachers, trainers and mentors for the children—not the church, the schools or even the grandparents. May God bless our efforts to maintain balance.

This article was from

Church and Family Magazine, Spring 2006.

Dr. Paul Faulkner of Austin, Texas, is a licensed therapist and owner of a national counseling service. He is a widely known author and lecturer and a retired professor of Bible at Abilene Christian University.

Time Challenges and External Influences that Pull Families Apart

  • Massive Economic Changes
    • Nature of world-wide economy
    • Competition in the marketplace
    • Job layoffs
      • Left without a job
      • Increased work time
    • Global economy
      • Lower family incomes
      • Requires twice as much income to pay mortgage than one generation ago
      • Income taxes rose from 2 percent in 1950 to 24 percent in 1990
      • Health care and education costs have skyrocketed
  • The “Good Life”
    • Redefined needs vs. wants
    • Parents and grandparents
      • Lucky to have a car
      • Small closets
      • Eating out was a luxury
      • Content with modest homes
      • Made good living with high school education
  • Divorce
    • Solo wage earner/parent in many homes
    • Outside child care
  • Lack of Time
    • More time at work
    • Less time for relationships
    • More time for children to spend with TV/Internet

Prayer Requests

Prayer request from Jose & Christine Martinez: A Happy New Year to you all! Ours has not started out in the best of circumstances and I am writing to ask for prayers. Last Friday morning my Mom had another stroke. This time it was on the other side of the brain which has left her with a left side that is very weak. At first she was not responding to anyone but over the weekend she has improved to the point of saying everyone’s name and answering some questions without much coaxing. She also was not looking to her left at all and now she is turning her head in response to a voice. So we are seeing some improvement. Our main concern now is that she will be able to walk again and with God’s blessing take care of herself too. If she is able to do the wash and hang clothes on the clothesline again she will have regained all that she wants! Doing laundry and washing dishes are the two things she was able to do after the first stroke and they are what got her out of bed in the morning. The plan is for her to be transferred today to a rehab that is near my sister who fortunately is a physical therapist. Please pray that she will have the improvement needed to stay in her own home again. I know I can rely on you all to keep my mom (Barbara Prevost) before God in your prayers so I’ll thank you in advance. Your Sister (and brother) in Christ Christine (and Jose too!)

Marge & Orrin Nearhoof request prayers for their daughter Greta & husband Phil Blankenship, who have moved to Richmond, Kentucky and are trying to sell their house in Wichita, Kansas. They have high payments, and are renting now until they are able to sell. Please keep them in your prayers.

Note from Joy Jensen: Hello Everyone, We want to let you all know that we received a phone call early this morning from George’s brother, letting us know that George’s mom died on the afternoon of the 1st, in California. We are comforted to know that she was a faithful Christian, and she was proud of the work we are doing. She was 75 years old. We are trying to mentally process the news, as well as see what arrangements can be made for George to travel asap. Please remember us in prayer at this difficult time. With Love, Joy Jensen

You may have seen in the news that there have been riots and mob violence in Kenya lately. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes, and many have even crossed into Uganda. It was reported Wednesday that the death toll across the country was steadily rising, with reports indicating more than 250 people killed in the past two days in bloodshed connected to a disputed election Kenya held last week. The Eldoret area has become a killing zone, according to one news article in the International Herald Tribune of January 2. This is where Monte & Beth Cox worked while we supported them. Pray for peace in Kenya, and especially for the many Christians who live there.

Please continue to pray for:

  • Preacher search, for God’s guidance
  • Phyllis Mort, in the Good Samaritan Care center in Indianola
  • Glenn Stevens, seeing a cardiologist for chest pains and shortness of breath
  • Evie Welch, newborn daughter of Callie & Jesse Welch, who contracted CMV
  • Phyllis Mort’s brother, Don Demi, recovering from esophageal surgery for cancer
  • Steve South, job hunting
  • Bailey Bunting in Wichita, Kansas, who has many tumors in her small body
  • Marge Stevens’ sister, Dorothy Talbert, has macular degeneration
  • Gene McClaran’s uncle, Lowell Blake in the nursing home in Newton
  • Janna Miller’s uncle Norm is having health concerns
  • Randy Lange’s father has been having serious heart problems
  • Expecting mothers: Kim Ferrell; Angie Charlier;Heather Easter;Art & Nancy Wallis’ daughter, Dawn White
  • McClaran’s neighbor, Kate Wurtz, who has untreatable cancer
  • Betty Demi, being treated for skin cancer, and is shut-in
  • Millie Buxton whose eyesight has been deteriorating
  • Cristie Williams, paralyzed in an accident
  • Andy Arnett in Afghanistan
  • Karen Belk’s sister, Donna Butcher, and brother, Darwin Belk
  • Louise Gordon; Karen Carico; Karen Hardy; Bob Kunce, Kim Greer’s father; Jean Cook, Archie’s mother; Melissa Hosey, the Mort’s friend who all have cancer
  • Bertha Jones who is shut in
  • John Singer and his health concerns
  • Kimball Matkins, who has ALS

News & Notes

We are now in the second month of this session of F.I.S.H. groups. Make plans today to get together with your group for some Christian fellowship. —Joe Longfellow

Make plans to join in the fun and games at the annual Grandview Birthday Party on January 18th. Everyone who has a birthday during the 2008 calendar year is invited which, this year, includes February 29th. Please sign up on the sheet on the fellowship bulletin board to bake a cake. Birthday cakes will be categorized by the day of the week on which you were born.

We are looking for people who would be willing to host the monthly teen devotionals / activities on the third Sunday night of each month.

There is also a sign-up list for those interested in hosting the Ladies’ Fellowship on the third Tuesday night of each month. Please sign up if you can help.

Please join us next Sunday, Jan. 13th as we sing for residents of Karen Acres. We will begin at 2:00 pm and sing for almost an hour.

Central Iowa Missions: This week, Mike Melvin will speak in the morning; Dan Bailey will speak at Ogden in the morning and at Grandview in the evening. Next week, Ron Melvin will speak in the morning, Michael Mazak will tentatively speak at Blockton, and Joe Longfellow will speak in the evening.

TV · Radio · Web

In SEARCH of the Lord’s Way
TV: 8:00 AM Sundays on KDSM
Web: www.searchtv.org

Gospel Broadcasting Network
Web: www.gbntv.org

International Gospel Hour
Radio: 8:30 pm Sundays, 1520 AM
Web: www.gospelhour.net

Daily Bible programming
TV: 11 am daily, Dish channel 9407
A.J. Clark from Freed-Hardeman

Grandview Church of Christ
Web: grandviewchurchofchrist.org

AM Sermon

Mike Melvin , “God is Love

Dan Bailey, “The Word of God is Living and Abiding
Reading, 1 Peter 1:22-25, Isaiah 40:8

Birthdays & Anniversaries

Jan 6 Brian Hiskey
Jan 9 Paul Augspurger
Jan 10 Orrin Nearhoof
Jan 12 JoAnn Wilson

For the Record






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Calendar of Events (See also the Iowa Churches of Christ Calendar of Events)

  13 Sunday Singing at Karen Acres, 2:00 pm
  18 Friday Grandview Annual Birthday Party

  23 Saturday Blood Drive

End of this issue.