For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Does your family get “first dibs” on your time, energy, and focus?
Or, do they get your leftovers?
Be honest. I understand from experience how easy it is to slip into investing your best effort and energy at work – especially when you’re living out your God-given purpose there. You get jazzed, and before you know it, you’ve poured forth every ounce of time and energy you can wring from the day.
And then it’s time to go home. Back to the people you love the most and who deserve the most from you. The problem is, you’re spent.
While you intend to show up at home as vibrantly as you do at work, it often just doesn’t happen.
What happens instead? Because you’ve given so much already, your family gets the leftovers. A smaller portion of patience. A sliver of understanding. A smidge of encouragement.
For just a moment, imagine what would happen if you showed up at work how you show up at home.
What kind of leader would people consider you to be?
What results would you see?
What would happen to your culture?
If you don’t like the answer to these questions, you can change them. You can learn to put your family first again – without losing one ounce of your effectiveness at work. In fact, I can tell you something from my own experience and the experiences of the leaders I’ve coached. Through consistently giving your family your best, your effectiveness at work will actually increase, significantly.
This is because when you put family first, you are aligning your actions with God’s wish for your life. God created us to experience deep spiritual intimacy with the people we love the most. Spiritual intimacy must be fed – and not with leftovers.
Here are five simple practices you can adopt to train yourself to put your family first:
Lean on Jesus.
Do you want to turbocharge the reprioritization of your life?
Jesus can do that for you.
All you have to do is ask.
But, you do have to ask. Jesus is ready and willing to offer you support in redirecting your daily habits. But you must be receptive to that support, or you won’t recognize it when Jesus subtly nudges you and reminds you. The Holy Spirit often moves gently and softly in your heart.
Invest time in prayer to open your awareness to that movement.
When you do this, you will begin to discern a new pathway. You will see how you can quietly reorder your energy and focus and put your family back where they belong — front and center.
As you become more receptive to the Lord’s hand in your daily schedule, your fears about “never having enough time” will diminish. Why? Because your energy will increase! You’ll realize that you’ve placed restrictions on yourself based on the incorrect assumption that there isn’t enough of “you” to go around.
When you live in alignment with God’s will for your life, there is in fact no limit to you whatsoever, because you are a conduit for God. You have endless love to give. Endless energy for encouragement and support and lifting up, all day, every day, in every situation.
Make it a practice to ask for this energy, from Jesus. He is waiting for you to ask.
That said, you must learn to say no to things that are not aligned with your purpose in life. God put you on this Earth to accomplish something specific – and not just through your work.
If you envision your life purpose as a target, your family sits squarely in the bull’s eye.
It’s so easy to forget.
Work is only part of your purpose, and it’s actually the lesser part.
Family – in whatever form your family takes – is the largest part of the purpose you are here to fulfill. You are here to serve them. To lift them up. To encourage them. To love them, fiercely and peerlessly.
Work comes in second.
Make it a practice to filter every choice you make through this understanding.
When you’re with your family, stop what you are doing when they talk to you. When someone speaks to another person, it’s because they have something to communicate.
Human communication is hard enough. Remove every obstacle between you and the words being spoken. Stop multi-tasking. When you do this, you will dramatically increase the probability that you’ll actually understand what’s being said.
And your specific focus will illustrate how much you truly value your family members.
Listen for what’s not being said.
What your loved ones say represents much less than they actually feel, in a given moment. You can discern at least part of the remainder. But, you must commit yourself to looking for clues.
“What do you want to do tonight?”
“Did you return your mother’s phone call?”
“Are you taking me to practice, or is Mom?”
“Are you coming to family Thanksgiving this year?”
These are loaded questions ripe for you to discover more about your loved ones’ well being, intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Listen for tone.
Ask thoughtful follow-up questions. Demonstrate that you are present and attending. Show that you care. Because you do care!
The only way to show it is through your actions and habits.
Cultivate extreme faithfulness.
When people think about faithfulness, they often think of the absence of physical infidelity.
I believe God intended for us to take a more expansive view of faithfulness.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being
~ Hebrew 1:3
An exact representation of God’s being.
A 1:1 correlation.
No deviation whatsoever.
Utter, complete faithfulness to the original intention.
This is the standard of faithfulness that Jesus set for us. Perfect faithfulness to God’s will. What does this mean for you, and your commitment to your family?
It means that you must keep a close eye on being unfaithful to your family with your work, by putting your work above your family.
Pretty sobering concept, right?
God doesn’t want you to put work before family. As much as God appreciates your professional service, as much as God delights in you discovering your purpose and living it out at work, his deepest intention for you is to experience the joy of living out your purpose at home, through your family relationships. He wants and needs you to develop that foundation, because it will support you to deepen your service to the world.
When you develop this foundation of service at home, you will experience deeper peace and calm than you have ever known. You will rest easier at night, knowing you are giving your very best to the people who matter most.
And, once you build a rock-solid foundation of servant leadership at home, you can take everything you learn back in with you to work! Your family is a free think tank and incubator in which you can cultivate your unique God-given approach to servant leadership.
Which of the five practices above are you ready to adopt today?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and plans.
And, so would your family.
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8
Thanks for insightful wisdom and encouragement – I needed this today!
You’re welcome Cami. I am so pleased to hear that it was helpful! Blessings on your day!
Thanks Mark. I enjoy your writings.
You’re welcome Rich. Thanks so much for the encouragement. I really appreciate it! Blessings on your day.
This is GREAT! Printing it out so Nate and I can spend time reviewing and re-prioritizing and being intentional with our family unit. THANK you!!
Thanks Jessie! What an awesome idea to sit down with Nate to review and as you say be intentional about re-prioritizing. I honestly wish I would have done more of that over the years myself! You are a wonderful model of this important work of focusing first and foremost on our families. Blessings to you, Nate, and your awesome family!
Darci and I so enjoyed talking with you, Kim, and other classmates at the reunion last weekend. It was really good to see you. Thanks for this encouragement to give family my best at home. One thing I need to do is leave my cell phone on my dresser in the evening. It’s always a temptation to me to constantly check for emails, texts, calls, social media, etc. I need to be more present with those that I’m physically with. Blessings to you, brother.
Scott, Kim and I totally enjoyed talking with you and Darci last weekend as well! It was such a fabulous evening. Just sorry we don’t connect more often. Thank you so much for these extremely additive comments on this article. I really appreciate the idea of leaving the cell phone on the dresser once home from work. I need to do a much better job of that too!! Blessings to you and Darci and your awesome family.
I love this. I am trying to do this so very much.
That is awesome Megan! Not much more important in the scheme of things than spending focused quality time with our family. Blessings on all the great work you are doing in this area!!