Ask Chuck: Should I Choose Family Time Over My Career? Biblical Advice and Lessons From Paul Ryan
I saw Paul Ryan won’t seek re-election as Speaker of the House so he can spend more time with his family, and I can identify. Last year I got a big promotion. The new job has been great, but it’s required me to travel for the majority of the week and is extremely stressful. I have a wife and 3 kids at home and it’s really difficult to leave them to travel so much. Recently, I’ve been considering leaving my job so I can spend more time with them. This job seems like God’s faithful provision for us financially, but there’s a major cost to it too. What do I do?
Torn about Traveling
Paul Ryan has children at home that are nearing the age that he was when his father died. He knows life is precious and that our days are numbered. And children grow up fast. While there may be more factors pressing his decision to step down, his circumstance is one so many of us face. How well I personally understand! I choose to limit my travel at this stage of life because I still have a teenager at home and love being with him and my wife.
My oldest son is self-employed and had to face the same issue last year. In June, he stopped traveling and started working from home so he could be there every day/night for his wife and four children. He no longer has to miss birthdays, sporting events, and milestones in the kids’ lives. It was a financial risk when the decision to cut back on his travel was made, but God has faithfully provided for their needs.
Promotion vs. Family Priorities
Congratulations on landing a big promotion! Enjoying your work and benefiting financially is a great blessing. Yet, you shared several red flags that signal potential long-term problems: “Gone majority of week…extremely stressful…really difficult to leave them to travel so much”.
In order to be an effective shepherd, a husband and father must keep his priorities in order. God must be first, family second, and work third. Work that keeps you away from home the majority of the week restricts your impact in the life of your family. It requires intentionality in communicating regularly and effectively with your wife and children during your absence. That alone adds to the stress of the job.
Consider asking your employer to establish some limits to how much you are required to travel. In today’s world, technology solutions have allowed for more effective meetings with anybody, anywhere, anytime. You may be able to find a happy balance with the demands of your position.
You’re right, there is a cost to being away; but there’s a cost to every decision you make, which should draw you to the Lord, the input of a wise spouse, and Godly counsel of others. You must weigh your options, the cost and benefits of each, and seek the wisdom of God.
Ask God for guidance during a time of prayer and fasting. Ask your wife and a brother in Christ to join you. Pray for a specific solution. Don’t make a job change unless you and your wife are in total agreement and have peace about the true costs vs. rewards.
If you like your current company perhaps there is a position that allows you to travel minimally. If not, then you may need to seek new employment. It would be wise to explore the available jobs near your home before speaking to your current employer. Your network is a great source for news of potential employment. You will need to update your resume and allow time to adequately prepare for interviews.
Are you willing to move? It’s an important question to consider, and you and your wife should weigh all the pros and cons as you seek the Lord’s guidance.
If a new job doesn’t pay as well as the one you have now, you may have to adjust your lifestyle. Remember children value experiences more than things.
Create a workable budget based on the potential earnings. Downsize if necessary, see where you can cut back, and sell any valuables or things you just don’t need.
Work is a gift from God and a means to bring Him glory. Finding or creating a job that allows you to do that will be fulfilling. It will give you the privilege of providing for your family and being an example of Christ in the workplace.
Colossians 3:17-18 – Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
I sincerely believe if we live this out and work with excellence, no matter what the job or task, God will take care of our needs and our families. Keep God first and work hard. You will see the faithfulness of God whether you turn to the left or right.
Originally published on the Christian Post, April 27, 2018