Faith, Family, and Work

Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day last Friday caught my attention:  according to Rasmussen, 49% of voters say their highest loyalty is to their families.  Another 22% identified their faith as their highest loyalty.

That’s certainly encouraging.  In theory, my faith to Christ is my highest priority, although like many Christians, that’s not always the case in practice.  In practice—and in a practical, day-to-day sense—my family is my top priority, even if they’re an hour or two away.

The two, however, seem inextricably tied.  Some years ago I heard someone (probably Dennis Prager) say that the three keys to happiness are faith, family, and work (most likely in that order).  Faith in God gives us purpose (indeed, God gives us our Creation—our very existence).  Family gives us people who love us, those we support and those who support us in turn.  Work gives us a sense of accomplishment—the satisfaction of a job well done.

Naturally, it’s easy to overly prioritize one or the other.  Too much time spent at the office deteriorates the invisible and sanguinary bonds of family; too many weekend beach trips atrophies the spiritual community of church; too many Bible studies and mission trips detracts from the ability to complete one’s work.  In my twenties, I heavily prioritized work, to the detriment of family (and social) time, and my faith became more of an afterthought, even a burden—something to get through on Sunday morning so I could squeeze in some rest before another week of the grind (it’s interesting to note that only 1% of respondents said their highest loyalty was to their employer, but I imagine the true number is substantially higher).

When properly balanced, however, these three areas complement each other well.  “Properly balanced” doesn’t necessarily mean they each receive a third of our time.  I’d say work—which takes up the bulk of our time in practice—is probably third in this trifecta.  God—who, sadly, often receives the least of our time in practice—should be the highest priority and loyalty.  Family should be somewhere in the middle.

So, maybe Faith/God is 60%; Family is 30%; and Work is 10%.  I’m speaking here of dedication in our hearts, not necessarily time commitment—unless one becomes a monk, he isn’t going to spend forty hours a week praying and reading the Bible.  Yes, yes, God of course is 100% of everything; I’m just trying to break this down in a practical way.

That said, time with family can also be time dedicated to faith.  One of my most cherished childhood memories is of my father reading a nightly devotional to my brothers and me.  Indeed, too many Christians abdicate their responsibilities to teach the Word in the home, deferring it to Sunday School.  Sunday School is great, but it’s one piece of the puzzle—a once-or-twice-a-week piece, not a daily one.  Biblical instruction starts in the home.

Similarly, we are to be good witnesses to others in our work.  Cheerfully going about our work—even when it’s soul-suckingly difficult, or our efforts don’t seem rewarded or appreciated—is part of our witness to non-Christians.  If a Christian is sulking around at work and doing a poor job of it, he’s not doing much credit for the faith.

So, yes, I guess it all boils down to faith in the end.  It’s the center without which the rest cannot hold.  Sorry I only gave you 60%, God.  You’re 100% of everything!

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11 thoughts on “Faith, Family, and Work

  1. Well, Port- polls. You know how reliable THEY are, don’t you? Faith can’t be measured, regardless of what people say in a poll. My favorite C.S. Lewis quote is, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen – not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” How can one delineate how much of them is taken up by faith, family, work – by the first, all else is part.

    A better poll question (if we’re going to use polls) would be How much time do you devote to faith, family, work? That would be a far more telling poll. If one believed polls.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well even if we can’t break down the ratio between them, if we prioritize the important things like faith, family and work we probably have a better outcome than just drift around letting the media and other idiots tell us what is important.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I agree. Spending more time with family and in church is very likely to result in better outcomes regardless. Of course, how we spend that time is important, too. I’ve been in many church services that were needlessly long, or long on theatrics and short on substance. I’ve listened to twenty-minute sermons that packed more spiritual punch than two-hour revival services (and plenty of good two-hour revival services, too).


  3. But can we really separate them? In a properly oriented world, faith suffuses everything else, as does family, and work exists both for our dignity, and to support the other two. Granted we have all worked jobs that we did simply for the money, but that in against the order of things, our work should be, as Luther says, our calling, and God should show through in all that we do professionally and personally.

    To be valid, work has to add something to the community and/or family. We too often forget why Adam Smith said the ‘butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker’ did what they do. They produced something that others found improved their lives enough to provide them a living. If we keep that in mind, it will go far to producing a balanced life. If we don’t we will become unbalanced in one direction or another.

    If it is not so, something is out of balance and needs redressing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “In a properly oriented world, faith suffuses everything else”—very true Neo, and my ultimate conclusion, after some wishy-washy commentary. And I certainly mean “work” here in the Lutheran sense of “vocation”—a calling, not just a means of supporting ourselves (although that’s an important part of it, too).

      Producing value—the skilled baker can take the same set of ingredients as me and make something far more delicious thanks to his skills and talents. I’m hopeful this humble blog adds some value to the lives of others, even if it isn’t enough to sustain me (financially) as of yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I decided long ago that monetizing mine was a bad idea. If I provide some value, and I think I do, it is small compared to the value I derive from it, not excluding clarifying what I think and having my own little soapbox, and keeping my mind working.

        That’s not to say you’re wrong, but blogs generally don’t provide a living, but you may make a six pack or so, now and again. I just found that for me, it was more trouble than it was worth.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I’ve found my SubscribeStar page (up to nine subs now) has helped me cover the costs of a better WordPress plan, which offers some better functionality. Otherwise, I’ve found that even when I dedicate a post to, say, selling my music, I don’t get much of a response. I do, however, derive a great deal of satisfaction from the practice of writing daily.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, the free version has its problems which could be cured for a price, but I have other places to squander money. I guess if anybody really wants to pay for my wittering they could always send me an Amazon gift card or something. I started this to keep my mind occupied and it has succeeded beyond my wildest aspirations.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Glad your mind is occupied and your wallet is full, my friend (at least, your wallet isn’t supporting the woke tyrants of WordPress). I’ve gotten to where I love churning out a post or two in the mornings (or evenings, when necessary). It keeps me sharp.

        Liked by 1 person

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