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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