Book Review : When Work and Family Collide

I am a fan of Andy Stanley. I enjoy his writing style which seems effortless. I respect the way he is able to communicate biblical truth s in a way that is practical and engaging. His new book, When Work and Family Collide; Keeping Your Job From Cheating Your Family is a homerun. In this book, Stanley sets up the struggle and tension between work and family. He shows how the demands of work are equally felt whether you work for someone else, are self-employed, are in the ministry, or are a stay-at-home parent. As a pastor, this book goes to the heart of the greatest struggle I have, balancing ministry and my church family with my family (wife and son) at home. Stanley puts before his readers principles that make striking a balance easier to achieve.

The word “cheat” and “cheating” are used often throughout the book. In this context, Stanley defines cheating as “choosing to give up one thing in hope of gaining something else of greater value.” When Work and Family Collide is broken up into two parts. In part one (chapters 1-5), Stanley focuses on the dynamics of the person (spouse, child) who has been cheated. Part one can be summed up in the following quote, “The problem is this: there’s not enough time to get everything done that you’re convinced – or others have convinced you- needs to get done.”

In part two (chapters 6-10), he shares principles for change. In the second part of the book, Stanley introduces us to Daniel. As he shares principles on how to change the order of our lives and bring new balance, he uses the biblical account of Daniel to show it is possible to firmly hold to a conviction while retaining the respect of those around us. Stanley reveals three important steps to reordering an out-of-balance life. First, make up your mind. He writes, “you’ve got to decide to quit cheating at home before you know how you’re going to pull it off. This step is discussed in detail in chapter seven. Second, come up with a plan. He writes, “an exit strategy from your current schedule and present it to your employer.” This step is discussed in detail in chapter eight. Third, set up a test. This step is discussed in detail in chapter nine.

This book is a great resource. It is well-written, easy to read, and too lengthy (133 pages). Stanley’s use of real-life examples. scripture references, and personal stories lay the framework for a great book. A useful and helpful guide to those who know they are cheating at home. You will not be disappointed.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Maybe a Different Kind of Diet is in Order

Think for a moment about the influence of technology and electronics upon our culture today. We have cell phones, laptop computers, iPods®, iPads®, e-books, GPS’s that talk to us, and handheld game systems. The ability to remain connected is what drives much of the technology industry today. Between text-messages, email, Twitter®, Facebook®, and blogs (web logs), it is possible for us to carry on conversations and conduct business for days without hearing the voice of another person. I have previously discussed how tragic I think this is.

As the parent of a teenager, I have seen this “technology overload” first hand. I must also say in all honesty that I am guilty of contributing to it. Children and teens today have a desire to stay connected to each other and know what is going on with each other at all times. To them, this is more than a desire, it is a need. I wonder how this steady diet of digital communication affects, or takes away from, other daily activities? I wonder how much face-time our children and teens trade off for screen-time? There is now a way to find out.

I was recently introduced to an organization called iShine. This organization is known for bringing family-friendly media options through television, music, and radio. iShine has recently developed and released a new online tool they call the Family Media Diet Calculator. The purpose of this tool is to provide a customized awareness to families in regards to various forms of media in comparison to how much time they spend plugged into real-life activity (reading, talking with friends, church services, etc). I really like the idea of this. Awareness is important because necessary and healthy changes can’t be made until there is a realization that things may be out of balance. From their press release:

“Parents nationwide will be able to plug in amounts of time their families spend texting, browsing online, consuming television and more. They will then be able to print a free custom analysis of where their families are spending their time in comparison to their involvement in recreational and faith-based activities along with family time and reading.  The campaign is not an anti-technology movement.  It is about use awareness and being intentional about the content.”

I do not endorse or recommend much. However, I believe this could be a valuable tool (absolutely free) for families to use in order to help made informed decisions as it relates to the media.

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Actually, leaving in an Impala is more accurate. We are leaving early this morning for St. Augustine Beach, FL for our summer vacation. St. Augustine Beach is one of my favorite places in Florida. I enjoy the beaches (in small doses), the history, and the atmosphere of this old Spansh city. I am looking forward to a time of rest and unwinding with my family. I hope to post several times this week about the sights and sounds of St. Augustine and the random things that catch my attention. I think I hear the waves…..

A Pastor’s Reflections on VBS

Vacation Bible School has ccome to an end. The screams and shouts of kids running through the halls and in the sanctuary are now a memory. Decorations have coome down and the once vibrant and colorful rooms and hallways have rturned to their traditional look. It is as if VBS never happened. It has been  an exceptionally long week. Longer than normal. I am a big fan of VBS and understand how important it is in the life of the church. Now than that VBS is over, I have a few observations I want to make from a pastor’s perspective.

1. Attendance: This is the criteria by which VBS is judged a success or a failure. Our average attendance for the week was 74. Our average was lower than in the past two or three years. I believe there were several factors contributing to this lower average. First, there were four other churches in our community holding VBS the same week and the at the same time as us. Second, I believe our low number on Sunday has to do with the fact that we started on Sunday. The kids who attend church were attending their church and the unchurched (those who were our focus) don’t normally come to church on Sunday, regardless of the event. Third, about Tuesday night I noticed that all of our kids that were enrolled in VBS were connected to someone in our church. There were no kids from the community in church for the first time this week. I was disappointed by this. However, I was encouraged that our people were active in inviting others to church.

2. Workers: I am thankful to all who worked this week. As  I mentioned earlier, it was a long week. It was also very hot. I am especially thankful to all teachers who worked full-time jobs and left work, came straight to church for five straight days. I want to especially mention and thank those who worked in the kitchen all week. During our VBS, we skip the Snack Rotation. Instead, we choose to provide a meal every night. Our kitchen workers come out early, set everything up, served the kids, and stayed until all was cleaned up. Thankyou.

3. Ministry: Anytime you have kids on campus you have an opportunity to be engaged in real, one-on-one life-changing ministry. I have to believe that is what happened this week. VBS is intentionally evangelistic. We are diligent to make sure that we communicate the gospel message all week long, not just on the night of the “evangelistic” lesson. With that being said, we did not have any public professions of faith this week. This is the second VBS in a row this has happened. I can not explain it. What  I do know is this. We are here to share a message and plant a seed, understanding that it is God that gives the increase. Real ministry takes place when you take time to listen to a child, talk to a child, and show love toward them in the name of Christ. This is what we did this week. If down the road a year or two, in God’s timing, a gospel presentation is given and they respond because of something that planted in their heart this week, then we were faithful to have done our part.

4. Sharing: Once again this year we had the opportunity to share and pass on the decorations we used to another church who needed them. The bulk of our props, supplies, and decorations went to two different churches. I believe this is a stewardship issue. Lifeway VBS material is not cheap. It does not make sense to speand all of that money and then store everything in a closet. One of the churches using our material was thinking about not having VBS at all due to a small budget and limited funds. I am pleased that we were able to help them.

Overall, we had a great week and look forward to what comes out of the efforts of this week. I again want to thank every teacher, worker, and parent who allowed their child to be a part of our VBS.