Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review Friday: When Work and Family Collide by Andy Stanley

When Work and Family Collide: Keeping Your Job from Cheating Your Family by Andy Stanley (Multnomah Books) is like a modern-day book of Proverbs, speaking to the workaholic spouse and parent and providing direct and wise counsel on how to stop the madness and reclaim the most key priorities of life.

Andy Stanley is the founder of a megachurch, North Point Ministries in Atlanta.  As any ministry family knows, the Church can be a very demanding profession.  One has spiritual reasons for neglecting one's family.  The needs of congregation members never end and one can easily gift their loved ones the short shrift.  Yet, Stanley has steadfastly sought to prioritize his family members, despite the intense demands of starting and running a new congregation.  He is a valuable role model for the over-stressed, over-worked typical American.

Stanley's running idea throughout the book is that there are only so many resources to go around and we will necessarily let someone down.  In this way, we will either "cheat" our families or our workplace.  Stanley says we ought to rather "cheat" our workplaces before we "cheat" our families.  He points out that employers often do not value our loyalty and efforts, but that our families absolutely require it.  He says that the workaholic's prayer is, "Dear God, you do what only I can do while I go do what many other could do just as well or better."

When I first started reading this book, I struggled with Stanley's use of the word "cheat."  When I struggled so much as a young pastor, wife and mother, always feeling as if I was letting someone down, this was precisely my worry.  I often thought to myself that I was being paid by my employer and I could not dare to let them down because that would be like cheating or stealing.  Yet, for my family responsibilities, I was not paid.  It would not be stealing to let them down, but it did tear my heart out.  As I progressed further in the book, Stanley made it clear that he is not saying that Christians should defraud their employers of their due by sneaking out the door or just letting things go.  Rather, he advises directness with one's employer.  He holds up Daniel 1 as an example of how to appeal a rule that is forcing one to go against their convictions.  His insights about presenting the issue to the employer directly, listening to their concerns, and seeking to come up with a solution that meets both parties' needs seemed to me wise and practical.  (However, I always did struggle as a young pastor with figuring out who my boss was: God?  The church council--who changed every year and who each had different expectations?  The average member?  The bishop?  Still, conversations such as these would have been helpful to have had with the council, even if the revolving door of people entering council positions introduced some difficulties.)

This is a very helpful, readable book with a lot of wisdom, helpful stories and illustrations, and strong conviction.  It holds up the importance of our family relationships as the most important commitments in our lives.  It also includes a very helpful 4-week study guide for groups to use in discussion.  Recommended.  3 1/2 stars.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions included are my own.

To read the first chapter of When Work and Family Collide, go here.

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