Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Father's Day...even for the Workin' Man

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! You deserve your day of words and signs of appreciation. Props to all the fathers.

I'm not a dad. Yet. But I'd like to be. And hopefully that happens soon. My problem is that I am in the field of vocational ministry. There seems to be an unwritten rule that says pastors and chaplains should work 6 days and 60 hours each week. We're also supposed to move on to bigger and bigger churches or hospitals. It's kinda like the corporate world where people work super long hours when they're young in order to climb the corporate ladder. We want to make partner - er, at least Senior Minister or Lead Chaplain. (Caution: Be prepared for a rant - one that is aimed at myself!)

We want it "all." But do we really want to work that much? According to recent statistics, 74% of people want to spend more time with their kids and 50% would take a pay cut in exchange for more time off. People seem to be bucking the over-working trend. We want a "new all." An "all" that includes time to be with family - and see their kids' basketball games. In short, people want balance. Many people are finding out that productivity and job satisfaction actually increase when people have a better work-family balance in their life.

Working less is better. Yup, it's true. Leaving the office early, coming into the office late, and assertively establishing personal boundaries have all proven to increase productivity at work. It's the old 80-20 Rule. Most honest supervisors will admit that 80% of quality productivity comes from 20% of time spent at work. It's simple. We work such long hours that we need to take little breaks throughout the day. Some of the day is just wasted away. But it doesn't have to be that way. What if instead of checking Facebook for the fifth time (or fiftieth time) in a day, we just worked harder and left the office earlier. There's no reason to work over 5 days and 40 hours a week. We just need to use our time efficiently and effectively. We can all probably do the same amount of work in 40 hours that we can in 60. Working less means we have more time for family, hobbies, vacations, etc. Having time to hang out means we're happier. And happy people are more productive workers. So, be proud to work less!

Redefining success is important. We don't have to strive for the top positions in our fields. Who needs the extra stress and responsibility? Obviously, if you're anything like me, you want to be successful. But what if we define success on our own terms? Success can mean making sure that we have the time to build our kids a tree house, see a play with our loved one, and maybe even do something fun for ourselves. Success can mean turning down promotions in order to ensure a healthy work-family balance. Success can mean downshifting our career so we don't have to work 60 hours a week. Success can mean setting and accomplishing our own goals in life.

Calendars are a moral document. That's what Jim Wallis says. Seems right to me. Our schedules tell us what and who we value enough to schedule into our lives. Is our boss more valued than our kids? Is working that extra day a week more important than spending the day on the beach with our spouse/partner? Is working late valued more than making it to the baseball game? Those darn schedules are tricky things. A dramatic example of this is in the movie Click, where Adam Sandler plays a character that wastes his life working while ignoring his family. Thankfully he gets a second chance. And so do we. Every day. Our challenge is to make sure that our schedules match our priorities. And that's easier said than done.

Accountability is important. I don't just want to say all of this. I want to live it. So, if you're near me, please make sure I'm living out my Father's Day resolutions. Here they are:

(1) Work 40 hours a week.
(2) Work 5 days a week.
(3) Spend my days off with/for my family.
(4) Set short and long-term goals.
(5) Work efficiently but not obsessively.
(6) Say "no" to some things so I can say "yes" to others.
(7) Go to special family events - no matter when they are.
(8) Use all of the vacation time I am given.
(9) Be assertive about my boundaries.
(10) Adhere to my own definition of success.

I'd like to be a dad. So, I'm going to try to start living a "successful" dad's schedule now. It's gonna be tough. Especially in vocational ministry. But I have my own vision of success now. And I really want to be successful. Lord, help me!

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