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June 27, 2008

Where are you going with this?When I was in my 20s, I used to party.  A lot.  Most of my co-workers were a bit older and most had families at home.  I always felt like there was a bit of resentment towards me.  I could play, they had “responsibilities.”  One day, my boss’s boss told me that there are three priorities in his life: family, work, and church.  “That’s why I work so much,” he said.  “To provide for my family.”

That man went on to be a very successful fire chief in the area and still continues to be a mover and a shaker in the emergency services universe.  His beautiful daughters are well educated, married well, and are living their own successful lives.

A few years later I heard someone, I think it was Garth Brooks (??), who proclaimed: God, family, and country.  I thought that sounded pretty good.  Then I remembered something I heard on the radio in one of those 60 second sound bites: “Put yourself first.  If you don’t recharge your own life, you are no good to your family or those around you.”  That made sense, if you avoided the potential for selfishness.

But over the last 20 years as I’ve sought to reinvent myself – a few times over, I’ve come to a completely different conclusion.  I’m not saying this will work for everyone, but it is working well for me.  It is a combination of the above.

God, family, work.  This is the order I have to put things in order to feel complete, successful, and balanced.  This is what has worked for me.

When I say God, I don’t mean church.  Church can be a tool to find God, but obviously there can be other tools that may be more effective for different people.  I find, that when I am connected to my Creator, I make better choices, am healthier (mentally, socially, spiritually, and emotionally), and this makes me a better person to be around.

When I am recharged spiritually, I am a better father, a better husband, and a better friend.  I am less inclined to make the kind of choices that made me unfit to father children just two decades ago.  Plus, I am less selfish and more devoted to the needs of my family.  By putting God first, I am able to be more for my family.

Then, last, is my work.  My fire chief friend said he worked so much so he could provide for his family.  That sounds a lot like what my Dad used to say.  But the fact remains, my wife and kids would rather have my time than the stuff that I can buy for them.  They don’t want a bigger house, a cooler car, or more toys (not that they’d turn them down) – they want me.  They want my time, my attention, and my love.

Now, if I were the same jerk I was trying to be twenty years ago, they might prefer if I was at work more.  But because of the direction God is taking me, I find this most amazing, people want to be around me now.  I’m no longer the angry, young rebel who is trying to fix the world.

God, family, then work.  The reason this works is because God has my best interests in His heart.

  1. mikemathews permalink
    June 27, 2008 10:25 pm

    I’d say you’ve got the formula that works well for you. God is the thing that helps you best be your best self. Family is everything, once you have one. Work is just work, always there and possibly very fulfilling, but it is still just work.

    There is the old line about no one ever saying on their deathbed that they wished they could have worked more. You posted a great shot of your daughter today and I commented that you should enjoy it every day because those kids grow so fast and leave before you know it.

    There’s plenty of time to work and do it over again, but you only get one shot with kids and they are most likely what you’ll be remembered for (unless you invent free electricity or something equally astounding).

    Have a great weekend and enjoy that canoe!


  2. June 27, 2008 11:19 pm

    beautiful post. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts so coherently here.


  3. June 28, 2008 5:36 am

    Still reading, still listening. Just letting you know I’m here and looking forward to hearing more with your renewed purpose…this is good stuff.



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