At New Life Church, we understand that strong families make a strong church. Whether you are single, married, widowed, have children or not, strong individuals allow the church body to function at their maximum potential. Why? Because we can focus on meeting others’ needs understanding that Christ is taking care of our needs. One of those needs that many of us desire is balance. Balance from all of the competing interests – work, family, ministry, self-care, etc.
Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley is an applicable and practical book that puts into perspective the fact that we are all going to cheat something but looks into what you are choosing to cheat. Are you cheating your family, ministry, job, or even yourself? What do we mean by cheating? When you choose to give up time in one area of life for another you are cheating the areas you chose not to engage with. The book details how someone can cheat their spouse and kids by spending too much time at work and not devoting time to the family. However, a stay at home parent can also cheat their children and spouse by always being worried about the chores and what needs to get done as opposed to spending quality time with the children or spouse. Additionally, a person who is single or widowed can cheat themselves by always giving to others and not taking time for themselves like prayer, fasting, and healthy living.
But why do we cheat? The book explains that oftentimes we focus on the area of our life where rewards are tangible and progress can be measured. It is easier to do, than to be. We focus on the area where we are most comfortable. For example, a successful CEO may decide to spend more time at work because they are more confident producing results at work, and feel inadequate around their family because they know they aren’t meeting their full potential as a husband or a father. Or the stay at home mom who has been successful at raising confident children and yet she shies away from the professional world because she doesn’t see how the skills at home can relate to a business. While these examples are extreme, they portray the reality of why we cheat the areas in our lives in which we lack confidence. Although the only way to grow in those areas is to choose to prioritize and engage in them, the choice is ours.
Stanley writes “Contentment is found neither in the marketplace nor the family alone. It is found when we align our priorities with His as it relates to both areas of responsibility.” While the book primarily focuses on the pull between family and the workplace, the concepts discussed by Stanley are not just the what and why we cheat, but they also provide solutions on how we can alleviate the problem. The first section “Is Cheating the Problem” identifies the what and why we cheat; the second section details the solutions of “Cheating by the Book.” I encourage you to read this book with a highlighter and journal nearby to jot down notes and reflect on the following questions:
- What areas are competing for my time? (God, Family, Work, Ministry, Self, Friends, etc.)
- What are my priorities versus God’s priorities?
- How do I realign my schedule to reflect those priorities?
We invite you to share the ways that you have been able to find balance in your life.