QUESTION: My wife and I have been married 8 years and we have two children who are 3 and 5. I have been offered a better job in another city that will increase my income by 25 percent. I am torn about whether or not I should take the job. This position will mean less time at home, but it will also offer multiple opportunities for advancement and will be a better means to financially provide for my family and even save for my children's college. What would you do in this situation?
ANSWER: When my writing and speaking ministry started, my children were about the same age as yours. Once I broke into the industry, I was covered up with opportunities to travel at large, do all kinds of major media, and write more books than I had time to write. I could have hired a nanny, flown off into the sunset, and made way more money than I did. However, I was stricken with a haunting awareness that my children would only be with me for a short time and that I should treasure every moment I had with them. Therefore, I prayerfully placed boundaries on what level of work I would accept. This limited my exposure, as well as the amount of money I could have made. I turned down trips to such places as Africa, London, Alaska, the Philippines; I declined some major media; I said no to some big time book deals and money…all because they didn't fit in my God-led boundaries. I also kept my kids and husband with me as much as possible when I traveled. As a result, I lost bookings because some groups couldn't afford 4 plane tickets, which is understandable. But some church groups simply didn't want a whole family at an event. I thought this was so ironic because I'm sure these ministries would tell people to put their families first, but they wouldn't support someone who was doing exactly that.
With all that said, you are responsible for putting your family first — whether you have support in the endeavor or not. My motto was and is, “Let the chips fall where they may, my family is not available for sacrifice.” Your children do have financial needs, but the thing they want most from you is time, not money. If this new job will pull you away from your wife and kids more, then unless it's a life-or-death survival issue, I recommend that you keep the position you have, accept a lower standard of living, and spend as much time with your family as possible. You might not be able to afford to fly them all to Disneyland every year or pay their way through Yale, but you will have golden memories of such experiences as low-expense camping trips, Six Flags over Texas on a budget, and all-day picnics. Furthermore, your children will have an emotional wealth of stability to take into college, and kids in this state of mind are more likely to earn scholarships.
Today is my son's 18th birthday, and my daughter is about to be 16. I am astounded at how swiftly the years have flown by. Watching them grow up has been like watching sands sift through my fingers, and there's nothing I can do to stop it. Even though it's a bittersweet experience, I can gladly say that I have cherished them and time with them and, therefore, I have a very good relationship with my kids. I didn't abandon them when they were little and now, they aren't abandoning my husband and me as they enter adulthood. For you see, my husband made the same decision I did and at times turned down much work in order to be with our family.
Understand that God will bless you and honor your commitment to your family and will absolutely fulfill the scripture, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:19
The author of 54 books, Debra White Smith holds an M.A. from U.T. and is the featured relationship specialist on the Fox News Radio Show, “Plain Jane Wisdom.” She and her husband, Daniel, co-pastor Palestine Church of the Nazarene. For more information, visit www.debrawhitesmith.com. Got a problem? E-mail Debra at firstname.lastname@example.org