Family: A Reality Check For Leaders

Posted by Alan Danielson Tuesday, August 25, 2015 7:50:00 AM Categories: Leadership
Rate this Content 0 Votes

When I was in graduate school, I worked an hourly job as a barista. I loved it, for so many different reasons. The people, the atmosphere, the camaraderie, and the unlimited supply of coffee. I cannot overstate the beauty of that last truth.

A few years later, as I was finishing up school, I took a role on staff at a church. Instead of hourly, I was salaried. No more punching a clock. No more *required* lunch breaks. No more worrying about hitting my *full time* hour mark. A consistent paycheck was a thing of beauty. I wasn’t paid by the hour anymore. Now I was paid regardless of hours. I was paid the same whether I worked 40 hours or 80 hours. I was now being evaluated not based on the time I put in, but by the work I put out. My “grade” was built on the projects I completed. The leaders I recruited. The deadlines I hit. The goals I surpassed.

Being a “doer” by nature, I loved this. I loved tackling new initiatives, writing new curriculums, and building a team to help accomplish it all.

And now I had the flexibility to work from anywhere I chose: the office, a coffee shop, outside, or even my own house. It was amazing.

Until it wasn’t.

Work continued to creep in to family time. What felt like great momentum and progress began to take over my life. I found myself checking emails at any, and all, hours of the night. On my days “off,” I was cranking through writing projects, meeting with leaders, and planning events. And everywhere I turned, I was met with a, “Wow, you’re doing such a great job!”

Encouragement for a job well done is like crack for a “doer’s” soul. It feeds pride, and affirms all of the extra hours devoted, no matter what they cost in the moment.

“Great job!” doesn’t take into consideration the sacrifice that others had to make. It doesn’t factor in the ripple effect that the extra hours during family dinner had. Or the toll that it took when you scheduled a “working lunch” instead of capitalizing on time with your family. “Great job!” feeds the visible, outward-facing side of a completed project. The place where pride loves to hang out.

What I found was that every time I sent an email during family time, I was telling them that work was more important. I was putting in all kinds of overtime for my job, and slighting the ones I loved the most.

Being in a salaried role, you may not be tracking your hours. But your family is.


Ben Reed is a small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church in Orange County, California. He is also the author of Starting Small: the Ultimate Small Group Blueprint. He holds an Mdiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ben is also an avid coffee drinker and CrossFitter, but not at the same time. Visit Ben Reed at www.benreed.net