Starting, Quitting, and Pitching In

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Kevin Leman, in his book Home Court Advantage, has an excellent chapter on work.  He writes, “Your quitting time at work is your starting time at home.”  Have you ever made this connection?  Your quitting time at work is literally your starting time for what is arguably your more important job; leading and serving your family.  Therefore, when it comes to work, we need to be just as punctual about our quitting time as we are about our starting time.  Think with me about what this looks like in practice.

How many of us would show up an hour late to work and say to our boss, “You know, my wife and I just had SO MUCH to talk about this morning.  We needed to hammer down some plans for today and the time must have just gotten away from us.  There is a lot to talk about with five kids and their schedules and a car in the shop so to get all that covered I just needed to get down here a little late.”

Or how about, “I am going fishing this weekend and saw that Carter’s Country is having a 24 hour sale.  So I stopped by on the way into work and, of course, it took a little while to look over all the deals and make my purchases.  I guess it just added up to an hour late to work.”

Or who would say to their supervisor, upon arriving at the office mid-morning, “I ran into some old college friends yesterday and we decided to get together at the Black Walnut Café for a happy hour breakfast this morning.  It was great to catch up.”

We would not say or do any of these things if we wanted to keep our jobs.  But we say these things, or something similar, to our wives all the time.  Are you with me?  We often treat our quitting time at work with either a casual attitude or a “too-much-to-do-at-work” attitude that gets us home later than necessary.  And the message it sends to our wife and children is that the job at home is really not that high of a priority to Dad.  Your quitting time at work is just as important as your starting time.

A corollary to this is to pitch in when you are tired.  Sometimes we arrive home in the evening weary and feeling spent.  One of the best ways we can serve our family is to set those feelings aside and look for where we can contribute.  When I ask Rhonda, “What do you need from me right now?” I am telling her that I am ready to pitch in now.  Not later.  Not after I have had a chance to wind down.  Not in some unknown future.  But right now.  Pitch in when you are tired.

Doing these things regarding our starting and quitting time and pitching in shows our wives that we are in this family thing together.  So many wives, based on our actions as husbands and dads, feel like they are working alone investing in their children.  By my actions, I often implied to Rhonda that she was alone in the family effort.  And alone is not a good thing.  Show your wife, by your actions, that you are in this together.