3 Ways to keep work from dividing your family: Pastor Benny Ho

Pastor Benny Ho // December 12, 2021, 12:39 am

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"Paul exhorted us to love our family deeply and do our work excellently. But in the quest to have a higher standard of living, we have often reversed the order," says Ps Benny Ho. Photo by ShotPot from Pexels.

Whether you are married or single, living alone or in a crowded household, caring for elderly parents or raising young children, a working professional or a stay-at-home parent, there are two things that shape our identity: Our work and our family.

Why do I say that? Imagine you are at a wedding dinner and you are sitting next to someone you have never met before. 

What would you say to that person? 

Most likely you will ask: “What do you do?” That’s work. 

Then you might ask: “Are you married? Any children?” That’s family.

Work and family are what shape our identity. They have a direct impact on the quality of our spiritual, moral and mental life.

And here’s the interesting thing – they both come from God!

Family divided

On the day of creation, God first created man and then gave him his work: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)

Then the Lord gave man a family: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2: 18)

In God’s original plan, there was no conflict between work and family. 

It was all good until sin came into the world. That was when both work and family went south. 

Instead of loving our family deeply and doing our work excellently, we love our work passionately and do our family dutifully. 

Tensions started to arise, work became toil: “By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19)

With the entrance of sin, not only did humankind move away from God, each of us has also turned to our own way. We are now estranged from one another relationally: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

Family can now be divided.

With the fall of mankind, creating a healthy family environment became challenging because of our inherent selfishness. Curating a successful work life became harder because we compete more than cooperate.

But when Jesus came to redeem us, He not only reconciled us to God, but He also reconciled us back to one another and restored the dignity of work to mankind. 

The Apostle Paul exhorts us to restore our family: “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” (Colossians 3: 18-20)

Nobody retires from our family to spend our final days in the office. 

We are urged to reclaim our work: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3: 23, 24)

But here is something we must not miss.

Paul exhorted us to love our family deeply and do our work excellently. Family is about relationship; work is about task. Family is about loving; work is about doing. 

In the quest to have a higher standard of living, we have often reversed the order. Many of us pour our passion, our time, our effort unceasingly into our work. We love what we do. But we just do what we need to keep our family going.

Instead of loving our family deeply and doing our work excellently, we end up loving our work passionately and doing our family dutifully. 

Let’s face it. One day we will all come home from our office for the last time. Nobody retires from our family to spend our final days in the office. 

What that day will feel like depends on how we live out our priorities between now and then. 

One of the saddest statements I have read goes like this: “It’s sad when men and women are forced out of organisations they bled for, to return home to families they have neglected.”

Occupied or preoccupied?

Whether we work in the home, the church or the marketplace, there is a strong tendency to become preoccupied with the doing more than the loving. 

There is a strong tendency to become preoccupied with the doing more than the loving. 

Work can become not just an occupation but a preoccupation.

I am not saying that we should not do our work with excellence and commitment. But what I am saying is to derive a right perspective and to embrace a sense of biblical balance between our work and our family.

The past two years have been pandemic years. For many, the socio-economic fallout has ranged from dismal to devastating. Around the world, family life has borne the huge brunt of the fallout.

In an interview with The Straits Times in July 2021, Focus on the Family Singapore’s head of research and development Elisa Ng noted: “The Circuit Breaker and work-from-home arrangements would have created more marital tensions, introducing new conflicts or resurfacing old ones, between some couples.”

Fight for your family

Christians are not exempt from pandemic pressures. But, in the midst of success or suffering, loss or gain, youthfulness or old age, we have the assurance that our Maker walks beside us: Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4)

In the new book, Salt&Light: Inspirational Stories of Faith in Families, you’ll read of many of our Christian brothers and sisters who have walked the path of disillusionment and even despair … but came out on the other side knowing that our Lord has never left them nor forsaken them. Take heart.

God desires us to build an unshakeable foundation of faith, an abundant life, today. How?

1. Have the Right Purpose

The key is to: “Seek (and keep on seeking) first (and foremost) his kingdom (his rule and reign) and his righteousness (social, moral, and spiritual), and all these things (that the Father knows you need) will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

2. Have the Right Priorities

God gave us both our work and our family to curate.

Love your family deeply and do your work excellently. Don’t reverse this order. Our work will one day end, but our family will stay with us till the end.

3. Have the Right Perspective

Success is knowing your purpose in life (to live for God and His Kingdom), growing to your fullest potential (excellence) and sowing seeds to benefit others (especially your family – both physical and spiritual). 

Does your world need some reordering of priorities? Is there a need in your life for some rebalancing? 

Come before this God of Grace and cry out to Him: “Forgive us! Restore us! Give us the grace to forgive, the faith to believe and the ability to let go! 

“Give us a fresh start. Restore to us the years that the locusts have eaten and be merciful to us.”

Let Him embrace you and grant you the grace to fight for your marriage, reconnect with your children and reclaim your family.

In Christ, it is never too early to start right. It is never too late to start now.

This Christmas, bless someone with Salt&Light: Inspirational stories of Faith in Families

Order your new Salt&Light: Inspirational Stories of Faith in Families here.

Please note that only orders made by December 16 will be delivered by Christmas.

In Salt&Light: Inspirational Stories of Faith in Families, find encouragement in 34 true-life accounts that show that unvarnished reality and hope can exist side by side.

Draw inspiration so that you, too, may experience life-giving faith in every season of your life, even through times of testing.


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About the author

Pastor Benny Ho

Pastor Benny Ho is a renowned Bible teacher, now serving as the Senior Pastor of Faith Community Church in Perth, Western Australia. He is also consultant to several churches both in Asia and Australia. His twin passions in ministry are expository preaching and mentoring. Pastor Benny founded Arrows Ministry more than 10 years ago with the primary purpose of helping local churches to equip every member to become a minister for Christ.