Choosing to Cheat

Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide?Andy Stanley, Pastor of the mega member North Point Community Church in Atlanta Georgia, wants you to cheat. That doesn’t sound right, does it? But Stanley wrote a book awhile back entitled Choosing to Cheat, in which he advocates cheating to achieve balance in our marriage, our families and our lives.

Now I’m not an advocate of cheating. Any place. Any time. But after reading Stanley’s book I began to realize, I’ve been cheating for years. And so have you.

Stanley also recognizes this: “Everybody cheats. We have to. You have several important calls on your life. You have career potential to fulfill, a spouse to love, a family to raise, a ministry to perform. The list goes on. None of them should be neglected. However, when you consider the limited number of hours in a day, there’s no way you can reach your full potential in all of those areas. There’s just not enough time.’’

So we cheat. We pull a time that should be spent on one responsibility to spend time on another. We get home later than we should so we can put in the required effort on a work project. We promise our spouse we’ll “make it up to them later” when we have to cut short our vacation because of a crisis at work. But if a big enough crisis at home hits the family, we turn around and cheat at work. If our son has a substance abuse problem we take off from work to be with him. If our spouse walks out on us, we pull away from our jobs to attend intensive counseling sessions.

We cheat according to the crisis of the moment. Instead of being a slave to the current crisis, asks Stanley, why not choose to cheat by principle?

Most of us would say our marriage and family are the most important things in our lives. Even though our jobs demand a lot of our time, we say we intend for our spouse to have first place. But Stanley rightly says our husbands and wives can’t see our good intentions. They don’t want to mentally know you love them as much as they want to visibly see how you love them. When we give work a higher priority than our husband or wife, we cheat them. Guess what? They don’t like feeling cheated. Neither do we when it happens to us.

Stanley’s solution? Make a decision that you will “cheat” your work. He doesn’t mean stealing time from your employer, but he does mean shaving time off your work schedule, by agreement, in order to spend time with your spouse and family. Stanley gives us this concise list to follow:
  • Make up your mind that you will spend priority time with your family
  • Develop a plan that will allow you to do it.
  • Deliver and discuss it diplomatically with your boss
  • Be willing to walk if you can’t work something out
  • Watch for God to work in your situation 
Now that’s the kind of cheating I can endorse. Why not begin by making up your mind to put your time where you say your priority is. Choose to cheat by principle. You and your spouse will be glad you got caught cheating.

Thought for the week: Don’t cheat on your most important investment: your marriage.
By Jim Priest

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