Gary Hoag: Difficult Even to Find Time Together – John D. Beckett

So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them? Ecclesiastes 3:22

“A challenge for all of us is to balance work and family. That challenge has intensified in recent years. Not only have work demands increased (especially with the relentless squeeze on profit margins and corporate downsizing), but also spouses and children have greater commitments and involvements. It is difficult even to find time together…Today we can look back and see tremendous fruit from our investment in family. I’m so glad God helped us take this stewardship responsibility so seriously.”

John D. Beckett in Mastering Monday: A Guide to Integrating Faith and Work (Downers Grove: IVP, 2006) 170-172.

Recently I was talking with an oppressed worker who was expected to sacrifice his young family to excel at work. I reminded him, along the lines of today’s Scripture verse, that it is a blessing to enjoy our work (which is not the case on many days) and that each of us will die before all our work is done. I urged him to work for God’s glory, to love his family, friends and neighbors, and to keep work in perspective, lest he lose everything to gain anything at work.
Beckett, a well-known businessman in the town where I was born, Elyria, Ohio, suggests that finding time to say Yes to generously invest in the most important things in life only happens when we learn to say No to things of lesser importance. As a constant reminder, he has this sign posted in his office. It’s called “In Praise of No.”

“No may be the most efficient time saver in the English language. What it lacks in grace is more than offset by its brevity. You don’t equivocate when you say No, though you may risk offense. Used with discretion and appropriate garnishes, No can save you hours of time. No returns responsibility to its rightful owner. No enables you to focus on your priorities. No protects you from your own good heart. Do not scorn the pungent clarity of No. It can be your ticket to success.”

The part about No protecting you from your own good heart especially struck me. That’s a battle for generous people, who like to say Yes to everything.

Father in heaven, help us all say No to things of lesser importance so we can say Yes to what is best in the days you have given us on this earth, knowing we will die before we get everything done. From this day forward, grant us wisdom to prioritize our stewardship responsibilities by your Holy Spirit for the sake of our relationship with You, our family, our friends and neighbors. In your mercy, hear our prayer we ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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