“Let your life be a stepping stone to Christ and not a stumbling block.” 1 Cor. 8:13 & 10:31

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify God who is in heaven." Matt. 5:16

When Work And Family Collide

By John D. Beckett


Maria had been preparing for this day for several months, and her Saturday morning piano recital was nearly here. She found it difficult to think about anything else. Best of all, she was excited because her daddy would be coming! Her anticipation helped her overlook all the times he had missed other such events because of his work, which often involved making business trips out of town.

Then, the day before the recital, her father's boss called. Would history repeat, she wondered, as her father talked to his employer? Would he be called out of town again?

From what Maria could overhear, she knew her father was doing his best to excuse himself from making the trip. But as soon as he hung up it was obvious he had been unsuccessful. He would have to be on a flight that evening. His attendance at the recital would not be possible.

Maria did her best to act grown up. After all, she was nearly ten years old. But this time her sadness was more painful than she could ever remember. "Why does Daddy's work always have to come ahead of our important family times?" she wondered.

Struggling with having to disappoint his daughter once again, her father pondered a similar question. "I enjoy my work, but I hate to let my family down time after time. Is there not a way I can have a successful career without having to sacrifice my family to achieve it?"


1.  "Faith, family and work" - for many of us, this represents a healthy ranking of priorities. But even with the best intentions, reality can often reverse these priorities. Work pushes its way to the top of the list, whether we want it there or not. How can we most effectively carve out time for the most important things, making sure we manage our priorities, rather than letting them manage us?

2.  What could Maria's father do to strengthen his bond with his daughter, especially if this latest business trip is unavoidable and he knows he must disappoint Maria once more? 

3.  Can - or should - employers and employees reach some kind of understanding and agreement on family and personal priorities in advance, so that important events aren't eclipsed by work matters? Or do employers only have a responsibility for making certain their customers and shareholders are treated properly and deadlines are met, no matter what it takes? Explain your answer.

© 2016. John D. Beckett is chairman of R. W. Beckett Corporation in Elyria, Ohio, U.S.A., one of the world's leading manufacturers of residential and commercial heating systems.