Sermon Illustrations

Wrong Priorities Illustrated in the Book, In the Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work

Ancient church father Augustine of Hippo once said, “Christ is not valued at all, unless he is valued above all.”

Until those folks in Jerusalem moved God from the bottom of their list of priorities to the top of their list of priorities… they were not going to enjoy the goodness of God in the land of the living. They were living in lack when a simple rearranging of misplaced priorities would have resulted in God’s blessing.

In The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997), Arlie Russell Hochschild details a Fortune 500 company and finds a surprising trend: despite family-friendly policies in the workplace, employees are opting to spend more, not less, time in the office. Over the past two decades, the average worker has lengthened his or her work schedule by 164 hours every month and shortened vacation time by 14 percent..

Hochschild asserts that Americans are not working overtime because of money or a fear of layoffs. Instead, the average worker doesn’t mind that work is eroding time at home. Apparently, somewhere in between "Have a good day, dear" and "Honey, I’m home," there has been a role reversal between home and work. Thanks to twentieth-century concepts such as company spirit and loyalty, the workplace is becoming increasingly cozy and comfortable, while home, with its diapers, dirty dishes, and divorce, is becoming increasingly harried and hectic. One interviewee tells her, "I come to work to relax." A major finding that Hochschild did not anticipate was the extent to which home and family life had become like work to the parents she studied. The psychological demands of modern family relationships, which often include the experience of divorce and blending of families, "call for emotional skills many people don’t possess," said Hochschild. "Meanwhile, work is a far more inviting place than it used to be. We often imagine the worker as a cog in a machine or just a number. But modern management philosophies like ’total quality’—in Fortune 500 companies at least—are geared toward empowering the worker and making him or her feel appreciated. That’s all to the good. The downside is that under certain circumstances, the family cannot compete." (Adapted from Arlie Russell Hochschild, "Ahhhh, Sweet Work," PBS Online Newshour ,7-31-97)

It is difficult for God to bless the home of a person who prioritizes career over family. It is difficult for God to bless the life of the person who does not honor God in all and above all.

God was gracious to his people… when they realized the error of their ways and reordered their priorities, God blessed them again.

From a sermon by Monty Newton, How to Overhaul Your Priorities 11/13/2009

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