I Feel Nothing For YouAug 29, 2022
Today, we are honored to share with you a post from our friend, Peter Greer. Peter is husband to Laurel, daddy to Keith, Lili and Myles, President and CEO of HOPE International (www.hopeinternational.org) and author of The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good (www.spiritualdanger.com). His book is so good. You can purchase a copy from Amazon by clicking HERE.
A few years ago, after the kids were in bed, my wife Laurel said something I will never forget: You are choosing your ministry over me—and I feel nothing for you.
She said she was committed to me, but she had been growing increasingly discontent in our marriage.
I was blindsided by the comment. We had such a good start. We knew that God brought us together. I loved my wife. I loved my kids. But I was shocked into the realization that somehow my ministry had become my mistress.
Without recognizing it, I had started to have an unexpected affair… with my job.
What was justified as just a “busy season” became a busy year. Which turned into two. Then three.
There was always guilt about calling and saying I wouldn’t be home for dinner, but I felt something else too. At work, I was needed, affirmed—almost indispensable. I felt rewarded for going above and beyond – and I could see the impact. And most of all, I really believed in the work I was doing.
But if I had looked in the rearview mirror, I would have seen that Laurel was virtually operating as a single mom while I was building a “successful” ministry.
I was so focused on the demands and feelings of worth at work that I missed both the joy and significance of my key role as a husband and father.
Too often, in ministry workaholism is praised – even when it has more to do with fueling your own ambition than following God’s call for your life. And left unchecked, it leaves families in shambles.
If you’ve felt the demands of both work and family; or if you are single, and you’re juggling friends and family (and you can justify staying late at the office because there’s no one telling you to come home), then you have experienced how easily work can become your mistress.
I give Laurel an incredible amount of credit. It took courage for her to call attention to our marital issues – and I believe this pivotal conversation ended up saving our marriage. Realizing we were at a crisis point, I canceled my business trip I was planning to take to Peru. And I cleared my work schedule. But it has been a journey to go “beyond ordinary” in marriage again.
In addition to ample amounts of grace, love and forgiveness, here are some of the guardrails that help ensure we will never again so casually drift apart in our marriage.
- Prayer. More than anything else, getting in the habit of daily praying together has turned our relationship right-side up. When you come before the Creator of the Universe with your spouse, your perspective changes. Your arguments seem smaller. Prayer revolutionized our marriage.
- Resignation Letter. I actually handed Laurel a resignation letter. Laurel can mail my letter to the chair of our board if she ever feels that I’m not being the husband and father she needs me to be. And with that, I would officially resign.
- Ask! Monitoring key performance indicators on the health and welfare of our programs at HOPE, I rarely asked my wife how she was doing. Periodically now I do “impact assessments” – ten simple questions that help me know how I can be supporting her better.
- Limit travel. We have so many good opportunities. I felt I had to say “yes” to all of them. Recently I have limited my travel to six nights per month. By saying “no” to good opportunities, I get the chance to tuck my children into bed and say “yes” to the best ones.
- Tuck the iPhone in a drawer. One day I was helping my two-year-old son get breakfast while reading a work email on my blackberry. “No phone, no phone,” he said to me. This was a gut check for me. Now, I literally put my blackberry in the kitchen drawer until my kids go to bed, so I know my focus is on my family.
The bottom line is this—it’s not worth it to run a great ministry when your family is neglected. In fact, it doesn’t honor God. I am so grateful that my wife had the love—and courage—to confront me about where my priorities lie.
Never again am I willing to be successful at work but a failure at home.