Jan.24

Choosing to Cheat

Flash back! I recently found this when I was going through old papers. My life has changed since 2010 in a significant way; however, it is a good reminder on where to place my priorities. Enjoy!

I have completed my Church Ministry course and the final assignment was to read Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley.  I had to write a paper on things I learned.  Take a look.

PART ONE – FIVE (5) MEANINGFUL SENTENCES.  After reading Choosing to Cheat I had a better understanding of what the title means.  Even though the author clearly described the meaning in the beginning, it wasn’t until I read the book that I fully understood what it meant. In my opinion this book could have been summed up in a few pages.  On page 20 the author makes a clear and bold statement.  “Everybody cheats.” I didn’t agree with this until I read the next paragraph, “However, when you consider the limited number of hours in a day, there’s no way you can reach your full potential in all those areas.”  He is referring to all the responsibilities that we have each day.  I thought about that and I understood the first comment.  We do have to cheat in something.  There is no way I can go to school full time, have a full time job, and be the leader of this house.  I must choose to do what I see as more important.  That is a no brainer for me.  My wife is the most important thing.  My employer can lay me off, and I can fail out of school, but I made a commitment to love my wife.  After the Lord she is my number one priority.

“Your sense of identity is determined largely by work and family.” This statement on page 25 seems like everyone should know this.  I have even thought about it before.  Why is it that we don’t take this seriously?  What we do and who we are around greatly shapes us.  The author continues this thought on page 26 when he says, “Knowing who you are fulfills a basic human need.”  We are defined by our jobs and our families.  I am a network administrator and I enjoy working with youth. If you spent five minutes with me you would hear me talk about technology and my passion for reaching this generation.  Luckily, my wife has one of those same passions; she wants to see this generation changed as well.  Because we share that same passion we are able to peruse this together.  When we work at doing this, it isn’t like work for us.  Since we don’t have kids yet, it is easy for us to give most of our energy to purse this.

Finding approval in what we do or who we have relationships with is a part of who we are.  On page 50 the author backs that up by saying, “God created you to seek and find approval.  That underlying need provides the context for our relationship with Him and everyone else we come in contact with.”  I don’t know a single person who doesn’t want to be approved by someone.  People try to find approval in their careers, relationships, and activities.  If they are not approved, they feel like a failure.  Sadly, people will do almost anything to gain that approval, even if it is at the expense of the other.  I think that this book does a good job of helping people see that family is the most important thing to find approval in.

When it comes to work and home, I had a problem with wanting to get my list of things done for that day, before I went home.  I wanted to feel successful in the day, however I knew that is was wrong.  On page 104 the author mentions, “Cheating at work has nothing to do with cheating your employer.”  Many times people think that if they request some time away from the office in order to invest into their family then that employer will look down on them.  I have found that good employers recognize the importance of family over work.  As the author describes later on in next page this doesn’t mean cutting out of work early.  This simply means adjusting priorities at work to accommodate the needs of your family.  There are going to be some things that are not going to work out and family might get cheated on, however, I believe that if you are investing in your family’s needs then, when those times come, it will not be as much of a disappointment to those you love.

Trusting that the Lord knows best is always a good thing to remember.  When we rely on Him to lead us, we can never go wrong.  Page 122 does a good job of explaining this.  “…order your world around your Heavenly Father’s priorities and then trust Him to fill the gaps created by your faithfulness.”  In the six months I have been married, I have come to hold on to this more and more.  When I trust the Lord to take care of my life, things just fall into place.  Things at work that look like they are going to take over my life seem to fix themselves, and things at home that seem to be falling apart are somehow put back together.  The Lord wants us to be happy, but we must remember that true happiness is only found in Him.  Too many times we try to fix things ourselves, or try to do it all on our own.  This may work for a little while, but sooner or later it will catch up to us, and there usually is a mess to clean up.  It is important to seek out the Lord’s will and allow Him to direct our paths. Things will work out, even if at first it doesn’t look promising.

PART TWO – RATE YOURSELF.  I have noticed that there are a few areas that I cheat in that I hadn’t noticed before.  When it comes to my home life, it seems like I put my needs before my wife’s needs. Having lived by myself for so many years, I am used to doing things on my way.  I haven’t had to “check-in” with many people before.  Another area is in my relationship with the Lord.  I find at times I put reading the Bible, worshiping, or praying on the back burner while I tend to other areas in live.  The last area I cheat in is my relationships with others. Since being married, I have been trying to learn how to be a good husband and how to live with a woman. I am not saying I should be hanging out with them all the time, but I have noticed my friendships slipping.

PART THREE – A CONVERSATION.   After interviewing my wife on areas that I do well and could improve on, I gained a good sense of things that have changed over the past 3 years I have known her.  When we first started dating I did a very good job of keeping her my priority.  I would turn my phone off when we were to together, I would eliminate any type of distraction so that I could focus on her.  I was trying to impress her as much as I could.  Now that we are married I do not do those things as well anymore.  It is frustrating to my wife and sometimes she gets very passionate about it.  “I like it when you focus on me and I see you eliminating those distractions.  It shows me you care about me a lot,” my wife said.  On a positive note, she says I have got better at eliminating distractions since starting this class.  Something else positive is that when we do spend time together I allow her to come up with ideas of things to do like; going on walks, bowling, going to the zoo, and going to the store together.  My love language is quality time so naturally I like to spend time with my wife.  We both believe that because this is my strongest love language that it is easier for me to cut away from the everyday life and spend some of that time alone together.

PART FOUR – SAFEGUARDS.  There are several safeguards that can be put in place in order to have a balanced life.  However, I don’t think that anyone can do this perfectly.  There will always be something that gets cheated on.  One safeguard would be to have a 7-7-7 plan.  Every seven days go on a date with my wife, every seven weeks go on a weekend getaway, and every seven months go on a vacation.  When I have kids I would take 1 kid out every seventh day in addition to the one with my wife.  The second safeguard would be to make a commitment to my family that once I leave the office the work doesn’t come home with me.  That means not checking emails or answering phone calls.  The third safeguard would be to turn my phone off while on dates or outings with the family.  The fourth safeguard would be to at the beginning of the day have my quiet time with the Lord instead of in the middle of the day or when I am not busy.  The Lord requires part of your first fruits.  I believe that also means first thing in the morning.  The fifth safeguard would be to set up consequences for not following through on promises or commitments.  This means that my yes means yes and my no means no.  Another safeguard would be set up a code word that my family can say when they feel like they are being cheated on.

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