The Challenge of Work/Family Balance—Part Two: The “Theology” of Fred Flintstone

The Challenge of Work/Family Balance—Part Two: The “Theology” of Fred Flintstone

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THE ENCOURAGEMENT PROJECT

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.  Exodus 20:8-11

 

Good morning Prayer Team!

Many of us remember the Fred Flintstone cartoons.  Fred worked in a rock quarry.  He sat on the back of a dinosaur, chipping away at rocks all day.  And at quitting time, a bird would squawk, Fred would drop his tools, slide down the back of the dinosaur, yell “yabba-dabba-doo” and run home to his family.

This image from a silly cartoon provides us a powerful metaphor for the work-family balance.  Fred worked hard all day.  And at quitting time he quit and went home.  There are two lessons we learn from Fred Flintstone—work hard during the work day, and then go home when the work day is over.

The concept of “quitting time” is vanishing.  Why?  Because when it is time to work, many of us are distracted.  We all know people who “quit” (in the sense they are checked out mentally) well before the workday ends.  Texting, Facebook and the internet contribute to our sense of distraction during the workday.  If a person spends six minutes an hour surfing the web for non-work-related things, like reading the sports scores on ESPN.com, or texts with friends or updates their status on Facebook, that is ten percent of work time being lost.  If a person earns $50,000 a year, he or she is stealing the equivalent of $5,000 a year from the boss.  So, work is not getting done at work and that cheats your employer and customers.  But it also cheats you.

When quitting time comes, people have to take work home because they didn’t get it done at work.  Or they have to stay overtime to get done what didn’t get done during the day.

I recognize that the forty-hour work week is gone for many of us, including me.  I have a job that I could work at twenty-four hours a day and still not get it all done.  My solution?  Appoint a quitting time, work hard until quitting time, and at quitting time, quit and go home.  I look at Fred Flintstone for inspiration.

If your quitting time is 5:00 p.m., then work hard until 5:00 p.m.  Don’t get distracted.  Don’t quit at 4:00 p.m.  Or start texting and get on Facebook at 3:00 p.m.  And if your quitting time is 5:00 p.m., and you’ve worked hard all day, then quit and go home and don’t feel guilty about going home and relaxing.

Be present in whatever you are doing.  Try not to think about home while at work.  Try not to think about work while at home.

One of the Ten Commandments is quoted above, Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.  Of all of the commandments, this is the longest, four verses.  In it God gives more details than any of the other commandments.  God’s intention for us is to live in balance.

His idea that we need rest is not a suggestion.  It is a commandment!

We are to dedicate time each week to worship.  That is not a suggestion.  It is a commandment!

And we are to dedicate time to resting.  That is not a suggestion.  It is a commandment!

So as you seek to live a balanced life, build in time to rest.  Find a hobby.  Build in time to worship.  Make Sunday mornings sacred to the Lord.  And when it is time to work, work without distraction.  So that you can rest without distraction or guilt.

Work/family/leisure/spirituality/rest—the struggle to find balance between all of these things will be a lifelong struggle.  The first key to finding balance is to be present and undistracted when doing each.

Lord, help me to focus today.  At work, help me to be present and not to be distracted.  Help me to be efficient in the tasks I need to finish.  When it is time to quit, help me to leave work without guilt over what didn’t get done.  Give me a time to enjoy my family.  Help me to find balance in all aspects of my life.  Help me to put You first in all things.  Amen.

Work hard at work.  Quit at quitting time.  Be present.

 

+Fr. Stavros

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Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0