Reflections by Jeremy Alger

I recently read “Didn’t See It Coming” by Carey Neiuwhof. It is about his experience with burnout as the pastor of a large church and how to overcome and/or avoid that common pastoral problem. Of course none or at least almost none of you are pastors, but the book had a great deal of advice and information that is helpful in any profession or walk of life. This is not a book review or a recommendation. I just want to share one thought that I found worthwhile in the book.
Carey wrote, “Sometimes work is easier than home because people respect you at work.” Obviously the implication is that sometimes we aren’t respected at home, or at least we don’t feel respected at home. And for some of us that lack of respect causes us to dig in at work because it feels more fulfilling than time with our family.
There is a well-known school of thought that women’s number one felt need is to be loved. That obviously is not some law of all people, but the truth in that concept makes this home/work dynamic more likely to result in men neglecting their home lives to pursue their work lives.
What is interesting and probably counterintuitive about those instances is that the people who disengage at home are often not doing it because they don’t care about home, it is because the lack of respect that they feel hurts them in a vulnerable place because they do care about home.
These ideas may be a mile away from anything that is going on in your life. But if they aren’t you are either the person who is digging in at work because you feel more respected there or you are in a relationship with someone who is disengaging at home in favor of work.
If you are the later, my advice is to work to show and actually feel respect for the person who is becoming distant. Let them know that they are valued, appreciated, and needed at home. Make an intentional effort to eliminate the words and actions that cause your partner to not feel respected. You will find yourself blessed to rediscover some things that you love about them, and they will find their home a more welcoming comfortable place. It won’t be overnight, but I believe that showering them with respect (most of which is deserved) will cause them to engage more at home.
If you are the one who doesn’t feel respected at home my advice is to be respectable. The quote that started this whole column off is about work being easier than home. When there is a lack of respect that is definitely true. So fixing the problem is not going to be easy. However it is definitely worth it for you and for your family. Don’t cut corners and drop the ball when it comes to your home life. Make sure that your family knows that they can depend on you to fulfill your responsibilities and to keep your word. There are few things more worthy of respect.
Your spouse loves you and chose you because they valued you as a partner for life. If that love and respect isn’t coming through right now it is very possible that you haven’t lived up to their expectations. Dig in and go for it. They believed in you once, and they will again. Those very people who are most important to you are also the ones that want you to succeed more than anyone else. Live respectably in front of them enough and they will notice, and when you struggle with the heavy lifting they will cheer you on.
There are blessings at home that work will never be able to give you. Dig in and do the work of respecting each other and living your life in a way that they can respect you.
Jeremy Alger is the pastor of the New Cumberland Church of the Nazarene. For more information please visit