Most of us fathers often find ourselves trying to balance our time with our marriages, families, and careers. Many of us feel guilty or at least stressed because we spend more time at work than with our families. And for some of us, even when we are with our families, we may struggle to know what to do or how to be present with our families, especially if we didn’t have good fathers to model this for us or if we didn’t have fathers at all.

So how can we as fathers, balance fatherhood and our careers? Before we can balance fatherhood and our careers, it is critical that we evaluate if we’re in or out of balance.

Here are some things that reveal you may be out of balance

  • Frequently bringing work home (damages family life)
  • Too busy to participate in family activities
  • Stressed out, easily upset or angered, etc.
  • Family complains about not getting enough of you
  • Would your spouse, family, or career/ministry team agree with your assessment?

For many dads, their career/ministry weighs heavier on their scales than their family in actuality.

How to balance work and family

The biblical priorities should be:

(1) God;

(2) your wife;

(3) your children; and then

(4) Career/Ministry (1 Timothy 3:4-5)

Implementing God’s biblical priorities in order may be difficult, but essential! I wasn’t doing a good job of practicing God’s biblical priorities. So, God used one of my twins, who was nine years old at the time, to get my attention. While I’m in the van, my daughter asked Brenda, my wife, “Is Daddy going with us?” I had become a Ghost dad! Remember, I’m in the van! A ghost dad is when you are actually in the presence of one of your children, but you have been gone so much your child can’t process you being with them, resulting in your child referring to you in the third person!

How do you become visible again? First answer this question: “Do you want to be visible again to your children? If you do, then, you have to change your mindset. God has blessed me with dear friends, who love me enough to hold me accountable. Bishop Courtney McBath, founding and senior pastor of Calvary Revival Church. Courtney said, “You are using the wrong term? It is not about balancing your family and career. It’s about managing them. When you’re balancing them, you are giving your family and career equal weight!” Courtney’s insight was life-changing!  

By managing my family and career, my family has priority over my job. I work to care for my family. This doesn’t require hating my job. I love my job, but when sacrifices are necessary, I look at making sacrifices on my job first and not my family—thinking, they’ll understand. I’ll have my family forever or maybe not. So where do I want to give the most, to my family or to my job? It’s my family!

In seeking to build a healthy marriage and family that is able to support a healthy career and ministry, I suggest nine foundation builders, but there’s only room for two in this post.

#1 Pray together: Praying with your wife is the number priority for your marriage and family. Amazingly, Christian and secular research has documented two benefits about praying daily with your wife:

(1) The happiest marriages are the ones in which couples pray together and

(2) The research in Dr. Phil’s Relationship Rescue book, states that couples who consistently pray together lower their chance of a divorce to 1 in 10,000 couples! Consider praying daily with your wife for 3-5 minutes. You can pray for each other, your marriage, your children, your finances, your parents, and your in-laws to start.

#2 Family and ministry calendar: The second most essential foundation builder that I recommend for managing your family well is scheduling time together. Brenda and I created two calendars for our family. One was the Family Calendar and the other was the Ministry Calendar. The Family Calendar pertained to family activities and commitments. The Ministry Calendar was for me. The crucial component is that the Family Calendar had priority over my Ministry Calendar. This resulted in my family knowing that they are more important than ministry.