How’s it going at home…really?

Here’s what I’ve come to believe.

Ultimately, everything rides on how you lead at home. 

The stakes are high.

Lead well at home, and you will inevitably become a better leader in your ministry or organization.

The difficult issues you work through in your marriage and parenting will make you a wiser, stronger leader organizationally. My wife Toni tells how we worked through some very hard seasons here.

The discipline of loving someone for a lifetime will help you love the people you serve and work with through their ups and downs. Working through the issues at home actually makes the issues at work easier.

Leadership at home is more difficult than leadership organizationally for most people.  Because respect is earned at home, and no one is interested in your title or corner office, you have to lead with love. It’s the only thing that works long term.

Lead poorly at home, and the consequences will play out in several ways in your leadership:

You may win in ministry but lose the heart and affection of your family. Most of us have met leaders whose family is still together but deeply resents the leader’s organization.

Your leadership in ministry might be permanently stunted as unresolved character issues leak from home into your organizational leadership. Your flaws tend to eventually impact everything you lead and touch.

You might lose it all – the collapse of your family might lead to the collapse of your ministry and leadership.  How many times have we seen an affair, an addiction, or other moral failures take out a leader whose gifting outweighed his character?

See what’s at stake?

Even though so much ultimately rides on how you lead at home, you will be tempted (as I am) to resist leading well at home.

In fact, many people pour all their skill development into leading at work and will let the home front slide.

I know in seasons I’ve done that.

But here’s the truth. If you’re winning at work but losing at home, you’re losing.

Why?

If you're winning at work but losing at home, you're losing. Click To Tweet

Here are three reasons winning at work is easier than winning at home.

1. Respect is often easier to get at work than it is at home.

Men, in particular, crave respect. So it’s easy to skip home, work harder and become even more ‘celebrated’ in your field.

Respect at work often comes from your accomplishments and sometimes your position.

At home, it comes from your character.

No one at home is impressed by your resume, your sales, your growth or your war stories. Which makes it easier to keep working.

Respect at work often comes from your accomplishments and sometimes your position. At home, it comes from your character. Which makes it easier to keep working. Click To Tweet

2. At home, there is no escape from who you really are. 

People at home see you as you really are — in your weaknesses, in your most vulnerable moments. They see you uncut.

Many leaders prefer the edited version of themselves, but our families never get that.

Because at home there is no escape from who you really are, some leaders are tempted to escape from home (back to the office, to friends or to some time-consuming hobby).

Because at home there is no escape from who you really are, some leaders are tempted to escape from home (back to the office, to friends or to some time-consuming hobby). Click To Tweet

3. The wins at home are long term wins

You can get quick fixes to problems at work. At home, you are primarily working on things that take a lifetime to achieve.

Great marriages are measured in decades and ultimately in fractions of a century. The relationship with our kids last throughout our lives. God is working on our character over a lifetime, not just in Q3.  You can change your job. You can get a promotion. But our family relationships are forever. That makes them much harder, but so much more worthwhile.

You can get quick fixes to problems at work. At home, you are primarily working on things that take a lifetime to achieve. Click To Tweet

I realize this post doesn’t resolve the tension. It raises it.

But maybe for some of us, that’s where we need to leave it for now.

Sometimes when I think about what’s at stake and why I resist, it ups my motivation to change. My next post will outline several ways leaders can lead better at home.

But in the meantime, let’s leave it there.

And let’s think and pray about what’s at stake.

Want some help winning at home? 

If you feel like you’re losing touch with your spouse at home, you might need a pattern disruptor.

For a start, plan a fun meal, grab your favourite beverage and use my wife Toni’s Start Fighting for “We” Couples Conversation Guide to move past everyday conversations and into closer ones.

Toni and I have used the concepts in this guide to rebuild a much better marriage over the last decade and a half.

I hope they help you (or a marriage around you) too!

You can download the guide here.

Have you noticed this trend?

Have you found that it’s easier to win at work than at home?

Leave a comment!

3 Reasons Winning At Work Is Easier Than Winning At Home

11 Comments

  1. Mark on February 4, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    Great post! This topic deserves even more attention.

    A great voice on this is a guy named John Michael Clark who produces content under the title Family Captain. Would be an awesome podcast interview. You should look him up.

    He has an awesome perspective on relationships and marriage and a deep biblical understanding on leadership at home. Transformed my home life with his help while under high pressure in my career area a high level.

    Please use your voice on this subject more. So needed!!!

  2. Brian M on February 4, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    When I was installed as pastor in my church, one of my (now) mentors gave me the “charge”. After the service he came up to my wife and I in my office and said, “I’ve given you the official charge. Now I’m giving you the real charge (points to my wife) – SHE is your first calling, the church is your second.”
    And he’s continued dropping wisdom like that for over a decade now!

  3. Barry on February 4, 2021 at 9:48 am

    Carey, thank you for your thoughts & challenges & encouragement. I find the comments so humorous… often someone getting stuck on the semantics of a word or desiring to challenging you b by attempting to sound more intelligent than you :). Thanks for investing in others. Thanks for sharing and putting up with the public. BTW, I comment maybe once every year on any article on the web, but after reading the comments today… had to… several sounded like the comments that are dropped in the offering plates as their gift (NOT) instead of support. Have a great day & keep doing what you do for you’re helping many!

    • Whitney on February 4, 2021 at 11:07 am

      Thank you for writing this. I have felt this in my own work, and the tension to need to change it. To create healthy boundaries in ministry which can become 24/7. I’m happy to hear I am not the only one working on this.

  4. Alan Loreg on February 4, 2021 at 9:32 am

    One of my former Pastors uses to say, “be the thermostat, not the thermometer in your home.” I say now be the thermostat of unconditional love in your home with God working through you.

  5. Philip Wong on January 27, 2019 at 9:32 am

    I think winning can be applied to winning and earning respect which can be lost at home or at work. I think that is what Carey is talking about. We can be talking about fighting and winning for the family against Satan too.

  6. D. A. Taylor on January 24, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    Sounds like people are using worldly mantras to define Christianity.

    I prefer, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).”

    Seems like everyone wants to be a leader these days. But Jesus said, “Do NOT be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ” (Matthew 23:10). And Jesus also said: Just as the Son of Man did NOT come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mathew 20:28).

    So are you a leader or a servant?

    PS: The Lord knows …

  7. Bob on January 24, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    For us as leaders of our households, There are battles being fought everyday. If we are not successful in winning these battles, “we” are the losers and ultimately carry the loss into our workplaces.

    Just speaking from experience.

  8. Trey Rhodes on January 24, 2019 at 10:48 am

    When I think of winning, it seems to be a comparison on what you were before. At least that how I see it. I don’t think of it as someone who is winning at home and losing elsewhere. Carey, what say you?

  9. Jeffrey on January 24, 2019 at 9:45 am

    Carey, If you or I am “winning” at work or at home, who’s losing? After all, if the imagery is of winning, doesn’t there have to be a corresponding loser? Lead better at home? Live better at home? Build stronger, lasting relationships at home? I’m on board. But win at home, or work? What am I winning? And who’s the loser? I am a faithful reader, so these are questions of curiosity and, perhaps, encouragement toward less competitive, more connectional language. Thanks for all you write and for your inspiration.

    • John Dao on February 4, 2021 at 10:19 am

      From when I read the article, I feel like we are competing against our ourselves. The “loser” self of us, the one who wants to take the easy road.

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