The Biggest Challenges Men Face: Managing Work-Life Balance

In the opening post of this series about what I believe are the biggest challenges for most men today, I indicated that all our problems come from our pride. I also suggested that the multitude of issues and challenges generally fall into these three categories:

  • Managing Work-Life Balance
  • Reordering Priorities
  • Resisting Temptations

The reason pride is so hard for many men is that we simply do not want to admit we have issues. Whether it’s a struggling marriage or difficulty with emotionally-charged teenagers, an addiction to alcohol, pornography or drugs, or issues with communication, intimacy, anger, and financial struggles, we first need to admit we have a problem. It requires putting our pride aside.

So let’s break down each of the three categories and suggest how a God Buddy can help.

First, Managing Work-Life Balance.

My Work-Life “Un”-Balance

I wrote about my work-life “UN”-balance in one of the inaugural posts for this blog that was titled, Why I Needed a God Buddy. That story is what started me on the journey toward becoming a more goldy man

Managing work-life balance is certainly not unique to men. Women make up nearly half (46.9%) of the labor force now according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and struggle the same, I’m sure.

However, men generally take great pride in their work accomplishments and many guys are actually defined by their job titles. 

Accomplishments make us happier. Mine at work certainly did!

Job Satisfaction Leads to Happiness in Men

The 2018 research led by Dr. John Barry, co-founder of the Male Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society determined that the strongest predictor of men’s happiness and well-being is their job satisfaction, by a large margin—and the strongest predictor of job satisfaction is whether men feel they are making an impact on their companies’ success.

Photo by Razvan Chisu on Unsplash

Barry writes “The values American men most aspired to are those of everyday heroes: fathers, father figures, respectful co-workers, mentors. These are hardworking, loving, friendly men with a social conscience, which is great news for the men, women and children of America.”

So why do men have such a hard time balancing work and life responsibilities?

Achieving Work-Life Balance is Stressful

In this article on Glassdoor, consultant and former CEO, Krister Ungerboeck says “men are dealing with the double whammy of feeling guilty for missing their kids’ lives and at the same time ashamed for not seeming cutthroat enough at work.” Ungerboeck experienced first hand the personal costs until he realized the lesson that giving consideration to the family was just as important as any bottom-line business decision at his struggling software company.

“As important as it is to help CEOs and owners push business to the next level,” says Ungerboeck, a father of two, “it is equally important to help them gain perspective on the value of a personal life.”

Photo by Francisco Moreno on Unsplash

Ungerboeck believes there is more pressure on men in the workforce who don’t get the same flexibility as women on family leave. Even in situations when their wives also worked, there’s the cultural expectation that even in a two-income family (even in which there are equal earners), matters of the family fall more frequently onto the female.

Is Work-Life Balance a Myth?

Some also suggest that the pursuit of work-life balance is this generation’s version of the pursuit of the fountain of youth. We often compare ourselves to others and wonder what we’re doing wrong when we see other parents who seem to be managing all of it so seamlessly. 

But know that those same people who seem to have it all together really don’t. Or they will just lie about it due to their pride. 

The important point is that once you recognize there are peaks and valleys to life, you will also realize that poor work-life balance is actually a self-discipline problem. Having a better understanding allows you to operate from a more mentally-healthy perspective so you an begin to reorder your priorities to better manage the stress (more on priorities in the next post).

A Biblical Perspective on Work-Life Balance

Any theology of work must begin with the creation story. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” 

God also created humanity to work and subdue the earth with dominion over every living creature (Genesis. 1:28). Jesus himself was a carpenter, as was his earthly dad, Joseph. Not only did God command us to work, but, —since we are created in His image, we are hardwired with a desire to work.

But Genesis 3:17-19 also reminds us though that the presence of sin corrupted our desire for the good work we were created to do, and it made work itself difficult ever since.

There is also a multitude of Bible verses about our work ethic, career guidance, and how to handle work problems (and even our volunteer work that takes up our time after our paying jobs!). 

In reality, though, we really can’t separate our personal lives from our work lives. They are intrinsically linked and not two mutually exclusive lives that should be in balance.

Jesus Christ addresses the double-minded lifestyle though in the book of Matthew.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and wealth.

Matthew 6:24

Mark 6:31 also reminds us that Jesus said to His disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile.” which shows the importance of rest and relaxation.

Yes, even God rested on the seventh day… so you should too! 

The God Buddy Principle

Many times God is teaching us about the importance of separating work and family time. We can’t and shouldn’t try to do it all. I know that for a fact all too well! 

It also helps when we become vulnerable about your work-life imbalance and share your struggle with a God Buddy.

Back in the day, I made a pact with one of my God Buddies that one of us would call the other by 5:00 pm each Friday to ensure we were home and present for our families. Doing so, made us be accountable to this time schedule. 

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

You should also let your spouse know when you are starting to feel the pressure during the workload peaks. This includes both professional, volunteer, and personal peaks so you separate them to be fully present with your family when you are at home. The other tasks will be there when you go back to work on Monday. 

Lastly, I also suggest that men need rest and relaxation to counter the stresses of trying to balance their work and life responsibilities. As I wrote in Men Need Get-Aways and Retreats, guys specifically need to get together with other guys. There is no better way to talk through our struggles than in a boat for hours waiting for the fish to bite!  

So ask your GB and your spouse to pray that you have patience and good time management so you are most effective in both aspects of life. 

Next week, I will write more about proper priorities, the second of the categories.


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