Monday, October 29, 2007

This is what $3 gets you.

This is what $3 gets you.

I worked roughly 60 hours a week when I was writing advertising for The Home Depot. Couple that with a two hour commute each day and 70 hours a week I was somewhere decidedly not home. After a burnout that contributed to a severely damaged marriage, I determined to never let work steal more of my time than it deserved. The trick I realized is to establish your hours the first day you start at a company. If you come in as the 7-4 guy then that’s what everyone knows you as. It’s much harder to be a 7-7 guy for a few months and then decide you want a better quality of life and try to become 7-4.

I told my friend D this and he decided to try it out at his next job. He’s an accountant, and although the lines of 7-4 got a little blurred during tax season he held strong to keeping his true time commitment at home instead of at work. The result was fairly expensive.

In his first annual review, the manager told him that they were happy with his performance except for one thing, his time management. While everyone else at the company had spent 60+ hours of work at the office during the busy season, D had spent about 50.

The cost of that time difference was going to be reflected in his annual bonus. The bonus had been reduced by $2,000 to reflect D’s decision to work less.

I got a call a few minutes after that conversation. D seemed pretty content with everything. He would have liked the money. Being a Christian doesn’t make you immune to the woos of the world, but he wasn’t swaying. He was still going to leave at 4:00 that day. And the next day after that. The reduction in bonus hadn’t changed that.

The cost
Every act of obedience has a cost associated with it, we just usually don’t look at it the right way. We focus on what we’ll be forced to give up. What we’ll miss as a result of our decision to side with the father instead of the flesh. For D that meant losing $2,000. For my youngest brother it meant ending a four year relationship. For me, it meant leaving Home Depot. But rarely do we take the time or the insight to dig into what we gain by obedience.

When D did, when he took off his filter of “more money equals more happiness” he was able to laugh at the loss of money. The reality is that after taxes, $2,000 only translates to about $1,500. And if he had only worked 10 more hours a week for an entire year he would have received that money. So the equation is simple, his company offered him $1,500 for 500 hours of his time. But Dwayne decided that hanging out with his wife and child was worth $3 an hour. He decided that if someone offered him 10 more hours a week with his family for only $30 he would take it.

So he didn’t lose $2,000. He paid $3 an hour to get to know his kids during a period of their lives that is fleeting and fast. Would you make the same decision? Probably. I know some horrible dads but I’m not sure if any of them would say that time with their kids wasn’t worth $3.

As you go through your day, you’ll be faced with your own unique obedience decisions. They might make $2,000 seem small and pale in comparison. But look beyond the obvious. Please take the time to think about what you’ll be gaining. It always outweighs the cost.

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