Should I Feel Guilty for Working Hard to Support My Family?

Question from a reader:

It feels like cruel and unnecessary manipulation when you say that “One of the great ironies of our culture is that fathers spend more time making money and less time with their children.” I spend a lot of time with my kids, but am I to feel guilty for working hard to support my family?

Answer from Randy Alcorn:

Working hard and making money to care for your family is a great and biblical thing. I did it, and I’m glad you are too. I also spent a lot of time with my kids. But of course, that’s NOT what I’m talking about. I’m talking about when dads do NOT spend plenty of time with their kids (and many don’t) because they are always gone working—or golfing or watching TV or whatever (and of course the point isn’t that work, golf or TV in and of themselves are wrong).

I don’t think it’s cruel and manipulative to point out that dads, while fulfilling the biblical mandate to provide for their children, also should make sure they’re not away from home so much (or passively detached from them while at home) that they neglect a calling even higher than the workplace—being there to invest their lives in their children. Of course, there is not a guaranteed formula or outcome, and godly fathers can have rebellious children.

Fathering and vocation require a difficult balance, in which we must call upon the Lord for wisdom and strength, but we are commanded to do it nonetheless. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

We must be with them a substantial amount of time in order to “bring them up.” This helps them not to resent us, as they will if we’re with them only to correct them. To raise them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord it is not sufficient to spend considerable time away from work and present with the children, but it’s certainly necessary. 

So dads, there’s a biblical mandate both to raise your kids and invest time in them to do so. AND there's a biblical mandate to work hard to provide for your family. Just make sure that work commitments don’t overshadow your need to be there for your kids. And remember that making enough money to provide for your children’s needs is not the same as providing for all their wants. More than anything, what they need is the Lord, and to be drawn to their heavenly Father. It will help them immensely to see a loving, holy, and heavenly-minded earthly father, who is full of grace and truth.

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries

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