There was a point in my life when the evening hours were solely used up in whatever I wanted to do with them.
If I wanted to see a movie, then I would see a movie.
If I wanted to visit with a friend, then I would visit with a friend.
If I wanted to sit on my couch and allow my brain to go numb as I sat comatose in front of the television, then, yes you guessed it, I would do just that.
I remember the days when I would come home from high school, college, or basketball practice in college, and fall horizontal on my face out of pure fatigue and exhaustion. I would exert so much energy on the basketball court—pushing myself to the tipping point—that I could literally fall asleep the moment I walked through the door. And, honestly, I could still do that each and every evening that I walk through the front door of my home.
The difference, though, is that I am no longer afforded that freedom (1 Cor. 13:11), and if you’re like me at all, then the final part of my day—the second shift, or the 5:30pm-and-on-part-of-the-day—is absolutely the hardest.
It’s not the hardest because it’s necessarily hard to go home and be a husband and dad, although it is. It’s not the hardest because there are one million things to do once I get home, because there are.
It’s absolutely, one hundred percent the fact that I am simply just tired.
I am exhausted from a long day at work. I am mentally drained from the meetings, the counseling sessions, the decisions, the leadership, and the creative environments. I could easily go home every single day and sit on the couch, turn on the television, and let my brain go elsewhere… and potentially fall asleep by 6:30pm.
Life is tiring. Work is hard. Kids are messy. Marriage takes work. We often live in an exhausted state.
And here’s the deal: God has called us to pursue faithfulness during the second shift in the same way he has called us to be faithful in the first shift.
Here are a few ways I have attempted to pursue faithfulness in preparing myself for the beauty of the second shift:
ONE: Prepare yourself to be the best husband and dad you can be as you drive home.
I once had a leader I respected tell me that he doesn’t listen to music while he drives because he returns phone calls. At one point in my life, I thought that was a great use of my time, so I began to return missed phone calls as soon as I turned over the ignition. As I drove down the road, I would solve the world’s problems, catch up with old friends, and make quick decisions so I could continue from phone call to phone call.
I quickly found out that this use of time was not the best idea for me. As I walked through the doors of my house, I would find myself still in work mode, often times potentially still on the phone. Throughout my drive, I had done zero preparation mentally and spiritually to walk through doors and take dominion over the most important part of my day. This was extremely unfair to my family, who was eagerly awaiting my attention as I arrived home.
As a result, I began to use my 20-minute drive home as preparatory time.
No music. No podcasts. No sports radio. No phone calls. Just me. Just quiet. Just time with the LORD.
This began to prove itself invaluable.
It was almost as if I was back in the locker room, with my headphones on, listening to the most get-hyped rap music I could find, as I prepared myself to take the basketball court.
Instead of the basketball court, however, I am now preparing myself for the greatest battlefield of them all—my home.
During this time with God, I am preparing myself to do everything but sit down on the couch and act like this is “my time.” It’s not my time. We don’t have “our time” anymore as men. As dads and husbands, “our time” is when everyone is in bed. And most of the time, when everyone is in bed, we’re too tired to have “our time” anyways, which leads me to my second point…
TWO: Work to be exhausted each night when your head hits the pillow.
Where have we come up with this notion that men should no longer be exhausted when it’s time to crawl into bed at night? Somewhere along the way, we have deemed it acceptable to pace ourselves, take longer naps then we should, and not be that tired at bedtime because we have rested in front of the television at night and paced ourselves throughout the day.
This means that we have the responsibility to work as hard as our wives do during the second shift. It means that we wash dishes, help clean the house, and be the best dads that we can possibly be. It means that we pursue our wives sexually. It means that we work hard to present ourselves to our wives in an attractive way. It means that we wake up early, work hard all day, work even harder at home, and then use the last energy we can muster to force ourselves to crawl into bed. It means that we see ourselves as mere humans, being stewards of our sleep, as we are our days. It means we understand God to be in control—the one who gives us rest from our work the previous day and energy for the day that is shortly to arrive (Jas. 1:17).
It means that our entire posture concerning our day changes.
The second shift is no longer a time of rest, but a time of work. Good work. Hard work. God-honoring work. Warrior-like work.
It is here that we work in faithfulness, then fruitfulness, but never idolatry.
And it is here that we rest from our work, knowing that we are working—in all things—for the Lord and not for the approval of men (Col. 3:23).
ABOUT GREG: Greg serves as an elder and family ministries pastor at Foothills Church and as the assistant editor of Manual for CBMW. He and his lovely wife, Grace, live in Knoxville, TN with their 2 children–Cora and Iver.
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