The following is adapted from Grant’s book “Work–Life Harmony.”
I recently asked my oldest daughter, Cambria, to write a letter about what she thinks I do at work and how that ties in with what life is about. Here’s what she wrote:
“My dad’s job is to love people through finances. Sometimes I don’t always understand what his job is but he always tells me that “life is about others and what do we do with others…love” so he told me that is what he does at work. I do know my dad helps people with money and gives them wise advice about what to do with their money. Also, he helps them to give, save, and spend.”
She may have said things differently than I would have, but this is her authentic take on what I do and what life is about. It is a real-life example of what it looks like to invite your family and your work into your purpose. This letter is straight from Cambria’s heart, and I’m very proud of her. She is currently 12 years old, and I’m proud of how she’s able to articulate herself and that she’s willing and able to communicate my purpose at work and with our family. I’m proud of her confidence and that she knows what life is about. She also wrote that she doesn’t always understand what I do, and that’s perfectly okay.
Connecting your work and your family to your purpose doesn’t mean that your family understands exactly how you do what you do; it means that your family knows why you do what you do and, as a result, what they need to do to support you.
Connecting your work and family to your purpose helps keep your family united and in sync. Because my daughter knows how my work connects to our family purpose, she has grace for me in the times when I have to work a lot and get home late at night. On days when I have a particularly full workload, she might take time to snuggle with me a little extra and ask me questions about what’s going on at work to make sure I’m doing okay. Cambria has this level of understanding—as do our other two children—because my wife and I are very intentional about connecting my work purpose with our family purpose. We have a lot of conversations around this. From the time our kids were young, I never said, “Sorry, Daddy has to go to work,” in a sad, apologetic tone. I never talk about work like it’s something getting in the way of spending time with my wife and children.I always talk about work as an opportunity to serve and love other people. When I’m walking out the door in the morning, I say something like, “Guess what, guys? I have the opportunity to serve and love people through their finances. I’m going to help so many people today.” I’m also candid when I have a tough day, sharing with my kids that I feel like I didn’t do a good job or why it was hard. I’ve even said, “If I’m honest with you, I don’t feel like going to work today. But I know it’s the right thing to do. I need to go and love people through finances, because if I don’t then this (negative thing) will happen.” The conversations are very intentional, to show who I get to love through finances because that ties to our family’s purpose of loving others.
Inviting your family and your work into your purpose doesn’t have to mean holding a grand inquisition meeting with your family. It’s not you grandstanding and telling your spouse and kids, “Okay, guys, here’s what we’re going to do from now on.” It takes multiple back-and-forth conversations. I’ve found that the best conversations tend to happen at mealtimes when we’re all sitting around the dinner table and talking. That means being intentional about mealtimes, making them about more than filling your body with nutrients; much more than that, mealtime can be a community event to bring your family closer together.
When you are asked “How was your day?” or ask it of others, be intentional about the answers. When my family asks me about my day, I tell them the actions I took to help love people through their finances—or I explain what happened in my workday that prevented me from doing that, and why it was frustrating or challenging. When I ask my kids about their day, I ask follow-up questions based on what they say to tie it into our family purpose. I might say, “Ellenie, beautiful job loving others today,” or, “Hey, Parker, it sounds like you’re having a tough situation with your friends. Any ideas of how you could maybe love them better tomorrow?”
Take the natural conversation that happens at the dinner table and, instead of keeping it at the surface level, create a conversation that has a bigger impact focused around your purpose. This is what takes your purpose from just being words on paper or painted on the wall to actually putting it into action. This is how we live it out.
Of course, really living in your purpose takes more than words; it takes action. The conversation is just where it starts, and it has to be consistent. You also want to create opportunities for your family to experience your work environment. I realize that is easier for some people than others, but if you have an office, create situations where your kids can come in with you and learn something about what you do there.
Don’t make it uncomfortable, where kids aren’t welcome or can’t touch anything for fear of breaking it. If you are able to, make your work space comfortable for your family to come by and visit you. Whenever they do visit, make them the stars. Don’t make them feel like an inconvenience to you, even if you’re on a phone call or in a meeting. Don’t shame them for interrupting. Let them see or hear you talking with your customer or client. If necessary, take a moment to tell them, “Hey, bud, I’m on the phone right now, and this conversation is going to help me love people through finances. We’re talking about how Mr. Doe can align his investment portfolio with his values. I’ll be off the phone in a few minutes and we can talk about whatever you want.” Moments like this let you share your purpose and explain why what you’re doing is so important, rather than just saying, “I’m on the phone.”
Invite your work into your purpose as well. At my company, Stewardship, encouraging families to come in and feel comfortable is part of our company’s culture. In our benefits section, it’s clearly stated that “Your kids are welcome here.” And that’s not just something we say. If someone brings their kids into work, they’ll often find me down on the ground playing with them or challenging them to video games.
If you want to see one of the most powerful results of inviting your family into your work purpose, my son told me that he wants to work Stewardship when he grows up. I didn’t tell him that’s what he should do—or even that he could work at Stewardship—that’s just what he wants because he’s seen the impact we have. That’s the power of connecting every part of your life to your purpose.
For more advice on how to unite your family and invite them into your purpose, you can find Work–Life Harmony on Amazon.
Husband, Dad, and Sun Valley Community Church student ministry volunteer. A Finance Expert and Founder of Stewardship. Christian Ministries major from Arizona Christian University and bestselling author.