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Should I work away from home?

January 23, 2015

oil patch worker picA challenge facing some of my friends in Alberta over the past few years has been the question, “Should I take this job which pays very well, even though it will require me to be away from my wife & kids for extended periods of time?” Some families have chosen to live in a town with a slower pace of life and work in the oil patch (or related industries) a few hours from “home base” on a rotation of 10 days away, 5 days home or 2 weeks out at work, one week home. Others have chosen to live in a small town and commute to the city, leaving before 7:00 am in the morning and getting home around 6:00 pm. They would be the first to agree that money is not a goal in life, and yet this is the only full-time employment they can find that actually pays a living wage for family.

Again, I don’t believe there is a black and white answer to this question. There are definitely some factors to consider and some intentional priorities that will require planning so that a parent, especially a dad, does not neglect his/her disciple-making role.

  • Is this a short-term (less than one year) arrangement or longer?
  • What age are the children?
  • What level of parental involvement can the other partner offer?
  • How will you plan to maintain involvement with each family member while away? while home?
  • I know when my dad was away from home travelling throughout Western Canada representing a non-profit organization, he made an effort to call home every night and anyone could talk to him if so desired. With 6 kids, the possibility existed for AGT (before they became Telus) to get rich from our family. Yet that was one way my parents decided my dad’s work responsibilities were not going to interrupt his role as a dad.
    Note: A vocational ministry role that requires extensive time away from family is really no different… it probably just means you have a little less money as a side benefit!

This post is part of a larger series series answering questions related to God-centered priorities (a topic I was privileged to speak on recently at the Prairie Tabernacle Congregation) including How much money should I give to God? and Should I vacation in Hawaii?

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