Should A Father Give Up His Career for His Children?

“How does a father provide for his children when his [ex] wife abandoned him? She returned to live with her mother. She took the kids without the father’s consent. Both the children and husband were deceived. She did not leave her parents and cleave to her husband, who moved the family, so he could best provide for his family. She didn’t like moving from her mother, and returned to her, thus abandoning and taking the children. My question is, does he pick-up from his stable career and leave his job, which provides for his children, to find employment near his children? He is struggling because he can better provide in an area where affluent jobs are abundant. Whereas if he returns to the area where his children, he is forced to find employment well below his earning potential (very rural America). What does God want the father to do? Is it more important for the father to be present in the children’s lives or more critical for him to be the provider for his children? Her abandonment turned the family upside down. Now the husband is being forced to make decisions, as the leader, to return to an area where gainful employment is scarce. There was no abuse, gambling, etc. from the husband. Please advise with relevant scripture, so that I do God’s will, not mine.”

This comment was recently sent to me by a man calling himself Darrin.

The sad reality of a post-feminist world is that the scales are massively tilted toward women.  Our modern society no longer recognizes a man’s God given ownership over his wife and his children.  So, in this sin-cursed and upside-down world what is a Christian man to do? Below is my answer to Darrin and other good men who face this type of wicked situation.

Should You Give Up Your Career for Your Children?

The first thing you need to do is focus on is why God created you.  The purpose for your creation as a male human being is shown in the Scripture below:

“7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

1 Corinthians 11:7-9 (KJV)

You were created by God to image him and thereby bring him glory. Your masculine human nature is meant to picture God’s nature.  And one of the ways you image God is in your career.

A Man’s Career Is A Defining Aspect of His Masculinity

 Your competitiveness and your desire to make your mark on the world in your career is part of the masculine image of God within you.  The Bible says the following things about a man and his work:

“Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.”

Psalm 104:23 (KJV)

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.”

Psalm 22:29 (KJV)

“Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.”

Ecclesiastes 5:18 (KJV)

“Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.”

Proverbs 24:27 (KJV)

A man’s career is a defining aspect of who is he is as a man.  That is why the first thing men ask each other is “What do you do for a living?”  Our careers as men define us.  They give us something to strive for, something to be diligent in and compete in.  But they also give us the ability to do something else that is crucial for us as men.  Our careers give us the ability to provide for our families.

I know the couple times I have been laid off from my job were some of the most miserable times in my life.  As men it hurts us to our core when we cannot properly provide for our families.  And that is by God’s design that we are so driven in this area.

Our provision as men for our wives and our children pictures God’s provision as a husband to his wife and as a father to his children as seen in the following Scriptures:

“For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church”

Ephesians 5:29 (KJV)

“9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

Mark 7:9-11 (KJV)

It is not the man who is called to be a keeper at home, but rather the woman

It is not your place as a man to spend the vast majority of your time in your home or with your children.  God has given that role to women.

“4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

Titus 2:4-5 (KJV)

A man is called to rule over and teach his children, not spend all his time with children:

“One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity”

1 Timothy 3:4 (KJV)

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

Ephesians 6:4 (KJV)

Conclusion

Darrin, you can still be a presence and have a relationship with your children without physically being there all the time with them.  I have known some men in your same situation, the wife took the kids back to the home state and the father could not leave the state he was in or they would all be impoverished.     So, these men see their kids for 4 weeks in the summer and fly to see them a few times in between like around Christmas and other holidays.  But here is the very important part.  While they are not physically with their children, they are regularly, multiple times a week calling them on their phone and doing video calls with them. 

And in this way, they are able to talk with their children about their daily lives and pour spiritual advice into their lives.  They also regularly send their children gifts and make sure they are properly provided for.

For mothers the quantity of time in their children’s life is crucial especially at a young age.  But for fathers it is not the quantity, but rather the quality of the time spent with their children that is so crucial. 

A woman’s mission from God is her husband, her children and her home.  But for a man, his wife, his children and his home are only a part of his larger mission.

The Scriptures tell us in 1 Corinthians 11:9 “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man” and in Psalm 127:3 we read “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward”.    

You as a male human being were NOT made for your wife or your children.  You were made for God to bring him glory by imaging him with your life (1 Corinthians 11:7).

So, the answer to your dilemma is you continue in your career where you are while at the same time using all your available resources to have as much of a presence as possible, even if virtual, in the lives of your children.

8 thoughts on “Should A Father Give Up His Career for His Children?

  1. Whenever this subject comes up, and its often over how horrible a job a man does of being a father because his work keeps him away from his family, I recall the movie “In the Heart of the Sea”. The movie recounts the story of the tale the book Moby Dick was derived from and in it Chris Hemsworth plays a ship captain for a boat full of men hunting whale for oil. At the beginning of the film we find him readying to leave his pregnant wife for the sea – FOR TWO YEARS BEFORE HIS RETURN. Yes, when he does finally return his nearly two year old daughter has never even seen her father, yet his wife does not complain and fuss with him, its just part of life. In modern times we think nothing of being able to drive an hour or so away from home for work, only to return at the end of the day, but this is a convenience that is fairly new to the world, as I have little doubt many men had to travel long distances for days or weeks in order to get work.

  2. In today’s society the more often asked question is “Should a women give up her children for her career?” Sadly abortion and daycare arose to facilitate the answer in the affirmative.

  3. My husband has been more absent than present in our marriage due to his job. I am quite used to solo parenting and have learned to do household repairs and other typically male chores. It wasn’t too much of a problem when the children were younger, but now that our sons are becoming young men, we both see how detrimental it is for him to not be as present in their lives. They need men, not mommies. They begin to resent me if I am the prime parent.

    Unfortunately, a promotion will take him away from us, again, but such is providing for his family.

  4. Darrin, I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. I wish you had given more information. It seems like there’s some crucial information missing. I’m going to assume that your children are fairly young (pre-teen or younger). It is generally better to be a more present, average provider than it is to be a rarely present, above-average provider. By that I mean children don’t equate stuff for love unless they’re spoiled. They’re smarter than that. There really is not substitution for being there.
    Too many men kid themselves into thinking they are better fathers than they really are because they make more money to be “better providers.” The best providers aren’t necessarily the ones who make the most money. And a father is more than a provider. A father is also a protector, pastor/teacher, and counselor among other things.
    Is it possible that you are putting too much emphasis on money? Read Luke 12:13-34. You say you want the best job to be a provider for your children, but that can often be a facade. “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15.
    Sure, the big city may offer more money, but it comes at a price. You can make 150k in LA or NY and have a lower quality of life than if you made 50k in Mississippi or Kansas. Things aren’t always as they seem.
    Again, there’s a lot missing from your story, but these are thoughts I had as a dad who has reared 3 children to young adulthood and has sometimes had my priorities wrong. The one thing I will say is that I wouldn’t trade any of the time I had with them to make a few more bucks. Rather I wish I had spent more time with them. And from what I understand that is a far more common sentiment among fathers than wishing they had worked harder and made more money. They aren’t young for long, and time is more precious than money.

  5. Wiscot,

    He makes this clear “How does a father provide for his children when his [ex] wife abandoned him? She returned to live with her mother. She took the kids without the father’s consent. Both the children and husband were deceived. She did not leave her parents and cleave to her husband, who moved the family, so he could best provide for his family. She didn’t like moving from her mother, and returned to her, thus abandoning and taking the children”. He moved her and the children away for his career. His wife did not like it, took the children in act of trickery back to her mother and divorced him. Now she lives in her mother’s area with his children as his ex-wife and she wants him to do what he would not do when they were married and move back as the ex-husband to be closer to his children.

    This is complete and utter wickedness on her part which I would hope we could agree upon. What we are going respectfully disagree on is how does a man handle this type of wicked and sinful action on the part of his now ex-wife.

    In an ideal situation do I think it is best for fathers to have a regular and daily presence in the lives of their children especially as they are teenagers? You bet I do. And there is plenty of evidence to show crime rates increasing with teens that don’t have a father in their life. And I am so thankful to God that he did enable me to work from home as a software developer consultant for many years now. Even with my divorce, this enabled me to see my children every weekend and I have a close relationship with each of them.

    However, I believe it is false, absolutely false, to maintain that a father must be physically present on a daily basis otherwise his children will go astray. I know many godly men, whether they be in the military, trucking business or others that may not see their children for weeks or months at a time. But they maintain regular contact with their children through other means like letters, phone calls and now face-time and skyping.

    The Scriptures tell us in 1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known”. We don’t get to see our heavenly father face to face right now. Right now God has given us letters in the form of the Bible. And he speaks to us through his Holy Spirit and through Preachers and teachers of the Word. He is present with us in spirit, even though we are not physically in his glorifed presense as we will be one day. And a father can have this same type of relationship with his children if he is intentional about it.

    I am not saying that greed never plays a role, or that some men don’t go overboard in their work.

    In today’s world, we hear people all the time telling men that they should not find their purpose in their work or being providers, but only in being a husband to their wife and father to their children. And in most cases today because the feminist influence in our society when they say things like this, the truth is usually the opposite of what they are saying. A man’s purpose is to image God with his life, and his images God in three primary ways. One is in his work, the second is as a husband and the third is as a father.

    The question then is which of these three areas come first? And the answer is it depends on the situation. Most days a man’s work must come first. One of many reasons his work must come first is because if he does not do well in his job he will not be able to provide for his family. But some days his wife comes first. Her needs may supercede the concerns of his job on that. Another day, one of his children’s needs may come first. This is a grave responsiblity that God has given to us a men to make these kinds of determinations on a daily basis.

    We must remember this principle. God did create us as men for our children. He gave us our children as gifts to whom we have a temporary stewardship over as we prepare them to be a spouse one day. He did not create us as men for our wives, but rather he created our wives for us. The Biblical truth is that God created us as men to image him and thereby bring him glory(1 Corinthians 11:7). And that means having a career, being a husband and being father. All three must be done to the best of our ability.

    Some men need to be better fathers. Some men need to be better husbands. And some men need to be better providers. I have known of some men who spent all kinds of time with their wives and children living in squalor working their 40 hour a week job making just barely enough to feed their family when they had the opportunity to work 60 hours a week and take their families out of poverty, but they refuse with “I don’t want to be away from my family that much” – really? Such a man needs a kick in the rear end. Men throughout history have typically worked sun up to sun down but now if a man has to work over 40 a week to care for his family that is too much? I think not.

  6. BGR,
    It appears that you inferred that I place all the blame on Darrin for what happened. That’s not the case. I thoroughly read the scenario and fully agree that his wife has committed an egregious error against God, Darrin, her children, herself, and everyone involved.
    In fact, originally I had a couple of sentences in there originally concerning his wife’s actions and the difficulty it put him in. But I removed them because they just seemed to be superfluous and my post was becoming too long. Perhaps that was a mistake.
    Regardless, his question is about how to move forward from where he is, so that was my primary focus. The direction of what you wrote and the other comments all seemed to point in the direction of him staying where he is and continuing his current career (really his current job). I simply wanted to add a different perspective because there’s a ditch on either side of every road.
    When I said that there wasn’t enough information, I meant that we have no idea what his career is or where he and his children are geographically. I didn’t mean we don’t know what his general family situation is or who was right or wrong. But yesterday is gone and he can’t change that. All he can do is move forward today and make the best of a broken situation.
    Thankfully, God is a Redeemer who is an expert at taking brokenness and turning it around for His glory and our good. Praise His Name!
    In counseling I go through a certain progression as I deal with a situation. There are three areas to address with every counseling situation. The first and most important is the Bible, the second is the person’s heart, and the third is the circumstances. All three of these need to line up for there to be good counsel. The Bible is the only one of these which is unchanging. It is the straight line or plumb line. So the goal is to allow our hearts to be shaped by it through the work of the Holy Spirit. Then we can respond to our circumstances properly.
    What I was doing was checking on Darrin’s heart. Though there wasn’t much information, there was enough to pose the question I did, which I did gently as possible. I was asking not telling. It isn’t for me to judge. That’s for Darrin and God to work out.
    None of us can change the heart of another person. All of us are responsible for our own heart before God. God is more concerned with our hearts than our actions. That doesn’t mean He doesn’t care about our actions. It means He sees beyond the actions to our hearts. We can’t always tell if an action is right or wrong because we can’t see the heart. But God always judges rightly because He sees and weighs our hearts.

  7. I like your articles on these topics because they bring up the Bible. But I looked deeper into this and studied it. The phrase keeper at home can also be found in Habakkuk 2:5 where it is a WICKED man who does not keep at home. This implies that the good man also should keep at home home and the things mentioned in Titus 2 do not need to be an exclusive list of requirements. If it is an exclusive list ONLY for women then that means men don’t have to be good, sober or love their children either, which are the other things mentioned. Discreet and chaste seem to be the only things exclusively to women since they are mentioned other places.

    Deuteronomy 6:7 mentions how you should teach your children not just in the morning when you are rushing to work or at evening but ALSO “when thou walkest by the way”.

    There are some who teach that we men should work MORE than 8 hours a day with strangers, excluding the time for long commutes back and forth from the master’s/boss’ work place to their homes. If that is the case then the children are practically and de facto raised by a single mom. A mom completely alone at home with no man to protect her or direct her for the majority of the day. You cannot rule your children when you barely know what is going on in your home most of the day and worse yet if your children are in school being taught weird philosophies.

    To me it sounds like a dumb limited way of interpreting from the Bible how we should live. It sounds more like some 1950’s fantasy, where in reality fathers in the 50’s barely had any influence at home coming home tired and not able to tend to family matters much at all. Sons aspired to be like TV cowboys, not like their fathers and the 60’s was a reaction to the 50’s. Obviously something went very wrong in child rearing during the 50’s.

    The ideal system is more like the 1800’s with family farms. Same way in ancient near eastern and often times still modern cultures, where the grandfather and grandmother all lived together with their adult married sons and their wives with little children (called a patrilocal household), and they all worked for the family farm or business (in modern times it can be restaurants or shops for example). And within THIS structure there were divisions of labor between the genders. Yes, the mothers tended more to nursing little children because of breast feeding and so on, but they could also do administrative things or such. And the father was more close to his children, with his older sons working for him, later to inherit the business. Inheritances are basically non-existant in western capitalist individualist societies.

    I think it is a SICK system that preaches for doctrines the commandments of men that men should actively go far away from home for the majority of the day and leave women and children ALONE in the house and go spend time with complete strangers (often ungodly non-Christians).

    Mark 3:27: “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.”

    Well, in the current system taught by “traditionalist” Christians the enemy doesn’t even need to bind the strong man of the house. Because the strong man was required to be 20 miles away from home with strangers!

  8. @SnapperTrx,

    That was not representative of most families. These were often dirt poor people looking for a way to get rich. There are still people in places like the Philippines or India whwre about 5-10% of the population leave the spouse and children to work in Saudi Arabia or some place far away to give their children a chance in life. Sadly, the result is often adultery because they are away from each other for years and even decades! In the 1800’s like in the movie you mentioned those who were not dirt poor atleast had a family farm where the whole family worked together or near each other the whole day long. Atleast this was the case many places in the early 1800’s before urbanization and industrialization really kicked in. The biblical system in Leviticus 25 provided every family an inherited land plot which went back to the lineage every 50 years in case a family became poor and had to sell the land and seek servitude somewhere instead to survive. Today in capitalist individualist societies very few have family businesses, so most men work for strangers. It has only become convenient and wealthy enough in those societies for nobody to question this societal arrangement of a lack of family structured labor. But if 90% were also dirt poor (if for example all worker rights and minimum wages were dropped) people would start to wake up that this is not a good system.

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