Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Absent Without Leave

In the same way, a husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself. A husband who loves his wife shows that he loves himself.

-- Ephesians 5:28

Employees call it playing hooky, taking a mental hygiene break or simply calling in sick. Their employers, however, call it absenteeism: those occasions when employees don’t show up at work because of illness, injury, scheduled time away or any other reason. But whatever you call it, absenteeism is costly. Studies from the Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics say direct annual losses exceed $40 billion.

That’s an eye-opener. But human resources professionals actually face a problem with a much higher price tag. Presenteeism occurs when employees come to work when they’re sick or otherwise unable to perform to their usual standards. They’re technically on the job. But they really shouldn’t be. After all, sick employees can compound the issue by infecting their co-workers, customers and even clients. Annual loss estimates from presenteeism in the United States reach $250 billion!

These losses are astounding. But did you know there’s another type of presenteeism that’s even more devastating? It’s not an illness spread through a corporate office building or passed behind the counters of a fast food restaurant. Instead, it’s a common affliction found in homes across America that damages and destroys relationships and tempts families to turn away from God.

It’s a sin called passivity. Not to be confused with laziness, passivity often appears in men who come home from the office each day and use the TV, Internet or computer games to tune out their spouse and children. They’re at home. But they’re not really there when their loved ones need them the most.

It’s easy to see how this activity (or lack thereof) can corrode personal relationships. But to God, it’s even worse. That’s because He calls Christ-following men to lead their households, love their wives and raise their children in His holy ways.

Domestic passivity is hardly a benign problem. And make no mistake: the devil is behind it. Satan knows that he can take over the home if he can take out the husband. And when husbands abdicate their responsibilities and abandon their families, the lasting societal damage is enormous.

It’s a serious illness that calls for strong spiritual medicine. First, men must recognize their sin and repent of it. And then through prayer – preferably with their spouse – they must seek God’s forgiveness through Jesus and the strength to once again lead their households in His ways.

The Old Testament hero Joshua addressed the issue this way:

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living, he told the Israelites. “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

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