Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide?

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Work. Family. Church. Hobbies. Physical fitness. Housekeeping. Socializing. Fitting everything in is a delicate balancing act where something¡ªor someone¡ªis inevitably overlooked. The problem, writes author Andy Stanley, is not a lack of discipline or time management¡ªit¡¯s simply lack of time. With only 24 hours in each day, we sometimes need to ¡°rob Peter to pay Paul.¡± We have to choose to cheat.

The key is learning when and where to cheat, argues Stanley, and home is never the right choice. When we cheat our family, we say, you are important, but work (or football, or shopping, or whatever occupies your time) is more important. We are, in a sense, devaluing each other. It may mean coming home from work an hour earlier, letting the dishes sit while you play with your child, or missing a round of golf. But your ¡°cheating¡± will express security and worth to your family.

Customer Reviews:

  • book
    Great book. Came better than described as far as condition of book. Would buy from seller again. ...more info
  • Small practical book with large implications for your daily decision making
    This book is small, and short. I picked it up and read it in two days, in about three short sittings. The size belies its value, though. Stanley makes the case that we all -- men, women, parents, career managers and stay-at-home moms -- cheat something. We cheat our family by choosing to work long hours instead of spending time with them. We cheat our churches by bailing because of a big weekend project. We even, in rare cases, cheat our jobs to spend more time at home with our family... usually in a time of crisis.

    Stanley's premise is that since we'll always cheat something -- there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything -- we should CHOOSE to cheat our work. By cheating, he means prioritize our families, in very specific and tangible ways. He spends a lot of time talking about how you then have to work harder, more efficiently, and even effectively at work. In fact, most people (myself included) become more effective when we "cheat" work, as we have to do more in less time...more info
  • "Choosing..." brings reader to decision one way or the other.
    This is a good as well as a challenging read.

    The choice before those of us trying to "prioritize our time" is made clearly and succinctly. We can follow a lot of pathways in our rationale, but they still lead to the same crossroad. There is no "non-choice" option. One will come away from the book having made their decision.

    Stanley provides the information necessary to make sure that decision is the right one.

    This book has turned around the heads and the lives of many and will continue to do so. It demands a response....more info
  • Poorly treated subject.
    Although the main point of this small book has value and, needs to be addressed by all people (Christian or not), this particular treatment is fairly useless.

    We are all indeed overburdened by our work and family life, and will lean more heavily to one extreme in attempting the impossible task of "getting everything done that needs to get done."
    That being said, and an obvious point, this book's style is so diluted and simple that it could be played as background chatter in a dentist office. There is no theology here, no strong Biblical support. Rather, you will find here cute anecdotes, colorless stories and dinner table pabulum at a low budget counseling seminar. These are not deep Biblical truths, but cheap examples of popular pseudo-psychology.

    If you search for theological and biblically rooted evidence, this is not the book for you. If on the other hand you chew on Lucado and Osteen for your daily Scriptural diet, then this book should fill your bookshelf beautifully.
    ...more info
  • Good idea, bad book
    The message of this book is simple - if your family is your priority, do not accidentally sacrifice it for your work, chose your family and then act on that choice even if it means sacrificing work. Unfortunately, while the message is great, the book is poorly written. In essence, it is a poorly organized sermon where the pastor has no time limit. The book teaches very little, presents very few insights, and glosses over most of the important issues that support the message. The obligatory three point outline for the sermon doesn't show up until the last three or four chapters. Instead, the book tries to feel the reader into understanding or agreeing with the message.

    The book also gets caught up in the cheating idea rather than focusing on the message. The author redefines cheating instead of using English words with meanings we understand already, but for no good reason. As a result, the redefined cheating is not cheating at all, but the author still fashioned the book around this concept to the detriment of clear communication of the message. It is as though the marketing took over the book.

    In short, the book is an example of poor communication with a catchy title....more info
  • great book
    Insightful, easy to read and what a super TITLE. really makes you think and want to prioritize.
    It has been passed around to many friends - finally had to buy another copy. ...more info
  • I Pledge Allegiance to My Boss
    Andy Stanley writes, "Following the principles of God results in the blessings of God." The author's dad, Charles Stanley, says, "God doesn't reveal His will for our consideration. He reveals it for our participation." This may be your most important book purchase of the year--for yourself or your team members.

    Do you pledge allegiance to your boss? Andy Stanley says that "your Creator does not define your life by your career achievements or the neatness of your pantry." Writing to both stay-at-home parents and spouses in the workplace, Stanley says you must cheat on your work if you're going to win at home. (Read the book for his definition on "cheating.") He once admonished a struggling fast track executive, "the problem is, you love your family in your heart, but you don't love them in your schedule. And they can't see your heart."

    When you read this book, you'll never, ever think of Daniel without recalling Stanley's commentary. "Daniel's choice of diet was an indication of where he placed his loyalty. For us, the chief indicator is time. Daniel's loyalty was tested by what he ate. Ours is tested by what we put on our calendars. Where you spend your time is an indication of where your loyalties lie. In effect, you pledge your allegiance to the person or thing that receives your time."

    There are lots of books on balancing work and family. This one is different. It's not a guilt trip. Instead, it's a simple, thoughtful, Christ-centered process to help couples dig deep and ask themselves two or three really tough questions.

    Stanley adds, "No where in Scripture are you commanded to lay down your life for your stock options. Or to love your career like Christ loved the church. We are instructed to do our jobs and love our families (see Colossians 3:23). When you love your job and do your family, you've not only stepped outside the bounds of family life, you have stepped outside the will of God."

    ...more info
  • Great Book. Must Read for Workaholics.
    Reading this book has changed my perspective on how I've been living my life. I've fooled myself into believing that I needed to make work my priority in order to make sure my family's life would be safe and secure. I was wrong. If you work too much, please read this book....more info
  • Must Read - Simple and Profound
    I first heard Andy teach on this subject over a year ago. It's a life-changing and necessary book, and I don't know any family that couldn't benefit from its message.

    "Choosing to Cheat" is built on the premise that everyone cheats somewhere - there aren't enough hours for everything. Tragically, it's easier to cheat our families than than to cheat at work. Andy not only tells us why we should cheat at work; he also tells us how. Ironically, cheating at work can make us more productive.

    I needed to read this message again, because it's always easy to return to old habits. Highly recommended....more info

  • Good secular advice, bad Biblical advice
    Andy Stanley is the senior pastor at North Point Community Church in suburban Atlanta. From his years of shepherding God's people in Atlanta and from his own life, he realizes that workaholism is a serious and growing problem among many American men (and not a few women as well). The effects of workaholism that Stanley primarily concerns himself with is its effect on the family. Loneliness, tears, strained relationships, the rebellion of children, arguments, and divorce are just some of the negative impacts excessive working can have on a family. In "Choosing to Cheat," Stanley shows the reader the dangers of keeping constantly excessive work hours, then provides encouragement and advice for changing this habit.

    In the first part of this book, Stanley's focus is on diagnosing the problem. His main arguments are that a) every person is limited to 24 hours in a day and must daily choose how to invest that time b) many men, out of a sense of obligation and attracted by the admiration of co-workers, choose to invest an excessive amount of their time working, c) all those vying for a person's attention directly correlate the amount of time spent with them to the amount he cares about them (e.g. if I spend a lot of time with my dog, it shows that my dog is very important to me; if I spend just a little time with my child, it shows my child is comparatively unimportant), d) because a man's family deeply desires his acceptance, they are willing to put up with great stress so that he can pursue work, and e) there will come a point in time when the individual members of the family can no longer take the stress of an absent father and will simply give up on him; while this shift occurs suddenly, it is preceded by many warning signs. The tone of this section is emotional as Stanley attempts to shock the reader into WANTING to change.

    The second part of this book provides advice and encouragement for cutting down on the hours at work and spending more time with the family. Using the Biblical account of Daniel as a model, Stanley advises the reader to 1) figure out what concrete things are non-negotiable and devise a new work schedule to honor those non-negotiable points, 2) calmly ask your employer if your job could accommodate these points, 3) prepare yourself to endure potential consequences of this request, 4) be prepared for God to be active in the midst of this change.

    The book contains an appendix of discussion questions based on each chapter.

    Stanley certainly provides sound secular advice. He correctly analyzes and presents a societal/cultural problem. He is further correct in his urging men and women to allow their primary (yet not sole) loyalty be to their family. He states truth when he points out that there exist thousands of people who can do your job better than you, but there is nobody who can take your place in your family. Stanley understands the positive benefits the family will enjoy if the family members are each dedicated to one another, and he gives sound advice for approaching your employer about changing your schedule. If he would have stuck with these points, his book would have been much better.

    But Stanley goes too far. A major premise of Stanley's book is that God promises to bless a person who re-prioritizes his life in such a way that family takes precedence over work. Nowhere does God make such a promise. Although Stanley relies heavily upon the account of Daniel, but the Bible's account of Daniel is DESCRIPTIVE, not PRESCRIPTIVE. In truth, Stanley buys into the popular (on television at least) "health, wealth, and prosperity gospel." That is to say, Stanley argues that if a person aligns his life to conform with God's will, he will enjoy earthly blessings. To be more specific to this book, Stanley argues that if you give up wealth and career advancement for the sake of your family, God will bless you with MORE wealth and a BETTER career than that which was given up. There is no Biblical support for this--in Scripture or in "Choosing to Cheat." Aside from that, even assuming that his (false) premise is true, why would he want to focus on the "fringe benefits" of Christian living as opposed to the ultimate reward for faith? The true reward God gives us for the gift of faith, is forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation; a promotion at work pales in comparison.

    In short, Stanley presents good a good paradigm for aligning values (e.g. family above career) and assists the reader in lining up his life with those values. This book is especially helpful for those caught in workaholism and is primarily geared toward men. However, the underlying premise, that God will materially bless you for realigning your priorities is not necessarily true; He may or He may not. Neither recommended nor not recommended. ...more info
  • Necessary and straight to the point challenge!
    Stanley draws a very clear line in the sand that we should not be willing to cross for the sake of our families. We're never done with work or family, so one of them is going to get cheated. It's important for you to make the choice of which one so it is not made for you. This book is tremendously motivational and practical....more info
  • Don't let the title mislead you
    This is a must read for anyone with a family, especially fathers. In this book, Andy teaches about the balance that we believe exists between work and home. Many workers today are working for some distant goal and putting their families on hold for the future - and they are missing out.
    He talks about the principle that God called us to be part of our family and we can not be replaced in that unit, so we should not give priority to our job, where we can be replaced. When all is said and done, our family will still exist, or job will not.
    He eloquently put into words a teaching that I have been wanting the people of my church to hear for years....more info