Life is simpler when you live where you worship and work where you live. Geographically separating these three strands of life introduces all sorts of complications that take a great deal of common sense and godly wisdom to untangle. Instead of arbitrarily settling on work or home or church to be the center of your life, or choosing on the basis of convenience or high-minded principles, Proverbs 27:23 encourages us to “know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds.”
The people in your household matter most. If they are flourishing even in the wild ride of military life, for example, then praise God. If they are suffering even though you work from home and church is a block away, then you need to be willing to abandon the principle for the sake of the people.
How Do You Decide Where to Live?
But as you consider these big-picture variables in your home environment, evaluating them involves answering a great many questions about the particular people in your home, how they relate to one another and the world, and what they need most at the different stages of a family’s life. Here are just a few:
Life circumstances—You need to ask what your family needs most. Are you new to the Christian life or spiritually starving? Finding a church needs to be a big deal to you. Is your life filled with little children? Those first few years are crucially formative. Be home more, out on the road less. Are you deeply in debt? Finding lucrative work that will enable you to meet your obligations needs to rise up the priority ladder. Are you desperate for true Christian community life and friendships during the week? Live in the middle of other godly families, even if it means driving a little longer to worship and work.
Family culture—Is your family out and about all the time, or are you more home-centered? If the family drives to eight or ten events during the week, where you live matters more than if you only go out a couple times a week. Would it be better for you to live close to family, church members, or good friends who will be able to provide support to your family during the week while you’re at work? Then plant your family near support, and commute to work. Does your family need you to be home sooner, giving more of what only Daddy can provide? Live near your work, and put in the extra drive time for relationships and events outside the home. It’s different for different families, and different at different stages of family life, so you need to know who you are as a family.
Church involvement—What’s been your pattern of church involvement? What do you want it to be? If your only trip to the church meeting place happens once a week, then nearness to the building isn’t that important. But if your building serves as a hub for community life, service, and schooling as well as Sunday worship, then living closer ought to be more of a priority. Where does church life happen? Be there.
Personalities—As a matter of personality, not godliness (and you need to be able to make that distinction!) is your wife a road warrior who thinks nothing of loading kids up and heading off to shop or visit, or are outings exhausting tribulations for all involved? Are you the punctual kind of guy who leaves like clockwork at the end of the day, or are you more task oriented, leaving when the job or the to-do list is done? Does your family go with the flow, or does a schedule save the day? Issues of personality aren’t sufficient to build a life around, but knowing your family proclivities and cutting with the grain can go a long way in easing daily stress and cultivating a peaceful home.
Making these life-shaping decisions well means living out wise principles in light of the realities of proximity and personality. Focusing on knowing your people, what makes them tick, and where they flourish is at the heart of providing for your household. Jobs, churches, and houses, come and go, but the souls in your family will last into eternity. Let loving them guide your decisions about how to live the good life.
See part 1 of this article HERE.