Do you have any regrets as you look back on your life?
I regret that I didn't spend more time with my family; I'm sure Ruth and the children paid a heavy price for all the times I was absent. I always tell younger evangelists not to feel like they have to accept every invitation they get, or be absent from home so much. We can do so much today through modern communications.
And then I also wish I had studied more, and spent more time in prayer.
Here's how they all go: 1) Phase One: I pushed hard and became a recognized expert in my field and/or rich and famous, 2) Phase Two: I had a crisis of some kind, such as sickness, accident or loss, 3) Phase Three: I discover that what really matters is family, helping others, and, if Christian, digging deeper into the basics of the faith.
And this is how it goes for us, twenty-something, thirty-something, family guys: 1) Phase One: Read book, 2) Phase Two: Get convicted and make all sorts of Edwardian vows and resolutions, 3) Phase Three: Fail to be both an upwardly mobile career-person and a dedicated husband and father, 4) Phase Four: Focus on the career...Arrive at the top...Write book. See paragraph above.
Guys, let's stop it. If the oldest and wisest of us repeatedly advise us to prioritize our families, our prayer lives, our time in the word...guess what we should be doing? So, let's do it. And they don't count as real priorities if you don't prioritize them in your schedule.
Whatever your career, you are first called to God in Christ. That's calling Number One. Then, if you're married, you are called to your spouse. That's calling Number Two. Then, if you have children, you are called to raise your children. That's calling Number Three. THEN, whatever your career, you are called to that next. That's calling Number Four. And this order especially holds true if your career is vocational ministry.
Jesus says something like this, right? The guy...he gains the whole world...he loses... We don't want to be the book writer who's plowed through wives and kids and sits alone atop his accolades and accomplishments, or even just his cabin and ATV.
People everywhere are dying to learn what it means to be a Human, to be a Friend, to follow Jesus. Men and Ministers, we don't show them by copying them. Let's copy Jesus.