I read a book a while ago and came across a quote that struck me to the heart and got me thinking.
The book is Mud, Sweat, and Tears: The Autobiography of Bear Grylls. Bear Grylls is the famous adventurer most known for his hit TV show, Man vs. Wild. It was a family favorite in our house. Bear Grylls is one of those guys I’d put on my list of people I’d most like to meet.
In his book, he was talking about his upbringing and remembering his father, who was a politician in Great Britain. He said of his father, “He worked to make a difference and to better people’s lives, but his ambitions lacked the ruthless drive so common in politics, and our lives were so much richer for it. I guess his career was being a good dad.”
Amen to that.
That quote reminds me that history is filled with great leaders that were not great fathers. Politics, business, and sports are filled with men that have accomplished mighty things at the expense of their own families. Ministry is not immune to this temptation either. Church history is filled with men that did mighty things for the Lord yet left their family to suffer in the wake of their “success”.
I remember seeing a quote from Jullian Lennon, son of the famous Beatle Jon Lennon, that sums up what I am talking about:
“He [Jon Lennon] walked out the door and was never around. I’d admire him on TV- listen to his words and opinions. But for someone who was praised for peace and love and wasn’t able to show that at home… That’s hypocrisy.” While all the world was praising Jon for being a star, Jullian was looking for a dad.
It reminds me of what Paul teaches in I Timothy 3. On discussing the qualifications for an overseer/elder Paul gives Timothy, and the church at large these instructions:
“Therefore, an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” (1 Timothy 3:2-3)
Now at this point, this list looks like any good list an organization, business, or political party might draw up. But then Paul adds another important qualification with an added commentary on its importance. Paul states,
“He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:4-5)
Paul is saying that those that lead the church, the Bride of Christ, an eternal organization that will forever exist, must first lead their homes well. The home is the petri dish of God’s eternal kingdom. It is the proving ground for leadership in God’s eternal organization. To state it another way, a man’s leadership in the home has more eternal purpose than his leadership of a Fortune 500 company.
Nowhere in the Bible do we find God calling your business or organization a “blessing”, or a “heritage from the Lord”. Nowhere does the Lord call your vocation a “reward” or liken it to “arrows in the hand of a warrior”. But the Lord does speak that way of a man’s children. Your family, the children in your care, not the name plate in your corner office, is His reward to you. Steward that blessing well. It has eternal implications.
We live in a day and age where many are blessed to be able to pursue satisfying vocations. The culture tends to push us towards pursuing careers that try satisfying us for the money it brings, fame it lends, or its power and influence. Pursuing vocations that we are good at or that bring us satisfaction are not wrong, in and of itself. In this, we enjoy something almost unprecedented in the history of the world. An ability to choose one’s vocation is a gift of from God.We should not take that for granted, thank God for that freedom and opportunity. Pursue those opportunities as they arise but realize that they are not of first importance.
Christ is returning for his bride, the Church, not an organization or company, no matter how noble. A church led by men whose qualifications for leadership will not be indicated by the value of their company stock on the New York Stock Exchange, in the hall of fame of some sports organization, or in Silicon Valley. Jesus Christ will be looking for men that laid down their lives for their wives, taught their children the gospel, and showed, in word and deed, the powerful transformation of the grace of God. That will be found in the home of ordinary men, living ordinary lives, with gospel fortified, extra-ordinary families. So dads, take heart. Stay the Course.