The older I get the more I realize just how much time, energy and finances I have spent on stuff that doesn’t really matter. Many of the things I assumed were vital to my life, happiness and success have just faded into the distance and lost their addictive draw in my life. The need for recognition, the striving for success and the compulsion to continually have a fresh vision have finally found their rightful place at the back of the bus.
When I was a young father, I incorrectly saw my three sons as a responsibility. They were bodies to be clothed, mouths to be fed and lives to be trained and disciplined. We had fun at times, but quite often that was an after-thought that happened once all else had been accomplished. I thought my primary mission in life was to be sure they were well behaved, respectful and had a relationship with God.
Don’t misunderstand me. The above things are important, and every father should have such noble goals for his children. However, there is a lot more to having a healthy life and a happy family than what was mentioned above. You can have piles of money, order in your home and a knowledge of God but still not enjoy the life you have or those who are a part of it. That, my friends, is the great tragedy of this present society, and it was the reality I had to face a number of years ago.
At that point in my history I had achieved recognition and I had developed successful careers in teaching and ministry. I had authored books, written music, created ministry CD’s, founded several not-for-profit corporations, established several churches and was traveling internationally. On the outside it really looked like I was a successful man with a clear upward vision. Many younger than I would ask me about my life and what they could do to have a life like it. Some even asked if they could travel with me and be mentored. What they didn’t know is that I was not happy with the empire I had built, and my family had suffered while I was building it.
I came to the place where life had no meaning because my family was unable to enjoy it with me. I had given up my time with them to build success that did not include them. What hit me one day so painfully was that this was not success at all and something had to change. I felt alone, unconnected and unknown by those whom I loved the most. I had invested all I had in things and people that were destined to fade away.
What was the solution? My family had to know they really mattered. The fact is, they did, but my actions clearly did not convey that message! I had to being putting my wife, kids and grandkids into the mix when ministry was booked and speaking engagements were put on the calendar. They had to know that I was thinking about them and how my schedule impacted their time with me. Most of all they had to know my time and relationship with them was the real treasure of life. It’s not what we do, it’s who we do it with that really matter the most when you get right down to it.
Does family matter? In every way! Without family we are like leaves blown about in a restless wind. We have no personal foundation, no meaningful emotional connections to our own history, and no lasting legacy to leave in the hearts of those who carry our physical and emotional DNA. Without family we are nothing more than the lone survivor in a catastrophic life failure.
Let me encourage you to begin rebuilding the legacy of a happy family today. Give them the time and consideration they need to be connected to you. These are the basic cements that hold life together, and when used properly, they put the family back in center stage where it has always belonged. I am living proof that it is never too late to enjoy life with those who love you and who you love the most. Remember, words are never enough. Until you show it, they don’t know it!