There's very little in life that prepares you to become a parent. After a couple of days of having our first-born taken care of by a team of doctors and nurses, I remember driving away from the hospital when, for the first time, it was just Kathy, Christopher, and me. I thought those people had to be crazy to let us leave with that little baby. How were we supposed to know what to do with him?
You learn. Quickly. And one of the first things you learn is that life will never be the same. Priorities change. Getting a good burp out of that little guy when giving him a bottle was suddenly high on my list of ambitions. Ministry didn't become any less important - but the importance of family became clearer. I realized that a lot of other people could do anything I do in ministry. But I was the only one who could be a husband to Kathy and a dad to Christopher, Taylor, and Shari.
When I became a dad, I made a conscious decision that there would be other things that would not get done - books that would not get written (or even read), programs that somebody else would need to do, people that might be disappointed. I confess that at one time I wanted everything I did to be the biggest and best. I had to let that go. I've never regretted it.
At his Columbia, SC crusade many years ago when our kids were very young, Billy Graham said his biggest regret in life was not spending more time with his family. Many others have said the same thing. I have seen too many ministers (and others) so committed to caring for others that they neglected their own families. Even with all my resolve, I've still missed recitals, ballgames, and other special (and regular) times.
I'm thankful that instead of being resentful of our ministry, Kathy, Christopher, Taylor, and Shari (and spouses EA, Tiffany, and Robin) chose instead to be a part of our ministry. A big part. I'd like to think that all of our family and many others have benefitted from those choices.
However it happened, I'm more thankful for our family than words or pictures can express.