It was 2012
Back in 2012, I was the pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Lookout Valley, TN. I was there from August of 2008 to October of 2016.
It was a mixed bag of good, bad, joyful, and tragic. During that year I was neck-deep in finishing my master’s degree, driving a school bus, preaching 3 different sermons a week, and dealing with a sick wife. What’s more, things were happening underneath the radar that would nearly destroy my family and cost my youngest daughter her life.
I don’t know why I am telling you this right now, because it has very little to do with what I wanted to do when I sat down. Actually, all I wanted to do was give a little context to a video I was going to link. However, it just seems like the words I’m typing are being guided. Maybe they’re just what’s on my heart and I need to get them off. I don’t know.
While I was pastor at Riverside, some very bad things happened (hopefully, one day, I’ll have the freedom to share more details). But one of the most painful aspects was finding out – at least being accused – that if I had not been spending so much time studying and working I might have been a better and more attentive father… The one making that accusation was evil and simply trying to make excuses for his own actions.
Yet, in some ways, it was true, which is what makes it painful. I was focused on trying to do things FOR the family and missed some critical times WITH the family. Since then, there has been forgiveness, but scars remain. Thankfully, I serve a God who can even work miracles with scars. He has some too, you know.
Like I said, I didn’t plan on writing this, but somebody evidently needs to read it. Your #1 ministry is your family, not your community, your job, or your church. There is no success in life, whether it be earning millions or having the largest congregation, that is worth losing your children to the enemy. Let me help you put things in order:
- God (your personal relationship with Jesus and your obedience to the will of God)
- Your spouse
- Your children
- Providing for your family (i.e., career, vocational ministry, etc.)
If you’ll look carefully, there’s a lot NOT on that list. What about hobbies? What about community service? What about politics? What about friends?
Oh, you can have those things, but if they break the above hierarchy of priorities, you’ll one day find yourself face-down in a pillow wet with regret.
But what if you’ve already made mistakes you can’t correct? Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
Delight thyself also in the LORD, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him, and he shall bring [it] to pass. – Psalm 37:4-5
Today is a new day and the first day of the rest of your life. The race is not over, so finish well.
His grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).
Here’s the video I was going to share. It’s still my theme.