(This month’s To The Point is an excerpt from Arrow President, Dr. Steve Brown’s new book, Leading Me – Eight Practices for a Christian Leader’s Most Important Assignment – www.leadingmebook.com)
Just before I left home for university, I became a Christ-follower. As I tried to figure out my new faith, I naively decided to write a letter. I was sensing a call to ministry, and I wanted to learn more about apologetics, speaking and youth ministry. So I wrote to Josh McDowell. Josh was and is a well-known Christian author and speaker. He has written many books, and a couple of them helped me come to faith. In my letter I asked if I could travel with him and learn along the way.
To my surprise, I received a response inviting me to apply for a year-long internship program. I applied, and was accepted. I had the privilege of travelling all over the world and learning many wonderful lessons. But the most important lesson I learned was one I never expected. The biggest lesson was watching Josh love his wife and spend time with his four children. From a front-row seat, I watched him live out his own words: “I never let my family come before my ministry. My family is my first ministry.”
At times Josh went to great length to keep his family as his first ministry. Sometimes this meant driving all night after a speaking engagement so he could be home for breakfast when his family woke up. I watched Josh, with a travel schedule that was packed and exhausting for his three twenty-something interns, attend twenty or more of his son Sean’s twenty-three senior high basketball games. Sometimes this required flying the redeye. Sometimes this meant saying no to great opportunities. Whatever it took, Josh walked the talk.
The takeaway for me is a reminder that my wife, Lea, and three kids are great and precious gifts. I have been told “Enjoy your kids now; they will grow up fast” by enough older parents that I believe it. And I know that when I move on from my work role, only these four will join me in the moving truck. For their benefit and my own, they need to be primary connections in my life.
For me, being intentionally connected with family means prioritizing regular date nights and semi-annual nights away with Lea. It means ensuring that family vacations are scheduled and taken every year. It means leaving my iPhone at the front door when I get home from work so I can be fully present. It means eating meals together whenever possible. It means taking a weekly Sabbath together and trying to find special time with each child before a long road trip. It means digging deep for extra energy to go outside to play with the kids after a long day— for my benefit and theirs.
Are your family relationships your first ministry? What practical steps could take this first ministry to the next level?
To The Point,
Dr. Steve A. Brown
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