I think that I should explain where I’m coming from in regards to my upcoming remarks. I do not give the BGCT Annual Convention high marks concerning Family Friendliness. This is important to me.
You see, I’m of the generation that grew up without fathers. The term, “Latch Key Kids,” was made up to identify many in my generation. Many of us grew up, for all tense and purposes, in a single parent home. Some of us found ourselves there by the death of dad, a divorce which split the family, or because our father spent more time at work (and with hobbies) than with us. This last is best described as an Absentee Parent.
I started out with a single mom. My biological father died two months before I was born. My mother was raising a step-daughter, two biological children, and one on the way. To say it was rough, is an understatement. My first male role model was from a Vietnamese family that lived with us for a while when they migrated to America. To this day, I will always consider Dr. Doan to be my primary care physician. His was the first male knee I remember being rocked on, the first male hands to push me on a swing, and the first male lap that I climbed up on.
My mother got remaried when I was around five years old, to Tom Lynch. His life centered around work and football. He garnered a thirty year reputation of hard work and fair dealings. He worked every day but Saturday. His main hobby was watching the TV… a very loud TV. The only time I remember his regular attendance to my extracurricular activities was when I played football in 8th grade. I hated football, with a passion. I loved band and choir, yet the football game was what he showed up too.
Please hear me, I’m not saying he was a bad father, as they went at that time. Actually, he was a regular father. He was similar to the other dads that my classmates had. He was an absentee father. In my life, but not a part of it. During my Junior High and High School years, dad lived in Hempstead while the rest of the family was in Palacios. We were effectively split, for reasons that I was unaware of until much later in my life.
My senior year in high school, my two best friends found out both of their parents were getting divorced…on the same day. Their parents were as disconnected from their lives as my parents were. Their parents either worked the long hours, supposedly making life better for their families, or were so engrossed in their hobbies that they had little time for their children or each other.
As a reaction to that, all three of us live lives based upon Family priority over lives of Professional priority. Though our mothers and fathers may say that they did as well, we guarantee that our version of it will look vastly different.
Now, fast forward to seminary life. I was living next door to a couple of female English Grad students one year. We visited quite a bit, developed a nice little friendship. One of them lamented her lack of dating since getting to Baylor. I promised to set her up with one of my friends. She vehemently said, “No!” She refused to date any of those preacher boys. I asked her why, and her answer had to do with her father. Her dad was a prominent preacher of one of our larger BGCT churches. He was a model pastor of a larger church, for a long period of time. He had been held up to us as someone to emulate in college and seminary. I was shocked! She explained what her problem was. You see, she freely admitted that he was a great Pastor, and a great Father; but in her view he was a total failure as a Husband. His wife always got the short end of the stick. She was always playing second fiddle to the church and her daughter. In the daughter’s opinion, her dad never showed any real, significant love to her mother. She refused to marry someone like that. She refused to marry a preacher.
As I read Scripture, I see where God has called me to live sacrificially for my wife, as Jesus did for the Church. Never am I called to sacrifice my wife and child upon the altar of a congregation/vocation. Before someone gets up in arms about the Kingdom, let me say this. Yes, I am to sacrifice for the Kingdom, to carry my cross in “following Jesus.” That does not necessarily equate with “working for the church.” When I see what I’m commanded to do, I’m to love my family most of all. If I’m a failed father/husband, then I’m a failed Christian/Minister.
So, for me this means that I will choose to skip things, like annual conventions, if I feel that too much time is being taken away from my family. I’m not interested in the big church, big position, big paycheck if it means my wife and son experience family life sans a husband/father. From an experiential perspective, you might say my first priority is my wife, and my second priority is my son. However, my first allegiance is to the One that commands my priorities to be ordered so.
As of this moment, the BGCT Annual Convention does not offer enough compelling reasons to expect me to leave my wife and child behind for three days. Also, they don’t have anything to compel me to bring them along next year to McAllen. I pray that the Committee named by President Lowrie, full of all those East Texas/Dallasite individuals, come up with something good. You’ve a tall order to fill. Have you ever tried to take a young family to the Annual Meeting?
I have some suggestions, some very specific ones, which will come in my next post. Again, I just wanted to let people know where I’m coming from. I’m one of those husbands/fathers that refuses to be as the ones that have gone before me.
P.s. in regard to my “East Texas/Dallasite” comment. We’ve a large state, and I believe it should be better represented.