Vol. 8, No. 1
~ Page 8 ~
One area of study that I really enjoy is that of restoration biography, that being the life histories of some of the great Gospel preachers of the past. I find biographies to be instructive with regard to both the bright and dark sides of life. While reading the biography of one great preacher of the recent past, it was noted that he was extremely busy in evangelistic work, that he was single-minded in his purpose to preach the Gospel and that much of his life was devoted to conducting Gospel meetings. In fifty-six years of preaching, he baptized between 8,000 and 10,000 people into Christ.
One of his sons recalls that it was always a happy occasion when dad returned home between meetings, but that after the first moments of happy greetings, his preaching father would withdraw into his own world and did not spend a lot of time with his children. Such strikes me as a sad postscript to an otherwise successful life of bringing people to the Lord. It makes me wonder, how well taught were his children and where was dad as the spiritual leader in their lives?
A preacher can easily lose sight of what is perhaps his highest priority, and that is his home and family. He may find himself active internationally, but a failure domestically. He may labor to make his name great, but there is no place on earth where his name is more important than at home. A preacher may glory in the fact that he is a speaker on one of our big brotherhood lectureships, and when he comes home after slaying the giants of liberalism and digression in some far away pulpit, his family is not reveling in the fact that he was one of the chosen few to address the masses, or that he rubbed elbows with some of the greatest names in the brotherhood, or that he has a chapter in a beautifully bound lectureship volume. What matters to them is where is daddy at the dinner table? Where is daddy to play catch? Where is daddy to read a bedtime story? Where is daddy to tell the story of Jesus and teach them to pray?
It is easy for a preacher to be pulled away from his family with just the normal responsibilities of his work. There is endless study to be done. There are Gospel meetings to preach. There are funerals and weddings to perform. There are visits that must be made. There are those ever-recurring Sunday and Wednesday deadlines. One can almost become a stranger to his family without even trying. A man's work can become his own form of escapism, even for a preacher. He can easily remove himself from responsibilities at home and immerse himself in many "important" obligations elsewhere. Yet, if we are able to save the whole world and lose our own families, what have we really accomplished? Isn't that where we have failed in so many cases? Isn't that were apostasy begins? The one who preaches that fathers should bring their children up "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" may fail to do that very thing himself.