Is it important to spend time with your family, particularly your children?
Ask almost anyone the question and you’ll get a resounding yes. But our day-to-day living often reveals a different set of priorities. It’s not that a conscious decision has been made to ignore our families – instead, it’s a slow drift.
Part of it is a failure to realize the impact that family-time has.
But part of the problem is also a failure to realize the need for our involvement.
We forget we’re in a war.
I normally don’t like to quote such large blocks of text, but I’ll make an exception for this. In Point Man, Steve Farrar paints a challenging and inspiring picture of spiritual leadership within the family:
It’s 1966. You are only eighteen. You are in the absolute prime of youth. You’ve got a driver’s license, a girlfriend, and plenty of dreams. Your entire life is ahead of you. But through a strange series of circumstances you don’t fully understand, suddenly your driver’s license is useless, your girlfriend’s picture is in your wallet, your dreams are on hold, and you are in a country thousands of miles away from home.
Welcome to Vietnam.
On this particular day, you would give anything not to be here. For you are going out on patrol. You’ve been on patrol before, but today is different, and that’s why there’s a knot in your gut and an icy fear in your heart.
Today is different because the patrol leader has appointed you to be the “point man.” In essence, you’re the leader. Everyone else will fall in behind you. And as you move out to encounter the enemy, you realize that the survival of those seven men stepping cautiously behind you will depend upon just one thing: your ability to lead. Your judgment may determine whether they live or die. The responsibility hangs over your head like the suffocating humidity that hangs heavy in the air.
Your senses have never been so alive, your adrenalin so surging. You can almost hear it rushing through your veins. You know the enemy is near, maybe just hundreds of yards away. Intelligence reported heavy enemy activity in this area late last night. Your job is to confirm or deny that activity. For all you know, they’re watching you right now. Perhaps they can see you, but you don’t have a clue where they are.
As you gingerly make your way through the rain forest, you’ve got one eye out for concealed wires in your path and another scanning the tree for snipers. Entire patrols have been lost because the point man failed to anticipate an ambush. Men have been killed or horribly maimed, all because a point lacked skill and wisdom.
Let’s make a critical change in the scenario. You’re still in Vietnam, on patrol in the same steamy rain forest. But something about this patrol is different. You’re still the point man, but this time you’re not leading a group of men.
You’re leading your family.
You look over your shoulder to see your wife and your children following behind. Your little girl is trying to choke back the tears, and your little boy is trying to act brave. Your wife is holding the baby and trying to keep him quiet. On this patrol, you don’t want to engage the enemy, you want to avoid him.
Gentlemen, this is no imaginary situation. It’s reality. If you are a husband/father, then you are in a war. War has been declared upon the family, on your family and mine. Leading a family through the chaos of American culture is like leading a small patrol through enemy-occupied territory. And the casualties in this war are as real as the names etched on the Vietnam Memorial.
If you doubt that such a war now rages in our country, take another look at the casualty list:
Tonight, enough teenagers to fill the Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and the average Super Bowl will practice prostitution to support drug addictions. One million teenage girls will get pregnant out of wedlock this year. Five hundred thousand of those girls will abort their babies. Of all the fourteen-year-old girls alive today, 40 percent will become pregnant by their 19th birthday. Sixty percent of all church-involved teenagers are sexually active. Sixty percent of American high school seniors have used illegal drugs. Every seventy-eight seconds, a teenager in America attempts suicide.
Farrar then ends with this haunting question: What are you doing to keep your family off the casualty list?
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