When my wife was pregnant with our first little boy Jacob, I was filled with exuberance and joy. I had dreams and ideas about what it would be like to have a son and raise him up to be my best little buddy.
We were going to play all kids of sports together. I would teach him the things my dad taught me. We would spend time watching great movies, reading awesome books, learning about the life and the person of Jesus, and we would travel all over the world together. I would help him get his first car (or truck), school him in one-on-one basketball, and teach him everything he ever needed to know about the ladies because after all, I was an expert (I landed his mom, didn't I)?
I was in seminary when Charie was pregnant with him, and I was telling one of my proffessors about my epic plans for my son one day over coffee. He listened patiently, grinning as I spoke. When I finally took a breath, he gently spoke a word of wisdom and caution into my life that has stayed with me since that day.
He said, "You know, Clayton, I remember when my kids were born. We had big plans for them, just like you have for your first son. But now that my kids are all grown up, I realize that the most important thing you can do for them is also the simplest; BE THERE."
Was that it? There had to be more than that. It was say too simplistic.
There was a big world that needed changing and my son was going to be trained (by me) to change it. Lives needed to be saved. Wells needed to be drilled. Hunger needed to be eradicated. Poverty needed to be destroyed. And if I was going to leave my mark on the world, I would need to do it vicariously through my son (and any other subsequent offspring God would give me and my wife).
"BE THERE" rang hollow...and shallow.
Here I am, a decade later. Things have changed. We have another son who is 6. They both love sports. They are both pursuing a relationship with Jesus. I am still traveling 150 days a year. Life has become more complex. I am caring for a dying father in another state. Our ministry continues to grow at Crossroads. I am writing books and preparing sermons.
And that list of epic things I wanted my kids to accomplish? Well, it's still there. But it's taken a backseat to the more pressing need of daily life. It turns out my proffessor was right. If my boys are going to change the world (meaning, become faithful men of God, husbands, and fathers)...it will only happen if I am in their life.
Charie and I are learning that there is no real difference between small things and big things, because when it comes to our family, everything matters!
Watching the NBA playoffs together while cuddling on the couch is a big deal.
Taking a walk down the driveway to get the mail together is a chance to be ourselves.
Turning off the radio in the car while driving to the dentist allows us to talk.
Cleaning up the kitchen together gives us room to laugh and kid around and build real friendships.
But I cannot do these things with them if I am not there. I have to BE THERE.
It's not rocket science. Hang up the phone, turn off the iPad, put down the remote control, stop texting...and pay attention to the treasures that are right in front of you. Just BE THERE.