New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made an interesting remark the other day. I wonder if you heard it? During a press conference announcing his decision to not seek the presidency in 2012 he said:
We got a FedEx over the weekend, at home, from a farmer in Nebraska, to my children. Asking my children to sit me down and tell me that it was OK to miss their games, their concerts and their events, because my country needed me more, and if they did that, they would be remembered in the history books as the people who changed the course of our country’s history.
Governor Christie seemed to suggest that such appeals almost persuaded him to run – almost. In the end, though, he simply said it wasn’t his “time.”
The Christies have four children: Andrew (18), Sarah (15), Patrick (11) and Bridget (8). He and his wife, Mary Pat, are by all appearances clearly devoted parents.
The governor appeared genuinely moved by the farmer’s appeal. But it’s a provocative proposal, isn’t it? When it comes to prioritizing your career, could you ever be persuaded to place your children beneath your job? Or do we inevitably (and unavoidably) do that already, at least to some extent? Given the pressures and expectations of full-time employment, can a parent always be there for the games and concerts?
And if not, does that make them any less of a parent?
What if you are engaged in some form of ministry – does that soften the blow or better justify your absence from family? Is it more noble or understandable to miss your son’s game or daughter’s recital because of a church meeting than it is to make a big meeting with corporate?
I am reminded that October is Clergy Appreciation Month, a time when we make a special effort to affirm our pastors. Pastoral burnout is common – and when pressed (or not) many a pastor’s kid will lament his missing-in-action parent. In an interview last December, Dr. Billy Graham was asked if given the chance, whether he would do anything differently. He replied, ”I would pray more, travel less, take less speaking engagements. I took too many of them in too many places around the world.”But what do you think of the Nebraska farmer’s logic and proposal?