“Doing What’s Important Instead of Worrying About Being Important”

Father and sons fishingI regularly have the privilege of meeting with business leaders to discuss their spiritual journey. With all the success they enjoy, some of the guys have begun to question their priorities. Invariably, a few of the men get around to sharing personal stories about the “wasted time” they experienced in pursuing what the world defines as success. The regrets and brokenness of some men can cause us to weep.

While most high-achievers struggle with balance and priority setting, I can’t help but remember the most important responsibility God ever gave me — that of being a godly father to the twin sons Louise blessed me with 48 years ago.

As the pace of life for me welcomes the rest and relaxation I receive between Christmas and New Year’s, I can’t help but reflect upon the many days my sons and I enjoyed conversation and adventure during our outdoor outings when they were young and didn’t have all the responsibilities that now impact their lives. The outdoor experiences we enjoyed were a special time of bonding and interaction to discuss life, faith, and love of family.

During the early days of parenting, when I really struggled with priority setting and balance, I often referred to the following story that reminded me of the precedence God places on my life and family. The following story changed my life and dramatically impacted the time I devoted to being a father.

It is said of Boswell, the famous biographer of Samuel Johnson, that he often referred to a special day in his childhood when his father took him fishing. The day was fixed in his adult mind, and he often reflected upon many of the things his father had taught him in the course of their fishing experience together. After having heard of that particular excursion so often, it occurred to someone much later to check the journal that Boswell’s father kept and determine what he had said about the fishing trip from the parental perspective. Turning to that date, the reader found only one sentence entered: “Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted.”

Few have ever heard of Boswell’s father; many have heard of Boswell. But in spite of his relative obscurity, he must have managed to set a pace in his son’s life, which lasted for a lifetime and beyond. On one day alone he inlaid along the grain of his son’s life ideas that would mark him long into his adulthood. What he did not only touched a boy’s life, but it set in motion certain benefits that would affect the world of classical literature.

Too bad that Boswell’s father couldn’t appreciate the significance of a fishing trip and the pacesetting that was going on even while worms were being squeezed on to hooks. No day is ever wasted in the life of an effective father.

Hey, parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, special friend! Plan now to have some quality time of relaxing and enjoyment with your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or neighbor kids. I would give a great deal to have one more day in the boat bass fishing with my busy sons who serve God in their callings. The many memories of our time together warm the chill that distance and time brings to the heart of a dad.

Personal Application

Read the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38–42. Mary enjoyed the “good part and memory building” that occurred with Jesus. What does this story say to you?

Remember, my friends, it takes a man to show a man how to be a man. Talk to those you mentor about what it means to be a godly man.

I encourage you to think about writing your children or grandchildren a letter to share your testimony and love for them. “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” (Revelation 1:19 NIV)

Jim Grassi image and signature  Jim Grassi, D. Min.