We must come to a position where we say, “Nothing that I will ever be or do will rival the importance of God’s work in the formation of my children’s souls.” Nothing is more important than that. That demands some hard choices.
When I speak in churches, I often single out the men and challenge, “Some of you are so busy in your careers that you’re seldom home, and when you are, you are so physically exhausted that you have nothing to offer your children. You don’t even know your own kids. I offer a radical challenge to you. Go to your boss and ask for a demotion. Take less pay. Move out of that dream house and into a smaller one. Sell your brand new car and drive an older one. Be willing to do what God has called you to do in the life of your children.” In a culture with two-income families, increasingly that challenge must also be made to women who also sacrifice family for career.
I made that appeal at one home-school conference and it angered a man in the crowd, although I didn’t know it at the time. Two years later he came over to me during a conference break. As he got closer, he began to weep. He said, “Two years ago I heard you give the challenge you just gave tonight and I got angry. I thought, What right do you have to say that? But I was haunted by your words. I thought, He’s speaking about me. My whole life is away from the home and I don’t know my own kids.
I finally went to my boss one morning and said, “I want to talk to you about my position.” My boss said, “Look, we’ve advanced you as much and as fast as we can.” And I said, “No, no, just hear me, I want a demotion.” The boss looked startled. He asked, “What are you talking about?” I said, “The most important thing in my life is not this job. The most important thing is that God has given me five children. I‘m His instrument in forming their souls. But right now, I don’t even know my own kids.”
The boss said, “I’ve never heard this kind of conversation before and I’ll probably never hear it again. I’m very moved. We’ll find you a position where you can work forty hours a week. You can punch in and punch out and have less responsibility. But I’m not going to be able to pay you enough.” I said, “That’s fine.”
We sold the house of our dreams, got rid of two luxury cars and bought a mini-van. It’s been two years now, and not one of my kids has come to me and said “Dad, I wish we lived in a big house,” or “Dad, I wish we had new cars.” But over and over again they have come and said, “Dad, we’ve been having so much fun with you. It’s great to have you around.” Now, for the first time, I can say I know exactly where my children are. I know their hearts. I know what I need to be doing in their lives. I’m actually being a father.”
Taken from an excellent article called, What is Success in Parenting Teens. I highly recommend it for any parent anywhere. Also, check out his book, Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens.