Irresponsible Husband/Parent? (Leaving to Kenya)

Am I being an irresponsible parent/husband by leaving my family for two weeks and putting myself at risk in Africa?

In a little over a week, our team will be on our way Kenya.  During that time, Peggy will be both disciplinarian and comforter to Luke and Bella.  That's precious time I'll never get back with Peggy, but even more so with the kids, who seem to change and grow from week to week.  During that time, any sense of safety or security I offer will be missing.

So I don't argue that this trip is a huge sacrifice for Peggy and the kids.  I understand why some question my choice to go to Kenya in light of my responsibilities at home.

Despite how it might seem, our (Peg's and mine) decision for me to go to Kenya was not involve balancing values.  The fact that going there means leaving here doesn't mean that I value what/who is "there" more than my loved ones at home.  The choice to serve in Africa and my responsibilities as a husband/father stem from the same value: honoring the Lord.  Matthew 10:37-38 teaches us that, "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."  I do both to the utmost of my abilities because I believe Jesus expects no less of me.

Even more, in the long run, serving in Africa ADDS rather than DETRACTS from my responsibilities as a husband and father.  Whatever security I may provide by my physical presence doesn't come close to the security our Shepherd. (Psalm 23:4) Any bits of wisdom or discipline I may impose on my children (either during those two weeks or over a lifetime) won't have the eternal consequences of pointing them toward true wisdom and our ultimate duty: to love and honor God. (Ecc 12:13-14, Prov 9:10, Col 3:17)

In the end, what I pray my children will understand is how much I love them and that my going to Africa is not in spite of that love but at least partly because of that love.  The greatest legacy I can leave my children is that anything of value comes from our Lord.  Anything I offer is fleeting and unreliable.  I pray they'll remember this trip as an example of how we're to respond to God's love and calling...by following Him.  I believe that when Jesus admonished us to leave our loved ones to follow Him, he wasn't depriving them of us.  Rather, He was teaching us to lead them to Him.

2 comments:

  1. BEAUTIFULLY PUT!
    Luke and Bella, have (and still are learning) how to have hearts filled with grace and love, as they have you and Peg as examples.
    They are blessed to have you as a dad!


    p.s just tell em to slow down on growin up so fast! goodness figuring at this rate they'll both be driving when I get home....
    miss you all

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  2. Rick,
    Only days before Hannah left for a trip to Africa several years ago, she ask me a question that I will always remember. With some fear in her eyes, she said, "Mom do you think it's safe for me to go?" I thought about her question for a minute and ask her, "Hannah, do you think this is what God wants you to do?" "yes, I think this is what God has called me to do." Then I hugged her and said, "Hannah there is no safer place in the world for you!"
    I confess, I am not that smart, so I know that the Holy Spirit was speaking through me.
    So I say, Rick there is no safer place in the world for you to be than in Africa for those weeks, and no safer place in the world for Peg and the children to be than at home praying and waiting and serving while you are away!
    Big love to your family!
    Kat

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I'd love to hear your thoughts