August 9th 2010

My Family Needs Me

“…these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family…for this is pleasing to God.”
1 Timothy 5:4 (NIV)

I remember an article that floated into my electronic in-box one day from the Ziff-Davis Network.  It heralded yet another computer breakthrough from a major corporation.

Sidi Yomtov, an Israeli chip designer working for National Semiconductor, developed a way to combine 43 different PC chips onto a single silicon wafer—miniaturization that made big news in the ever-shrinking world of personal computers.  The author described the pressure National Semiconductor experienced and, by extension, the stress Mr. Yomtov felt as the lead designer of the new chip:  Coordinating a team of 90 engineers in four different time zones, (Yomtov) is at work or on the road so much that his three daughters in Tel Aviv erected a life-size cardboard cut-out of him in the family’s living room.  “I put my entire prestige of two decades at National behind this project,” says the bleary-eyed Yomtov.  “I was afraid that if it didn’t work, I might not be able to show my face.” Yomtov, meanwhile, expects the next version of his chip to be ready in six months.

As I read that, I wondered if the cardboard cut-out was a family joke or a plaster over a festering wound.  How sad, I thought, that a man could be so worried about losing face that he risks losing his family.

And then I felt the Lord challenge me: How many times have I placed my career before my wife, my family, and my own spiritual well being? How many times have I stayed late in my office to write one more e-mail or finish one more task? How may times have I allowed the pursuit of recognition among my peers to overshadow the needs of my family? How often have I gone home only to obsess over unfinished work, wandering through the weekend distracted and dimensionless, not sharing my self with my family?

I have resolved to take stock regularly of my life:  Is my involvement at home three-dimensional or only a two-dimensional cardboard proxy?  My family needs me—not a substitute, a Kodak memory, or the mere promise (or threat) of my presence.  As I complete that thought, now is a good time to leave the office and enjoy an evening with my wife.

Father, thank you for my family. Show me how best to balance my time and energy so that they can have the best of me.

Study by Fraser Murdoch

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