Ronald is the Middle School Pastor at Wayside Chapel in San Antonio, TX. He has a beautiful wife named Bekah and three girls: Sophie, Penny and Ruth. He eats Mexican food at every opportunity, plays video games, blogs, and writes. Check out 128ministries.org to see some of his other Bible studies.

Before I hear any fat jokes, let me explain.

I was at a basketball game the other night. It was late and I was talking with an older friend about how being a youth minister with small children was difficult. Sophie was getting ready to get a bath before I left the house for the game, and I really hate missing that time of day. I received no sympathy.

“Well let me tell you…” was how the rest of the conversation went. He told me how he did tons of work in his day. He told me how he provided for his family. He told me how he had to travel and had to work late into the night. He told me how he volunteered at the church and ministered to thousands (his words) of teenagers. He then told me how he always made time for his family.

I wasn’t digging for sympathy with my statement, and that turned out to be a good thing.

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I caught a hold of one of his kids after the game. I consider this person a good friend so I told that individual about the conversation. This person has kids of their own now. The response?

My dad is a great Christian man and a wonderful father but…

And then it came. “But he was gone a lot.” “He had to work all the time.”

And here lies my point. With everything that is in me I don’t want to be a dad with a but:

“Dad was great but…he worked all the time when he didn’t have to.”

“Dad was a great man but…he really cared more about students than his own family.”

“Dad was a great youth minister but…I wish he had spent more time with us.”

I’m not here to criticize those men and women who have no other alternative. I know there are so many out there who literally would have no food on the table if they did not work well into the night and travel extensively. What I’m telling you is this: while the choice is mine and in my power to control, I will place my family above work every time. I will not sacrifice my family for the sake of a ministry. I serve a bigger God than that.

“Wait a minute!” I hear from the computer screen, “You’re missing out right now! You’re a blogger AND a hypocrite! Go play with your family!”

My response? Tonight I got to eat supper with my family, play “Don’t Break the Ice” in a pink tent, give my beautiful daughter a bath, pray as a family, then read both of my girls to sleep. Then I cleaned the living room, kitchen, and bathroom after getting the coffee pot ready for the morning and putting away the dishes. I’m the only one conscious in this house right now. So that’s why I have the time to tell you that I WILL NOT be a dad with a but. At least I’m convicted about that.

Someday my kids will be older. They might even stay up past 8:30 p.m. It’s then I’ll take them to games and ministry events with me so we can experience them together: as a family. For now however, I’ve got to cheat one or the other.

God willing, it won’t be my family.

Ronald / @ronald_long

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