I love the mantra, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home”, attributed to President David McKay. This counsel has been at the heart of many of the key decisions I have made so far in my life, including the type of women I sought to marry, the type of career I pursued, and where I lived. When I look back on my life 50 years from now, the success I wish to claim most boldly is that I was a dedicated father and husband. While I realize that family life may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I personally find it to be the most gratifying and worthwhile venture I can explore.
This post was conceived after I listened to a short podcast from Daughters of Mormonism called No Rest for the Busy. Sybil, the narrator, despondently modified the McKay mantra to say, “No other success in life can compensate for failure in the home unless it is success in the Church.”
I’ve been thinking about this for years and finally decided to write about it today. Looking back at the church callings my father and my father-in-law have held, neither has ever been a Bishop or Stake President. As a result, their dedication to their families has translated into lots of quality time spent together. Growing up, this was something that I did not really notice, but as I look back now, I can see and fully appreciate the availability my dad provided.
I want to be available for my children similarly, and I’ve pondered what sort of conflicts future church callings might create with this goal. I am not willing to sacrifice much-needed time with my family in order to fulfill church obligations and duties, nor do I believe God wants me to. Obviously there is a balance to be found somewhere, but ultimately, I, along with my family, will need to determine what that balance is, and whether it means turning down callings.
Now I know there are some Bishops or members serving in other time-consuming roles that would look upon this view with skepticism and judgment (in fact, I remember one family member serving diligently as Bishop that seemed mildly resentful when I mentioned my unwillingness to accept a calling that required that much time away from home). I’m not judging those who choose to render extra service or who are particularly dedicated to their callings; I’m simply reserving space for me to decide otherwise, as well as prompting others to consider their own time usage. I’ve noticed that the Church itself has been making a marked effort lately to lighten the load carried by Bishops and reduce the time that members spend in meetings.
I realize that the Church moves forward on the backs of those who gave all they had in its service. Men left their families behind for years at a time in the 1800s to serve missions in England. After reading many biographies of Church leaders in the late 20th century, its apparent that their families willingly sacrificed time with their fathers in order to build up the Church. Dedicated women serving in the Relief Society have rendered invaluable aid to those in their communities.
My friend tells the account of a meeting where Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve joked that the Church “seals us for eternity and separates us for time”. But that’s not funny to me, and it doesn’t align with my priorities. I do feel a duty and a desire to share my unique talents and serve my community, but I will not place them above my family. For the time being, I have made peace with what I feel is God’s expectation of me and my time. That does not mean I always meet up to my ideal, but I feel it’s what’s best for me and my family.
Because family—it’s about time.