By Randy Hain
Randy Hain is a business leader, consultant, national speaker, and award-winning author of several books, including Journey to Heaven: A Road Map for Catholic Men. He is the founder and president of Serviam Partners and the co-founder and senior editor of The Integrated Catholic Life eMagazine.
On the Monday between one Christmas and New Year’s Day, I had to work for part of the day to meet a few clients, tie up loose ends for the year, and do some preparation for the New Year. It was challenging to be pulled away from my family over the holidays, especially with my easily bored sons out of school during the break. I felt guilty, but I needed to be a good steward of my business and financial responsibilities and get some of my work done.
The last meeting of the day was to be a late lunch with a new client prospect that had been scheduled several weeks before. He called me thirty minutes before our appointment to apologize and say he could not make it. Suppressing my mild irritation, we rescheduled our meeting for another day. I found myself with an unexpected extra hour. What to do? Well, I had a pile of paperwork back at my office to be handled. Perhaps I could leave messages for some of my clients or send them emails in an effort to start filling up my meeting calendar after the holidays. Maybe I could find a quiet place and write that new business blog post which had been on my mind for weeks.
I did none of these things and went home instead.
Maybe it was guilt or the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but nothing at that very moment seemed as important as going home to my wife and sons. As I pulled into the driveway, I saw my thirteen-year-old practicing his jump shot with the new basketball he received for Christmas. Without any words being exchanged we took turns shooting baskets for half an hour. We were simply a father and son having fun together and enjoying being with each other.
Then, he broke the silence. “Dad, why did that kid commit suicide?” My son’s jarring question was referring to a local high school student who had killed himself some time ago, which our family had discussed over dinner one night right after the tragedy. After talking about the possible reasons why this young man had chosen to end his own life, we talked about how difficult it is for kids today to deal with the enormous pressure schools, peers, society, and even their own families place on them. I think he was relieved to talk about this topic (he said it had been on his mind for days) and seemed reassured after we finished.
I was very grateful at that moment to be reassured that my son takes our Catholic faith seriously and understands the wonderful recourse we have to prayer and the intercession of the saints, especially our Blessed Mother, when we face difficulties. I am especially glad that he felt comfortable talking to me about this painful subject rather than tackling it on his own.
I was even more grateful to be there for my son at that moment when he needed to get something off his chest and hear guidance and an explanation from someone he trusted. I would have missed this wonderful opportunity if I had opted for one of the various non-critical tasks I could have chosen instead. There is a profound lesson here that really hit home for me: we need to be more mindful of the choices we make about where we spend our time.
As we consider where we spend our time, I encourage all of us to put more thinking and discernment into our busy schedules and recognize that we may need to reset our priorities. Are we letting the unimportant crowd out the important? Are we missing opportunities like the one I was blessed to have with my son because of paperwork, catching up on emails, or returning one more phone call? Do we control our calendars or do our calendars control us? Do we have a disproportionate focus on the pursuit of worldly treasure when we could be spending more time in prayer, at Mass, with our loved ones, or in the service of others in need?
In this single conversation with my son, I witnessed for myself the incredible difference an hour can make. What difference will our choices about how we spend our time have on our relationships with Christ, the practice of our faith, the time we spend with our loved ones, and the important causes in need of our assistance? Remember that one of the most meaningful gifts we can give to our children doesn’t require fancy wrapping and a big red bow. This gift is simply called time.
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Randy Hain’s Journey to Heaven: A Roadmap for Catholic Men is an outstanding guide for today’s men. Providing sound wisdom and encouragement, Journey to Heaven outlines for men the steps to take in growing toward union with God.