'Getting ahead' is not the same as success

Living and growing

Posted: Friday, March 31, 2000

For much of my family's growing up years I spent a good share of my time involved in ``getting ahead.'' I worked long hours for employers with the objective of earning their trust and approval in the hope of promotions and the increased income they would bring to my family. At least that was that I rationalized to myself that I was doing.

It is now nearly 50 years later. I'm not any further ``ahead.'' In a lot of ways I find I am further behind, a stranger to my children. They know little of whom or what I am because I have not been a father, I have only been a caretaker. Do I love my wife and children? Certainly. Do they know it from personal experience with me? Not enough!

I relate this publicly because I see so many of us who are so caught up in providing and getting ahead in career and social endeavors that there is little time left for those who need us most.

I received a plea for financial assistance from a charitable organization recently. Within that plea was a deeply troubling observation about the young people this organization served. It said, ``I've been here for 26 years now. But I tell you, I've never seen more kids in need than today. Every day, kids come to our door who have never been loved, kids without hope.'' This plea goes on to say that this organization is ``providing a refuge and a shelter for more of these girls and boys than ever before...''

Now I know that many of you who read this article would not consider yourselves to be neglecting the needs of your families, just as I didn't consider I was neglecting the needs of mine. But honestly weigh what is important to a spouse or a child against what we spend most of the time of our lives doing and see if you are ``providing a refuge and a shelter,'' from not only the physical elements but also the social, emotional and spiritual storms of life. It was a sobering experience for me.

``The greatest work you will ever do is within the walls of your own home.'' So said Harold B. Lee, former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Letter-day Saints. In similar fashion, David O. McKay, educator and president of the same organization many years earlier said, ``No other success can compensate for failure in the home.'' Spring is a time of new beginnings. We plant new seeds each spring looking to a later harvest of food and flower that brings joy and delight. As we nurture our families, the harvest of joy and happiness is not just for a season but can go on eternally.

There is a feeling of hopeful expectation that comes with new life in nature. There is anticipation in more activity with friends and with family that brings delight to our lives. As winter begins to give way to the warmer, milder, more hospitable time of spring, our thoughts turn to the hope of brighter days. These are the things that fill dark corners and empty spaces left by winter's dreary embrace.

Mark Sanborn aptly observed, ``Every morning when we wake up we are confronted with a choice: another day just like the last or a clean slate to start all over.'' Like the changing seasons, we who spend so much of our time in the unrelenting, dreary and cold pursuit of ``getting ahead'' can change; planting for a future harvest in the lives of our families with our time and attention, nurturing them with such care and concern that they need not grow up ``without love, without hope.''

I am grateful for those who lead by their example along life's pathways. I am especially grateful for the example of Jesus the Christ in showing the way to find true joy and happiness in life. I am grateful for His matchless example of service and sacrifice that brings me hope that I can change direction and be a better father today than I was yesterday. A poster on the wall of an office I visited once is a comforting thought as well. It read, ``Please be kind, God is not through with me yet.'' It is the knowledge I have deep within me that God lives and that Jesus is the living Christ that gives me the hope and courage to keep trying. He lived to show the way. He sacrificed His life to make possible a hope that my effort can make a difference. May spring and this Easter season bring such hope for you and your families.

H.F. ``Britt'' Gibson is the public affairs director for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Juneau.

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