This past week I spent a lot of time on the road, preaching a revival at another local church, and a Bible Conference several hours away. Normally these are spiritually invigorating, but physically and relationally draining times. However, I learned a lesson from my father that has stuck with me since the days of my earliest memories – always have a “travel buddy.”
Looking back, I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t travel with my dad. Whether it was just a quick trip to visit a new family in the church, a “drop in” to pray for and encourage someone in the hospital, or even a long road trip to the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, I always enjoyed those times being my dad’s “travel buddy.” That’s why I make it a point to take one of my kids with me when I travel. I want to create those memories, and have that quality time with them, like I had with my father.
So, this past week when I had to drive to the southern part of our state to preach I took “Number 3” (Benjamin) along with me on the trip. (Now, I have to stop here and add that I had originally planned on taking “Number 2” (Jack) with me on this trip. But, the other side of proper parenting is discipline. Jack disobeyed his mother, so his younger brother took his place on the trip this time.) We left town a little after lunch, and enjoyed a beautiful day driving through the country – stopping periodically to get some gasoline and a snack from a country store. The next morning we met with some pastor friends at a local Huddle House and enjoyed some pancakes and bacon. On the way back we wheeled into a John Deere dealership to pick up a toy tractor – because every boy needs one.
You see, there is one thing that I know as a dad (who happens to be a pastor) – I only get one shot with my children. There are no “do-overs.” I won’t get another chance at this. They will only be children once, and they only have one daddy. Also, my most important ministry takes place at the “Whitt house,” not the church house. If I fail at home it doesn’t matter how successful I was anywhere else. That’s why I must take every opportunity to build into my children while they are young.
I have thought some this past week about the value in, and reasons for, my father taking me along as his “travel buddy,” and why I should continue this tradition with my children. (I was greatly encouraged to hear from the pastor I was with on Tuesday night that he had done the same thing with his children when they were younger.)
So, why should you make it a point to take one of your children with you, when you can, as your “travel buddy?”
1. It creates lasting memories.
2. It gives time for meaningful conversations.
3. It’s something different – and different is good.
4. It allows them to be a part of your life and ministry.
5. It forces them to learn how to be comfortable in unfamiliar situations.
6. It gives them the chance to meet new and interesting people.
7. It shows that you value time with them as a unique individual.
8. It provides an opportunity to visit different parts of the country.
9. It allows you to teach some life principle that they need to learn one-on-one.
10. It is something that they will enjoy – for the rest of their life.
The next time you have to head out on a trip, and the schedule will allow you to take one of your children, make sure to pack up the suitcase, load them up in the vehicle and hit the road together. You will never regret, and they will never forget, the time you spend with your “travel buddy.”