Sunday, October 17, 2004

367 days of blogging…

One year ago today, on October 17, 2003, I posted my first blog entry. I started this blog because of Hugh Hewitt’s book, In, But Not Of. Hugh argues that the Christian who wishes to be in a position to influence secular society must strive for such a position. Blogging was but one of a variety of methods, which Hugh described, through which one could attain such positions of influence. While I agree that blogging is a powerful tool, I suspect that the reality of Hugh’s world is quite different from that of my own. For instance, I have yet to hear Hugh reference whether or not he has any children. He has indicated that he is aware of the responsibilities involved in raising children but if, in fact, he has not had his own children, then I seriously doubt whether he truly understands the enormity of the task; especially when parents are deeply committed to their children’s upbringing. I do not fault him for this, because to do so would be tantamount to comparing the lives of two childless professionals with that of a professional husband, his stay-at-home wife, and their two home schooled children. Within the parameters of such a comparison, then, it should come as no surprise that the professional husband and wife are able to devote more of their time to the task of influencing secular society. I suppose the major difference, therefore, is that my wife and I have decided that influencing our children takes priority over influencing secular society. Time. There are only 24 hours of it in every day. I am a professional, but I am not involved in either the legal or journalistic professions. A serious day at work for me does not mean that I’ve been able to check the writings of the 30+ bloggers on my blogroll (and their links), much less stay on top of the latest media headlines across the globe. What about, you may ask, the idiom that positions of influence only go to those who seek them? I’m well aware of the proverbial wisdom behind such an edict, however, what about the wisdom inherent in such activities as: having dinner with my family (yeah – my family), spending time with my wife (yep – I’m married, y’know?), paying my bills, mowing the lawn, painting the fence, teaching an occasional Bible Study, running a Home School group meeting, home schooling my daughters, or… something as mundane as playing with my daughters (now there’s a novel concept!)? Blogging? That’s right! I’ve also got to find the time to write posts on my blog, answer comments to my posts, read the blogs on my blogroll, read the links the blogs on my blogroll send me to, write the occasional comment on someone else’s blog, answer the comments to my comments on someone else’s blog, etc., etc., etc. I do all this, or so I’m told, in order to participate in the noble task of influencing secular society. Well, like I said, I’m convinced that influencing my children takes priority over influencing secular society. How about doing both? Okay, maybe I’m just a bit slower than the average blogger in getting my thoughts down on paper (virtual paper – that is). Maybe I can’t rely on my memory but actually have to look up facts in order to accurately write about them. Maybe I need to take a speed reading course. Maybe I sleep too much or spend too much time in the garden. Maybe I just don’t have my priorities straight. Priorities? Let me tell you a story about priorities. ---- In January of 2003 the situation at my place of employment was dire (not that it’s entirely a bed of roses at present). There was the very real possibility that I would be laid off. An opportunity came up for a short term assignment (about 4 months in duration) at a remote location in northern Alberta, Canada. I would have been away from my family for only 3 – 4 weeks at a time and would have gotten to visit them on periodic home leaves of about 4 days in length. From a strictly pragmatic point of view it seemed logical to accept the assignment. After all, I would keep management happy in that I was willing to travel for the company, and I would keep my job – always a good thing if you need to eat. But from the moment I heard about the opportunity I did not consider it to be a wise move. My family is here at home and I have no business leaving them for extended periods of time. Although the situation at work was dire, it was not a situation where the only means of work was away from my family. What’s more, this was certainly not a situation in which I was in the military, knowing full well that tours of duty, away from your family, are a necessity. No, in this situation I had a great deal of control regarding my destiny. Against my better judgment I chose to go on the assignment. I had not been at the project site more than two days when I realized that I had not only made the wrong choice, but had set a bad precedent as well. Being on such an assignment, as a single person, is not a problem… as a husband, it’s rough, but doable… as a husband and father, it is horrendous. [Note: remember this whenever you meet up with military personnel who have been on tours of duty away from their wives and children.] As the situation began to tear me apart, I made the decision that I was not going to let outside factors (i.e., the company I work for) determine how I was going to raise my family. And so… I decided to come home. Keep in mind that in backing out of the assignment (that I had previously agreed to) I was coming home to unemployment. I knew this, but had concluded that unemployment with my family was better than employment away from my family. As it turned out, the company I work for found a few other projects for me to work on, and I remain employed there to this day. Interestingly enough, the stance I took, for the reasons I did, had an impact on several of my co-workers. One of them, who has been with the company for 35 years (and three marriages), told me how impressed he was with what I had done. I suppose that the priorities of my day to day life, in that particular experience, exerted an influence on secular society. Since that experience I tend to view the topic of family vs. career in a slightly different light. I’ve written about it at least a couple of times on this blog (check here, and here). ---- So, how does this all relate to the one year anniversary of my blog? Well, while the year has been fun, I find that to maintain a blog, at a level of influence advocated by Hugh Hewitt, is unattainable for me (at this time). The finite amount of time I have each day would be better utilized in devotion to God and my family. So I will be cutting back tremendously on the level of attention this blog gets. I’m not leaving the blogosphere completely (much to the chagrin of at least a few bloggers out there); I’m just becoming more of a “casual visitor.” Despite the fact that my future posts will be much less frequent they will, hopefully, be much more thought out. Although this is by no means a final farewell, I do want to thank all those who have encouraged me over the past 12 months. I have definitely learned a lot. Until the next post…


Paul said...

Any decision that takes you closer to your family is a good one; I hope you gain ever more satisfaction from them, and continue to blog when you have something that you really need to get out there :)

Cheers, Paul

Rusty said...

Thank you Paul.

And thank you for your very civil manner in discussing topics that can cause tempers to flare. You're comments have caused me to put more effort into my apologetics.

Bonnie said...

Happy anniversary, Rusty!

And thank you for being transparent and for sharing from your heart.

Life is a growing process, huh? I admire your commitment to your family and to "influencing secular society"...your family is blessed!

And you know what; you can still have plenty of influence. The scope isn't important; doing what God has assigned to you, and to you alone, is. You will probably never even realize what influence you've had!

Also, by influencing your daughers, you are currently developing two very powerful influences on secular society!

It's funny, we all write, or blog, for different reasons, don't we? Not all of them different, of course. But your concern as to priority and balance is one common to all of us regardless of our other responsibilities. It's a warning I need to heed as well :-)

Bless you and your family, Rusty.

I will patiently await your next post :-)

Ed Jordan said...

I admire your decision. You can be sure that I'll keep checking back to read whatever you have to say, whenever you have time to say it.

Matt Powell said...

Hey, Rusty! I'll miss you. I enjoyed working together with you on a couple of issues over the last year. But you're right- the family's always more important than any blog, any hobby, anything. If more people knew that, this world would be a better place.

I started just about the same time you did, about a year ago, and I find it difficult to maintain the same level of blogging I started with too. You did some great work over the last year, and I hope you can figure out a way to take it up again someday!

God bless you,
Matt Powell

Nate said...

Amen my brother. You are not alone in the ranks of professional husbands. I put my life and future child at the front of every career decision I make.

There are certain things that are more important than getting ahead and earning that promotion faster than the guy down the hall.

I get my reward every night that I go home. She has a smile for me almost every night. I'll always choose her over my boss.

Anonymous said...

The Woodsmen are behind you.
One infrequent high quality New Covenant post is worth dozens of posts on inferior blogs.