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ComfortingPatientAs a father of 4 children (ages 3,6, 8, and 10) I battle with the balance of work and family. I desire to be the best husband, father, and retina surgeon that I can be. There is a constant battle between these roles. At the end of each day, I feel like I never was able to give as much time as I would like to any of these 3 priorities. Physicians are well aware there is a massive demand for our time. We can see more patients, do more surgeries, make more money, produce more articles, have more possessions, but we can never have more time. You can’t buy back your time, and no amount of effort can produce additional time. As a retina specialist I see many elderly patients and conversations naturally arise and patients inquire about my kids. I get the same type of response in every conversation, “Enjoy those children, it goes by fast”, or “they grow up fast”. In hundreds of these conversations no one has ever told me “It’s going to feel like eternity but those children will eventually grow up and move out of your house.”

I challenge you with this question, are you making the most of the time and resources the Lord has given you? Are you pouring your talent, time, and resources in to things that will have an eternal impact? I continually think about these questions as the years pass and I watch my children and family grow older. Recently, myself and a group of fathers started a Trail Life troop at our church. Trail Life is a church-based, Christ-centered, boy-focused mentoring and discipleship journey. Established on timeless values derived from the Bible and set in the context of outdoor adventure, boys from Kindergarten through 12th grade are engaged in a Troop setting with male mentors where they are challenged to grow in character, understand their life purpose, serve their community, and develop practical leadership skills to carry out the mission for which they were created. Trail Life is similar to Boy Scouts or Indian Guides, with one huge difference: Trail Life is Christ centered. In just over 5 years, Trail Life has grown to over 28,000 members in more than 800 churches in all 50 states.

Injured ChildAs a father of 3 young boys (and a little girl), I desire that my children will come to know and fear the Lord. I pray they will not just depend on their earthly father, but be pointed and directed to their heavenly father and that Jesus will be the ultimate authority in their life. I am reminded of 3 John verse 4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

Like many fathers I intentionally pursue quality time with my children. One thing we are all very familiar with is: Children aren’t children for long. If we think of the length of a person’s life, current average life expectancy in the U.S. is around 84 years, childhood is such a brief part of this time. However, it is the formidable childhood years that have the greatest impact on our life trajectory.

Psalm 127: verses 3-5 tells us “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has a quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.”

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth”, what an amazing analogy. If we think of an arrow. Its purpose is to be sent out on a specific trajectory, toward a target, with a purpose. The arrow was not designed to stay in the bow. Just like an arrow, our children spend a brief time in the comfort, protection and control of the bow (i.e. parents direct care). It’s these brief influential years of childhood that will have the greatest determination of how our “arrows” will fly when released from the bow. I ask you who are parents of school aged children, what are you doing to make the most of these brief influential years? Are you preparing your arrow to fly straight, with a Godly mission, aiming at the target of Christ? Or, are you pulling back your bow and releasing you arrow hoping it will find a desirable destination on its own?

IMG 5182Trail Life has been a great tool to spend quality time with my boys in a Christ-centered outdoor adventure program. If you have young boys of school age years and you are looking for a way to engage you children in exciting activities with a focus on Christ look into Trail Life and start a troop at your local church.

Trail Life Mission: To guide generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure.
Trail Life Vision: Develop young men to become godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens.

I have shared about what a great platform and resource Trail Life is for my boys. But some of us have grown children and you are mentoring in other ways such as with friends, residents, fellows, coworkers, employees, Sunday school attendees, and on the mission field. I challenge you to evaluate how you are spending your limited and precious resource of time. Are the relationships you have at work, home, church, and in the community pointing others towards Christ and developing and encouraging the God-fearing leaders of tomorrow? Our communities, our Nation, and the World need these leaders.

-Frank Venzara, MD