Take Me Out of the Ball Game

To the rest of the world, Tim Burke was living the American Dream. He was a major league baseball player, he was earning a six-figure salary, and he had just signed a contract with the Cincinnati Reds. If that isn't success, what is? But deep inside, Tim Burke knew that he wasn't living up to his own definition of success. You see, several years earlier Tim had become a Christian—which turned his priorities upside down. As he writes in his recent book, Major League Dad, "for years, in my heart, I believed in putting God first, my wife second, our children third, and my work fourth. But that wasn't how I was living." He certainly wasn't. The demands of a major league career often take a severe toll on family life. Tim was on the road nearly a third of the time. To their four children, his wife had to be both mother and father—not to mention teacher, doctor, plumber, car mechanic, and mover. In 10 years of marriage, the Burke family had moved 40 times. But most heart-wrenching was trying to raise children from the pitcher's mound. Tim and his wife felt called to adopt children with special medical needs, including a Korean girl who is retarded, a Guatemalan boy with a thyroid condition, and a Vietnamese boy with a club foot. Raising children with special needs is difficult for any couple, but Tim's schedule made it almost impossible. He was often on the road when his children required surgery or other medical treatment. His relationship with his children was constantly disrupted. His little girl began to pull away from him, saying, "I'm mad because you keep going away and leaving us alone." Finally Tim made up his mind. He strode into the clubhouse and told the manager that he was retiring from baseball. Other men can train to be baseball pitchers, he said; "but I'm the only husband my wife has, and the only father my children have—for a lifetime." As Tim drove away, he watched tearfully as the stadium grew smaller and smaller in his rearview mirror. But if the Burkes thought they were leaving the limelight, they were mistaken. Their phone line has been jammed with requests for interviews and talk show appearances. Their mail box is stuffed with letters from other fathers who have scaled down on work in order to spend more time with their families. Clearly Americans are hungry for a better balance between work and family responsibilities. We read in Joshua 4:8 that if we obey God, He will cause us to prosper. When we hear those words, most of us think of financial success. But God's view of prospering goes far deeper than money or fame. He also wants us to prosper in our closest relationships—with our families, our churches, our neighbors—and ultimately in our relationship with Him. I urge every Christian father to get a copy of Major League Dad. It will give you a great model for becoming the major league husband and father that God intends you to be.


Chuck Colson


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