Ross Perot always talked a lot about his mother. It had been his intention early on to build new subdivisions in Texas, putting quality schools in each one to ensure that future generations are raised with the same kind of quality education his mother raised him with. Perot says that the little things she did prepared him to be the kind of man he is today. During the Depression years hoboes would regularly visit the Perot household. One day one of the hoboes told Perot’s mother why. Earlier destitute wanderers had put a white mark on the curb in front of the Perot home so that other hoboes would know this particular house was an easy mark. Young Ross asked his mother if she wanted him to erase the white mark. She said no. He never forgot those acts of compassion. He said in a later interview, “You sit there and see your parents doing things like that—-it’s the greatest lesson in the world!” He was so influenced by his mother’s life that he adopted her values; they continued to live on in him.
Stories like that are far more meaningful to me now than earlier in my life. We all wear to some degree the blinders we inherit from our culture. We see only the obvious things as we begin our families and only ask ourselves such questions as “Can I produce a comfortable life for us all?” “Will I succeed in my business?” “What will I have to do and where will I have to go to climb the ladder to personal success?” In the process we allow our marriages and families to drift while we engage in the “necessary” things. Only later, through much experience, some of it quite bitter, do we realize that we have spent all of our time pursuing the wrong goals.
Nothing—absolutely nothing—can take the place of both father and mother making the time, at the expense of lesser demands, to pursue the construction of a family. Your children will never care how much money you made, what your title was or how important you were to others. But they will never forget (and often never forgive) your absence when they most needed you. Those values you want them to treasure can’t be faxed to them from your office or communicated from a cell phone. God has given us all a great opportunity to prepare the next generation to be the confident, loving and secure people He intends for them to be. All it takes is love and compassion and a lot of time. What a tragedy that so many of us never recognize that window of opportunity until it is closed forever!
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship