I served as a Bishop for 5 years, during which time I had a very busy travel schedule with my work. Sometimes I would be out of town Monday-Friday, then home for YM/YW activities (yes, that is what we called in in the olden days!) on Saturday, and all day Sunday for my normal routine, then repeat it all again starting Monday.
I still had three kids at home to start, and one daughter when I was released. I was able to see the light at the end of the 5 years, and justified my time away from family as it was only for 4…3…2…1 more years. About a year after I was released, a member of the Stake Pres came by my house to call me to attend the Spanish ward and help them out. I told them it was my daughter’s last year in the family ward, I had missed the previous five years sitting with her and my wife, and I did not want to leave the ward. He tried to convince me but I held firm and said no. About 3 years later after all my kids were out of the house I did take a calling in the Spanish ward with my wife by my side.
A few years ago I was again called to meet with a member of the Stake Pres, who called me to the Stake YM Presidency. I that time we had a daughter going through some hard times with her husband’s job, and it was taking a lot of our time helping out, so again I turned it down, citing my family obligations that came first. Again they tried to talk me into taking the calling but I held firm.
Both of these times I needed to exert my right to be with my family. The family first motto is nice, but it does not seem to apply to leaders. I recently listened to an interview with a daughter of a 70 (Hartman Rector Jr). She was seven when her dad was called in 1969. She recounted how her dad, with her mom, would leave for 4-6 weeks at a time on church assignments around the world, and she and her siblings would be farmed out to families in the ward. She talked about how traumatic this was for her and her younger brother, being left at the homes of strangers for such long periods of time.
She also said her father was not there for her baptism, and a strange man she did not know baptized her. Her father was never there for any of the daddy-daughter activities they had in Young Women.
I had a friend who’s father was the Stake President for all his teenage years. He has few if any memories of him being home, or doing things with him.
How do we justify this as a church when we are so family oriented? What is the apologetic answer to this? Have any of you grown up with absentee fathers due to their church callings? How did it affect you?