Learning from the Gipper’s Regret

One of my heroes in the realm of politics is Ronald Reagan. What many people don’t know about Reagan is that Nancy was not his first wife. Back in 1940, Reagan married an actress named Jane Wyman, and for several years they lived the glamorous life of a Hollywood couple. Then, in 1947, Reagan was elected president of the Screen Actor’s Guild where he became involved with union negotiations and began to resist underground communist organizations that were infiltrating the film industry. This marked the beginning of Reagan’s lifelong battle against communism.

According to historians, Reagan became so preoccupied with his fight against communism that his marriage suffered severely. He became emotionally detached and aloof and neglected his wife Jane to such an extent that eventually she divorced him. A short time after the divorce, a melancholy Reagan said something very profound: “Maybe I should have let someone else save the world and saved my own home.”

Why am I telling you this? Because I am convinced that many a pastor has looked back on his life with regret and said the same thing: Maybe I should have let someone else save the world and instead saved my own home. Maybe I should have let someone else grow the church and instead cultivated my own marriage. Maybe I should have let someone else shepherd the people of God and instead loved my own family.

Loving your family and leading the flock are not mutually exclusive, but failing at the former will disqualify you from the latter. I am a young pastor just starting out in ministry, and already I see the temptation to neglect my family. Already I see how easy it is to get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent at the expense of time with my wife and children. Being young, I don’t have all the answers about how to safeguard this precious priority. But I am convinced that part of the solution is found in reflecting on the profound regret that lies at the end of an unfaithful life and asking myself if I am already taking steps in that direction.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Matt,

    Great first post. Thanks for the needed and sober reminder.

  2. Posted by Chris Pixley on November 20, 2006 at 11:39 pm

    It’s good to have you in the mix here, Matt. Thanks for a great opening post–a timely reminder of the importance of proving our shepherding mettle with our families first. Very convicting indeed!

  3. Posted by Mike Jarvis on November 21, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    I agree. Great post, Matt! A wonderful reminder to keep one’s priorities in check.


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