Why is it that in the Old Testament, so often great kings are followed by evil ones? Reading Kings and Chronicles lately, I've been struck by this -- it seems strange that a godly king would have a son who departs so far from the ways of the Lord. Jehoshaphat's son Jehoram killed all of his brothers; Absalom, son of David (the man after God's own heart) did not have the godly fear of harming God's anointed one the way David did. Other examples abound. How did the sons not learn from their fathers?
Reading biographies of other, more recent "great men," has shown me a possible reason for the disconnect. John Adams played a crucial role in the establishment of the United States as a free republic, not to mention his service as ambassador, vice-president and president. He was a man of great (not perfect) character, yet one of his sons died of alcoholism. Winston Churchill too -- great leader, remarkable man, yet not a "good" father. These men (and others) devoted their lives to serving their countries, and their families suffered for it.
I suspect it is difficult, if not impossible, for a man to excel both as a father and as a public servant -- not to mention other professions. Billy Graham, for example, has said that he now realizes he spent too much time away from home and that he wishes he would have been a more present and involved father. Much is made of how women cannot "have it all," but the same dilemma faces men who want to make a difference in the world and at home.
I am naturally (or conditioned to be) ambitious, and part of me wants my husband to be as ambitious as I am. He isn't. When I reflect on the lives of "great men," though, I am glad that my husband has chosen the better part -- he takes his career seriously, but he makes his family his first priority. He is home at an early hour every night and very actively involved in our son's upbringing. What could he do that is greater than the influence he is having on our son (soon, our children)? As much as I appreciate the genius, hard work and accomplishments of men like Adams and Churchill, I am grateful to be married to someone whose work the world will probably not notice, but to whom the Lord will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."