Guest blog by Jimmy Dykes
Each year, I spend about 150-160 nights on the road away from my family as I travel the country working as a college basketball analyst for ESPN. I feel blessed above and beyond to have this opportunity, but it certainly comes with its share of challenges.
When I’m asked, “What is the hardest part of your job?” the answer is always the same, with no second thought. It's being away from my wife and daughter. Period.
Above all else in life, I am called to be a faithful husband and dad. It's who I am. Working for ESPN as an analyst is what I do, but it’s not who I am. As a result, it is critical that I maintain my roots while traveling.
There are no fewer than 11 different meanings for the word root in the American Heritage Dictionary that I keep in my office. But when using the word roots in the context of this discussion, the third definition jumped out at me: “The essential part or element; the basic core.”
I have learned over the years that I must be intentional every single day in pursuit of maintaining my roots. It will not just happen. Like everything else that is of importance to me, I must make it a priority, and my actions must reflect that. If my intentions are good, but no action follows, I am setting myself up for failure in this key area of life.
Staying Engaged and Connected
The number one thing I can do for my family while on the road is to pray for them. I start my day, regardless of how early that may be, by spending time in prayer for my wife and daughter. There is nothing I can do throughout the day that is more important or impactful than praying over them. Again, there is nothing I can do throughout the day that is more important than praying over them. They are my base, my support, an essential element of who I am, and prayer is an essential part of both honoring them and keeping them at the forefront of my mind.
I also stay try to maintain several daily points of contact with both my wife and daughter. FaceTime at night is a big part of this. (I know Steve enjoys Friday Family Selfie Shares!) I want to know what they are doing, and I want them to know what I am doing. Transparency while I'm away is critical. Again, we are talking about roots here. If roots aren't properly taken care of, they are open to attack. I don't want the roots in my life to be attacked. I try to be the aggressor, and never give an inch to the enemy in this area of my life.
Your Roots, Your Plan
How I maintain roots on the road likely looks different than it does for you. While there is no one right or wrong way to go about it, there must be a conscious plan and accompanying effort. Over the past 16 years I have seen far too many roots wither and die from neglect. It has instilled in me a desire to be intentional in my pursuit to stay grounded in who I am, all while traveling on the road.
I constantly pray for protection. I remain purposeful in what I do. I am determined to not let my base of support and who I am slowly drift away.
It's a fight, and it’s one I have no intention of losing.
May God bless you and your family as you pursue a life that honors God, regardless of where you are.
Jimmy Dykes is a college basketball analyst for ABC/ESPN. You can follow him on twitter @JimmyDykesLive