Yesterday I received a call from a friend of mine who is the lead executive of a well-known mission agency. Last week, his wife was diagnosed with a rare and dangerous form of cancer. He called to seek advice regarding how to negotiate the changes coming into his life as a result of his wife’s illness. He thought to ask me about this because of Nancy and my experience in fighting cancer while I was Caleb Project’s CEO. She fought breast cancer and a recurrence.

During the course of our conversation here are some of the points I shared with him:

1. This is a life changing event. Your lives will never be the same again. I did not say that to discourage him, but to help him recognize reality. When Nancy was first diagnosed with cancer, I longed for life to return to “normal.” I did not realize that our lives were forever changed and we would never return to the way things were.

2. That cancer is a physical battle. Everyone who has cancer and everyone close to someone who has cancer realizes the enormous physical cost. Regardless of the way one chooses to respond, cancer consumes people’s time, energy, focus, often money, etc. It is best to expect it to be a prolonged fight that requires an investment of resources from everyone directly and indirectly affected by the disease.

3. This missions executive should also recognize that cancer is also a spiritual battle. This one is a bit tricky, so please bear with me. I encouraged him to not allow cancer to inappropriately distract him from the ministry God intends him to complete. Of course, he has the responsibility to be there with and for his wife. She needs him more than ever. She must receive priority attention from him. However, his organization also needs him. It would be a victory for Evil if this leader neglected his ministry and organizational responsibilities and allowed the organization to founder. In light of this, I urged him to be in prayerful consultation with his wife to assess how to allocate his time and energy. Neither one of them want him to compromise any of his responsibilities. I don’t think he will if he, with his wife and others, deliberately invests himself in activities and tasks that are deemed priorities.

Life can be complex. However, with God’s help and through prayer and discipline, we can succeed with all that we are supposed to do.

What do you think? Was this good advice? What would you have told him?