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Q&A: Huckabee relays a grandparent’s wisdom

NASHVILLE (BP) — TV personality Mike Huckabee is a former presidential candidate, governor and Baptist pastor who’s now aiming “to take charge of the big stuff.”

He’s accepting a “very real responsibility that has weighed heavily on me” — to give his 2-year-old grandson and 1-year-old granddaughter “something that won’t collect dust and can’t be auctioned off on eBay,” Huckabee writes in his latest book, “Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett.”

“I want to give them my wisdom and teach the lessons I’ve learned in my fifty-seven years on this earth,” he writes.

It’s the 10th book by Huckabee, who hosts each weekend’s “Huckabee” show on the Fox News Network and a syndicated weekday radio program.

Chandler is the son of Huckabee’s middle child David while Scarlett is the daughter of his youngest child Sarah; Huckabee’s oldest child John Mark is their uncle. In an interview with Baptist Press, Huckabee said he hopes his reflections, framed in 11 letters on such topics as work, education and God, can extend beyond his family.

“I wanted it to be conversational where, if a person read it, it was just as if I was sitting down having a visit with them,” said Huckabee, who was pastor of Beech Street Baptist Church in Texarkana, Ark., from 1986-92. He was elected as president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention in 1989 and re-elected in 1990.

In politics, Huckabee was a contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 after serving as governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007 and lieutenant governor from 1993-96.

Baptist Press’ interview with Huckabee follows:

BP: Your grandparents — who were they and what were some of the things they might have written to you?

HUCKABEE: One of the reasons I wrote the book is because there are so many things that I don’t know about them. My grandfather was in World War I in the Navy. He came home from the Navy and went to work at the local brick company. He worked there until he retired and died two years after that.

What prompted me, in some ways, to write this, was that I got to thinking, Wouldn’t I love to ask him about his experiences in the Navy and in World War I [and] what it was like raising kids during the Depression, because he was a young father during the Depression when they just barely existed.

But I didn’t care about that stuff when I was little. I didn’t care about it when I was a teenager. I didn’t start caring about those kinds of things until my kids got old enough that I started thinking about it. But by then it was too late.

And so what I wanted to do in the book is to say, These are things that I would tell my grandkids in case I’m gone by the time they start caring. The intent of the book is that other parents and grandparents will start telling their stories while they can.

And whether it’s in a book or maybe a recording on tape or putting it in a video and preserving it for future generations, don’t let your kids be without some knowledge of where they’ve come from.

BP: As a grandparent, what’s in your heart as a priority from now until the end of your life?

HUCKABEE: I want them to know not only that I was a person of faith, I want them to know what I believed. But more importantly, I want them to know why I believed it. The “what” is easy. I want them to know why.

So when I write some of the chapters in which I talk about God and how we know Him and how that is logical, or as I discuss the value of work, or preservation of our world and the environment — all of those are ways in which I’m trying to explain to them not just what I believed, but why I believed it.

Q: What would you describe as best practices in praying for one’s children and grandchildren?

HUCKABEE: I pray that they will have pure hearts, that they will have a hunger for God and truth and that they will also be people who truly will live the Golden Rule.

Some of the stories I tell, I tell them so that they will value other people as equal to themselves. I know my grandkids are going to grow up very differently than me. I grew up as a kid without much and on the other side of town.

They’re going to grow up with a lot of stuff. And they may grow assuming that they deserve it. What I want them to know is that the reason I tell the stories like Miss Mary and her pie shop [in De Valls Bluff, Ark.] is because I want them to value the Miss Marys of life. I want them to realize she’s just as important as the person who does surgery or the person who’s a stockbroker. She has a gift and she’s using it to the glory of God. She’s doing what she does with excellence. And she’s a person who’s fulfilled. To some people, making pies for over 50 years would be a terrible drudgery. It’s a delight to her.

And that’s what I’m trying to get across is, What you do in life is not as important as who you are and what you become.

BP: What kind of country do you sense that Chandler and Scarlett will live in 10 years from now?

HUCKABEE: I fear they’re going to live in a very secular country, one that is not necessarily going to be friendly to the values I’m trying to pass on to them. But I want them to understand the things that really are worth protecting and preserving, just like they would preserve and protect their pets or prized possessions. The most important possession they have is their relationship with God and their sense of integrity. [I hope they will not] allow themselves to be sucked into the vortex of their culture, because the culture is forever changing.

The truth doesn’t ever change. It’s going to remain constant.

BP: Is there a key biblical example of a grandparent that you see in Scripture?

HUCKABEE: You could always consider Abraham the ultimate grandfather — the generations that came after him, the good and the bad, were all part of his heritage. The mistakes that he made, that lived after him. The right things that he did, that lived after him.

[Yet] I didn’t want this to be a book that somebody would say, “I don’t want to read that because it’s a faith book.” I don’t jump away from faith issues and obviously I talk about my own Christian faith and I talk about how to know the existence of God. But by the same token, I didn’t want it to be something that a person thought they were reading a devotional or a Sunday School book, but that they were reading a book that any parent or any grandparent could read and be influenced, even in a positive way for faith.
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press.