My Dad, Tim Russert

Luke Russert: What I Learned From My Dad

Tim Russert

“Dad”—no title or honor in his life carried more significance to my father, Tim Russert. He once told Oprah Winfrey, “When my life is over, there’s nothing more I’ll be judged on than what kind of father I was.” And he was a wonderful one.

He was not only my best friend, but my compass. While he was alive, he guided me with his actions and advice. Since he’s been gone, those “lessons of life,” as he once called them, have continued to give me counsel and comfort. Here are three of them.

“Believe in yourself.”
If there was one phrase my father never liked to hear, it was “I can’t.” His dad—my grandpa—was a garbage man from South Buffalo, N.Y. He never got to finish high school and held down two jobs to provide for his family, but he never complained. Through education and years of hard work, my dad rose from South Buffalo to become the preeminent political journalist of his generation.

When I was a freshman in high school, I had a terrible time with geometry. My dad found me a tutor, but I still struggled. So my teacher suggested I meet with him at 7 each morning before school for extra help. I told my dad, “That’s crazy! I can’t do that!” He replied, “You’re doing it. I’ll bring you.” Every morning at 6:45 a.m., we’d leave the house. Despite working 12-hour days, often with a Today show appearance between 7 and 8 a.m., my dad never once missed driving me to school.

After months of studying, I was facing the final exam. I was so nervous. If I bombed, I was looking at summer school and—worst of all—failure. On the day of the final, my dad took me to school. He got out of the car and walked with me the first 20 yards. Then he hugged me and said, “Luke, believe in yourself. You can do it. Whatever happens, it’ll be okay. I love you, and I know you can do this.” His words made me realize I needed to trust in my ability and in the hours of work I’d put in. I ended up passing, and it’s still one of my proudest achievements. When I got my grade, the first person I called was Dad. He screamed, “Yes! You worked your butt off, buddy! You earned it, and you believed in yourself!”

Even now, whenever I worry that a task is too much for me or have doubts about performing my job as a Capitol Hill correspondent for NBC News, I think back to that geometry exam. No matter how hard something is, if you’re willing to work, you can succeed. I’m forever grateful to Dad for that lesson.

“It’s okay to be scared.”
In 2004, my dad and I were on a South Bend, Ind.–to–D.C. flight that hit very bad turbulence. The plane kept lurching, and it seemed to fall hundreds of feet in a few seconds. I was terrified, and I held on to the armrests for what I thought was literally dear life. But Dad, a veteran flier, didn’t flinch. He put his hand on my back, saying it would be okay, and eventually we reached smoother skies. Still, I walked away from that experience with a fear of flying. Even though I dreaded getting on airplanes, I forced myself to travel. But because I wanted to appear tough, I didn’t mention my fear to anybody.

One Sunday night, I was due to fly back to Boston after visiting family and friends in Washington, D.C. The sky looked ominous, and I hoped my flight would be canceled. It wasn’t. Dad drove me to the airport, and he could tell I wasn’t myself. I was curt and furiously tapping the door handle. As we pulled up to the terminal, I really started sweating and I blurted out the truth: I was terrified about flying. He said, “I’m coming in with you.” At the counter, to my astonishment, my dad used his airline miles to get himself a ticket to Boston! I asked, “Don’t you have to be on the Today show in the morning?” He responded, “I do, but I’m going through security and walking you to the plane.” I was mortified—I was 21 and I needed an escort. I told him not to worry. My dad said, “It’s okay to be scared. Let’s talk.” We went through security and had a beer at the airport bar. He told me not to be afraid—that airlines only fly under safe conditions, that pilots are very well trained—and he quoted a statistic about air travel being the safest form of travel. He also said to think of turbulence as “rough waves that hit a boat. It might get choppy, but you know you won’t sink.” When boarding was announced, he said, “I love ya, buddy. Call me when you land,” and I got on the plane. Even though the flight was a bit bumpy, my dad’s boat analogy eased my mind.

I learned that night it’s okay for a man to show fear and vulnerability. My dad could have said, “Suck it up. It’s only an hour-and-a-half flight.” Instead he went out of his way to support my weakness. To this day, I don’t believe in a “no fear” attitude. All of us have fears, and they’re real. But if you can acknowledge them and understand them—you might need help, like I did—you can overcome them. I’m still not crazy about flying, but whenever I step onto a plane, I think of Dad’s image of a boat in the ocean and it brings me tranquility.

Tim and Luke

“Remember the little things.”
People are always coming up to me with a “Tim Russert story”: about politics, sports, Buffalo, or just a chance encounter. Often, it’s about a thoughtful thing my father did. Dad was a big believer in random acts of kindness. It was not uncommon for me to come back to my room in college and find a FedEx box containing magazines, a Twix bar (my favorite), and a note from him. The packages brightened my day. It wasn’t so much what they contained—it was that my dad, the busiest man I knew, took the time to show he was thinking about me.

When I started at NBC News, a coworker sought me out and told me a story I’ll never forget. He was working for my dad when his own father became seriously ill, and he needed to take days off. Whenever he asked my father’s permission, my dad always said yes. But he did much more. My coworker talked about the many emails and phone calls he got from Dad, just checking up on him and his sick parent. When his father passed away, my dad sent flowers and gave him all the time off he needed. The man said, “I hadn’t even been at NBC for that long, so to know Tim Russert cared that much about me and my family meant the world to me.”

I’ve tried to continue my dad’s caring ways, whether it’s by making a quick phone call, giving an unexpected gift to a friend, or helping someone who’s a few dollars short at the grocery store. Take it from me and my dad—the little things do matter. (This story appeared in Parade Magazine, June 11, 2011.) http://bit.ly/ltParP

 

Tim Russert's son, Luke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luke Russert, an NBC News correspondent, is following his Dad’s lead on and off the job.

Editor’s Note: This  is not a Christian story in our usual form, but it is very much Christian in the love and fellowship expressed by this father to his son.   You will find deep meaning and experience a number of emotions as you read this story from Luke about his famous father, Tim Russert.

 

Worry

Michael Guido

WHY WORRY?

By Michael Guido / Metter, Georgia

A reporter once asked Henry Ford the question, Do you ever worry?

No. I believe that God is managing my affairs. With God in charge, I believe that everything will work out for our best. So, what s there to worry about?

Worry is like going back and forth in a rocking chair: a lot of motion and no forward movement. It can disturb our thinking, disorganize our work, destroy our health and steal our life. It has never calmed a fear or brought peace to a troubled heart.

Worry is nothing more than anticipating some calamity or chaos that will probably never come our way. It normally has no substance or power except what we allow it to have as it invades our minds and controls our thoughts.

When we allow worry to muddle our minds, we need to call upon God immediately. We must ask Him to replace each worry with His promises and ask for an extra portion of faith and trust in His goodness and grace. He knows what is in our future and every need that we will ever have and is committed to caring for us.

Prayer: Help me, Father, to increase my faith in You as I learn to trust Your promises and accept Your will. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:31-32 Therefore do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

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The Empty Chair

W. A. Criswell

I heard a preacher one time tell one of the most moving things.  There was an old gentleman whose wife died, and he went to live with his daughter.  And they built a room onto the house for the aged father to live in.  The father went one time to the pastor, who’s telling the story, went to the pastor and said, “Pastor, sometimes God seems so far away.  Just so far away.  I wish I knew how to get close to Him.  And then He would be close to me.”  And just of a sudden there came into the heart of the pastor an answer.  He said, “Tell you what you do, you draw up a chair by the side of your chair.  And you just talk to the Lord Jesus in that chair, just as though He were there in the days of His flesh.  You just talk to Him.  And He’ll listen and He’ll talk to you back into your heart.  You just talk to Him.” So the old man did it.

And, upon a day, the daughter came to the pastor to arrange for his funeral service.  He had died in the night, her father.  And she said, “You know, it’s the strangest thing.  When I went into the room, there he lay in the bed.  He’d gone to be with the Lord.  But the strangest thing—in the night, in the night he had pulled up an empty chair.  And he had died with his hand on that empty chair.”

He’s as near as your breath and as close as your hands and your feet.  The approachability and the availability of our Lord!

Story told by Dr. W. A. Criswell, long pastor of First Baptist Church / Dallas

Saved Right Now!

Saved! Oh, How I love to Proclaim it

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:”  –Text: 2 Timothy 1:9-10

By Charles H. Spurgeon

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling.

The apostle uses the perfect tense and says, “Who hath saved us.”

Believers in Christ Jesus are saved.

They are not looked upon as persons who are in a hopeful state, and may ultimately be saved, but they are already saved.

Salvation is not a blessing to be enjoyed upon the dying bed, and to be sung of in a future state above, but a matter to be obtained, received, promised, and enjoyed now.

The Christian is perfectly saved in God’s purpose; God has ordained him unto salvation, and that purpose is complete.

He is saved also as to the price which has been paid for him: “It is finished” was the cry of the Savior before He died.

The believer is also perfectly saved in God’s covenant made with the first man, Adam, for as he fell in Adam, so he lives in Christ.

This complete salvation is accompanied by a holy calling. Those whom the Savior saved upon the cross are in due time called by the power of God, the Holy Spirit, unto holiness: they leave their sins; they endeavor to be like Christ; they choose holiness, not out of any compulsion, but from the stress of a new nature, which leads them to rejoice in holiness just as naturally as before they delighted in sin.

God neither chose them nor called them because they were holy, but He called them that they might be holy, and holiness is the beauty produced by His workmanship in them.

The excellencies which we see in a believer are as much the work of God as the atonement itself. Thus is brought out very sweetly the fullness of the grace of God.

Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord is the author of it: and what motive but grace could move Him to save the guilty?

Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord works in such a manner that our righteousness is for ever excluded. Such is the believer’s privilege–a present salvation; such is the evidence that he is called to it–a holy life.

 

Redeemed–how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am.

Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child, and forever, I am.

Redeemed and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long;
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.

I know I shall see in His beauty
The King in whose way I delight;
Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
And giveth me songs in the night.

Video of this blessed hymn: http://bit.ly/kOSDD

Billy Graham Talks about Death

“We think of the cross as being at the very center of Christianity—and it is. And yet, apart from the resurrection, the cross stands for death, not life. It is possible for us to stand on the wrong side of Easter and look at the cross all our lives and never be redeemed or saved.”

Those words taken from the following sermon by Billy Graham.

We Can Face Death With Confidence

Physical life is a possession we all hold on to, and yet we know that sooner or later we will die. Death hangs over our heads from the cradle to the grave. The Bible teaches that death is no respecter of persons. Death enters the home of the rich as boldly as it enters the humble apartment in a ghetto. It brings down the final curtain as swiftly on the famous as it does on the unknown. The Bible says, “It is appointed unto men once to die.”(1) Our appointment with death is as certain as sunrise or sunset. Before this year ends, many of us will have kept our appointments with death.

A Message by Billy Graham

The Scriptures talk a great deal about the end of the world. But when we die, that is the end of the world to us. We can’t bargain with death. When Queen Elizabeth I lay dying, she whispered, “All my possessions for a moment of time!” But she couldn’t strike a bargain with death.

I have learned that you can tell how a person values life by his estimate of death. What a person believes about death shows what he thinks about life. Over the years I have had opportunities to talk with people who were facing the possibility of death.

One man who had always been healthy had never given a serious thought to death. Then one day he had a pain in his side. He went to a doctor who discovered that the man had cancer. The man said, “Immediately my entire world changed. The things I valued most became worthless, and the things that I considered of little value are now the most important things in the world to me.”

There are at least three philosophies about death that people hold today:

In the first philosophy about death, a person says, “When I am dead, I am dead. I will take my chances with the hereafter.”

Those who hold that kind of philosophy see the drama of life to be without plot or purpose. They see life as a meaningless puzzle, and to them life is a maze in which they wander aimlessly throughout their lifespan and never once catch a glimpse of a higher destiny.

Jesus told of a man who thought that earthly existence was the chief end of man. This man did not believe in life after death, nor did he have any faith in God. This man toiled and prospered, and he became famous. But he also grew old. The only “heaven” that he had hoped for was security, and he had attained it. He said, “I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.”(2) He said, “I will take my chances.” He gambled, and he lost.

How different that is from the triumphant statement of the Apostle Paul who said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”(3) The writers in the Bible were looking forward to death with keen anticipation. They knew that this life is only a dressing room for eternity.

The Bible teaches that this life is short and that we can never know when the moment of death will come. Therefore we should be prepared at all times to meet death face to face.

In the second philosophy about death, a person says, “I believe in life after death, but I am not concerned about crossing that bridge until I get to it.” This philosophy was expressed in a newspaper column some time ago. The writer said, “I have come to believe in life after death, but I am not going to worry about it until I face it.”

How strange that people should spend 20 or more years preparing for life’s vocation, and not take so much as five minutes to prepare to meet God! The Bible urges us to “prepare to meet thy God.”(4) We are so taken up with building a good life here that we have forgotten about eternity. C. S. Lewis once warned that when we become so preoccupied with this life and lose the value of eternity, then we lose this life as well.

Some years ago a rich man died, and his servant was asked: “Did your master go to heaven?”

“No, sir,” came the reply. “My master always made careful preparations when he was going someplace, and I didn’t notice him getting ready to go anywhere. No, sir, I don’t think he went to heaven.”

Nothing in life is more important than your appointment with destiny and your date with death. Are you certain that you are prepared? This month, by the time we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, thousands of people will have died. I cannot help but wonder how many of them will be prepared to meet God.

In the third philosophy about death, a person says, “I stand with Christ, the Lord of life and death, and rest my case in His hands.” The Psalmist David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”(5) Here is the trumpet of hope that has echoed down through every cemetery of the world; it has made the experience of death not a bitter end, but a bright dawning.

Jesus Christ, who Himself went down into the grave and came forth with “the keys of hell and of death”(6) in His hands that first Easter, said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”(7)

Victor Hugo in his old age said, “When I go down to the grave, I can say, ‘I have finished my day’s work,’ but I cannot say, ‘I have finished my life’s work.’ … The tomb is not a blind alley; it is an open thoroughfare. … The tomb, which closes on the dead, opens the firmament. And that what on earth we call the end is the commencement. Death is the portal of life.”(8)

We think of the cross as being at the very center of Christianity—and it is. And yet, apart from the resurrection, the cross stands for death, not life. It is possible for us to stand on the wrong side of Easter and look at the cross all our lives and never be redeemed or saved.

No other word in all our vocabulary is more expressive of the message of Christ than the word “resurrection.” At Calvary the little band of disciples watched their Lord Jesus die, and they saw His broken body taken from the cross. Earlier, one of them had betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver. Another had cursed and had sworn that he never knew Him. Most of them, turning and running for their lives, had forsaken Him. When Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb and the stone was rolled against it, it seemed that this was the end of all their hopes.

Then came Easter morning, and the midnight of despair was turned into glorious dawning. It was the resurrection of all their hopes.

But Calvary does not tell the whole story. Jesus died for all our sins, but the Bible says that Jesus “was raised again for our justification.”(9)

Several years ago I talked with Chancellor Adenauer, of Germany, and he asked me, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is alive?”

I replied, “Yes, I do.”

He said, “So do I. If Jesus Christ is not alive, then I see no hope for the world. It is the fact of the resurrection that gives me hope for the future.” As he spoke those words, his eyes lighted up.

Indeed, the resurrection of Christ is the only hope of the world: “If Christ be not risen, then our hopes and dreams and faith are in vain.”(10)
“The resurrection of Christ is the only hope of the world.”
But Christ is alive. And because He is alive, that makes all the difference in the world. In His resurrection evil has been defeated, Satan has been defeated, death has lost its sting, love has conquered hate, God has accepted the atoning work of Christ on the cross, and all of creation bursts forth in a new song. Because Christ is alive, we can face death with confidence.

As we look at the world today and see what is happening, only those who are foolish could be undisturbed. Scientists say that mankind faces the possibility of destruction. Economists say that the world is in economic trouble. We hear dire predictions of the future.

But the resurrection of Christ tells us that if we believe in Him, then we need not panic. We need not wring our hands, asking, “What shall we do?” It is true that we are concerned and burdened, and it is certain that we will pray to God, but we do not cry out in terror as others do.

Is the hope and peace and joy of Christ yours today even as you contemplate death? Can you face death with full confidence that you will enter into the presence of Christ? You can have this hope if you are willing to turn from your sin and receive Christ. You can do it now. The Bible says that “if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, then we shall be saved.”(11) Will you be saved?