One of A. W. Tozer's deficiencies was his neglect of his wife and children.
In Lyle Dorsett's biography of Tozer, as he charts Tozer's life, he returns periodically to this theme of Tozer's family. There was virtually no intimacy between A. W. and his wife Ada, and it wasn't because Ada didn't want there to be. A. W. threw much of his energy into knowing God and the ministry that grew from that. A. W. was content to relate to his wife at the shallowest of levels, and Ada was hurt by that. A. W. was often inconsiderate of his wife's needs, often spurning raises and giving away money while his wife struggled with the little money that was left to keep hearth and home together.
Dorsett doesn't blanch in relating this flaw in Tozer, but at the same time he does offer some balancing perspective, though it does not in anyway excuse Tozer. Tozer's own father showed no affection whatsoever. Tozer spoke warmly of his mother but rarely mentioned his father. And in all fairness, it is believed by all who knew Tozer, including his seven children, that he never intentionally hurt Ada; he was just ignorant of the pain he caused.
Ada for her part was hurt to the core and felt wronged for years. It seems she may have struggled some with bitterness, I'm not sure. But to her credit, only a few knew about the pain she bore because of Tozer's insensitivity, and of those few, most surmised it; they didn't learn it directly from her. She didn't grumble or complain. She kept it to herself. (And she was proud of her husband and his ministry.)
It would be incorrect to say, I think, that the Tozers grew apart; rather, they never grew together.
And with regards to his kids, none of the kids ever remembered their father giving to them affection; none ever remembered any kind of initmacy with their dad, with the possible exception of the youngest and the only girl, Rebecca. To be sure their dad did some things with them. He took them on nature walks and taught them how to shoot, for example, but a great deal was missing.
One of the things that bothered the kids, too, was that he never wanted to visit relatives, his own or Ada's. Such visits were done without him. Further, whenever they asked about his growing up, he was almost as silent as a clam. Fortunately, their mother would tell them.
One of the ironies is that Tozer invested in other people, particularly young men with promise or various men on staff with him, but the investment in his children was virtually nil.
Interestingly, "all seven of Tozer's children became solid Christians and not one of them carried bitterness in their heart toward their father."
A year after Tozer died, Ada married Leonard Odam, and the happiest period of her life (age 65-75) ensued. "I have never been happier in my life. Aiden loved Jesus Christ, but Leonard Odam loves me."
- I am occasionally anxious about how well I'm doing as a father and husband. Comparing myself to Tozer gives me some encouragement.
- The most important decision a person has to make is to follow Christ. The fact that all 7 of Tozer's kids followed Jesus is good. It probably happened despite Tozer, but maybe not.
- A. W.'s relationship with Ada will be/is healed in Paradise/Heaven.
- If they had been in the same generation, I wonder what Tozer would have thought of James Dobson and Focus on the Family.
- While his relative neglect of his wife and children seems in my mind a huge flaw, it does not mean that he didn't get anything right. His anointing and his character were profound, and I will still read him with great profit.