Lessons Learned from Tony Snow

“The art of being sick is not the same as the art of getting well. Some cancer patients recover; some don’t. But the ordeal of facing your mortality and feeling your frailty sharpens your perspective about life. You appreciate little things more ferociously. You grasp the mystical power of love. You feel the gravitational pull of faith. And you realize you have received a unique gift – a field of vision others don’t have about the power of hope and the limits of fear; a firm set of convictions about what really matters and what does not. You also feel obliged to share these insights – the most important of which is this: There are things far worse than illness – for instance, soullessness.”

– Tony Snow

While I was on Capitol Hill working as a press secretary for Sen. Saxby Chambliss, I was a member of the Senate Press Secretary’s Association.  One day, the leaders of this group set up a meeting for the Senate press secretaries to visit the White House and meet with Tony Snow.

Before I left my career in the “political world” for the “ministry world” my dream was to follow in the footsteps of Tony and Ari and C.J. Craig (just kidding about C.J.), and this opportunity was the closest I ever had to meeting the real deal. I may have been to first to sign up.

Ashley, my press assistant at the time, and I joined about 50 other Senate press aides on the journey over to 1600 Pennsylvania to hear from a man, who to many of us, served as a mentor, role model, and a source of inspiration in our daily work.  If the man didn’t inspire us all, the position itself did. I’d be willing to bet every person in the room that day dreamed of spending a day, or a term, in this man’s shoes.  Some will spend the best years of their lives fighting to get there. Personally, I have surrendered to the truth that these shoes will always be too big for me to fill.

I remember as soon as we got there, Ashley and I sat on the very front row, right in front of the podium. I was so excited, but more nervous.  I am not sure why I was so nervous.  Maybe because he worked in news and as a press secretary ( like me ), maybe because how well he related to the press corps ( not like me ) or how he had not only the ear, but the trust of the leader of the free world.  Probably all of these things and more caused me to feel like I was meeting the president himself.  I got caught up in the drama of it all.

I was so excited to hear from Tony, to learn about how he manages his day and what it’s like to be a husband, a father, and the White House press secretary all at the same time.  And he talked about these things with us very candidly, and shared with us as if we were the newest additions to his staff.  I really appreciated that.  His humble approach to his position and his life’s work may have been the most inspiring part of his talk.  He was not defined by his title; he was defined by the intangible things of life that really make life worth living.  He knew who he was, and who he was didn’t change whether he was White House press secretary or Fox News personality – a rare quality in this town.

I never had a chance to officially meet Tony Snow that day.  Maybe if I hadn’t seated myself on the very front row right in front of the podium I would’ve worked up the courage to ask him something. The Q and A part of the talk came and went too quickly, and I was too nervous to ask anything. He whisked in and out on a schedule that appeared to be as tight as my boss’ at the time.  But I left the White House that day feeling very inspired by the stories has shared and time he took to let us Senate flacks have a look inside the top spot on the press secretary circuit.

For no particular reason, I woke up in a terrible mood today.  Just ask Brian. After I dropped him off at work, I turned to the radio to cheer my mood.  Something told me to switch on WAVA, the local “preaching” radio station.  I checked the time and remembered that it was time for Focus on the Family to be on.  Not sure that was the “cheer” I was seeking, but none the less, I tuned in to find a rebroadcast of an interview between James Dobson and Tony Snow.  (the rebroadcast was an add on to part 2 of a separate series so if you click the link, don’t be confused.)

I was once again inspired by this man’s courageous and humble approach to life.  He talked about his diagnosis like a man who knew who he was and what life was really about.  As I drove into work, I thought, “I want to be like that.” and decided that this would be my entry back into blogging.

Then when I arrived at work, I received an email with Tony Snow’s testimony about his battle with Cancer.  click here to read: tony-snow-cancer-testimony Wow. There is so much more to this man than what we saw behind the podium in the briefing room or behind the desk on Fox News Sunday. Tony had soul!  Tony had purpose! Tony was an excellent communicator who knew how to connect with any audience. He left a legacy of dignity and respect unparalleled in our industry.  If you have a chance, read this tribute by a colleague who knew him well.  I wish I would’ve had the chance to know him.

Apparently today has become Tony Snow Tuesday. It’s interesting to me how God is using his story to get me back on track. Who better to motivate this writer/communicator/spokesperson at heart to chase after the opportunities I have been blessed with in life. I have no reason to sport the ‘tude today or any day really.  What a selfish approach to life.  I don’t want to be that person.

Tony Snow understood the secret.  He was aware of the power bigger than his own and available to him as a man of Faith and he relied on that power on tv, on the radio, as a writer, as a father, as a husband, and in the White House.

I hope I can learn from his example, and trust my Faith to guide me, and never let my title or position or situation in life (whatever it may be) define who I am or what I am able/capable of doing.

Ephesians 3:14-21
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Momma says:

    I love Tony Snow. I remember the first time I saw him on television. I immediately liked him. I also thought that I wanted to be just like him. He had a wonderful attitude and never let anything or anyone change that. That is the part I wanted to be just like. At first I didn’t know why he came across this way, but it is so apparent to me now. He really “got” it. I want to only focus on what is really important (our relationship with our Savior) and forget the rest.
    This is how I really feel—-me, a person who has spent too much of her life obsessing about things that do not matter.

  2. Leah says:

    Tony Snow was a fabulous man, and I’m so saddened that Anna Nicole Smith’s death (at the time) has received more press coverage than his. It is so sad that our society sensationalizes failures instead of lifting up actual, legitimate role models.

    Thanks for the great article!

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