In a culture where we are reaping the results of more and more children born into fatherless households, I had the privilege of being raised by a father and mother who loved me and gave me every possible opportunity to grow into adulthood as a reasonably well-adjusted nearly 58 year old.
And so on this Father’s Day weekend, I wanted to write a few words about my Dad.
First, most people who have known my family for a long time, know my Dad was murdered just a few months before he would have celebrated his 49th birthday and his 30th anniversary with my mom. The day was February 22, 1989, and it was a devastating day in so many ways as a wife lost her husband, children lost their father, a mother lost her son and a church and community lost its pastor.
I think about it often, but his untimely death is not his legacy. Our family has faced its challenges along the way, but it is my hope that while we have been affected, we have been able to move forward.
His life continues to provide a pattern for mine in so many ways.
First, Dad taught me the importance of my relationship with God. He did more than preach to me on Sunday, I was an eyewitness to his daily life. He would not like to hear me say it, but Dad was one of the few people I know who could have quoted “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” ( 1 Corinthians 11:1).
Now, Dad was not perfect, but he was a man dedicated to his walk with Christ. I knew his routine of getting up early and beginning his day in pursuit of Christ. So, on the morning he was killed I was not surprised to find his bible opened on the counter or his prayer list with familiar names and situations. He both lived with a purpose to pursue Christ with his life and recognized his dependence on Christ.
Second, Dad knew and lived the ideal of loving your neighbor. I have heard time and time again of his generosity to others and I never observed him treating one person more favorably than another. In fact, he often went out of his way to help others and I think his impact of operating as a Christian in his businesses likely outweighed what he said on Sunday mornings.
Third, Dad demonstrated for all of us how to take a risk. Dad was an entrepreneur, building (literally) and starting two gas stations and then transforming to an auto parts store during the 70’s gas crisis. Finally, Dad decided to start a church in a town where he was unknown.
I remember one risk he took with a person within his church. A man who was struggling with alcoholism needed two things – a job and a place to stay. Dad took on that challenge and gave second and third chances to make it work which leads me to the next and final point for this post.
Finally, Dad demonstrated perseverance throughout his entire life. I know of his sometimes difficult childhood, but I saw first-hand how he handled adversity in his business, in the church, and with at least one often contrarian son. He was almost always patient and considerate and loving – even when the situation was difficult.
Maybe you didn’t share the same privilege, but even if you didn’t have the greatest parents in the world, there is value in honoring our parents. We honor them because we literally owe them our lives, but as Paul reminds us, it “is the first commandment with a promise— so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
How do we honor our parents? I think we honor them by the way we lead our lives, by speaking well of them, by seeking their wisdom on a life we haven’t lived as yet, by caring for them, by loving them with more than words on an occasional card.