Yup, that’s me with my dad in 1969. As I reflect on this Father’s day six years after his passing, I think of several lessons his life taught me.
1. The best way to lead your wife is with love.
Mom and dad met on a blind date that was setup by their best friends, who also later married. Dad said he knew she was the one from their first date. And although mom was still in high school, they eloped shortly thereafter. Neither of their parents were thrilled with their union but mom and dad’s love for each other was undeniable.
I never really saw my parents fight growing up. Although they sometimes disagreed, dad would inevitably defer to mom. Many would say that my dad worshiped the ground my mom walked on. But make no mistake, my dad was not whipped, he was wise. He knew that real love is measured in giving, not taking. He treated mom like a queen and in turn she treated him like a king. Instead of demanding her respect he earned it by putting her first in everything.
My dad taught me that real men are servant leaders.
2. The best way to lead your family is to provide.
My dad worked as a blue collar laborer his whole life. He was one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known. In the earliest years of their marriage, dad worked three jobs to put food on the table.
Hard work is not just something blue collar laborers have to do, it’s something all men are called to do. In a day and age when many people work hard to avoid working hard, my dad exemplified the biblical truth that hard work is an honorable thing.
My dad taught me that real men work real hard.
3. The best way to lead your community is with justice.
When he was a young man, my dad wanted to be a lawyer. He had an incredible sense of justice. He took a few classes in the earliest years of their marriage, but as his family grew so did his need to provide. He put his dream on hold without complaining, but his spirit of fighting for the “little guy” was present his whole life.
I remember many times seeing him sitting at the dining room table with a notebook and newspaper. When I asked what he was doing he told me he was writing a letter to the editor. And write he did. He exercised his right to free speech frequently, and was published several times. I truly believe that dad’s sense of justice is one of the strongest characteristics he passed on to me. He may not have passed the bar but he certainly passed a legacy.
My dad taught me that real men fight for what’s right.
4. The best way to lead your life is with Jesus.
When my brothers and I were little, dad made every effort to get us to church whenever his schedule allowed. He worked swing shifts at the plant and so he rarely had a Sunday off. He’d dress us all up and haul us to church. Inevitably we were almost always late when we got there. My earliest memories of church were of us huddling in the vestibule waiting for the right break in the flow of service to sneak in.
When I became a Christian a young teenager, I remember asking my dad questions about God. I was blown away at how much Bible knowledge this blue collar, uneducated man really had. Although he was never a deacon or church leader, he had a deep faith and an incredible reverence for God.
My dad taught me that real men demonstrate real strength in deep faith.
Although I am not half the man my dad was, I am blessed to be a better man because of him.
Happy Father’s Day dad…see you when I get home!