Fathers inevitably pass on a legacy to their children. As I reflected on the goodness of God in giving me my Dad who taught me about Christ from the time I was born, I came up with 10 things (not exhaustive) that I learned from him. These are principles that by God’s grace I am trying to teach my children. There is a biblical principle behind each one, but it strikes me how many of these were taught by lifestyle more than words. Of course we use words in training our children, but what are YOU teaching your children by how you live and interact with them?
Thanks Dad for all you have taught me! I’m not sure if you knew you were teaching me some of these things, but they have all profoundly impacted me and I thank God for you.
1) Know Christ & Serve Him Above All Else
One of the things I thank God for the most in my life is that by His grace and obviously no merit of my own, He placed me in a Christian family that taught me the Gospel from before I can remember. I remember kneeling by my parent’s bed and praying with my Dad, while my Mom was in the room, to accept Christ as my Savior. My Dad also taught us that there is nothing more important in the world than knowing and living for Christ (Philippians 3:7-11).
2) Be Involved at Church
My Dad led music at our church (and my Mom played piano), so we were there for almost every service, including morning and evening. In a day and age where commitment to church involvement is often lacking, I am thankful that my Dad ingrained this into me from the time I was little (Hebrews 10:23-25). It is a joy to serve the Lord, to be with His people, and to learn from God’s Word.
3) Be Wise with Who You Marry
My Dad not only made an excellent choice in his wife, but he would often tell us so. I also remember many conversations about how important the choice of a wife is. He always made it very clear that she had to be a committed Christian and that this choice would influence the rest of my life (Proverbs 31:10-12).
4) Be Honest
I will never forget the time that my Dad accidentally put a pack of breath mints in his pocket at the grocery store counter. We shopped in a small town, so the next time we went to that grocery store he was sure to go back to the same clerk, explain to her what had happened, and pay for it. It had a huge impact on her because she always mentioned it every time she saw him after that. It had a huge impact on my brothers and I because we were watching (Ephesians 4:25).
5) Work Hard
My Dad taught music in Prescott, Washington for over 30 years, but I remember many summers that he was a wheat truck driver or worked in pea fields to supplement income for the needs of our family. His example influenced me greatly during seminary as I worked several different jobs in which it was tempting to think, “I have too much education for this,” etc. Working around the home was also part of being in the family. He taught Proverbs 6:6-7 by example, “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.”
6) Spend Time With Your Family
I have great memories of family vacations, going places like the mountains for a day trip, and fishing. Fishing was special because it was something that we just did with Dad and even though I hated having to bait my hook with a worm, I cherish those times together (Ephesians 6:4).
7) Have Fun With Your Kids
My Dad not only made time for his family, but he also had fun with us. My Dad loves to laugh and family dinners were often hilarious (Proverbs 17:22). When we were little I remember knowing at times that he might be stressed out about something, but that did not mean that he wouldn’t have fun with us.
8) Be There for Your Kids
I can honestly say that my Dad hardly ever missed a sporting event or piano recital. Other than a few games that were a far away drive, I don’t think he even missed any “away” basketball games. There were many kids on my team for which this was not the case. It gave us something in common, and I always knew that he saw it and was proud if I made a shot (which wasn’t that often!). This is one of the ways that I most often felt my father’s love for me (Colossians 3:21), which is why I did everything I possibly could to get off of work early when my son was a sheep at church this last Christmas. Thanks for being so consistent on this one, Dad.
9) Treat People With Respect
My parents taught me to treat all people with respect whether they are of a different race, disabled, different socioeconomic background, homeless, etc (Matthew 7:12). It is amazing how many students at the little school my Dad taught at for 30 years have later come back and shared that they are born again Christians now; I know that God used his consistent lifestyle testimony in their lives as he was different in this respect than other teachers.
10) Never Give Up
I once wanted to quit a sports team halfway through the season because of issues with the coach, but my Dad would not let me. He explained that even though I would not have to play next season, that I needed to persevere this season even though it would be tough. I’m glad that he made me stick it out and I want to teach my kids the same lesson (Romans 5:3-4).