This weekend I received the privilege of speaking a few words in my hometown at the church in which I grew up. My dad was honored especially on Father’s Day for his commitment not only to fatherhood, but also his faithfulness to the ministry God’s called him to do. Through thick and thin, Dad has taught the same Sunday School class for 31 years. That’s a LONG time. As father to nine, it hasn’t been until the recent years of rearing my own brood of 7 kiddos that I truly wondered how my parents did it all. With 9 children, paying our way through Christian school and college….and orthodontics…and glasses for some… and of course nothing ever was broken. Ahem.
My dad is such a hero to me!
I could have spoken about my dad for hours, reliving stories and reassuring him of all the points I remembered from his life and instruction. But I boiled it down to 5 points. And the more I thought about them as our family journeyed home from the visit, the more I thought that what my dad has taught me is what every parent should teach their children- in a nutshell. So I’m sharing them with you. Here we go:
1. To love ice cream.
Ok, bear with me for a second. This is the only “funny” point. I really do love ice cream- and so does my dad. While I made a joke of this when I spoke on Sunday at church, I do believe that every parent should believe that making memories often includes making messes. I made a few ice cream messes in my time. But I have some awesome memories of eating ice cream with my dad.
2. To work hard.
Every parent needs to teach their child to give it their all- no matter what “it” is. A strong work ethic will pull you through when others fail. Dad has always worked hard and he worked hard to instill that in his children. It sure has paid off- all 8 of my siblings are responsible, hard-working adults.
3. To keep your word.
“If you say you’re going to do it, then do it.” I can still hear my dad’s tone of voice when he would make that statement. In the face of excuses, many times I wanted to throw in the towel throughout life. But many times the little nudge that would keep me from turning my head and calling and cancelling was the heart impression from my parents to keep my word and follow through as best as I could, no matter the circumstances.
4. To love people no matter where they are in life.
This point is not one that I remember ever hearing my dad say. He didn’t talk about it- he just lived it. Whether the person was a small child,living in the hills of West Virginia, who had no one who cared and loved him enough to cloth and feed him or an elderly person left in the nursing home with few visitors and little sanity, Dad treated people with grace and dignity no matter their circumstances. I didn’t have to hear him say “Now, this is how you treat people…” He simply gave food and clothing and shelter and love whenever he could fill the need.
5. To be faithful to God and service to Him.
I could point to example after example of how my dad emulated this point, but I’m guessing you get that teaching 31 years of Sunday School doesn’t happen by accident. Neither does reading your Bible or praying.
Thanks, Dad, for your love and care. I’m so grateful to call you my dad.
What principle did your mom or dad teach you that you feel every parent should teach their children?