My Father

My Dad, Mom, and Addy

Thoughtful Thursday is personal again.  If you don’t like it, then don’t read it :p

A few weeks ago, I went on a trip with the men from our church plant in Moldova to our sister church in Braila, Romania.  It was a time for learning, but also a time for bonding between brothers.  On the night before we left to come home, we all sat around the table, and the senior pastor asked each of us, “How is your relationship with your father.”  The stories and discussions that followed broke my heart.  As I sat there, listening to each man describe his horrible childhood, something became evident: a good father is a hard thing to come by.

Out of the 9 grown men in the room, only 2 could say they had good relationships with their fathers.  I am blessed to be one of them.

The other men had stories – terrible stories – of physical abuse, complete negligence, and broken hearts.  For some of them, I’m sure they actually wished they had been orphaned.  Some of the stories, the words, and the look in my friends’ eyes are etched in my mind.

My dad is not, nor has he ever been abusive or negligent. Quite the opposite.  He was caring and disciplined at the same time.

He taught me how to work.  “Never think that any line of work is below you, son.”  “If you’re going to take the time to do something, take the time to do it right.”  It wasn’t just quips and sayings, it was dirty, hard work, and I had the privilege to work alongside him.

He pushed me to excel.  Don’t get me wrong – I never once thought that if I failed, I would lose my dad’s acceptance.  But he did prod me to excellence.  “Homework first, then you play.”  It’s been like that my whole life – and it works!  (I’m sure this drives my wife crazy sometimes, and it will definitely bother my daughters, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.)

He is proud of me, even at his own expense.  “What do you mean by that?” you ask.  Even though I moved a half a world away from my parents, taking their only grandchildren with me, they support me.  I know it’s hard for them – it’s hard for me to be away.  Yet I know that even though he’s not always happy about the location, he still supports the way I direct my family.

He did all this from experience.  He taught me to work because he worked his way through college.  He pushed me to excel because he had to excel to get through life with Only. One. Arm.  He is proud of me because my biological grandfather left when my dad was two, and he vowed to never do that to his own son.

He’s not perfect – no man is – but he is a good father.  And even with imperfections, a good father always points us to THE Good Father.  I’m blessed that not only do I have a Perfect Heavenly Father, but I have a pretty great dad on this planet, too.  This isn’t the case for many.

Over 3/4 of the men in our group had bad fathers.  Some of their dads have come around, and now they have some sort of relationship, but one wonders if it’s too little, too late.  These men don’t need someone to teach them how to ride a bike anymore.  These men don’t need a handshake from the hand that used to beat them at the same time in the afternoon every day, “to teach you respect.”  They don’t need an earthly father any more – they’re grown.  They needed one years ago, and went without.

After all this, I want to say 3 things:

  1. If you had a horrible father – there is still a Heavenly Father who knows and understands and is proud of you.  You will be accepted by Him if you but ask.
  2. If you are a father – BE A FATHER.  Besides being a husband, it is the most important responsibility you have.  
  3. If you are my Dad – Thanks.  I love you.

Posted in Thoughtful Thursday