The most important conversation with my dad was as a University student. Though he never attended University he had a Masters degree in life. He taught me a process for making important choices.
As a result I chose to stay in University, learned the value of perseverance, got a degree, discovered my calling and soon there’ll be peace in the Middle East.
(OK, it wasn’t that good.)
Education By Imitation
Dad probably copied the process from someone – maybe his father.
But isn’t that how all the most valuable lessons are learned?
Three choices that make dads and anyone worth imitating.
Memories Of Presence
1. Be an experience maker. Becoming a father is about biology. Being a dad is about proximity.
A dad is present. He’s in the lives of his kids. He shows up at hockey games, birthday parties, sleepless nights because of bad dreams, parent-teacher interviews, graduations.
Dad was an executive with Kodak. Dallas, New York, Rochester – work destinations took him away from our family. But when in town he was there for regular, after dinner, table hockey games. He saw my high school football team win the city championship in Toronto.
As a dad, being present at our two sons’ sports events, (and resultant emergency room visits), concerts, competitions, and school events was a priority for me. I’m not familiar with touristy places in our area but I can lead you to almost every football field in the greater Edmonton area and across Canada.
Now that our sons are dads it’s cool to see them making memories with my grandchildren.
A healthy twist on the Cat Steven’s classic, Cats in the Cradle. I know its TD Ameritrade but they get it right.
Risks Of Becoming Better
2. Be a risk taker. Parenting is life’s greatest risk. No dad ever gets everything right. No child survives a child-father relationship without some form of a scar.
The scar on my palm was from running up the basement stairs carrying a glass jar of nails, eager to help my dad in the garage. I fell, the jar broke and I sliced my hand open. The scar on my heart is when my dad doubted my wisdom in becoming a Pentecostal pastor.
Dads aren’t perfect. Some are far from it. As a pastor I’ve heard many people explain their reluctance to embrace God as “Father” because their own father experience was hurtful.
Forgiveness is a gift from God the Father. Take a risk. Forgive liberally, especially with your dad. I did with mine.
Heroes Of Faith
3. Be a hero. A dad is someone you look up to no matter how tall you grow.
Lorenzo Jones was the sports hero I looked up to. The trophies that filled our basement evidenced his excellence in hockey, golf, bowling, volleyball, and tennis. He was a first reserve for Canada’s 1939 Davis Cup tennis team.
His Paragon competition racket is a treasure.
Sports success led my father away from church. He was devoted to winning and that was sinning in the Jones family. I didn’t know until later in life that he was the black sheep.
His dad was an elder in the church. So was his grandfather. My father suited up for sports rather than church on Sundays.
In my formative years dad sent me to church with my mum. His re-commitment to faith would later pave the way for my own decision to follow Jesus.
Risk taker. Memory maker. Hero. A paragon of parenting.
APPLICATION: What’s the best lesson you learned from your dad? Please leave a comment below. Thank you.
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My dad taught me what love was. There were so many times it seemed like Dad could never get anything right for Mom. My mom had a spirit of bitterness from unforgiveness towards her dad. One night my mom said some nasty words to dad. He walked out the door & down the lane way. I remember my older sister calling after him. It was scary. He came back. He had walked to our country church & spent time with God. My sisters asked our pastor to come & talk to our parents. I know Dad would have liked a better marriage. When they were visiting us one time they came to our Sunday School class & we were just starting a marriage Bible study. Dad bought the study guide. 19 years ago when my dad was in rehab after a stroke, my one sister said she wished Dad had left Mom. Our lives would have been better. She would have stayed with Dad. Me, I was glad they stayed together, that I could grow up on the farm with both my parents. I was glad Dad stayed with Mom even though it was hard at times. He showed me what love is – for better or worse – and he showed me Who to run to when the going got really tough.
Thank you for sharing part of your story, Faye. Becoming a parent is risky, isn’t it? So glad you saw what love is from your dad.