My dad was a wise and hard-working man. He told his six children, “Leave your place cleaner than you found it.” Somehow his example stuck. Took forty high schoolers camping at Sequoia. Told them to keep the bathrooms clean. Said we would be checking. The Ranger came by because they had never seen the bathrooms that clean. They expected the opposite from rowdy teenagers. Thanks, Dad, for a good example.
One dad told his wife, “I’ll bring home the money and you can set the tone in the home.” Wrong. The reason some guys think the Christian life is for girls is because Dad provided well but led poorly and was distant. Not mine.
My dad didn’t raise his voice with us. Never. Felt badly the few times I used volume to leverage control, and I am not even Italian. Volume is manipulative. The Good Shepherd leads with gentleness and lowliness. Dads, take your cue from Jesus, not a coach. There’s a reason that in the only two places the New Testament focuses on parental responsibilities, it speaks to husbands, and the first words are negative: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21).
Does it bless you that the most powerful Person in the universe is the least controlling? When the prodigal wanted to leave home, the father didn’t take away his keys. He even gave him the inheritance. He knew that the son had already left in his heart. He used love to influence, not force to control–and it worked. “Love never fails!” I never doubted my dad’s gentle love.
KEEP THEIR VOWS.
I never saw my parents fight. They had disagreements, and I know they had their tough times, but we saw Dad loving Mom and Mom respecting Dad. I often sat next to her in church. When my dad said something in his sermon that was on the edge, she would squeeze my hand and say, “Oh, Andy!” very softly. When we all got home, she had nothing but affirmation for the man who obeyed his vow to love her until death parted them.
SPEND TIME WITH KIDS.
I got the feeling that my dad enjoyed being with me. Once he made me a t-bone steak before a basketball game, then sat down and watched me eat it while we talked basketball. That memory is imprinted on my mind for life. Can’t say I remember more than a couple of the nine hundred sermons I heard him preach.
When I spent a summer during college days at the headquarters of Campus Crusade for Christ, I learned a lot about running a church, and I told my dad a few of them. He only had thirty years of experience. Years later, after I became a pastor and saw how difficult it was, I went back to my father and acknowledged that I was an idiot. The way he forgave me said that he had never thought about it–and never would. It helped me see how God forgives–and loves! Thanks, Dad!