Fathers. We sons especially are greatly influenced by our fathers. And, I believe, we all eventually become our father's sons. Oh, we go through times of rebellion and disillusionment in our teenager years, our twenties are our greatest effort to "do it on our own," but by the time we reach our late forties, we grab for all the help we can.
Mitch Albom writes, "Before he can devote himself to God or a woman, a boy will devote himself to his father," and that is so true.
Let me use an acrostic today to describe my own father.
F - Faithful.
My dad is faithful. Faithful to God. Faithful to his wife. Faithful to his family. Faithful to his ministry. If dad is anything it is faithful. Nose to the grindstone stuff. Daily plowing away in the field of God's kingdom. Looking neither to the right nor to the left, always there, always persevering.
A - Accepting.
One of the things I really, really like about my father is the way he accepts those around him. Especially me. I rant and rave about certain subjects and dad just sits there and smiles, listening intently, never judging, always ready to throw in a word if asked. Perhaps that's why I choose to be so open with him about so many things. His love for his family continues to be evident in an unconditional way.
T - Truthful
I've never known my dad to not speak the truth. I've never known him to hedge on anything, be it the way he handles money, or the way he works with people. Truthful is a quality that is lacking in our world of compromise and subjective realities. To speak the truth, and to speak it in love is a rare quality.
H - Helpful
My father is always there to lend a helping hand. Many, many times in the past few years, he (and my mother) have rode up on white horses with the Calvary behind them ready to do battle with the enemies that my family were facing.
E - Expecting
Expecting, meaning, hoping, wanting the best, always looking for each of his family members to move forward, achieve God-given goals and to do the best they can. We are put on this earth for a purpose, to accomplish a dream, a vision. Dad is the ultimate example of that.
R - Righteous
One of my memories when I was a teenager in Brussels was waking up on a couple of occasions from a deep sleep to hear my father praying in the living room. And many times I heard him praying for me. My father is a praying man. I know that my family is covered with prayer on a daily basis. And prayer always comes from a man who walks with God. In righteousness.
"Let me tell you the two most important things I learned from my dad," says Michael [Tait, of the dc Talk music group].
"Number one, love people. That's what he taught, and that's what he did. He cried with people, he laughed with people. Everybody was his friend. He could care less about your race, your nationality, your socio-economic status, whatever. All he cared about was you, your soul.
"Number two, live for God and don't get caught up in the things of this world, because they're just fleeting. The world will get the best of you if you let it, so we need to truly live for God.
"My dad [a preacher] preached those two things his whole life. And those two things have shaped who I am today. I love people; I realize that life is short, God is real and that I need to live for Him."
Michael was visiting his parents in Washington, D.C., during the Christmas holidays in 1997 when his dad complained of stomach pains. Michael took him to the hospital, where doctors found the cancer. Michael was there, a few weeks later, when he breathed his last in February 1998.
"The man was my hero."
Dad, I want you to know that you are my hero!
You've taught me to love God and love people!
Thanks, dad, for all that you do. Thanks dad, for who you are. May you be blessed with many more years of love and leadership in our family.
With much love,