Every generation reaches a point where they believe the upcoming generation has it so much easier. “Back in my day…” they say repeatedly. “When I was your age…” I used to hear so often. “I didn’t have iPads when I was your age…”
Wait, that last one was ME!
Now that I’m the father of three, I don’t consider myself old, and I don’t pretend to be wise. However, my perspective on life has changed significantly. Reflecting on my childhood and who my dad is, my appreciation has grown immensely, and I can only hope to be half the man he is. The things he taught me are becoming more real to me now!
Dad Was Dad
My dad is quite a guy. He was sometimes hard on me, like a dad should be. And, he definitely embarrassed us because he could. Dad was dad — you know: the jokes, the puns, the times when he thinks his jokes are the funniest. That’s me now.
The thing I’ll remember most about my dad are the things I sometimes took for granted — and were sometimes the things that annoyed me when I was young. They were the things that made me who I am today. Dad helped me become a man.
It’s a Process
There are four distinct things I remember my dad teaching me that apply to anyone (not just men):
1. Never Quit
Never. I remember playing on a terrible church basketball team when I was young. It was excruciating. My teammates couldn’t catch a pass, and practices were — well — horrible. I wanted so badly to quit. I argued that playing didn’t do me any good, that I was wasting my time. I mean, it wasn’t even my church! But Dad told me to stick it out, so I did. It taught me perseverance and the age-old lesson of finishing what you start.
2. Be Responsible
At age twelve, I was up at 5:00 a.m. every morning delivering newspapers on my bike with my sister. Dad wanted me to learn the responsibility of a job, to know what a commitment is, and to learn how to handle money at an early age. He told me that if I wanted a car when I was 16, I had to make some money! Dad of course helped here and there when I needed it — such as when there was 10 inches of snow on the ground. By telling me to get this job, he taught me that growing up requires taking responsibility.
3. Work Hard
Dad had no tolerance for laziness. There were times dad held two jobs at the same time. He worked swing-shift at the plant and would come home with little sleep, only to go to work part-time at the local hardware store in order to make ends meet. I remember numerous Saturdays when dad would come home at 8:00 a.m. after a 12-hour shift, only to change clothes and take us to our baseball and soccer games. He understood the need to provide for our family and to be present to his kids.
4. Have Fun
Dad knew how to have fun — and still does! The weekends on the boat with the tube, skis, and kneeboard will never be forgotten. He was always thrilled to share his barbeque techniques and enjoy a good drink. He enjoyed kicking back and watching our Wildcats play on t.v. Whether it was on the golf course or taking my sisters for lunch on Christmas Eve, he taught me to not take myself too seriously.
No matter what kind of relationship you’ve had with your father, my hope is that you can take these lessons and practice them in your own life. I’m sure my dad had hopes and dreams for me — ultimately, that I would become a good man — so he taught me these lessons. Our Heavenly Father has hopes and dreams for our lives as well, most importantly, for the people we become. He wants what’s best for us.
So as Father’s Day approaches, consider these two questions to help you become the person your Father hopes you to be:
Men: What kind of father do you want to be? Choose some principles and start practicing them now.
Women: What kind of father do you want for your children? Don’t sell yourself short when dating!