While it is true that in youth I admired lots of heroes—Davy Crocket, Mickey Mantle, Wilt Chamberlain, Don Meredith, and the Beatles—there was always one constant hero from toddler, to teen, to adult. I’m speaking about my dad, and I’d like to tell you a bit about him. Not to brag (although I’m proud of him), and not to lionize him (I’m sure he’d appreciate it, though he’d never have looked for it), but to make a point at the end.
Dad himself enjoyed having a father for only the first 12 or 13 years of his life, his dad died at about that age. But somehow dad knew the essentials of meaningful fatherhood, practiced them, and passed them on.
Dad was a serious New Testament Christian and a church leader, who knew the wisdom of dragging me along with him as he served and I watched. He (and mom) knew intuitively the importance of all of us being at church every time the doors were open—Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, Gospel Meetings, workdays, church picnics, teen events, and “zone meetings”. Just speaking for myself, I’m sure he and mom wondered if it was doing any good sometimes…but it did.
Dad was a man of integrity, despite the temptations and trials he faced in his career, in family finances, and sometimes in church leadership. He lived-out privately what he appeared to be in church. And he didn’t shield us from reality too much, when hard times came; instead, he with mom explained the situation and pointed out what was right, what was faithful, and assured us that God would take care of things, if we’d do what’s right. Romans 8:28 became a favorite passage to everyone in the family—“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,”—and still is down to the present day.
While dad’s time was sometimes limited because of the nature of his work, when he was available, he was available—not “checked-out” to relax. We “rassled”, he tickled, he taught me how to play baseball, and he came to as many games as his work allowed. Later as a teen he took me hunting every deer season (several weekends each season), where we could rough-it and “be manly men”. He often told me that he loved me; and his deeds never belied his words, even when he was angry.
Dad knew how to hold the line on right and wrong, and didn’t let us bulldoze him with “everybody’s doing it” arguments, pouts, or nagging. If it meant we weren’t his friends, he was OK with that for now, knowing that it would change. We knew where the lines were, knew they were in granite, and knew there’d be unpleasant justice to pay for crossing them.
Dad was a wonderful listening ear with great spiritual advice and psychological insight that would make a PhD psychologist envious.
Dad told us serious and funny stories of his childhood, which made him “real”. And he told us as much as we were ready to hear about his time defending our country, which helped make us patriotic.
Dad was an unashamed rock-geek (a geologist by education and career) and although I resisted his enthusiasm as a kid on the outside, I absorbed more at his feet about geology than I ever learned in the college course I took later.
Dad died 18 years ago, but when I “get stuck” for the right thing to do, I often find myself wondering what dad would do. He’s still my hero.
And we need more heroes. I am not, of course, talking about the caped crusader sort. I’m talking about everyday heroes, whose influence and legacy live on long after they have passed from this earth: dads. They are the ones we need the most, but seem to be missing too often.
If you’re a father, be a dad. It’s not the easiest road to take, but heroes never travel the easy road—that’s what makes them heroic. Villains in the form of career tracks, materialism, “what-about-me-ism”, tragedy, discouragement, marital challenges, and the pursuit of short-term happiness will surely ambush and try to kill the hero, but heroes always rise to the challenge and overcome.
So be an everyday hero; be a dad and wear the “badge” with honor. It will be, without any doubt, one of the most meaningful roads you’ll ever travel.
To all the dad’s out there: Happy Father’s Day and “Soldier on” you everyday heroes!