This coming Sunday is Father’s Day. It is a day where we honor our earthly fathers. I do realize that this can be a difficult day for multiple reasons. For some, our fathers have passed away and there is now an empty space at the table. For others, our fathers caused us pain, whether by abuse or neglect. How can we honor a person who was supposed to protect, provide and teach us but instead did the very opposite? Still others have their fathers who are in prison; they are alive, but they might as well be in Antarctica. Lastly, some of us had good dads, but we simply lack the right words to say, especially if he is a man of a few words.
When it comes to my relationship with my father, I have to be honest. I have a contentious relationship with my father. There are days when we are always arguing and there are days when I am thankful for everything he has taught me. There are days when my father asks me for help, especially when it comes to ancient Greek, Roman, or even Persian history. Perhaps, the weirdest days are when I find myself mirroring his mannerisms.
Here are some good things I learned from my father that I don’t mind passing on.
The Value of Discipline and Organization
As I look around at my generation and the ones that follow, discipline is something that we need more of because it has not been taught well. Some of you readers are athletes or musicians and know that if you are not disciplined in your practice, then do not expect to win or improve. My father modeled discipline in so many different ways; he would wake up the same time every day and the first thing he would do is to read the Bible and pray. His desk and work station may border on the cluttered side, but he is always organizing and cleaning so that even I know where everything roughly is, and I haven’t lived at my parents house since 2014.
There are so many great books on time management and you can put them into practice, but if you do not see it practiced by your father, then I suspect this is will be an uphill challenge. Before you meet your first teacher in elementary school, you already had one in your father. The question is whether your father was a positive role model, or a negative one. Even now, I still look at my father as a model of spiritual discipline.
Do not be afraid to restart your career… more than once
I did not realize this but my father has had at least 3 careers, maybe as high as four. He worked about 2-3 years as a high school lab tech where he met my mother. After that, he became a police officer and retired after 23 years as a chief inspector. For a while, he did some contract work before getting another job in corporate America. For the next five and a half years, he worked as an auditor. Around 2004, he left that position to go to seminary while serving as a missionary. In 2008, he graduated and became a pastor. In 2017, he was ordained formally.
At this ordination, I started joking that now I am an officially a “Pastor’s Kid” and thus can officially start rebelling. As if I needed that occasion. I was a sinner since the day I was born and but for the grace of God I would have been dead.
As I look at my father’s professional life, I cannot imagine some of the uncertainty he must have felt as he changed jobs. I can only imagine some of the questions in his mind: what is my next job? Will I be able to provide for my family? Do I have enough money saved up? From watching my dad change careers, I saw that there was never a guarantee of another job. He had to trust God and live by faith, not sight.
Looking at my own career, I had plenty of starts and restarts. From the moment I graduated college and entered the working world, I too have had multiple jobs in multiple industries. Each time, I would think: “It would suck if I have to change jobs and even industries! That’s going to suck. What am I going to do?” Then I remembered my dad’s experience and I calmed down. I realized that it was doable and don’t be afraid. My challenges are not his, but I can share his resilience.
These are just two lessons that he taught me. There are other important lessons, but those are for another day.
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