A few minutes ago I was interviewed by the El Dorado News-Times. They asked me probably one of the easiest interview questions I have ever been asked: “Would you want to honor your father by sharing things about him in 3-4 sentences”? Can you say, “softball”?
First, I am a preacher. I can talk about ANYTHING in 3-4 sentences. As a matter of fact, it is hard to get me to say anything with less than that (at this point, let me give a shout out to my mom – whom I got this trait from . . . not my dad!).
Second, my dad is incredible. Keeping it to 3-4 sentences felt like a DIShonor to him! But I did my best.
My response will appear, God willing, in this Sunday’s edition (Father’s Day) of the newspaper.
I made a statement in the interview, however, that got me thinking. I said something along the lines of, “Because my dad did that, I am better at doing it with my own 3 children.” When I hung up the phone, my mind started spinning: “What have I learned from my dad (he blogs here and you can follow him on twitter here) that make me a better dad to my own children?”
Here are 5 “Passed Down” Traits that rushed to my mind:
#1. Time with God.
If you’ve listened to me preach for any amount of time, you’ve heard this before. I cannot remember a time growing up when I came down the stairs in the morning and not see my dad reading his Bible and drinking his coffee. He always – even to this day – started his day off with the Lord. This has had a deeper impression on me than perhaps any other thing. What do my children see me doing now? The exact same thing.
#2. Time with me.
My dad loves to fish. I mean, LOVES TO FISH. And, just as passionately as he loves to fish, he HATES the game of golf. I mean, HATES TO GOLF. What did his only son want to do in junior high and high school? Play golf. So, what did my dad do on his off days? Played golf with me. He was awful at it! He hated it! He would look at the water hazards, longing for a pole and some bait. But he kept playing. Why? Because, ultimately, he wanted to be with his son.
Now my kids do things that I don’t just love doing. But I do them. Why? Because I want to be with THEM. I had it modeled all my life and it left a lasting impression.
#3. Church Parking.
I used to get so mad at my dad for parking for what seemed like miles away from the church on Sunday morning’s. We (my sisters and me) would ask, “Dad, why in the world are we parking so far away?” His response? “So the widow ladies can have a spot up close and not have to walk as far.” Wow.
Where do I park now? As far away as possible.
My dad spanked me. He spanked me a lot. Not as much as he did my sisters. But he spanked me. He spanked me with his hand. He spanked me with a switch (a stick from the yard). He spanked me with a belt. Bare bo. . . you know. I hated it. I thought it was cruel. I remember a time when I threatened to call the police. His response? “Let me go find the number for you.” Oh how glad I am to have a dad who loved me too much NOT to spank me. Discipline – in particular in the “younger” years – is so critical. I am learning that. When he spanked me, it didn’t kill me. It made me better. Now I remember that when my own children need a nice firm tap on the tush.
#5. Smart Money.
If dad reads this, he’ll be thinking: “Um, son, you still haven’t learned this one yet.” Confession: I am still trying to apply this one to my life! Again, I inherited my mom’s philosophy of money – not my dad’s. But learning about money growing up (before Dave Ramsey or Larry Burkett), has enabled me to pass on key lessons for my own children. Things such as allowance, chores, tithing, saving, etc. My dad was/is a wizard with money and incredibly disciplined with it. Though I am working on it, I know how to practice and pass it on thanks to him.
As most of us could regarding our dads, I could go on and on and on. But, hey, it’s Friday. So I will limit myself to FIVE.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you!
For you readers out there, what “Passed Down” traits from your dad make you a better parent today??