Earlier today, the pastor of my parents’ church asked Facebook, “What’s the best thing your father taught you?”
I found that I was hard-pressed to give one solitary item, since my dad has taught me so much: in words, by his example, and by virtue of what he emphasized in day-to-day life. He catechized me well, taught me the principles of being a good student, and gave lots of other pieces of practical advice:
- Ask interesting questions!
- Call the city when you see a water main break.
- Use a tape measure beforehand to be sure the furniture/ item will fit.
- Learn how to type (this one not by example, but by making each of us kids practice 5 minutes with FastType for every 20 minutes of computer games).
- There’s no such thing as a garment with too many pockets (this by the example of having our mother add a second breast pocket to several of his shirts). There’s also no such thing as too many flashlights.
- Try to buy American when you can.
- Wear shoes in places like the garage or the basement, where there might be nails or live wires afoot.
- “Don’t watch the ads, children.” Also: look away from violent TV shows. Don’t put the television in the middle of family life; if you must have one, keep it in the basement.
- Honor the cook by being seated when he/she brings the food. Clearly address someone by name when you want him/her to pass you food. “When you have eaten and are satisfied, return thanks to the Lord for the good land he has given you.”
- “Is there a way to graduate early?”
- “If you borrow a woodsman’s axe, you are borrowing his livelihood. If you borrow my pen, you’re borrowing my livelihood. So make sure to return the pen to my hand, where you got it.” The same goes for his Swiss army knife.
- “What have you learned from this?” Usually asked at the very moment we realized that a bad situation was at least partly our own fault.
- “When you leave a house, wish God’s peace upon it.”
I’ve recently come to appreciate that it isn’t always the case that a man with three sons and one daughter treat them alike in dignity. From the time I was young, Dad told me that I could be at the top of the class or be the “head of the company.” Thus Dad taught me that, though I am different from my brothers, neither my thoughts nor my person are worth less than they are.
He taught me that memorization of Scripture is important; invoices are also important; writing the date on things is useful; the items you own require maintenance; the items you buy represent a certain amount of time invested to earn the money so be sure it’s worth it; and that strawberries demonstrate that our God loves making beautiful things.
Last (and probably best), Dad always told me “I love you, but Jesus loves you even more!”
What did your dad teach you?