It was encouraging to see the many Father's Day expressions of thanks and remembrance on the day. It's one of the good things social media help us to do.
In this post I'm taking a different tack, to honor Dad here, and to dedicate a video to his memory as the man who shaped me in deep ways and is present still in my heart and thoughts as I pursue my life's work in ministry.
Pastors are like spiritual fathers and my aim is to help to make them strong and to endure and have the kind of influence my dad had. I hope you'll watch and if this stirs you up—I'd love to hear about it.
My dad was a highly intelligent man, generous, and kind to everyone, and quick to throw back his head and laugh with abandon. He was a voracious reader, who employed his broad vocabulary well, often with a sideways glance that beckoned curiosity. He was a romantic who wined and dined my mom throughout their 43 years of marriage and who nursed her in her final illness. He loved classical music, which resonated in our home and rubbed off on me. He sang me lullabies with his resonant bass voice.
Although an Electrical Engineering major at VMI, he was invited to interview for a Rhodes Scholarship. He didn't go, of course, because he was an engineer, but it tells you something about him. He was his VMI Company's Captain, a WWII veteran having served at Aberdeen and Jefferson Proving Grounds as a Major and the Base Adjutant. After the war he became a builder—a prolific builder—of commercial and residential buildings and swimming pools all over the state of Arkansas.
He loved building things, and he loved the men that worked for him. My earliest childhood memories are of his men coming around our house for side work, or errands. Mom would make me a lunch to take out on the curb in my lunch pail so I could have lunch with "the workamers." The men were always polite and respectful, especially toward my mom. They were like uncles to me.
My dad pointed me to Jesus. He never pushed, but he made sure I understood what it meant to be a Christian. God laid the groundwork of my faith through my dad and later in his life, when he took some interesting side trips in his spiritual journey, our "discussions" honed my discernment of the scurrilous and the authentic. Whether this was partially intentional or not, I'm not sure, but he clearly enjoyed it.
Now I'm as far in life as Dad was when he lost my mom. I'm a pastor, and I offer my story and abilities to pastor other pastors. Caring for people as he modeled left deep marks on me, and has much to do with why I do what I do, and why I recognize how much those who care for others, need someone to care for them.
So to honor him I dedicate this video reflection on the challenge of being a pastor, and trust that you'll see the connections I've tried to draw here...and there.
I welcome your questions and comments, and as always, if there is any way I can serve you or a pastor friend, please give me a call.
I was around Dad's men a lot as a kid walking job sites with Dad and around our house. Dad had them work on projects there so he could keep them in work and not lose them between large jobs. And they rewarded him with their loyalty.
I especially remember a stone mason, Slick by name and rail thin by frame. He would come to the house when he was out of work and Dad would invent work for him to do. When I was five or six, Slick came to the door and I answered, as I often did, and a long chat with him ensued, during which he smiled an incredibly radiant smile and said, "Yo daddy is the finest man I know." When Slick passed away, my Dad was the only white person at his funeral. It was Little Rock, Arkansas in the 1950s. It took years for me to realize what that meant. It was just who he was.
I want to be like my dad in so many ways. I want pastors to elicit that kind of loyalty.
May it be so.