I grew up as the son of a preacher man. In the early years of my life, my dad was the man behind the pulpit.
He preached a lot of sermons but the lessons I learned was him. He wasn’t like other fathers. Sure, he took time to play basketball or throw the baseball around with me but his priority was the church.
He was born in Gadsden, Alabama but some how migrated to South Georgia where he graduated from Clinch County High School in Homerville, Georgia. He played football and basketball and you will still find him at the football stadium on Friday night watching his beloved Clinch County Panthers.
When he graduated from high school he left for the United States Air Force. Later, he and my mother married and I was born while dad was stationed at Dyess Air Force Base near Abilene, Texas.
He was “called” into the ministry when I was a toddler. Dad was the pastor at many churches in Georgia. I called Valdosta, Moultrie, Temple, Homeland, Villa Rica and Savannah home over those years I was living at home.
Dad was strict. He didn’t have any tolerance for any nonsense and I was careful not to cause much trouble. Strict isn’t always negative. I have inherited a lot of his characteristics. When I stand in the mirror I see some of him in me. Some of the things I see is:
- Dad was a planner. He was never one to just do anything without planning.
- Dad was punctual. I never recall my dad ever being late for anything. If nothing else, he would be early.
- Dad was honest. I never remember him lying or cheating anyone.
- Dad had faith in God. I remember many times he said that we were just going to trust in God.
- Dad had a unique sense-of-humor. He wasn’t a cut-up like my mom was but he had his very unique humor.
- Dad was a hard-worker. There were many times he worked a job in addition to pastoring a church. He never complained about it.
One thing about my dad was that he was committed to doing what he believed was the right thing to do even if he never got recognized for it. I remember when we were in Temple, it was a very small church. One Sunday no one showed up for church but Dad still had church with me and my Mom.
I don’t think he was really appreciated for the sacrifices he made. He made a lot of them. I never remember him being a selfish man. He always thought of others before himself. I would like to be more like him in that way.
My dad is still a good man. I still think of him that way even if things are quite as they should be between us. It has been a rocky road for us but he’s still my dad and always will be. I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to have been my Dad.It’s tough writing this because it exposes some of my raw emotions. While most Dads aren’t supposed to show emotions, I remember times that I saw my Dad cry. I know I have probably been some of his tears. I am not one that seeks to blame his Dad for things that he did or didn’t do in my childhood for some setback today. My Dad was just like any other parent, he did the best he knew to do with the time and situation during those years. I certainly don’t put anything on him. It was what it was.
The connection a man has with his father shapes his life. Which is why every adult son must choose how that relationship will – or won’t – define him. His ways prepared my way. I am who I am because of him. It was 35 years ago this month when I left home to join the United States Air Force but the lessons he taught me continues to this day. My work ethic and personality are a lot like his. Yes, I have tweaked it a lot over the years but he’s still there. I see him in me when I look in the mirror.
Life isn’t always what we expected and we all make decisions that cause collateral hurts and consequences. We all have to do the best that we can. I have made some of those difficult decisions that have disappointed my Dad. No son intentionally wants to disappoint their dad. A son always wants to have his dad’s approval. He wants to know that he made it regardless of how successful he has been on his own. That approval matters deep inside of us somewhere.
When we’re not reconciled with our fathers, there’s something inside of us that remains restless. We don’t really grow up until we have come to terms with our fathers. Whether we want to admit it or not, we need our fathers to bless us in a way that brings us into adulthood regardless how old we are.
As for me, it doesn’t matter what has happened before. He’s still my Dad.