Today is my dad’s 59th birthday. A number of people at work took time to honor and appreciate him. Each of them had personal stories of my dad’s faith, discipline, excellence, and compassion to them. Of course, there were also some jokes about some of his quirks and weaknesses.
What I found interesting while listening to these men and women was that I could confirm and validate everything they said. My dad really is as disciplined, full of faith, and compassionate as they described. In fact, my brothers and I could tell even more stories of these traits.
So what I’m really thankful for is that my dad didn’t have multiple personalities. He was the same everywhere – the preacher on stage that people admired, the business owner with unlimited contacts, the church leader with hundreds of disciples, and the papa at home having dinner with us. There wasn’t a disconnect. There was no Jekyll/Hyde. Everything he said was consistent with how he lived.
I think that’s one big reason why my brothers and I can’t help but respect him. We don’t always agree with him. And we didn’t always like it when he disciplined us. But we respected his life because it was consistent.
I’ve heard some people comment about how their parents were so pious, devout, or religious in social media, at the church, or in front of other Christians. Only to watch them transform when they were back at home – becoming harsh and impatient or living a lifestyle against God’s Word.
This is very damaging to the faith of the young people. As Pastor Jim Laffoon once told us, “Living in an ungodly home has its perils. Growing up in a Christian home has its perils too. But the worst is to grow up in a quasi-Christian home. It has all the trappings and religious demonstration, but no real spiritual life.”
This doesn’t mean homes must be perfect. My dad definitely wasn’t. If his staff felt he was harsh and impatient, he was exactly the same way (probably to a greater degree) at home. He had his flaws, but he was real. He came clean when he did wrong. He admitted his mistakes and asked for forgiveness. He got help from other people. That left a permanent mark on us. Children don’t need parents with perfect faith; they need to see real faith lived out.
So happy birthday, Pop! It’s a blessing to know that when people honor you as a great man I can concur.