Wisdom from my dad

Growing up I sure enjoyed my dad. I still do.

I remember the bowls of bean soup at the truckstop; the early mornings on the paint job; the nightly games of carroms; the funny nickname I had for him; the large portions of watermelon we’d eat on a summer afternoon; and the memories go on and on and on…

My dad is a good man. He has an entrepeunerial flare about him; he’s a starter. He’s owned a printing business, a furniture store, car lots, painting businesses, multiple tractor trailers, and even sold jelly beans. He has pastored in the past and though he’s not currently in ministry, he could preach a sermon at the drop of a hat.

Recently I’ve been reflecting on some of the lessons he taught me growing up. I want to share a few with you.

“Sometimes ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t enough.”

He always used to say this to me… usually as I was walking out the door with some of my friends. He taught me that there are times when your actions/decisions will bring consequences that an apology and even restitution cannot undo.

Most of the time bad (and even stupid) decisions/actions can be corrected, but there are times when “I’m sorry” just doesn’t cut it (e.g. while drinking and driving you crash and kill someone – he was always afraid I’d do something like this.)

You were right dad. There are times when “I’m sorry” is incapable of healing the pain or restoring what was broken.

Your rights end where mine begin.

Gosh, I used to hate when he’d say this, but he was dead on! This principle has to do with respect. He’d often say this about my music. I’d have it cranked up so that everyone in the house could “enjoy” it. He’d roll into my room and let me know that I had a right to listen to “your music” but that right had boundaries… his ears.

A great principle! We all have rights, and respectful people understand that, for the most part, “mine end where yours begin.” Thanks dad.

I’m not going to let you tear this home apart.

Oh this one doesn’t necessarily come with fond memories. I was a teenager… and a jerk. I was a high school dropout, disrespectful to my mother and a first class disappointment to my parents (though they NEVER acted like it).

Living in Marion, Ohio, I was acting out. I remember laying on the floor one night after an ordeal. My dad came in and laid down beside me. We talked. After we’d talked for a while he said, “I love you, but I love your mother more. I’m not going to allow you to tear her apart. You will not wreck this home any further. You either get your act together or I’ll pack your bags myself.”

Now think what you may about all of that, he taught me this – the prioritization of relationships. Not every person, friend, and even family member is on the same level in terms of priority. I knew that day that if my dad had to pick between me and my mom… he’d choose my mom.

That principle has stayed with me. I’m a dad now of four (soon to be five) children. I love them dearly. I’d die for them. But at the end of the day, the most important relationship in my life is the one with my wife. I figure it this way, she was here BEFORE they were, and if I do it right, she’ll be here AFTER they’re gone.

Again, thanks Dad.

You need to know a trade.

And so he taught me how to paint. Painting has paid for my college bills, put food on our table, and even recently has allowed me to do some side work.

He always said, “If you can do something with your hands, there’ll usually be work available to you… even when times get tough.” Times are tough, and he was right… as usual. Thanks Dad.

And finally, he said…

Don’t get your eyes on people… they’ll disappoint you.

I was 17 years old… walking out the front door of our Pennsylvania home to move six hours away to Westfield, Indiana where I would live in an apartment with a couple of other dudes. My dad, with tears in his eyes, passed this nugget on to me. He was concerned that I’d get down there and maybe get disappointed when I saw a preacher act mean, a boss cheat, a friend lie, etc.

People try hard. People, for the most part, don’t want to disappoint, but often they do. If you’re pinning your hopes on a person, you’re bound to inevitable disappointment. He told me to place my trust in God and work hard. He was right. Oh, don’t get me wrong, he didn’t mean that we shouldn’t trust people, it’s just that we shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations of infallibility or perfection. There’s only one who never fails… the rest of us just try real hard. Trust Him and be ready to forgive them.

I love my dad, and honor him for the wisdom and sound advice he taught me growing up.

One thought on “Wisdom from my dad

  1. Isn’t it amazing how the older we get the smarter our parent’s become?

    My dad’s top 2 were “It’s only pain” and the one he still uses even to his grand kids today, “Don’t let the door hit you in the a** on your way out!”

    If you didn’t like my dad’s rules he would always point to the door with a smirk.

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