Dad’s birthday is fast approaching. My siblings and I will be giving him the book Things That Matter. Mom suggested the title. My sister suggested this addition: Let’s all write essays about the things Dad taught us that mattered. Good idea. It begs these deeper questions, though: What are the things that matter? What should we teach our children?
There’s the practical stuff like always live beneath your means and pay off your credit cards at the end of every month. Dad gets credit for instilling those principles in his children at an early age. I think my siblings and I were nearly adults before we even knew the credit card companies let their customers carry a balance.
There’s the good manners items like don’t talk with your mouth full, look people in the eye when you talk to them, and speak clearly. Those were particularly important in my childhood home, since Dad started to lose his hearing early in life. Now my sister is an actor, my brother is a worship leader, and I’m a teacher. Speaking clearly turned out to be important for all three of us!
Dad also shaped our attitude. Make the best of what you have. Look on the bright side. Take the tough stuff one step at a time without looking back. My dad has dealt with deafness, heart disease, cancer (twice), emergency surgeries and failed surgeries, but once said to my mom, “Boy, we need to be praying for So-an-So. He’s really going through some tough times. We’ve never had to suffer like that.” And he meant it, because he doesn’t look back.
Most of all, though, Dad taught us items of faith. 1 Thessalonians 5: 14b-18 covers much of what my parents (Mom deserves full credit, too!) instilled in us. My Bible doesn’t list the items in bullet form, but I have:
Encourage the disheartened.
Help the weak.
Be patient with everyone.
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong.
Always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Those are things that matter. Those are things my Father wants and my father taught. I hope I do a good job of passing them along.
Thanks, Dad! And Happy Birthday!