Leading When No One is Looking – Lessons from my Dad

Some of the most important life lessons I’ve learned is from watching my father when he didn’t know I was looking. I watched moments when my dad would stop to listen to someone who needed help. I’ve had to wait for my parents after church because they were talking to a new family who was down and out. They both severed others with a real genuine love. There were times when they would open up our home and let families live with us, just so the family wouldn’t be out on the streets.  I remember overhearing my parents read the newspaper about a friend they tried so hard to help who was homeless, he was killed across the street at the bus stop. The news broke my parent’s heart.

I often tell myself, “It’s none of my business,” when I see a person in need, but to my parents, they make other’s problems, their business.  They lead in the background. They help those who need someone to talk to, pray with, council, or mentor. I’ve watched my parents wake up early, read books, read their bible, I see how there first reaction to life’s difficult issues is to bring it to God.

Today, I am still challenged to serve others because of both my parent’s example. I was born into a family that gives of their ‘off the clock’ time, I was given a father who stops to listen to the panhandler’s story. My mom tells me tales about when they were first together before my dad met Christ. Stories about her willingness to not give up on him – to pray for him and to love him when he was failing as a husband and father. It makes me wonder what life would have looked like if she gave up or if he gave up on himself.

The man in her stories is but a distant person who no longer exists. It’s hard to honor my dad, without honoring my mom. Both a team – together making life an adventure.

I am challenged everyday by both my parents to help the hurting, they know first hand, the power of a transformed life by living a life after God.

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33 Years and Counting

My parents have been married for 33 years. 1979 the story began for them. I look at their younger photos and wonder if they knew they were the right people for each other. Maybe they didnt even think of that. I hear of stories of some hard times. My mom was pregnant at age 26 and my dad was still in to partying with his friends. My mom than gave her heart to Jesus and asked God for help. My dad loved my mom so much he didn’t wanna lose her. He said he knew he had to make a decision so he asked her to marry him on  Jan 1, 1979. Seven days later they were at the local chapel saying their vowels.

From that point on it wasn’t “They Lived Happily Ever After” , but “They Worked Hard Ever After.” It wasn’t until their second child, my sister Sarah, did my dad gave his heart to Christ. From that moment on he was sold out, gave up drinking, partying, and even lost many of his friends because of his decision.  By the time I came around in 1983 my parents were deep in love with God, loved  going to church and enjoyed helping people.

My dad told my mom last night, ‘It feels like we are still dating and I’m trying to get you to marry me.” My mom answered him, “I always wanna be near you even if we aren’t doing anything.” I sat there watching the love between two people who I call my parents. I sometimes take their love for each other for granted. Their love for each other is such a matter of fact to me. But how I am thankful that they both gave their lives to Christ. I grew up in a peaceful home never seeing them fight or hate each other. I know its because of God’s love that they are able to still be in love 33 years later.