Last week I came across this great article by Jeffery Tobias Halter, on 10 Things Fathers of Daughters Can Do to Advocate for Women, and it got me thinking about the many things my own father did for me to help prepare me for life and my career. With Father’s Day coming up, I wanted to share some of the gifts my Dad gave me growing up that I have tried to pass on to my own kids.
1. The joy of hard work. My Dad worked hard, harder than anyone I know, and I’ll always be grateful that he allowed me to share in the joy of working full-out for something. My Dad oversaw a 400-acre fruit and vegetable farm with a retail operation. In the “off” season from November to March, he was up by 7 am with a bowl of cereal as I was practicing the piano and taking care of my horse and 4-H cow. He came home around 6 pm each evening. He not only ran the operation, but he did a lot of hard, physical work. Once the spring came, my Dad was up at sunrise planting and did not come home until sundown through the end of October. My Dad and I were really close, so I wanted to be with him and work hard, too. The money that I made working each summer allowed me to put myself through college. He instilled in me that hard work was expected and was a joy; I still start work early in the morning and feel I should put at least forty hours of work into each week. Even though my Dad worked hard, he never missed one of our sports events, recitals, or 4-H activities.
As I started this year, God put I Peter 4:10-11 on my heart as a guiding verse for this season, and every time I read these words, I think of my Dad and smile: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. . . and to do it with all of your strength.
2. A firm foundation of faith, resilient through hard times. My Dad didn’t talk about his faith all that much, but he lived his faith loudly. It was wonderful that I had the chance to work with him and see him “be like Christ” in his daily work and in the way that he treated others. In addition, we went to church every Sunday as a family except during the busy retail season for the farm, and I remember him being involved in youth group and teaching Sunday school. His example has served me so well throughout my life. Even when entire crops failed or personal tragedies struck, my Dad led our family to take tragedy in stride and to “push through,” continuing to trust God, and seeking always to honor Christ through service, generosity, and kindness to those around us.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-8)
3. A sense of self-worth divorced from looks. One of the single biggest factors holding women back today is a simple lack of confidence, and in our society, confidence is too much entwined with physical appearance and image. I am so grateful for the confidence that both of my parents built in me from a young age. Like most parents of daughters, they told me I was beautiful, but they showed me that I was powerful. Dad developed my confidence by giving me more and more responsibility on the farm. He had me waiting on customers on our retail stand by ten years old. In my early teens, I ran the peach thinning crew. (You take off enough little green peaches so that as the peaches grow and mature, they have enough space to get big.) By sixteen, I was leading crews of twenty picking peaches. I was blessed to have a Dad and Mom that always supported and expected me to do bigger and bigger things.
4. Humility and generosity.The other gift that I experienced daily was my Dad’s humility. He never talked about himself. He actually never understood what a “big man” he was. When he passed away, people came from far and wide to share in his memorial service; from men in business suits to bikers in leather to farmers in dusty jeans. Not only did he serve others before him, but he gave to so many. Many of the families in the area where we grew up, the small town of Harrisburg, OR, were blessed by my Dad. He employed many people in our town, and many of them shared at his memorial service about how, as high school kids, he taught them about hard work and self-worth. He expected a lot of his employees, but never more than what he was willing to give himself, and that example was powerful.
He was so generous with his time, talent, and treasure. Dad exhibited the fruits of the spirit day in and day out, but the following verse describes his humility: Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Although my Dad is no longer with us, I’ll certainly be thinking about him on Father’s Day, and about the wonderful legacy he left behind.
What kinds of gifts have the fathers in your life given you?
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