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My Dad has been gone for more than 30  years, but the lessons he taught me my first 26 years have guided me through life. Here are 10 lessons he taught me:

  1. Faith is more important than religion – My Dad was hungry to know God and to interpret all of the circumstances of life through faith. He believed Jesus was real, alive and intimately involved in his life every day.
  2. Read, read, read – Dad never had any formal education past high school, but he could go 10 rounds with any Biblical scholar I ever knew. He had a voracious appetite for books and, when he passed, he gave me his library.
  3. Life is not fair – Dad had no toleration for whiners or whining. Yes, life was generally unfair, but how you react determines whether you are a man or child.
  4. Work hard – Be the hardest working person in the group. Your reputation as a hard-worker was the grace through which people would forgive you for all other shortcomings.
  5. Fight through the pain –  Although Dad was stricken with crippling rheumatoid arthritis when I was 12, he continued to fight the battles of life with courage and faith.
  6. Forgiveness truly is divine – Dad believed that an unforgiving heart was a bitter heart and bitterness was the worst character flaw a human could possess.
  7. Laugh so hard you can’t breathe – Dad was terrible at telling jokes because he would start laughing so hard half-way through the joke, he couldn’t finish it. So we laughed at him, rather than the punch line. I’ve picked up that trait.
  8. Save your money – Dad knew that having money on hand was more about saving money than it was about making money.
  9. Treat the rich and the poor the same – Dad believed we all put our pants on the same way each morning, one-leg-at-a-time, so no one is any better than anyone else – they only think they are.
  10. This life is just temporary – I can not imagine dealing with excruciating pain every day of my life, but my Dad did for the last 13 years of his life. He could have become addicted to painkillers, but he hated them. The pain drove him deeper into his faith and the more he read the Bible, the more he believed this life is just temporary and there is a life, yet to come, where there is no pain or sorrow.

Some time after his death, I wrote a song about him. The refrain goes like this:

Behind my father’s doors, was a place that I could run and hide, a place that I called home

Behind my father’s doors, were arms outstretched to welcome me and a love to keep me warm

And someday I will see him there,

Behind our Father’s doors. 

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