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A Father's Example

June 18, 2010

Albert Schweitzer once said, "Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing." His words ring more true today than they ever have. And nowhere is the power of example more impactful than with dads.

As fathers, we have the opportunity to shape the character of our children more than any other influence. That's an incredible honor and an awesome responsibility. In performing the very important role, it strikes me that what we do is a lot more important than what we say. The old axiom that actions speak louder than words is more than just a clich‚. It's a fact.

I was blessed growing up with a father who understood the connection between words and actions.

When Dad said that we should treat everyone fairly and not show partiality, he backed it up with his actions, even when it hit close to home. My dad was a high school teacher and while I never took him for a class, my brother Rich did. Rich was the valedictorian in his class and the only B he got in high school was from my dad.

When my dad said we were to respect authority, he meant it. If any of us got in trouble for misbehaving at school or church, that was the least of our problems. My dad defended the authorities in our lives, even when we thought the punishment didn't fit the crime. Having to write a thousand times, "I will not imitate Mr. Brummond's laugh" just because I happened to be the one who got caught imitating Mr. Brummond's laugh, seemed disproportionate to the offense given I wasn't the one who started it. Lest you thought otherwise, my wrist is still sore from that exercise.

When my dad had opportunities to leave Murdo for better paying positions, he passed them up even though we had very little in terms of money or material things. He knew his family wanted to stay in Murdo and he valued things differently than a lot of people did. He always had time to play catch or to take us to the latest hot fishing hole or to the Black Hills for our annual Labor Day weekend vacation. And in 30 years of kids in school, I don't think he missed an event. Of course, among his many hats was that of bus driver.

The point, dads, is that our children are watching. Watching to see what's really important to us, and whether our words square with our actions. I can't think of any greater calling in life than the one that allows us to help shape the values, the character, and the future of the next generation. Now that's a legacy worth leaving.

I hope you had a very happy Father's Day.