Growing up with a Dad as a pastor, our lives were always under a microscope, being construed and misconstrued. There was no shortage of voiced, or unvoiced, expectations from members of the church, the community, even those who didn’t personally know us. It was a difficult reality, but it taught me a lot about people. More importantly, it taught me a lot about the character of my Father.
We donned the church doors each time they were open, and just as frequently when they weren’t; twice Sunday for church (sometimes Sunday afternoons for service prep) Wednesdays, Thursdays, even Saturdays for the occasional wedding or funeral. Dad worked as a bivocational Pastor, which means he had a regular 9:00 to 5:00 job to put food on our table and keep the lights on at home. I didn’t get to see Dad a lot during the week, and had to share him with 100+ others when he was home, but I knew he was there. He was always there.
I’ve heard my Dad give countless sermons. He somehow always found time to prepare with his 60+ hours of combined work. I remember this ongoing joke Dad used from the pulpit in each church he served, that Sister Moss (my Mom) had heard him preach enough that she would sleep during his sermons, and not to worry if anyone heard her snoring. It always got a laugh. Mom would peer at Dad through the top of her reading glasses with a half grin, letting Dad know she heard him, again. Those were some fun memories. Still, through years of sermons and services, Dad’s words aren’t what impressed me.
Being a ministry family, we would have to find creative ways to get by. I think the current cultural term is “Life Hack”. Our clothes were yard sale specials. Our vehicles were at least 10 years old. If something was broke, Dad would just fix it, or we’d make due. Like the time the reverse went out in our ‘88 Olds, and we had to park on an incline wherever we went to ensure we could back out without having to push. I don’t remember those times as “hard times”. That was just part of life. So it only made sense to me that Dad would pull over behind a stranded vehicle and help, even if we were headed to church, or stop to help change a flat tire in the rain for someone who obviously couldn’t. “It was just a divine delay.”, he would say. But he knew it was more than that. He knew it would have been a missed opportunity to serve others.
What I learned from my Dad didn’t come from words behind a pulpit. It really didn’t come from words at all. The lessons he passed on to me came from seeing him put others before himself. He taught me that you do whatever you have to do to take care of your family. He taught me that giving is always better than receiving. And he taught me to never pass up an opportunity to show love to those who need it most.
I love you, Dad. Thanks for everything.