“No Compromise: A Life Marked By Faith”
In Loving Memory of My Dad
12 August 2010
In Loving Memory of My Dad
12 August 2010
My dad was the enforcer of justice in our household. I guess that’s the nice way of saying that my dad had a belt, and he wasn’t afraid to use it. Or a ping pong paddle. Or a large wooden spoon hanging on the wall. I suppose anything that made a loud “smack” on our behinds was considered fair game when it came to corporal punishment.
But it was never the physical act of discipline that drove fear into our hearts. We knew that our dad loved us, and he would never truly hurt us. Rather, when dad corrected us, it was his absolute authority that was awesome and, truthfully, terrifying at times.
I remember once as a teenager getting in trouble, and my dad threatened that I was “not too old to get a spanking.” Thinking I was tough stuff because I was a big, strong football player, my cocky response was, “Try it. I think I can take you now, dad.” My dad immediately rebuked my rebellious and disrespectful attitude, putting the fear of God in me—a quick and frightening reminder that my physical stature was no match for the “dadness” of my dad; he was still the “Chief,” as we often affectionately referred to him.
My dad used to say, “Nothing ever gets by me.” And at times we truly questioned whether he might have omniscient powers because he had a knack for digging up all of our dirty little secrets. Like the time I tried speeding down a country road at night with my lights off and ran over a mailbox. Or the time when I got in a fistfight at youth camp and busted a guy’s nose because he was trying to flirt with my girlfriend. Luckily, it took my dad nearly two years to dig up that story, at which point the only logical response was laughter.
At the root of my dad’s discipline was not a love for punishment or even a love for justice. No, I believe dad disciplined us because of his own high moral standards, grounded in Scripture—standards that he faithfully imparted to his children by holding us to them.
My dad’s values never wavered, even when they fell in direct opposition to the world’s values, or even the values of other God-fearing believers. As a kid in AAU basketball, my dad took a firm stance that I would not play in games on Sunday mornings, even though the coach of the team was a believer himself, and he didn’t seem to have a problem skipping church for basketball. But in our household growing up (and still to this day), Sundays were set aside for church and family.
Or when other parents in the youth group allowed their kids to have co-ed New Year’s Eve slumber parties, my dad took a strong stand, not allowing us kids to put ourselves in situations that might possibly compromise our integrity or our witness to others.
As a child and teenager, I sometimes resented my dad for his uncompromising values and rules. But, my dad was more concerned about being my dad than being my friend. And, I believe it was because of his courage to be a great dad during my childhood that I was later able to call him a good friend. And, much to my dad’s shock, on my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary I wrote them a letter, specifically thanking dad for disciplining me as a child.
In today’s culture of friend-first parenting and discipline-less anarchy in the home, my dad stood in the gap as an example for other parents on how to discipline their children with love. Sure, sometimes it felt as if my dad’s favorite verse in Scripture was the old Proverb of King Solomon: He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. (I’m still convinced that my dad had that underlined a few times in his Bible.) But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. And, in hindsight, I can clearly see that dad loved us too much to let us live by any other standard than God’s standard.
My dad recently lamented to me that he could never keep up with my mom’s level of spiritual discipline. (And, in reality, who could? My mom is a prayer warrior and a saint.) But what my dad didn’t realize is that for over 30 years he modeled for us kids a life marked by faith. His integrity in all things modeled a life grounded in the authority of Scripture. His commitment to church and family modeled a life centered on godly priorities. And his well-worn Bible found throughout the house spoke to an intimate relationship with his Lord.
While my dad was not a perfect man (and he’d be the first to admit that), he was a loving father whose life painted for his children a beautiful picture of our heavenly Father. And for that, I am eternally grateful. His was a life without compromise, a life marked by faith.