Over the past year my daughter, a high school senior, has often used my laptop to complete writing assignments. I wasn’t surprised to open my laptop several weeks ago and find an essay she had written sitting on my desktop. What caught my attention was the title, “This I Believe.” The opportunity to have a brief view into my daughter’s thoughts had me read what she had written. Below is the article.
May 10, 2011
I believe that it’s important to respect those who deserve it. When I was younger, President Bill Clinton came to Syracuse. My dad wanted us to go when Air Force 1 came in, not to see the President, but to see the plane. My dad did not particularly like President Clinton so it was not a huge deal that he was coming here. When we went, we were all standing by watching as the President started to walk down the row of people shaking everyone’s hand. I did not think my dad would even look his way, but as he made his way to my dad, my dad stuck his hand out, looked at the President and said, “Welcome to Syracuse Mr. President”. I was shocked to see him do that because I knew how much he disliked the man. From that day on I knew that no matter how much I did not like a person, if they were in a position of authority over me, I would respect them. This is something I believe to be true for everyone. I think that it is so important for people to realize that even though you may not like a person, they still deserve the respect of someone you do like. People all over the country do not realize that this is something everyone should follow. They do not find it important to respect the President just because they may not like something he believes, but he is still the President and he deserves that respect. This is also true with people like our bosses or teachers. We may never agree with something that they believe or say, but because of the position of authority they hold above us, we need to respect them as people.
Ever since that day my father taught me that lesson, I have made it a point to treat all those who deserve it with respect. People who hold power over us should get respect because they have worked to get that power. I will always try and follow this idea my father taught me. I will pass it down as well because I believe that respect is very important.
I sat for awhile after reading her words. My daughter is just days from graduating high school. We are planning to send her off this fall to college. I have come to a knowledge that my time as being one of the influential voices in her development is coming to a close. Soon it will be college professors, authors, peers that she has yet to meet and the wide array of people who cross our paths that will be the ones that help develop her adult world view, yet for this one brief moment God gave me a chance to see my place in her life. It also led me to really consider the following passage of scripture.
1 Corinthians 4:14 – 16 (NKJV) 14I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.15For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16Therefore I urge you, imitate me.
The essence of Paul’s words where this. There are so many people around you who are throwing hypothetical answers out on how to live a significant life but so few who actually are giving real answers by living lives worth being imitated. The vocal white noise of ten thousand instructors begs for the few who lead by example to stand up and be father’s to a generation of lost people trying to figure out how to navigate through lives they haven’t been equipped to live.
Fatherhood is not a biological condition but a spiritual one. If every man who donated DNA to a child were to actually father them what a changed world we would live in. I believe it is why Paul’s words should be a desperate prayer for us all. There is no historical evidence that Paul ever had children. In fact there is far more to support that he never did, yet how was he able to write about being a father? It was because he knew how to lead by example.
My life is bookmarked by three major events. First my conversion to Christ, second meeting, falling in love, and marrying the girl of my dreams and third the day I became a father. I can’t claim anything close to perfection in any one of these three momentous events, yet I am so thankful that God continues to show me moments when I am someone who can be followed. To that I thank all of those who have allowed me to follow them on their journey of discovery.
I title this article “Rear-view Mirror.” The title was birthed by an image I had of my daughter a few days ago. I dropped her off at school in the morning and as I drove away I looked into my rearview mirror and saw my daughter walking away from me. The force of the image was heartbreaking because in so many ways that is our next segment of life. She is getting ready to leave. I keep asking myself, “Have I equipped her enough for what comes next?” Maybe my answers are found in a young woman’s words on what she believes in and seeing the imprint of a father who is still trying to be someone who can be imitated. For a moment I can close my eyes and know that sometimes I’ve gotten it right and that some of the marks I’ve left on my child are ones which will make her worth being imitated.