My father was not a big man. At five feet and five inches tall and about one hundred forty five pounds he was not an impressive sight. Morally and Spiritually, however, he had few equals. I never saw him do anything he knew was wrong. He had strong convictions on what was right and what was wrong. When I was disobedient, his correction was immediate and forthright. He would stand for the underdog and support the weak. He intended that his children would do the same.
At sixteen years of age I did something that was very foolish. It was not immoral and it was not illegal. No one knew about it except my immediate family. My parents were quite upset with me. They had a long talk with me about the behavior. We went to bed.
About 4: AM the next morning, my father woke me up. He was, at the same time, stern and sad. He said, “Son, your mother has not slept all night. You hurt her by your foolishness. You come with me.” I followed my father to my parent’s bedroom. I had never been in their bedroom before. When there he said, “You get down on your knees and tell your mother you are sorry.”
I had never seen my mother looking so. She looked so soft and sad. Her face was a mass of tears and pain – tears for me – tears for pain that I had caused.
She whispered, “You are my first-born son. I love you. I want you to do what is right. I do not want you to be foolish. I do not want you to ruin your life. I want you to serve God with your life.” I told her that I was sorry. My father watched as we spoke. He then dismissed me and the situation was never mentioned again. I never forgot it.
My father was a man who did things right and wanted things done right. He insisted on obedience. He did not allow wrong to go unaddressed. Imagine the impact of his integrity on his children; on me. He was not a perfect role model in every area of life. In many ways he was enigmatic in his austerity and benevolence. You do not have to be perfect to be effective.
In respect and honor of truth and right; he never faltered. His character is my model for life. If it is right, then do it. If it is wrong, then do not do it. It is just that simple. He never over-looked injustice. He called it sin like it was.
His beliefs were entrenched in my mind by incidents like the one you have just read. He knew how to stand alone. He taught me that well. By word and example and corrective measures, he taught me well.
That is God’s way. Fathers teach their sons to do right, to honor their mothers, to respect all women and all people. To defend right and to oppose wrong. He once told me, “Son, if the whole world is wrong, you still have to do what is right.” By the grace of God (and the discipline of my father) that is how I attempt to live. That is the way I continue to honor my father and my mother.
Republished from December 12, 2012