How My Dad Made a Difference

There was a Mary Rice Hopkins song that I learned as a child that said, “So many can be a father, but not just anyone can be a dad. It takes someone like you to love me like you do, it takes a daddy, it takes a dad like you.”

The song always struck me because even as a kid I realized that there was difference between someone who was part of your DNA, and someone who was actively involved in your life – someone who was a daddy. A father may watch you skid your knees, a daddy picks you up, kisses the boo-boo, and encourages you to try again. A father may come to your t-ball game, a daddy teaches you how to swing the bat, catch the ball, and when you cross the plate, they consider your success their own. My father was a daddy in the best sense of the word, and he did all these things and so much more. No kid could ask for a better dad than mine was.

However, my daddy’s impact is not limited to just the things he did for me when I was a child, but in the person he taught me to be. So in honor of Father’s day, here are some of the ways my dad made a difference:

He Kept Things in Perspective – My dad had a natural knack for looking at the long-term.When there was a crisis, there was no one you’d rather turn to. He knew what was important and when times of confusion hit, he was great at separating out what mattered and what you could let go of. More often than not, he did this using Scripture. It’s why as a child he instructed me to learn Proverbs 26:18-19 when I had pulled a cruel joke on my sister. And why, when I had a problem with perceived favoritism, he directed me to James 2 showing me that not only was it my problem, but God had a problem with it too. My dad knew what mattered and he knew that what truly mattered was what was important to God, and we would be wise to focus on those things.

He Loved to Give – If anybody embodied the command to be a “cheerful giver”, it was my dad. Not only did he give without contention, but he truly enjoyed sharing the blessings God had given him with others. At Christmastime we knew that when we were done opening gifts, we probably really weren’t done. My dad usually held one present back in order to surprise and delight us even further. But it wasn’t with just material possessions that my dad was generous. There was never an age when we were too young or too old for my dad’s attention. When we couldn’t even talk, he would sing to us as he shaved as we sat on the counter in our car seats. When he was deployed, he wrote my sister and I individual letters. As we grew older, he was the first person to be there if we had a project that needed to be completed. My dad truly got a bigger blessing out of giving to others than of getting something for himself, and he showered his generosity on those whom God brought into his life, family and strangers alike.

He Took Care of His People – Not only was my father a great daddy, but he also happened to be a great boss and once I decided to enter the business world, I became a regular student of his management practices. The biggest lesson that I learned from my father is that the boss’s most important job isn’t the work itself, but the most important job is to take care of the people that you’ve been entrusted with. My dad was his team’s cheerleader, coach, disciplinarian, and father-figure all rolled into one. He worked hard to make sure his team members could be successful whether that meant providing some “top cover” or by figuratively kicking them in the pants. He took great pains to provide meaningful reviews, but his reviews weren’t just annual events. Ask anyone on his team what they needed to work on at any point during the year, and in all likelihood, they knew exactly what it was because my dad cared enough about their success to tell them. And my dad made sure that they were rewarded for their efforts. He knew that God had entrusted him with the people on his staff, and he took that responsibility very seriously, looking after not only their Earthly needs, but their eternal ones as well.

He Planned His Legacy – One of the more quirky things about my dad was his quest for the perfect planning system. My dad was very concerned with organization and in his ability to execute the vision and tasks that God had given him. He was purposeful with how he spent his days, and his quest for the system that would allow him to do this most effectively was evidence of this. What this meant was that the word “frivolous” wasn’t in my dad’s vocabulary of living. He made the most of his time here on Earth – whether that meant having regular date nights with my mom, scheduling time to build his grandkids the perfect swingset, or the countless hours he spent in prayer, Bible reading or Scripture memorization. He may have had hundreds of planners over his life, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a plan. He was planning for the day God would call him home, and was doing everything he could in the meantime to make that homecoming a sweet one.

He Loved Justice & MercyMicah 6:8 tells us that God has shown man what is good and what He requires. He wants us “to act justly and love mercy.” Unlike very few people, my dad was able to do both these things well. I know of no one who was more concerned with treating people fairly – whether that meant giving rewards when they were due or meriting out discipline if that was what needed and my dad was in a position of authority. At the same time, my dad looked for opportunities to be the deliverer of mercy, often bearing undue cost himself in order to be the ambassador of God’s grace. God had shown my dad what a good man was – and he worked hard to be the embodiment of it.

He Led Me to Christ – I was two-years old when I told my dad I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart. And yet, my dad didn’t consider his work done. He pointed me, and others, to Christ on a daily basis in the way he responded to life’s challenges by getting on his knees in prayer, and to life’s blessings by generously sharing them with others and giving credit to the One from which they came. My dad was smart and had brilliant ideas, but he always brushed the compliments aside, responding in humility to any praise given him. It was his mission in life to demonstrate Christ, and although he wasn’t perfect, he set about completing this mission with diligence. He not only shared with me the message of salvation, but he lived out the Gospel each and every day.

In a song by Steven Curtis Chapman called “Heaven is The Face[affiliate link] which he wrote after his daughter died, the artist sings

Heaven is the place where she takes my hand
And leads me to You
And we both run into Your arms

My daddy already led me to Christ once and I’m looking forward to the day where he will do so again. And while we may be separated now, I know that my dad’s greatest joy was in knowing that it wouldn’t be forever.

Happy Daddy Day.

19 comments

  1. Natalie – This is beautiful and a great testament to your Daddy. He would be very proud of how well you write and express yourself and tickled by your kind words. Love you.

  2. Natalie,
    This is a really amazing thing. This sharing of your heart and your grief and blessing. I really appriciate it. This takes humility and an understanding of your place and I love it! Your writing is kind and encouraging and turning eyes toward the big picture (sound like someone?).
    I have heard small peices of your families story lately and I know how many people must be reaching out to you with intentions to help you. I am sure your family has had growing/horrible/amazing/peaceful/raging/crazy times. And that your friends are probably rallying aroundyou too, but please let me know if you ever need an ear to listen or someone to sort things out with, that has experienced similar heartbreak, I am here if you need me.
    God bless you.
    Shauna Laxson/ Reed

  3. Reading it again brings tears again – and while there is a touch of sorrow there, they are also tears of celebration that your dad’s lessons and legacy are not lost – they are embodied in you and your sister. Looking forward to when he will takes us by the hand again.

  4. Amazing write up. Your dad continues to be a positive force in a number of lives. I’m so honored I was able to know you father and your family. Love you guys!!

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