Well, here we are. Another Memorial Day. A day where we take time to remember those that have fought so bravely in the Armed Services. A day where we take the day off to spend with family and friends. A day where we visit cemeteries to honor those that have passed on before us. It’s a solemn day.
For me, today, I am remembering my dad. He passed away in 2012 of a heart attack after mowing the grass at the young age of 60. He was a bi-vocational pastor who retired from a factory after working there 30 years. He enjoyed a second career working in a hospital as an EKG tech while continuing to preach and pastor. I think about him every day…but especially this day.
I have written on grieving in a previous post. But, for this Memorial Day, I wanted to write about my dad. He had such an impact on my life and I am the person I am because of him. And, the older I get, the more I see and realize that I am just like him – in the way I talk, the way I parent, the way I look, etc… There are 3 things that I want to highlight about my dad as a tribute to him as well as a leadership lesson for the rest of us:
1. My dad laughed often. He always had a joke to tell or some quippy thing to say to make everyone laugh. He had an approach to life that allowed him to add levity and have fun regardless of where he found himself. Because of this, people liked him and they wanted to be around him. As his son, I remember that my time with dad was often full of laughter and fun times. As leader, this example in my life has given me the gift of laughing about things and trying to find humor in most of life’s situations. Those around us appreciate when we’re not serious all the time and when they can count on us to make them laugh…or at least laugh along side them.
2. My dad liked people. My dad was a people person. I believe that he had a knack for always seeing the best in people and giving them chance after chance (almost to a fault). But, when you talked to my dad, it was like you were the most important thing to him in that moment. He remembered people and names and situations. It was amazing to watch someone come up to him when we were at a public place and he knew their name and always asked how their father, mother, sister, friend, or whoever was doing because they had shared they were sick, or depressed, or down and out. My dad cared about people and they knew it. As leaders, people are what we’re about. If we don’t like or care for people – genuinely – then we are failing at our #1 responsibility. For me, I learned from my dad how to listen and the importance of remembering names and situations. It’s an invaluable skill as a leader.
3. My dad loved God. You may think that since he was a pastor he had to love God. And maybe you’re right. But I believe that he had a genuine conversion experience. He was raised in a home with alcoholic parents and abuse. He met Jesus as a teenager and then followed a call into ministry. Not because he had to – but because he had seen God work in his life. I wish I could hear from my dad all of the ways he has seen God work in the lives of others, because I’m sure there are hundreds of stories. His life was his testimony. People who interacted with him saw a righteous man who always lived his life with integrity and pointing back to God for every blessing in his life. As a leader, we must have a higher purpose. Without it, why lead? This transcendent cause that my dad lived for and about is a cause that saw many people come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ and a growing walk with the Lord. For me, it has always rooted me in the faith and kept me centered on a higher purpose as I lead others. Because my faith dictates my leadership.
Who are you remembering today? Who invested in your leadership and made you the leader/person you are today? Share your thoughts below…