Family•Relationships • 4 minutes to read
Father’s Day weekend is a special time every June as we reflect on our dads. Whether we are with them today or not, whether they are young or old, whether a biological or adoptive dad, all of us can say we wouldn’t be here today without our fathers.
For some of us, reflecting on our father may be painful because of the hurt that was caused. For others, reflecting on our father may invoke feelings of endearment. Either way, there’s always something we can learn from our father.
Today, as I reflect on my 93 year old father, Joe Wright, I’m grateful for all of the memories I have with him and for the ability to still be able to pick up the phone and call him. I think my dad is pretty exceptional; in many ways he has been a great example to follow. Not because he was perfect—no father is—but because throughout his entire life he has never stopped growing.
Maybe you’ve heard the quote, “You’re only young once but you can be immature your whole life.” One of the main aspects of maturity is that we are able to continue to learn and grow.
My father matured at a very young age. He was born in Woodson, Texas, the oldest of six kids, and at the age of 17 he graduated high school and started college. He grew up with a deep love for family and faith. His mother, Fanny Lou Wright, was very influential in his faith development and he came to faith in Christ at a very young age. From his father, YZ Wright, he learned a strong work ethic and how to be a provider for his family. After graduating from Southern California Bible College, now Vanguard University, he spent 45 years serving as a local pastor, mainly in Salinas and Modesto, California. He’s been married to my mother for over 70 years, they have five kids and the tribe continues to grow. Now, there are over 55 of us, with my first grandchild being the latest arrival at the end of this year.
I like to say my dad is a cross between Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, and 10% John Wayne! A winsome man of deep faith in God, well spoken, and a whole lot of grit!
When I reflect on my father many endearing and funny memories come to mind. I remember his love for saltine crackers with every meal, his excitement for family reunions, his competitive spirit while playing dominos, and his love for gardening and vegetables. I think of learning to drive in his 1976 Fleetwood Cadillac in the winter valley fog of California and flying together in his Cessna 172.
More than just simple memories, there are countless life lessons I learned over the years that I have tried to implement into my own life.
- Love for God and Others: It didn’t matter if someone was rich or poor, a different race, ethnicity, or faith, my dad believed everyone deserved love and respect. I remember an Iranian family moved to our town from Iran in the 80s. My dad welcomed them into our home with open arms and we shared many meals together around our table. How he treated and loved others was a reflection of his love for God.
- Positivity and Encouragement: Dad always saw problems as opportunities and had a way of encouraging all of us through life’s challenges.
- Work Ethic: He used to say, “Get up early, work hard, and you’ll have plenty to eat.” Growing up he would even turn the lights on in our room at 6:00 AM because he didn’t want us to be lazy.
- Generosity: There are more stories here than I can even share. I saw in him great joy in giving and helping others.
- Leadership: My dad demonstrated leadership by serving. I’ll never forget when I was a young pastor in Watsonville, California, he and mom came to visit; he picked up the vacuum and spent the weekend helping me clean the church building. He was in his mid-60s pastoring a large church but he was never above the task of serving.
- Humility: Dad was aware of his strengths and how he could help others, and he knew the areas in which he needed to ask for help.
- Never Stop Growing: This trait means the most to me—hearing him admit mistakes he made when he was young, or watching him continue to love and care for my mother as they age. He has learned to be okay with his emotions and wells up with tears every time we say goodbye.
My dad is far from perfect, that’s how I know he’s MY dad! (HaHa), but I am so thankful for his example.
I like this quote from John Maxwell: “Change is inevitable, but growth is optional.”
As dads, let’s keep growing. It’s never too late! Someday, we will be the ones our kids are reflecting on.