“Your dad is rare.”
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a counseling friend from my church who’s husband is on staff. As a mom of two little ones, she was asking me about my experience growing up in the ministry and how I handled knowing that church often took precedence in my dad’s life over my family. I looked at her and told her sincerely that had never been the case with my family. My dad was present for everything. Even when he was in the process of studying for his MDiv and DMin. In fact, I can remember the one football game that he wasn’t able to make due to revival during my
brother’s High School career and it was when my brother was a freshman or a sophomore. Our family sat down for dinner together every single night of the week except for Wednesday night. Even as we started eating out with the youth group after church, on Sunday nights, our parents were often at the same restaurant with us. For a while there, our youth group and parents, with younger siblings in tow, took over a whole section at Jason’s Deli on Ridgeway Road in Memphis almost every single Sunday night. Most Saturday mornings we had breakfast together. When my brother married my sister-in-law, they came over almost every week for at least one meal and we almost always ate out together for Sunday lunch.
As I shared this with my friend, her eyes became big and she told me “your family is the exception. Out of all the pastor’s kids I have talked to I hardly ever hear that. Your dad is rare.” I smiled and said, “I know. We were/are blessed. He had seen the opposite modeled before him early in his ministry and determined to never be like that. And at every church we went to he made it clear that we were his priority. Thankfully, that was accepted and respected.” I didn’t miss the look of awe on her face.
I am fairly certain that I have shared it on here before but my dad has said for years “if I fail as a father then I have failed as a pastor.” Yes, he was/is called to the ministry but his God-given priority as a man is to first to his wife, secondly to his children then to his calling. There were times he made decisions that we did not understand at all. We wanted him to fight. We wanted him to react in a fleshly way, like us, but looking back I can see how he was having to look years ahead at the greater outcome for our family than the momentary satisfaction of being labeled right publicly.
He has always been healthy thanks to his love of jogging but he is not a tall man, like my brother, nor is he someone who has ever been interested in lifting weights, even so, he’s always been the first line of defense for our family. There have been several times when my brother, sister, mom and I were attacked within our churches over silly things. Often times it was an attempt to point the finger or to make my dad look bad. My father never backed down and made it quite clear we were off limits. However, if we were in the wrong then you had better believe we were going to have to make it right. But my dad met it all head on … so if someone brought something up about us in front of a group of people then my dad dealt with it right there and shut it down. Once people tried to use me as the source for a sensitive secret becoming exposed in our youth group, however, my dad tracked it down to the real source and the accusers had to back off his 7th grade daughter. It’s not that he thought we were angels … he was the first to admit our faults to people … from the pulpit (!) … it’s just that he knew the unrealistic expectations people had for us. He and our mom did all that they could to let us know that as long as we sought to do the Godly thing then the rest didn’t matter and that they would always fight for us.
As this Father’s Day approaches, I am thankful to have a father who is the exception to the rule when it comes to ministry. I am heartbroken for those pastor’s kids who did not grow up in a home like mine but I am thankful that we have a Father who can mend and restore what’s been broken.
Thank you for loving our family well, for putting our needs above your own, for showing us what a man after God’s own heart looks and lives like and for the always doing the hard and holy things of God.
I love you. Happy Father’s Day. – Melody