Besides learning how to make decisions and how to treat others my dad taught me how to serve God. My dad has served as the pastor of several small churches. He started three churches and has ministered to people in four different states. Many “preacher’s kids” have less than positive things to say about growing up in a pastor’s home. They say their dad was too strict, there was never any money, the ministry took him away from his family, and they were always being watched. Not me. It was a joy to grow up in a Pastor’s house. My dad loved the ministry. It was the life God gave him and he loved it. He still does. He enjoyed working with people, even the difficult ones. One day when I came home from work as a nurse and complained about a patient’s difficult family member my dad said, “Miriam, as long as you are working with people, there are always going to be a few strange ones in your life. Don’t let them ruin it for you.” He chose to love them but kept his focus on God and the task God had for him. He made being a pastor look like fun, serving God was an adventure, a privilege even. We were the blessed ones. He didn’t complain about the long hours, the financial difficulty, the uncertainty of the future, the pitiful retirement benefits. He knew that he was where God wanted him and that was all he needed to know. God would provide even if it meant Daddy worked a second job. He empowered us to believe that we could be anything God wanted us to be. There are no limits when you are in the will of God. There is no greater satisfaction in life than to be what God wants you to be.
I learned what it means to have a servant’s heart. When I was a teenager, my dad had us clean the church each week. He explained the principle—if you are faithful in this menial job then God will bless you with a less menial job. Years later, when it was my week to clean the church, I asked dad about that. “Why am I still cleaning the church?” I asked, tongue in cheek. He looked at me, gave me that sly grin and said, “I didn’t say you wouldn’t still have to clean the church, I just said He would give you other jobs too.” Humph! He had me there. My dad has never been above doing whatever needs done, even if it’s cleaning toilets.
Another thing he taught me was how to plug along, even when you don’t see the results. A pastor has a tough job. There may be months, even years when the growth in the church is slow, stops, even goes backwards. Often progress is measured more in the lives that are changed, the growth in the hearts of people rather than in the numbers of people attending. From this I learned that quality is definitely more important than quantity. The bottom line is this, if you are in the will of God then all you are responsible to do is be faithful. God will take care of the results. This may be the most valuable lesson I ever learned from my dad, faithfulness.
Wow, you may say. Your dad must have spent a lot of time explaining and talking to you. He must be a very special person. I can’t be like that, I’m not that good. Of course, I think he is wonderful and the best Dad in the whole world. I know he spent time explaining these things to us. The truth is that most of the lessons I learned from my Dad I learned from watching him. You see, the lessons he taught most effectively were the ones he lived. When someone consistently demonstrates the truth, it’s a powerful thing; much more powerful than words.