Sunday, June 14, 2020

Lessons from Dad


by Martin Wiles @LinesFromGod

My dad taught me many honorable lessons, but two stand out. 

The first lesson came when Dad said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

I heard the statement numerous times from Dad—and often didn’t want to. I’m not sure if he had heard it from his parents, but if he didn’t, he must have picked it up from somewhere else. As a first-born child, telling me this comprised part of his effort to teach me responsibility. I suppose along life’s way he had learned some lessons about procrastination—a fancy word for not putting off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Dad pastored smaller-membership churches and had to unlock the doors on Sunday mornings. He arrived early—thirty minutes to be exact. Too early for Mom. She came later because she was never ready thirty minutes ahead of time. Dad justified his early leaving by appealing to the “something might happen” logic. Something such as traffic jams, wrecks, a flat tire. 

My personality made learning this lesson easy. When I began working, I showed up thirty minutes early—sometimes earlier. Something might happen along the way. I also wanted to be ready to do my job when the time came for me to start. I’m now almost retirement age, and I still carry out the lesson. When I go to a movie, the theater, or out to eat, I always show up earlier than the starting time. If I have an appointment, I arrive early. The trouble is, not everyone thinks the same as I do about procrastination.

I once taught a student who had an English project due on Monday—a project she had known about since the first day of school when I handed out the syllabus. The Friday before it was due, she wanted more information and explanation. I refused. I wanted to teach her the lesson Dad had taught me. She didn’t appreciate my effort. 

The wisest man who ever lived said something similar: If you put off working, you won’t prosper. Nor will you have money to pay the bills or to put food on the table. “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper”(Proverbs 13:4 NLT).

Among the many things I shouldn’t put off are turning my life over to Christ, loving my spouse and children, being kind, sharing God’s love, praying, reading God’s Word, loving others, forgiving others, and working hard. I think I’ll do those today.

A second lesson came when Dad said, “Remember, son, your actions have consequences.”

If I ever forgot what Dad told me, all I had to do was look at one wall in my bedroom. On it, hung a framed set of rules, along with the consequences for breaking each one. Dad was a proponent of corporal punishment. He had no problem whipping his black belt from the loops on his pants and applying it to my hind parts. He never abused me, nor did he ever strike me in a place he shouldn’t have, but I learned the lesson about actions and consequences.

At some point, the framed set of rules disappeared. Perhaps, as I got older, Dad thought I had learned them without having a visible reminder. And, too, as I got older, he used other methods of discipline, such as taking away things I enjoyed—or the most terrible thing, making me get a haircut. I grew up in the hippie years, so I loved my long hair. Dad knew how I felt and used this to modify my behavior. 

I can’t say I used Dad’s exact techniques with my two children, but through various methods, I taught them their actions had consequences. 

Several of Israel’s tribes wanted to settle east of the Jordan River instead of living in the Promised Land. God granted their wish but had Moses remind them of their promise: help their kinsmen conquer the inhabitants of the Promised Land before they returned to their families on the other side. If they didn’t, God would classify it as sin, and their actions would have consequences. “But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23 NLT).

We love focusing on the loving side of God’s nature, but that loving side includes discipline, just as it does with parents and children and behavior. God must discipline our wayward actions because of His holiness. He cannot let sin go unpunished. Although He punishes our sinful actions, He rewards our obedience. And the wonderful news is that He gives us the Spirit to help us obey so we don’t have to endure the negative consequences of unhealthy behavior. 

I don’t know what lessons you learned from your Dad (and Mom), but hopefully they were worthy of passing along to the generations that follow you. After all, good lessons are always worth sharing. 

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Martin Wiles is the founder of Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com) and serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions, Senior Editor for Inspire a Fire, and Proof Editor for Courier Publishing. He has authored six books and has been published in numerous publications. His most recent book, A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Busy World, released in December 2019. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, author, and pastor.

3 comments:

  1. We can be thankful for Dads who gave us those lessons that still affect our lives today. Thanks for sharing your dad's influence.

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  2. Martin,

    Thank you for these valuable lessons you learned from your dad. It was a work ethic and integrity that I learned from my father. Grateful for those lessons that carry into my work in publishing.

    Terry
    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

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  3. Yes, his dad did have ways to teach and discipline and he turned out to be alot like his dad, I know, cause see, I'm his Mom.!!

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