As we approach Father’s Day, we are often thinking about the gifts we can give our Fathers. I’m led to reflect on the gifts my father, grandfather and other father figures in my life gave to me. It’s important as a man for me to realize where my foundation comes from. In my case, it comes from those life lessons from my Dad and Grandfather.
My grandfather was a well-respected man in our community when I was growing up. Everyone that I heard speak about him when he was not around had the utmost respect for him. He taught me to shake hands firmly and look a man in the eye when you are talking to him. He also taught me to respect someone’s boundaries and space, but he also taught me not to allow someone to disrespect my boundaries and space. Both my grandfather and my Dad taught me to respect authority as one day I will have authority over someone and I will command and deserve the same respect.
My grandfather never used credit, he always paid cash for everything. He told me if you can’t pay for it in cash, you can’t afford it. He was never overextended financially and always lived within his means. Because of his financial acumen, I was never deprived of the things I needed growing up. I was blessed to have that example.
Every father figure in my life from my Dad and Grandfather to coaches and managers have this characteristic in common—integrity. I was held to a high standard of integrity from day one. Cheating on a test for example, was never an option for me. I was ingrained with the mindset there was only one acceptable option to walk through life — that was with honesty, dignity and integrity.
Dad taught me to respect authority as one day I will have authority over someone and I will command and deserve the same respect.
I had a time during my life where I needed to “study to be approved.” Everyone of faith should understand why you believe what you believe (so that the answer is not “because mom and dad said so). That said, my grandfather was really the cornerstone of the beginning of my faith. Seeing a strong man who was willing to worship opened the door to me to find my path in faith.
The Essence of Manhood
Watching how those I look up to treated women and carried themselves with style, class and substance did so much for my maturation process. Seeing my father being kind and gentle, while yet being rough around the edges showed me it’s ok to have a gentle spirit yet be firm when necessary. Hearing the stories about my father going into the military during war times and my grandfather serving in World War I and never hearing either man complain about sacrificing for their country reminds me that real men defended our country and made sacrifices for our freedom.
I was fortunate to learn something as simple as how to change a tire from my grandfather. As luck would have it, on my very first long distance driving experience I had a flat but I was more than capable of changing the tire. Those traits of independence and maturity are the foundations of manhood.
The experiences I had with my father and grandfather and others are irreplaceable to my development from a boy to a man. The things they told me, I will take with me for the rest of my life. And what I watched, learned and picked up on is in some ways even more important. Those moments contributed so much to who I am today. I can’t thank them enough for the gifts they poured into me.
Whatever I get in life, I would have never been able to pay them back for the wisdom and knowledge they shared to make me who I am today. BMWK – What life lessons did you learn from your father or other men in your life?