The photo above is of my own son, digging down in the depths of the engine of his big 'red neck' truck. I'd like to say I taught him how to fix problems with his truck...but I'd be lying. But I'd also like to think I did teach him to go after what he wants, and the boy does just that. And as I have watched the young man mature through the years, I realize it is getting harder and harder to teach him, because he demonstrates that he has learned so much.
Now I must confess, much of the way my son has turned out, I think is almost self-taught, through genetic predisposition, or other fine examples of living by his mother and grandparents. But I know I spent a lot of time with him through the years - and the similarities between us are easy to spot. Yes, that includes some of the negative traits from his father, too. But we will keep this pretty positive, and not focus on those today 😉
So let's start with priority numero uno.
From the time my little boy started to understand English, and as soon as he could read, I told my wife I wanted him to learn about Jesus. We may not have always been at the same church, or made our own spiritual walks the priorities they should have been, but Rebecca was always very supportive of immersing our son in the church. It is what my dad did for me and my brothers, and apparently she saw a success formula there. Now here we are, 19 years later, and he volunteers to help people at the church, and he attends regularly and has his former youth director as one of his mentors. And while he was away at Basic Training with the Army, he mentioned in almost every single letter, how much scripture he read, and how often he read it in their free time (what little they had).
And his heart for serving is apparent. I asked him what drove him to have so many tools (he has acquired quite the collection). His answer was revealing: he said that he always wanted to be that Jack of all trades, that whenever someone said they needed this task or that task done, he could say, "I have this 'such and such' tool, so I can help.'" This is in his heart. He is not as talkative as his dad, by any means. But he makes up for that in his willingness to help people. And he learned that from his mentor at the church. And he learned that through his knowledge of who Christ is. I guess that foundation had to start somewhere. I am glad to have pushed for that start.
Then there is the love for family. Oh, sure - my son will tell you (in as few words as possible) that he is in no hurry to have a family of his own. But do you know how many times I've had to beg my son to come with his family to this family gathering, or that visit to see relatives, or dinner with just his mom and dad? Zero. I cannot recall where I had to get him to turn down something else to join us for a family outing. It was always a priority for him. I think he has spent more time with family through the years, than he ever spent with friend or social activities. He chose to be like that. It certainly wasn't forced on him; it didn't have to be. And I know for a fact, my own dad taught me to have the same priority for time with family. So hopefully I played a small part in that bit of wisdom getting passed down.
Nobody who has ever met our son, could ever doubt his patriotism. I tried to instill a love for America at an early age for my son. We started out with trips to Patriots Point in Charleston, and even the Vietnam Memorial in Cleveland Park in Greenville, SC. I wanted him to know American history as early as possible, and he took to absorbing the history of the foundation of our own nation like a duck to water. I daresay, if it weren't for his early love for America, he never would have taken the initiative to join the Army National Guard. Sure, there is something to be said for just wanting to be a soldier, a warrior, a pilot, an airman, a fighter for your country, serving in the best way the military deems fit. But it is the patriots who love their country, that will be your most loyal fighters. That alone could be a post for another day, but I digress.
His faith does not waiver. His love for family is evident. His patriotism is unquestioned. And his yearning to improve himself and learning what he considers to be important for becoming self-sufficient, is admirable. These are all things my father also taught me.
Sure, there are other things he can maybe learn along the way, like any of us. The title of this post is somewhat rhetorical. I know I can continue to show him things by example, like perseverance, and loyalty, and continuous striving for improvement. But in the great big scheme of life... God, family, country. Those were the chief priorities that stand out the most, from the things my dad taught me growing up. I guess the main thing I can do now, since my son has become pretty good at teaching himself usable NEW information... is continue to reinforce the example of those three key themes in life that once made America great. And the little things; perhaps it's already happening, where I am reminded of the important 'little things' by watching him.
Hmmm, perhaps thoughts to share for another day.
Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there who have taken their purpose in this world seriously. May God bless your sons and daughters, as I feel they blessed mine.