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Dad: May I Carve My Spot and Shine as Bright as You

As a Dad of boy who turned 10 months old yesterday, I am looking forward to my first Father’s Day this weekend.  When my wife, Olivia, was pregnant with Jack, everyone we talked to thought it best to inform us that our life was about to change.  Actually, they still say that each time Jack reaches a new milestone.  They were 100% correct.  From the moment I learned that I was going to be a Dad, my life changed.  From the first time I laid eyes on Jack, I was in awe of the creation of life that God allowed us to be part of.  I was and still am humbled that God would choose me to be the father of this young child.  Also, I was terrified that I would not know how to be the father that Jack needed.  Where would I get the wisdom I needed to share with this little man?

As a young child, I remember riding around in the truck with my dad.  I was carrying the stuffed monkey that he gave me one Christmas.  We pulled into a parking lot and were about to get out when my dad stopped me and made me listen to Conway Twitty sing, “That’s My Job”.  The lyrics go something like this, “That’s my job, that’s what I do.  Everything I do is because of you to keep you safe with me.  That’s my job you see.”  Those lyrics have stuck with me for the last 25 years and I still choke up when I hear that song.  I never questioned my father’s love for me.  He did a fantastic job of making me know that he always loved me and wanted what was best for me.  Now as the father of a young boy, I want Jack to know that I am always there for him as well.

As an estate planning attorney, I work with families to help them shape their legacy.  They want to leave assets to benefit their children and grandchildren.  I listen on a daily basis to parents talk about what is important to them regarding their loved ones.  Without fail, every parent is concerned about ensuring that the children are taken care of but not spoiled.  Daily hearing these perspectives gives me the opportunity to spend a lot of time thinking about the legacy I leave to my children.  Proverbs 13:22 states, “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.”  This Proverb speaks about providing for not only your children, but leaving a legacy for their children as well.  To put it plainly, as Fathers (and Mothers) we have a great responsibility to provide for our families.  More important than the wealth we attempt to leave behind is the legacy of love and character we pass on to our children.

5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  Deuteronomy 6:5-9

This scripture reminds me as a Dad that it is my job to be involved with building the character of my children on a daily basis.  My wife asked me recently what the word legacy meant to me.  Was it character, intelligence, or love? For me, legacy is all of those things, but I specifically break legacy into two categories: community and family.  In both cases, it is about leaving something better than you found it.  First, community: my sincere desire is that every business, every organization, every community that I come in contact with is improved or benefitted by my being a part of it.  I pray that my legacy is always improving my surroundings.  Second, family: my desire is to raise my children and give them the opportunity to be better than I am.  I pray that Jack grows up to be a man in constant pursuit of God, who serves others, and who has impeccable character.  While I am cognizant of the fact that Jack ultimately has free will and will forge his own path, I believe it is our responsibility as parents to help direct that path toward righteousness and love.

As I ponder these thoughts in preparation of my first Father’s Day, I think back again to another part of the song, “Every person carves his spot and fills the hole with life and I pray someday I might light as bright as he.” My hope is that Jack will grow up feeling that way about his Dad, but also that he will look further to his heavenly father for true light.  Those words from Conway Twitty (through songwriter Gary Burr), my dad, other experienced parents, and through scripture I will be guided through these years in my quest to be a great father to Jack.  My dad always tells people that he and God raised me.  Olivia and I are counting on the same help as we parent Jack. I am humbled and extremely grateful that I get the opportunity to be a father to Jack and a husband to Olivia.  We are blessed beyond measure.