As Father’s Day approaches I have been thinking about the men who influenced me as a father. I have been blessed to have a father, a step-father, and a father in law, and each one has contributed to who I am today. Each one has helped me to become the father I am today, and I wanted to honor them by sharing their influence.
As I sit here thinking about my father, Jack Best, I am reminded of his zest for living. Even though we were separated by divorce I spent a lot of time with him. Every other weekend and long times in the summer. Our summers were spent enjoying the out of doors, like the camping trip to Canada, or the ball park in Pontiac. Dad has an easy smile and a good laugh that draws laughter out of even the saddest situations. I believe that the fun I find in living comes, in no small way, from his influence in my life. Times change, and situations can produce distance but his joy in living life out loud will always be part of me. As I father my own children I have found that same easy smile and zest of living. My children know that fun is a part of life!
Every boy needs to have a steadying influence to provide stability and safety and my step dad, Wayne Smith, provided that for me. He entered my life at the age of 4 and through all the years I was growing up I never felt like he was anything other than dad. He was a solid provider and a firm hand for me. When I open my tool box and fix something around the house I think of him. When I see that all the bills are paid and there is some money left over I think of him. When I feel beat down and less than I hear his voice coaxing me to get up off the ground and move forward. His love for me was not just words, but demonstrated each and every day in practical ways. From sitting in the stands cheering me on to patiently teaching me how to keep a house in order his love was evident. As a father I have tried to love my children in that same practical way.
Finally as I think about fathers I think about my father in law, Dave Keeler, who was simply dad to me. I think the most important lesson I have learned from anyone, I learned from him. It is the pure joy of being in love with Jesus. I learned that to love Jesus means to serve others, to be patient with others, to forgive others, and to share your blessings. Dad was a faithful, obedient, disciplined, and joyful follower of Jesus. As a father I have tried to be like dad, teaching my children about Jesus, openly sharing my love for him, and demonstrating a humble heart.
I am so blessed to have had these men in my life, and I pray that the lessons learned from them are evident in me.