1. [noun] a role model who gives the gifts of guidance and wisdom while learning how to stretch his ability to love beyond what he knew was possible.
Few exert greater influence in our upbringing than our parents. Unbeknownst to many, our values, perspectives, and worldview are shaped, impacted, and formed by the very lifestyle our parents exhibit in their daily lives. It is not so much their words that impact us as much as their behaviors that we remember. I cannot help but think of my dad when the American writer Clarence Kelland spoke of his father: “He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
My dad is a doer. He never has much of a talker. My mom aptly filled that role with her penetrating wisdom and speech epitomizing the capable wife in Proverbs 31. In reflection, many of the lessons I’ve learned from my dad has not been the words itself, but from my direct observations in how he conducts himself both in the private and public sphere.
Over the past ten years, I didn’t have luxury having face-to-face time with my parents. At the age of 14, I left Korea at hoping to chart a brighter future in North America. This new opportunity also came with a sacrifice: Lack of family time. Much of my interaction with my father has been limited to the summer breaks where I would visit my family in Korea. This is something I dearly miss. In fact, I clearly remember envying many of my close friends who had the privilege of eating dinner with their entire family.
Lately, I have sensed the growing influence and presence of my dad in my life as I grow older. Here are the following key characteristics that I’ve learned from my dad.
Consistency, Perseverance, and Diligence
God has poured his blessings in our family, particularly to my dad. I have attempted to identify what factors attributed to my dad’s blessing. Three things come into mind: his laser-focus consistency, dogged perseverance, and relentless diligence. As Proverbs 21:5 promises, “the plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance.” John Maxwell talks about the common denominators of successful people: “I believe that the secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda. If you make a few key decisions and then manage them well in your daily agenda, you will succeed.” Let me add, it is also about committing to your daily agenda – every single day. Anybody can create a daily agenda. About 99% will invariably lose their energy and commitment at some point whether that is encountering obstacles along the way. My dad in this sense was relentless. His work ethic and resilience was mind-boggling. For instance, due to his nature of work, he has to travel extensively. I’ve never heard a word of complaint in my entire life of the physical, mental, and emotional strain. Every day, he sticks to his daily agenda and follows it day after day. This image of him has been clearly instilled in my mind till this day.
Humility and Frugality
I’ve never known anyone more humble and frugal than my dad. God has been gracious with our family and poured out his grace. This enabled him to enter the upper echelons of the society. As a businessman, he has achieved what many would view as impossible. Yet, his actions and thoughts have always manifested his meekness. Never once have I seen him insinuate his status in public. He knows he is “a wretched, poor, and helpless worm” as famously written in William Carey’s epitaph. For example, one day when our family decided to go watch our all-time favorite musical Les Miserables came into town, my dad would purchase the most inexpensive ticket. Though we could only watch the show through binoculars, in hindsight, I respected my dad for his frugality.
Word of God as Priority
All of these characteristics are undergirded by a key principle outlined as follows: “The Word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path.” As King David was drunken by the Holy Spirit through meditation of the Word and prayer, my dad also followed this path. When I was going through tough times during my adolescence, I remember my dad always coming into my room and praying for me before he left to work every single day. When he relocated to US for his new position, he would attend morning services every day available. The sheer discipline in rejoicing in learning and being nourished by the Word of God has been strongly embedded in my mind as well.
How has your life been changed because of your relationship with your father?
About the author:
Paul Sohn is an organizational chiropractor, intentional leadership, and entrepreneurial apologist and works for The Boeing Company in Lean management. He writes about his perspectives on people, change, leadership, and the Christian life at www.paulsohn.org. You can also find him on Facebook.