My father went home to be with the Lord on June 3, 2019. However, if he were here today, I would tell him how much I loved, respected and honored his leadership and would thank him for all that he meant to me. My dad planted five seeds of greatness into my soul. Every day he would stop me at the front door before going to school and would say, “Deborah, you are Accepted, Valuable, Capable, Forgiven and Loved.” So, to all of you out there who still have your dads, be grateful. Here are five key pillars for dads to encourage and strengthen your resolve so that you live intentionally and purposefully and do all you possibly can to ensure that you are the #1 influence in the lives of your beloved sons and daughters.
Pillar 1: Set the Standard
Centuries ago, plumb lines were used – cords with lead weights used by builders to make sure that walls were constructed straight up and down. A plumb line was also used to test existing walls to see whether they had settled and tilted, needing to be torn down. I heard an analogy about two men who were constructing buildings side by side. The first builder built his foundation and walls without checking them with a plumb line to see if they were level. He looked at the foundation and walls and said, “They look level, so that’s good enough for me.” The second builder built his foundation and walls, carefully using a plumb line after each level of stones was added. When both builders were finished, a building inspector came. He said to the first builder, “It looks good from the outside, but let’s check it to see if it is level and straight.” Finding that the foundation and walls were crooked, he told the builder to start over and build it right. The inspector then went over to the second builder and checked his foundation and walls. Satisfied, he told the second builder, “It couldn’t have been any better than if I had built it myself.” The moral of the story is that in order to build a solid foundation for our children, dads have to set the standard – a plumb line if you will. If we, as parents, are not ourselves plumb and level, it is going to be difficult to give our children the tools they need to excel and thrive.
Pillar 2: Lead and Lift by Example
True leadership begins within the walls of your homes. Dads were given the very special gift of family. Children will often not remember what you said, but they will always remember how you lived. Children left alone to figure life out for themselves won’t reach their full potential. They need their dad to help them along. Show your family that your ABCs (Attitude, Behavior and Character) are in alignment with being a great role model. Your attitude should be loving, your behavior patient and your character honest and moral. Albert Schweitzer said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others … It is the only thing.”
Consciously influential dads are active, engaged, motivating, inspiring and encouraging to their family. This means showing your children how much you respect and value their mother. No one can be perfect, but you are able to visibly act in ways that make everyone feel significant, you’ll plant the seeds of these traits in your children, and they’ll one day do the same with their own children.
The old saying that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree is an understatement. Children learn to act, behave, speak and react to situations by watching their parents. If Dad sits around all day expecting someone to wait on him, and can’t even take out the trash, his sons will likely grow up doing the same thing and wishing for a maid. “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t work for this generation of children. What they see you do they will want to do because you are their dad. It doesn’t matter where you are right now, what struggle or adversity you are suffering from, or how many mistakes you have made, you can make the choice right now to lead and lift not only your children but also yourself. Believe in yourself, rise up and become the dad you were destined to be. Greatness only happens when you attempt to walk in it.
Pillar 3: Speak Blessings Over Your Family
Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Words are extremely powerful. They can either make you or break you. They can either build up or tear down. They can either expand or erode. Harvard Business School recently studied the correlation between team performance and the frequency of praise and criticism given to the individuals on the team. The highest-performing teams received nearly six positive comments for every negative one. The medium-performing teams received almost twice as many positive comments as negative ones. But the low-performing teams received almost three negative comments for every positive. The results of this study clearly confirm that we all need to hear more positive comments. And a blessing goes even further than a positive comment. Speaking a blessing is an opportunity to open our spiritual eyes and declare truth over someone – God’s truth! I cannot stress enough how crucial your words are when you are raising your girls to be confident women and your boys to be compassionate men. When they are young, they hang onto your every word. As they get older, your words become more and more powerful, and if said often enough, children believe them. Let your family know they are fearfully and wonderfully made. Tell them that Best is their birthright and that their past will never dictate their future. Make them understand that their current situation does not equal their permanent destination and just because they make mistakes doesn’t mean they are a mistake. Inform them that failure is not final, it is just feedback and that they are born to win.
Pillar 4: Be Like A Palm Tree
This nation is currently facing a health pandemic and a racial crisis. When life throws challenges at you no matter what they are, Dads might bend but they don’t break. You may have to bend but inevitably your goal is to stand back up. Palm trees bend under pressure in storms and in hurricanes. However, they bounce back. They are resilient. They can take the best punches mother nature can throw at them and they remain standing. Depending on the species, some palms can live for more than a century. That means the palm you plant might outlive you. Likewise, the seeds you sow into your children and family will live forever. In life we are going to have hard times, valleys, trials and many problems. It is inevitable. In those times be the palm tree. Be flexible. Have the ability to take a licking and keep on ticking. No matter how hard the winds are blowing in the storm once it passes just like the palm tree it returns to its original position. Standing tall basically telling mother nature “is that all you got? You cannot break me. We cannot avoid the unexpected events in our lives. However, it is in these events that challenge and force us to step out of our comfort zone. If we ignore or hide away from the challenge, we deny ourselves the opportunity to be better. Thomas Paine wrote at the beginning of America’s war for independence, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” It is in a time of crisis that we have a greater opportunity as Dads to stand up, transform our lives and change the world.
Pillar 5: Leave a Legacy of Love
To some legacy means their family genealogy and history. To others, it is a list of things that have been accomplished or lessons of life that were handed down to them. During this life influential Dads must live in such a way that when you are gone you are remembered not for making a living but for making a difference. You may not get it right all the time, and that’s OK. As long as you’re consistently trying to share your heart and authentically being yourself, you will be building memorable experiences in your family despite a mistake here or there. Knowing how much you love them and their treasure their mother gives your children a sense of security and belonging that is crucial to their view of themselves. Your unconditional “Agape” love lays the groundwork for all the healthy and strong relationships that they will form later in life. So, cherish your daughters and be proud of your sons and express your gratefulness for them every single day. As your children grow, this foundation of bonding will help them as they continue to build their own social circles, make friends and form lasting friendships with peers.
Every day that we are given the privilege to breathe in and out, we have been provided a gift to go out into the world to encourage, empower, enlighten and provide tremendous value to those we care about. Every Dad has his own way of shining brightly. What is important is that each day you grow into becoming the best and highest version of yourself. As you do, you will exhibit to your children, partner, family members and the world the love of God.
Dad’s you have a legacy to leave and a destiny to fulfill and it will not be determined by the car you drive, the job you have or the square footage of your home.
It will be determined by:
- Every life you’ve touched
- Every tear you’ve dried
- Every smile you’ve shared and
- Every heart you’ve held.
I was too late getting to the hospital before my Dad passed. I never got the opportunity to say goodbye. However, you may still have the time to continue appreciating your dad for lighting the way for you and your family understanding that influential Dads matter because they are – Divinely and Amazingly Designed