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My Dad, My Hero

    Give honor to whom honor is due, (Romans 13:7, NIV).

     Honor is not something given lightly, nor is it earned without much effort and sacrifice. Honor requires courage, diligence, perseverance, steadfastness, selflessness and duty. We don’t see heroes every day. Heroes are placed by God in specific circumstances to accomplish His will in the lives of men and women in this world.

     My Dad is one such hero. I have observed many things about his character that I now desire to emulate. Much of what I learned from him was “caught” rather than “taught.” As he lived his life, he allowed me to be a part of everything he was doing and observe his ways of interacting with people with enthusiasm and consideration. I watched his methods of setting goals, making decisions, and working diligently. I desired to imitate his positive outlook, his energy, and his God-directed, purpose-driven life.

His Honesty

     My father’s character is one of the most steadfast I’ve ever witnessed. Honesty wasn’t an option, but a matter of God-honoring integrity. As a teenager, I vividly remember standing in the kitchen and hearing his honest response to an unexpected phone call he had taken. I remember his words, “Man, I’m so sorry, I completely forgot to send that package to you—it slipped my mind, but I will definitely take care of that right way—you have my word!” I remember thinking to myself, he could have just told the man he should be receiving it soon, the man would have had no way of knowing that it wasn’t already in the mail. But my dad’s example of honesty, humility and determination to make it right, was more than any you-should-do-the-right-thing lecture could have ever taught me. I thought, “Wow! So that’s what it looks like to do the right thing! I want to be like that!” I didn’t realize at the time, that by his Godly example, he was developing a desire in my heart to have righteous character--but somehow, even then, I knew that that was the kind of person God would honor and bless. “He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.” Proverbs 16:20 (KJV)

His Integrity

    Dad was never the kind of person who would try to get cable TV free from the neighbors by running an extra wire, or try to sneak a child into a theme park for a price below what he was supposed to pay, like some people I’ve witnessed. Deception and cheating were not part of his habits. Dad’s integrity, even today, is solid. Just a few months ago, he treated our family to a meal at a restaurant and realized that he had been undercharged--one of the pizza buffets for the children was not listed on his ticket—so he found the cashier to make it right and pay the difference. I want to be like that! A good name is better than costly goods. (Ecclesiastes 7:1)

His Vitality

    Dad was always active and not passive. He didn’t just watch other people live life--he jumped in there, rolled up his sleeves, put on his gloves and gave it his best shot! Although he never put that in words as a lesson for me, he taught me by his sheer love for life. And I got it! And I do it!  Now, I pass that on to my own children! “Live Life; don’t just watch Life.” It will pass you by if you don’t live it!  "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10 (NKJV)

His Adoration

    Worship was a big part of my dad’s life. As a pastor, he devoted much of his time to studying the Word of God, praying, and preparing his messages of encouragement for his congregation. When it was time to worship, he opened his heart, lifted his head toward heaven, and raised his hands to worship the God of all creation. Tears would stream down his face as he poured his love out to his Heavenly Father, and his countenance would beam with radiance as he spent time in the presence of the Almighty. I remember standing beside him in church as we worshipped Jesus, the Savior who had given us redemption, and thinking, “I want to know who my Dad knows! I want to know this God whom he loves! He must be really great if my dad loves him so much!” There was no one or nothing my dad loved more. Jesus was the object of his affection, adoration, worship and praise. Now I, too, know how meaningful that relationship is! Nothing can compare! “One thing I’ve asked from the Lord, that I shall seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in his temple.” Psalm 28:4 (NIV)
His Faith

    Dad talked to God, listened to God, heard from God, followed God and obeyed God. The Bible stories of heroes of the faith have always been very believable to me because it didn’t seem odd that someone could have that much faith. I saw my dad live that way every day! I have willingly accepted the inheritance of faith that has been given to me as a legacy. I now walk by faith and not by sight in my own life! I wouldn’t have it any other way. “Without faith, it’s impossible to please God…” Hebrews 11:6 (NIV).

His Humility

    One of the best things I have learned from my dad is the concept of forgiveness. He was forgiven and well aware of his sinful past before coming to know Jesus. He knew that he was a sinner saved by grace. I knew that if God could forgive my dad and love him and use him, then He could forgive me and love me and use me too. Dad was the first example in my life of God’s grace. That message of grace is now a rich heritage in my life, and a pillar of strength testifying to God’s unconditional love and acceptance. “But God commandeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8 (KJV).

His Authenticity

    Placing a genuine value on others was something dad has always spoken with his life. Throughout my life, he has respected all people no matter of age, color, gender, race, income, profession or religion. Nobody was too high or too low. They were all the same to my dad. Dad has never been too insecure to talk to “important” people, nor too proud to talk to common people. He was the same no matter what; his character remained genuine and consistent, regardless of who he was with. He knows all people are God’s children, and created by Him for a purpose. “God is no respecter of persons,” Acts 10:34 (KJV) is a verse I grew up knowing and reciting, and still carry with me in my heart today.

His Loyalty

    Dad has always been loyal to his family, making a priority to share special times together, and looking out for special needs. He has always been dependable and has taken his responsibilities square upon his shoulders. I never knew a time he shirked his responsibilities. He remains an innovator of new thought and new ideas—none-the-less, a keeper of the heritage of the faith with great respect for those who have gone before him.

His Courage

   Dad has always dreamed big dreams and seen them happen! I was there! The truth was imprinted in my heart that big things ARE possible! All things really ARE possible to him who believes! (Mark 9:23). Dad is still dreaming big dreams and still hearing from God and watching them happen! He planted a church in Hattiesburg, MS a year and a half ago, and he’s seeing God move in people’s lives to this day! I want to be like that!

His Diligence

   He has always received his direction from God and listened to input from others who could offer timely, relevant information. He’s always paid people fairly. He’s never expected any work out of others that he would not do himself. When I was growing up, Dad also worked beside us, showing us how to do a job well; showing us the standard of excellence; making sure we learned to be responsible, diligent and dependable. He rewarded hard work, but always made time for fun, too. He’s always motivated others by his own example. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it all your might … Ecc. 9:10 (NIV).

His Generosity

   For Dad, giving has always been a privilege. He’s been a huge giver--giving much of his time, energy and money to missions. “. . . God loves a cheerful giver” 2 Cor. 9-7 (NIV).  He believed a man could not out give God. “Give and it shall be given back to you, pressed down, shaken together, shall men give unto your bosom,” Luke 6:38 (KJV).  I’ve watched him sign check after check and cheerfully give to the work of the Lord; and I’ve seen his life rewarded and enriched in so many ways!

    Dad truly is one of the greatest men I’ve ever known!

    Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  Thank you for the wonderful example you have given our family of what it means to be a true spiritual hero of the faith!

    Next month I will share with you the three things my Dad gave me that have changed my life!

Copyright © 2008-2015 Debbie Reynolds Harper

Reader Comments...
2009-06-17 11:31:37
"Debbie, My father was not saved when I was growing up; although, he made sure I went to church. He did get saved just before he died when I was 17. I just want to say that you truly do have a wonderful man for a father. I not only know this from what you wrote, but in Jan. of this year, we began attending that church he planted in Hattiesburg, MS. And he still lives all of those values all of the time. It has been more than a blessing to become a part of his ministry. We are so thankful and blessed to have him as a part of our lives as well. He has been such an inspiration to our family. "
        - Cynthia
2009-06-08 13:51:25
"Just wanted to tell you how wonderful it must have been to have a Dad like your Dad. He sounds like everything I would love to have had in a Father. You are truly blessed. My Dad had a problem with alcohol but did get saved right before he died. Thank God. Love you,"
        - Janice

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