Anyone who knows me, knows that I love birthdays. Today is special because it is my father’s birthday!
When I think about parenting (which I think about now more than ever), I am reminded about the powerful and positive impact of both my mom and dad. I have to admit, I’ve always been a daddy’s girl and my father was the first man I ever looked up to. His voice, his presence and his quiet strength always made me sit up taller and feel prettier. He set a standard of excellence in our home. Because of his presence, we all wanted to be better.
Daddy was valedictorian of his senior class in high school, a track athlete, the first in his family to graduate from college, one of the first African-Americans admitted to the Purdue University Pharmacy program and he is a man of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. He was the first in our family to receive his undergraduate, masters and PhD degrees; the first to author a book (he is the author of over seven books now), a prostate cancer survivor and so much more.
He is a pharmacist, college professor, poet, pastor and many other words that start with the letter P! Most of all he has been a present and praying husband and father.
Anyone with children will tell you that it is a daily dilemma to provide for your family, grow a career and do all that is demanded upon your time and schedule without neglecting your most important priority…your family.
My father was masterful at doing both really well. Although he is very accomplished in his career, his crowning achievement is his consistent and deep love for God and family.
From his life I have learned the value of living a life that is focused and totally committed to what God wants and to use my gift to help serve others. He didn’t just tell us, he lived this by example.
Here are three lessons I caught from my father without him saying a word:
1. Consistency = Power – My father is a man of many routines. The one that has most impacted me is his consistent daily prayer time. I’ve watched him do it quietly and without recognition. I will never forget being the first one to get the call from my grandmother that my grandfather, Lonnie Johnson (his father) had passed. I had to be the one to tell my dad his father was no longer with us. When I first shared the news, I remember it like it was yesterday. His knees buckled as he gasped for air. He drew us close and the first thing out of his mouth was a prayer. I will never forget that moment. In his weakest moment, I watched him lean on a power greater than us. His consistent prayer life was his power to bear through a very dark moment in life. I’ve learned to lean on my faith…first. I’ve learned that storms will come but if I have consistent communication with God, I’m building the strength to endure those difficult and uncertain times.
2. Give first, even when it’s your time to receive – For many years my father would give gifts to my mom, sister and I on HIS BIRTHDAY. Yes, he really would do that! I remember the first time I got a gift on his birthday, I was confused. He would say, “I want to give a gift to those who I’m most grateful for in my life.” WOW…that blew me away! I learned to look for ways to out give others even when I felt it was my turn. I’ve learned there is a blessing in giving and it feels good to share when people least expect it.
3. Work in silence and let your results speak for you – My father is a reserved man. Yet he is one of the hardest working people I know. He still writes consistently on his blog each and every day and teaches both online courses as well as in the classroom. He works diligently without need for attention or visibility but the breath of his work shows that he is a master of his craft and a consummate professional. I’ve learned how to dig in, be diligent and work my craft in the lab. When you focus on mastering your craft the world has no choice but to recognize your worth.
As I prepare for parenthood, I pray I can have that type of impact on my child’s life. I want my child to know how to live successfully in every way. Both of my parents were great examples of this. They did it their way. Will and I will find our way as well.
Daddy, thank you for being my example. I’m learning everyday how much work I have yet to do but you’ve given me a lifetime of lessons that I hope I can live up too. We are excited to add yet another name to your long list of titles…this one is kind of special, “Grandpa J!”
Happy birthday to my daddy and happy father’s day to him and all the amazing fathers who are making an impact every single day! Check out his amazing blog to get more powerful inspiration and words of light.