The Things My Father Taught Me
Almost 20 years have gone by since I graduated from my homeschool in Karatsu, Japan, and there are certain lessons that stand out prominently in my mind about my early education. Believe it or not, most of what I remember did not come from my grammar, history, or science classes. What stands out in my mind are the things that my father taught me.
I remember the first thing my father taught me was that our faith should be fully integrated into our lives. Singing hymns, Bible reading, sermons, missionary biographies, family devotions, and personal devotions filtered through our days at home. Dad figured that we should know more than the Bible stories themselves, so he had us study theology and the great confessions of faith. He made long lists of the best Christian books written in history, and we checked them off as we read them. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, and others figured prominently on the list.
My father taught me the importance of gratefulness and tried to show us the difference between suffering and complaining. I remember that Dad would point out to us how ironic it is that while we enjoy such great comforts and wealth offered in our country, there is more complaining and discontentment than ever. The solution to this problem, as Dad saw it, was to always have a spirit of thanksgiving to God for the blessings that He has given to us.
My father taught me quite a lot about self-discipline and hard work. He taught these lessons mainly by his own example. I remember stacking logs for the fireplace on cold, snowy days and getting up at 5:45am each day to get on with the chores. I remember schedules posted on the wall and days filled with projects that dad had dreamed up for us!
My father taught me the importance of God's law, including those commandments which happen to be unpopular during the time in which we happen to live. Dad didn't see why we had to conform to the culture in which we lived, especially if that culture had rejected God's ways. He would not let us forget to take one day in seven as a Sabbath, and taught us to be very careful not to profane the name of God even in veiled expressions.
Having written one of the first books on scientific creationism in Japanese, Dad had us study carefully the arguments between creation and evolution. Before leaving home, he wanted to make sure we knew the strong base for creation, and the weakness in evolution's evidence found in the fossil record as well as its great presupposition of uniformitarianism.
My father taught me wise financial sense, regularly re-enforcing the importance of saving, tithing, and giving. I remember him saying, "Count your pennies, and your dollars will look after themselves." The class he gave my sister, brother, and me on home economics included such valuable tomes as "How to get everything on sale," "How to buy a quality used car," and "How to fix almost everything in the house yourself."
Now I look back at these lessons, and I find that much of this is what made me what I am today. The value of academics pales in consideration of how these principles have shaped me in my adult life. There is a song written by Paul Overstreet that holds a lot of truth, "I'm seeing my father in me, that's the way it's meant to be..." The influence of a father on his children is immeasurable.
The things my father taught me are by no means a complete and perfect list. But I wonder how many fathers have thought about the things that they wish to communicate to their children with regularity and conviction. What are the things we want our children always to remember? And sometimes I wonder what my son will remember from his childhood, and what will matter most in his future, of the things his father taught him.