Fixating on What’s Important: A Dad’s Legacy

by Bill Fix

Photo by Josh Willink on

As Father’s Day is upon us, I found a 2019 poll that addressed what people said they learned from their fathers. Here’s a sample of the results:

  • 29% – How to cook dinner or grill meat
  • 28% – How to put up a tent
  • 26% – How to tie a necktie
  • 26% – How to hang a picture so it’s level and won’t fall
  • 18% – How to build a fire

I’m not positive, but I believe I learned only one of those skills—tying a full Windsor knot—from my dad. (Much later, I learned the half Windsor and Four-in-Hand knots on my own.) Throughout my childhood, I remember Dad teaching me other useful things like how to change the oil in a car, but if I’d been a participant in the poll mentioned above, the first answer I would have given about what I learned from my father would be Bible history and a respect for God. I can’t tell you who taught me how to throw a baseball or shoot pool, but I certainly learned about burying the old man of sin (Rom. 6), knowing the reason for doing something (1 Pet. 3:15), and Christ’s example of humility (Phil. 2) from my dad.

Aside from direct teaching moments, parents often teach much more through the examples they set. Whether intentional or not, it was through my dad’s example (not necessarily the words he shared) that I learned about the priority of attending services, doing what’s right regardless of what anyone else does, and keeping our commitments.

At the most basic level, the biggest example he set was that he was present. So many people today either don’t know who their fathers are or they seldom, if ever, come around. It’s pretty difficult to teach a child anything, much less fulfill one’s Biblically assigned duties, if fathers are absent or the only lessons they prioritize are about sports and repairs.

Aren’t such spiritual matters and basic character traits the most vital things fathers can teach their children? “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). If more children had been reared in the training and admonition of the Lord, wouldn’t our society be more peaceful and loving?

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