Why I am so Grateful for My Parents...
Last weekend, we celebrated the lives of our parents.
My father passed away in March of 2020. My mother in October of 2021. Due to Covid restrictions, we had been unable to have a memorial service for either of them until now.
It was a time of raw emotions mixed with a serving humor. A tipping point of balance between sadness and appreciation.
Both of my parents grew up extremely poor. It was the depression era…a time when few had much of anything.
I learned a lot over this last weekend...
Powerful lessons of service, grit, as well as a bit of grace. Growing up, all of us kids were routinely served generous portions of tough love. Looking back over my life, the lessons learned formed the foundation of my mental toughness and tenacity.
I experienced what hard work was all about from a very early age. In an age when it seems that many do not have the desire to push through challenges, I am thankful that life was tough.
My parents were always fair-minded (even though I might have disagreed when I was young). I learned to be responsible in all areas of my life. As a child, I was exposed to many aspects of life I thought were boring. Isn't it interesting how I now find them fascinating with complete clarity.
I am so grateful for these lessons learned.
Perhaps the most significant lesson that I learned from them was their passion for service. They loved to help others. My father was heavily involved in Maranatha Volunteers International…a nonprofit organization that builds hospitals, churches and schools around the world. Maranatha Volunteers International is making a difference and changing lives, by sharing the love of Jesus through their ministry. In their lifetime, my parents were directly involved in over one-hundred mission projects of various sizes around the world.
Their legacy was of service. It is quite possibly the biggest lesson I learned from them. The lesson of providing value to others first and foremost. That is my life passion…providing value to others.
In the New York Times bestseller The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell wrote, A Leader’s Lasting Value is Measured by Succession. In other words…how they are remembered.
A number of years ago, my father told me a story that profoundly impacted my life. I think it clearly describes his passion for service.
My father founded and ran a small building construction company in our home town of Coquille, OR. A prominent local attorney’s wife was diagnosed with cancer. She had been hospitalized for treatment. Distraught, Harvey* called dad to ask him a huge favor…knowing full well my father’s beliefs regarding Sabbath-keeping...not working on the Sabbath. Harvey* told dad that his wife’s treatment was not successful, and that she was coming home to live out her last days. I believe this was perhaps on a Wednesday…
Harvey* urgently needed a remodel done, so the house would be hospital-bed ready. Dad contacted the various subcontractors that would be vital to completing this project. No one thought for a minute…they & their crews sprang into action. They worked long hours into the evenings, Thursday, Friday, and all day Sabbath. They completed the project Saturday night, so Harvey* could bring his wife home on Sunday.
This is what service is all about!
This lesson really stuck with me. I am so grateful for these lessons. I am so grateful to have parents who were willing to set the tone at home and in the work environment. Parents who were ok with not always being popular with my point of view, but did everything out of love.
J.R. Miller once observed that the only thing that walks back from the tomb with the mourners and refuses to be buried is the character of a man (or a woman). This is true. What a man or woman is…survives them. It can never be buried.
Mom and Dad, I will always grateful for your guidance and mentoring...thank you!
(Note for privacy protection…Harvey* is not his real name).