What does the world need today? -- To show more honor, a greater willingness to serve instead of expecting to be served, selfless, unconditional love. This increasing relational dysfunction can be seen on the world stage between national leaders and citizenry; in homes among husbands and wives, between parents and children; in churches among leaders and the flock, among brothers-and-sisters-in-Christ; in employment relationships between employers and employees, among co-workers. Because the leadership motivation has so overwhelmingly become power (not service, affiliation or even achievement) we see the trickle-down effect in the form of hatred, violent speech and the resurgence of violent, criminal acts; broken homes, neglect of the most vulnerable in society -- the elderly and children; disharmony, lack of productivity and ability to effect change; high employee turn-over rates and poor service rendered by company representatives to its customers (respectively).
What does it mean to serve? Simply stated, to serve you must be willing to place another's needs or desires ahead of your own. Philippians 2:3 says, we are "[to] esteem others as more important than ourselves."
What does true service look like? Recently, as I was talking with a friend and the topic of parenting -- fatherhood arose, I recalled a particularly meaningful act of service performed by my father. Every evening, as I could often be found sitting upright in my bed with books surrounding me, doing homework, my parents would come in from work. My father would announce from the front door that he was home. He always sounded happy -- there was a genuine joy in his voice, perhaps even relief at times. Then he would proceed down the hall and stand in the doorway of each of our rooms and ask how our day was. If we didn't look right to his eyes, if we were obviously sad or appeared troubled, he would enter the room and sit down on the edge of the bed. He actually cared and wanted to hear everything, anything we needed to discuss.
My dad took the time to ask, and yes, sometimes to investigate. We mattered more to him than his own personal needs or desires. How do I know? Well, in the midst of this conversation with my friend -- in which I was just seemingly relaying this daily routine, I remembered ever so vividly that this was literally the first thing he did when he came home. I mean the man didn't even go into his room and change his clothes first!
What did I subconsciously learn from my father? I learned that even when you are in a position of authority, your attitude and demeanor should be one of humility and service, of consideration for those for whom you are responsible or uniquely positioned to help. Most of my father's career he managed others in the professional world; and, as I grew older and encountered these individuals, I was continually proud to learn that he engaged with then in the same manner. In other words, my father was the same way in the world or at home -- consistent in his values, consistent in his service.
While my father's Alzheimer's diagnosis is proving to be my most challenging test to date, I still know that unconditional love, honor and service is the answer. This is the only cure at my disposal. To all other caregivers out there reading this, I recommend to you that you find ways to honor your loved one every day -- while he/she is still here with you. Make a very big deal of the milestones in the life of your loved one! Honor them in life, don't wait. Don't let them leave this world wondering if they left a lasting legacy.
As one who earnestly endeavors to practice first what I teach... today is my father's 70th birthday; and, I could not let this day pass without rendering the honor that is due my father (Romans 13:7)!!!! Therefore, I close today's post with this poem --- composed last year and read at the Father's Day Brunch hosted annually at the Northside Church of Christ. It was a surprise, and he was supposed to be in attendance, but at the last moment was unable to attend. Nonetheless, HERE IS TO THE BEST DAD EVER!!!! Please be sure to help me wish him a happy three-score-and-ten in the comments section below!
Because you loved me, I have dared to dream
For you've taught me courage, perseverance, resilience, vision -- how to see beyond seeming reality for the unseen
So often telling me I was not just beautiful but brilliant that I grew audacious enough to believe
I actually could be -- do -- accomplish ANYTHING
You have been my most impactful and engaging teacher, my most trusted adviser, ally and faithful friend
In my formative years, encouraging me to explore and discover, to be confident in my gifts to write, to sing, to speak
It seemed just about every poem, story or letter I wrote lined the walls of our home, your cubicle or office at work
There was never a play, program, award ceremony or choral concert you would miss,
I kept you running, yet you never complained
Then came the seventh grade -- your ingenious decision to teach me investing -- how to chart the progress of stocks, how to closely analyze historical data recorded on charts
I look back on it all now, and I can't help but laugh -- imagining what the school librarian must have thought: "Now who is that skinny, little brown girl sitting over there? Is she actually reading The Wall Street Journal?"
But because you loved me, I soaked it all up
Because you loved me, although I was in the 12th grade, I was proud to have you be my escort for the Homecoming parade
But even when for a season, I moved far away
And in the midst of the immense struggle to adjust -- to find my way
Even when I would call you at work in the middle of the day
You always made time for me
You greeted me with an ocean of patience, bridging the distance with a well-spring of unconditional love
Because of your love, I knew I was destined to shine brighter
For, as the first poem you taught me said:
"I am the black child,
All the world waits my coming,
All the world watches with interest to see what I shall become!"
So, I didn't feel compelled to shrink back from the light within
After all, 'light' is what my name -- Kandice -- means
Long before it became my personal mantra, you taught me that I have no one to compete with but myself
Because of the strength of your love daddy,
Because of your great investment of time,
I could walk taller,
Because you loved me,
Life's disappointments weren't quite as devastating as they could have been
For, you have always been my cushion -- a firm yet safe place to fall
You have accomplished things, that according to the cards you were dealt, you shouldn't have been able to
Yet you have been successful in every way, especially in accomplishing the goal that -- to you -- mattered most...to be better than your father
And the answer to others' question of how you did so,
Well, you just decided to be...
Thus, you have been my earthly standard:
You took care of me,
And you never walked away,
You never broke my heart...because you loved me
You taught me that a father should be kind...and a real man will stay
So, when life knocks me down, I spring back up -- again and again
Because every time that I look into your eyes, you restore my faith
And because of your unerring example,
I can continue to love deeply
Continue to freely give
I am equipped for personal work -- because you gave me your all
Even if someday daddy you can no longer remember your name...that will be okay...
Because I will be your memories, and I will remember you
For, as poet E.E. Cummings so beautifully said --
"i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go, my dear, and whatever is done by only me is your doing..."
~ Kandice Jacobs-Armstrong
©2017 by Kandice Jacobs Creations, Incorporated. All rights reserved. No portion of the copy, ideas, illustrations, images, recordings or photographs may be copied, transferred, transmitted or otherwise reproduced without the express written consent of Kandice Jacobs-Armstrong, CEO of Kandice Jacobs Creations, Incorporated.