Honor Them In Life...
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