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What I learned from my father about ministry

May 02, 2013

I wrote an article after my mother died about what I'd learned from her that had benefited me in my ministry. My father turned 90 on Sunday, and I decided I'd like to think about this before he dies (though he's seems to be going strong).

1. To engage with people. My father talks to everyone. He never met a stranger. While I'm not as extraverted as he is (to say the least), I learned a lot from him about how to talk to people from all stations of life and in all circumstances.
2. To give. He and my mother decided together decades ago to give a double tithe.
3. To learn how to live in different places. My father moved several times when he was growing up and throughout his adult life, including his move to Portland a little over two years ago. While the moves haven't all been easy, he is very adaptable. He taught me to appreciate the chance to meet new people and learn about a new part of the country. This has helped me in two cross-country moves.
4. To do work you love. He was in sales, and loved it, most of all when he was selling a product he believed in. He taught me, and he tells my children, that it is important to love what you do. I loved my ministry in the local church, and now I love my ministry to church leaders.
5. To know the value of a dollar. My father is frugal. I learned from him not to overspend, which has enabled me to have the financial freedom to take some chances in my ministry.
6. To be a leader. He served on boards in the local and wider church in almost every setting he was in.
7. To think about the global ministry of the church. World mission was and is important to him. The day I was born he picked up a missionary who was going to speak at our church from the train station in Seattle (and passed out candy celebrating my birth).
8. To attend worship faithfully. He still goes to church almost every week. Even though I no longer preach every Sunday, so do I.
9. To adapt to change. He adjusted with good grace to changes in the church they attended for 25 years, and he has faced with courage the changes in his life over the last two years, including my mother's death. Now he's got another change as he gives up his car.
10. To be yourself. My father is an original. No one who meets him forgets him. He doesn't second-guess what other people think of him - he is simply himself.

As I noted in the post about my mother, Edwin Friedman asked, "What gifts did your parents give you?" How might you answer that question?


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