When I was a teenager my parents bought a minivan with a VHS tape player—it felt super high tech at the time. One of my favorite memories in that van was a day when I was driving our family home from the Boundary Waters in Minnesota. My dad was in the backseat, and to keep him from being so nervous as I drove, my mom put on the movie, Happy Gilmore. Although the rest of us had already seen it, my dad had not, and the slapstick antics of Adam Sandler made him simultaneously cringe and laugh. My brother, mother, and I found more amusement in watching my dad’s reactions than the movie itself. His facial expressions were simply hilarious.
When I think of childhood memories with my dad, I think of playing catch. I think of camping, fishing, bike rides, and board games. I also remember helping, or “helping”, him with yard and house projects like trimming trees or taking apart the kitchen sink plumbing. I remember him cheering us on during our sporting events, encouraging us in our academics, and challenging us to work hard in everything we did.
Memories I don’t have about my dad: him doing things just for himself. Pretty much everything he did, he did with someone else in mind. Whether it was doing yard work to be a good steward of our property, being a top-notch employee out of respect for his bosses, staying consistently employed to provide for the family, or spending his free time doing “kid stuff” with my brother and I, my dad always stayed busy for the sake of others. He gave of himself, not seeking reward.
That’s why the memory of Happy Gilmore in the van stands out so much. It was one of the few moments in my childhood that was all about my dad’s enjoyment of something! And since we rarely saw him so thoroughly amused, the entire family was happy in the moment.
In Acts 20:35, Paul says, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Paul was wise to comment on this, and it is certainly a recurring theme in scripture. Whether or not he intended to, I think my dad has done a good job of mirroring this verse.
Now that my brother and I are grown, and my dad is retired, he still looks to give more than he receives. By doing things like helping my mom, serving on church committees, building raised beds for my garden, and playing with his grandkids, my dad serves others and asks little to nothing in return.
So, thank you, Dad, for not only teaching me to put up a tent, but for showing me what it means to shelter others. Thank you for being one of my biggest fans, and therefore showing me the importance of supporting those around me. Thank you for not only telling us to do quality work, but showing us what that means. And thank you for setting such a literal example of what it means to give more than you receive. I hope that you experience the blessing promised along with that action!
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”Philippians 2:3-4