In honor of Father’s Day, today’s post includes ten lessons my father taught me:
Sunday is the Lord’s day.
Little league baseball is notorious for scheduling games on Sunday. I remember my parents dictating the Sunday schedule, church before baseball always. If a friendly sleepover was planned Saturday night, my parents arrived promptly in the morning before church or encouraged the parents of my friends to drive me to church.
The Nicksich household embodied Acts 2:42 on the Lord’s Day, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Marriage is a union between a man and woman, for life.
If I were honest with you, sometimes my wife and I disagree. In fact, our disagreements may even turn into arguments. Sometimes we use words that hurt one another, and a slight twinge of intention may have perpetrated our vocabulary. My parents were not immune to these verbal disagreements either. However, my father taught me (and is still teaching me) that marriage is a union between a man and woman, for life. He and my mother have enjoyed over thirty years of marriage (the exact number escapes me = forgive me mom and dad!). The words of Jesus ring true, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:9). Thank you to both my mother and father for honoring their commitment before God. Your constancy, stability, and faithfulness testifies your faith in God to many.
Families are important, valued, and sacred.
Every year, my parents always planned the family vacation. Destinations included Disney World, beach front, and even Williamsburg, Virginia. Major holiday meals with extended family dotted the calendar year in addition to numerous visits with aunts, uncles, and grandparents. When opportunities present themselves, you even visit a ninety-year-old great uncle in Newport News, Virginia. Families are important, valued, and sacred. The Lord commands his people to “honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1-3). Part of honoring our parents is also participating in their duty to obey the same command. God is pleased, and we are blessed, when we witness our parents obeying the Lord’s will by valuing their family.
Money is temporal, not eternal.
Gas station snacks, college tuition costs, allowances, and a 2010 cherry red Chevrolet Cobalt (nicknamed “the Flash”) are mere water droplets in the ocean of finances my father has provided. I know my mother has contributed to these financial blessings as well, and in no way intend to demean her financial contribution. Both of my parents currently work, but I know my father primarily constructs and manages the budget. Though I have received numerous financial blessings from my parents, the most significant blessing is the understanding that money is temporal, not eternal. When my 17-year-old self devastated my mother’s vehicle beyond repair, I imagined a life of indentured servanthood (not unlike the prodigal son’s “comback speech” to his dad). Instead, I witnessed my father’s belief in 1 Timothy 6:10 in practice, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” My father never sat me down and gave me the “do you know how much this is going to cost?” speech, because he and my mother were simply relieved at my well-being. Money is temporal, not eternal. In a profound financial upheaval, my parents expressed their love for me far outweighed their love of money. My father is a generous man with his finances, and I know this generosity overflows from good theology. Jesus commands us to store up treasures in heaven and not on earth (Matthew 6:19-21). He concludes this fitting mandate stating “where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” The weight of this lesson carries eternal consequences, and I am thankful my father has taught me not to wander away from the faith for something temporal.
Faith without works is dead.
Scripture clearly delineates between the priorities of both faith and works. Ephesians 2:8-9 establishes faith as the vehicle which brings salvation, “not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” However, James also declares, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14-16). How does one reconcile the question, am I saved by both my faith and my works? The evidence of our faith, and the assurance of our salvation, is displayed for our benefit in our works. In other words, genuine faith will see outward evidence (works) testifying to the inward condition (justification by faith). My father has taught me this lesson through his own works, Scripture solidifying the truth behind it. Countless times I have witnessed him washing dishes, doing general housework, and maintaining the family vehicles. Family devotions around the table, though begrudgingly boring at a young age, displayed my father’s righteousness in his obedience to the Lord. Though no man is perfect, and we all fall short of God’s glory, the man who preached on Sunday morning was the same man who provided for his family’s spiritual, physical, and emotional needs.
It’s good to have fun.
My father has always enjoyed silliness, laughing, competition, and games. I remember playing whiffle ball in Michigan utilizing the standard plastic yellow bat and grooved white ball. My t0ddler mind failed to understand the bases, made of wood, were anything but official. Boxing matches (open handed), ping pong, and board games ensured competition thrived within the Nicksich household. Though I may not have always enjoyed my father’s win streaks, I certainly enjoyed spending the time together engaging in healthy fun. The Lord even proclaims that the restoration of Jerusalem will include boys and girls playing in the streets of the city (Zechariah 8:5). It’s good to have fun, and I am thankful my dad played with our family.
Reading is important.
I often recall the incredible selection of books available for reading throughout my childhood. Literature was always stacked next to my father’s throne (the lazy-boy). Books crowned my father’s porcelain throne. Shelves in the dining room and bedrooms contained a myriad of literary classics, bible dictionaries, and Dr. Suess anthologies. I remember weekend trips to Barnes & Noble where my father would peruse the shelves with incredible patience, discerning the proper selection for the appropriate price. Too many genres existed to tantalize the mind and his selections always included a swirling whirlpool of mystery, fiction, historical fiction, alternative history, biographies, non-fiction, and spirituality. Though my Dad never demanded our reading, he encouraged it through gifts including Bibles and Christian books, and his own reading regimen. The significance of reading is expounded when God blessed humanity with a library of sixty-six books for the public reading and exhortation to his people. Nehemiah 8:8 says, “They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.” There is incredible godly value in the ability to read the Word of God and understand the reading. Reading is important.
There are sports… and then there are Pittsburgh sports.
Though I admit my lack of desire to engage in the statistical analysis that many are prone to (perhaps my loathing of math contributes to this statistical allergy), my father remains well-versed and passionate in the mathematical analysis that engulfs Pittsburgh sports. His passion, and my own, for Pittsburgh sports (recent winners of the ’16 Stanley Cup) traces a unique heritage including hometown enthusiasm and Pittsburgh Steeler lineage. My father’s father played football for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1950. However, my passion for Pittsburgh sports traces a unique pathway to coveted memories attending Pittsburgh Pirate baseball games on school nights. Blessed to receive baseball tickets from our church family, I often attended evening games with my dad, finishing school work on the car ride to the stadium. Steeler parties, church trips to baseball games, and a hockey game or two contributed to the Nicksich family’s Pittsburgh fandom. There are sports… and then there are Pittsburgh sports.
Words have power.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” My father has always used his gift of writing to encourage life in others. I have often, and still do, receive written words of encouragement from dad through the form of small notes sent through the mail. With minimal certainty can I recall a negative word or comment from my father. Rarely have I heard critical, harsh, biting, or unloving words emerge from my father’s lips towards me. This is not to say my father has never reprimanded, scolded, or even used the words “I’m disappointed in you.” However, he has always enwrapped them in a spirit, tone, and manner of kindness, care, and unconditional love. Words have power, and he has used them for my good.
Truth is essential.
One must decide how to live his life, pursuing truth or pursuing lies. I find 1 John 4 reassuring because of its emphasis in regards to the assurance believers may find in Christ. Often, John encourages his audience to pursue truth in stating, “by this you may know.” He assumes a level of truth will be discerned, affirmed, and attested by Christians as their faith is evidenced through works. My father has encouraged me to pursue truth, often in menial conversations. Truth claims are pursued by all, even those hostile to Christianity. Relativism states “all truth is relative” and yet in its own decree establishes the existence of absolute truth. How can one say all truth is relative and declare the existence of such a truth? Even the Materialist borrows elements of a Christian worldview, his own worldview unable to explain the existence of ethics and morality. Why would we live our lives in rejection of truth, pursuing a life built upon lies? Truth is essential.
Here’s to you dad, Happy Father’s Day.
Dan Nicksich is the senior minister of Vanville Church of Christ in Vanville, West Virginia. He is an avid fan of Pittsburgh sports and a published writer in a variety of Christian publications. His kindle book contributions are available here.