Last night was registration for the Warner Pacific College Master of Science in Management & Organizational Leadership program that I am embarking upon Monday evenings for the next 18 months. While I have multiple reasons for pursuing this degree, one of the main reasons has to do with the influence and wisdom of my dad—he happens to be one of the professors of the program and wrote a lot of the course material. Not only was he able to answer my questions that I had regarding the program, but I believe that he was able to guide me in the right direction, which was exactly the same experience that over half of the room had in their interactions with him as well.
When I was introducing myself to the group that I will be working with, I let them know about the influence that my dad had upon my decision and who he was. I was blown away by the response of the room. Over half knew who he was, had taken classes from him and in one way or another had been encouraged to pursue the program that we were enrolled in. Essentially, as person after person shared their insights and respect for my dad, I was receiving a missing piece of the portrait of a man that I have been trying to paint for over 20 years.
It’s amazing the bias that we can build up about our family members over the years. We see their failures, their shortcomings, and very rarely celebrate the greatness and impact that they have upon others.
My parents divorced about 25 years ago and that would create a huge divide between my dad and I physically and emotionally that would take years upon years to bridge. It hasn’t been easy, I haven’t been fair, and I haven’t seen what others see. Until now.
I am proud of my dad. He has worked hard to be successful. He has a lot of faults, but I am starting to see what others see:
- He is optimistic to a fault.
- He is knowledgeable and border-line wise.
- He wants to create a foundation of learning in the lives of his students so that they will be life-long learners.
- He believes in others, even when they don’t.
- He aspires to connect their education to their lives as well as their faith.
It is hard to read that list and not be cynical because of the inside knowledge that I possess of his character. But I only have part of the picture, so to be cynical is to not be fair.
As I listen to his influence that he has had upon the lives of other, I feel a sense of jealousy, I feel a sense of loss. Why didn’t I receive that influence growing up?
But then I remember the truth: The influence was there, my desire to accept and to let it shape my life was not. I wasn’t willing to accept that he had the answers, but here was a group of people that let his influence shape their lives.
I’m grateful for this chance to see a side of my dad that I wasn’t willing to see until now. It helps me to be a little more gracious when I see his flaws, it helps me to feel a little more prideful when I inadvertently act like him (smirk), and it raises him to a level of respect that he rightfully deserves in the life of his only son.