Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Family Forte: Gasoline, Weights, and Fatherly Influence

by: Topher Wiles

To all you dads who are still influencing me and have modeled fatherhood for me, I thank you.  Keep up the good work!

I was surprised at their attitudes.  Really, it was no big deal to me, but for some reason a simple act of service meant the world to them.  I want to know why and what that means for my family.

TAXI SERVICE.  Running on my way to the gym early in the morning while the dew was still heavy on grass and the sun had yet risen, I found a couple in their forties walking with a gas can in hand.  Even though they assured me they could make it on their own, I ran straight back home to get my minivan.  After purchasing their gas and morning caffeine, I enjoyed getting to know Kevin and Stacey while taxiing them back to their vehicle.

I share this story simply to set the context of their reaction.  They both repeatedly emphasized that my helping behavior was very abnormal and strange.  They used words like weird and crazy in describing it, and then profusely thanked and proclaimed rewards in heaven on my behalf.  When I got home and shared the story with my wife and kids, it was as it should be, no big deal but a good smile-worthy story.

Why did it seem so strange to spend a few minutes and $20 to help a stranded couple?  Shouldn’t that be normal life expectations?


LITTERED WEIGHTROOM. When I arrived at the gym for my workout, the floor was especially littered with weights.  Dumbbells and plates were laying all over decorating the floor like dilapidated cars decorating a redneck junkyard.  This, friends, is where I struggle to be nice and kind.  For some other people, you need to know not to talk to them before their morning cup of coffee.  For me, you better stand your casual conversation down until we get that mess cleaned up or I may come unhinged!  Dad always taught me to pick up my tools after working on my car, I guess that’s why I expect weights to be picked up.

Why is it so difficult for people to spend a few minutes to pick up after themselves? Shouldn’t that be normal life expectations?


WHERE DID IT COME FROM?  Friends, I didn’t grow up in church. I didn’t have these great elders and deacons modeling the ways to pray, the ways to study, and the ways to serve.  Yet I was blessed with a dad who served everyone.  Dad didn’t make a lot of money as a machinist or as a mechanic, but he took pride in his work and helped everyone he could.  I can still hear his favorite saying, “A job worth doing is a job worth doing right.” 


I remember when my baseball coach’s old car was turning into a rust bucket and coach needed a hand.  My dad spent all day Saturday sanding that blue Chevrolet down and patching holes.  By sunset, my dad looked like a Smurf from the 1990’s cartoon as he was coated in so much blue dust. When they finished that car up, it was a beautiful work of art that my dad was proud of.  I thought sanding was boring, but dad made me take it up and turn a few shades of blue too.  I also remember when he refused to take coach’s money as payment, knowing that coach had fallen on hard times.   


I think we dads have more influence that we ever realized.


PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER.  It doesn’t matter if it’s $20 in gasoline, 20 minutes of your time, or picking up 20 lbs. of weight, if you are a dad, your kids will see and remember the service that you do.  In 2002, Indiana Purdue University and Indiana University did a study on the family impacts of volunteering and service.  (Email me for the .pdf file if you want it.)  In that lengthy thirty-two-page paper, one of the key benefits in a family of volunteerism was “transmission of values.”  No, we’re not talking about a car transmission but the concept may work well for an explanation.


Much like your car’s transmission funnels appropriate power directly from the engine to the wheels of your vehicle, service and volunteerism, especially when a family does it together, transmits much needed values from one generation to the next.  Values such as altruism, work ethic, neighborly care, and community responsibility aren’t learned from a textbook.  They are passed from parents who serve, volunteer, and help to their children who watch and model the same.

So why does it seem so rare today for people to clean up the community weight room or strange to help stranded motorists with a little gas?  Could it be that we are seeing the effects of the broken family culture that is promoted in the United States?


Fathers, we’ve got to do better for our families.  Dads, let’s commit to letting our children see us washing dishes for and with our wives.  Let’s take our children along as we help fix someone else’s car or build someone a handicap ramp. Let’s put down the video game controllers and take up a hammer and nails to patch a hole in someone’s roof after a storm.  Let us resolve to be the transmission that passes the good values of work ethic, community service, and civic responsibility to our children.  Resolve to build your Family Forte by modeling what they need.  The next generation is depending on you.   


“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6    

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email, topherwiles@spartacoc.com, or through our website, www.spartacoc.com.

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