Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

June 21, 2009


A few valuable lessons I learned from my daddy


          Monday night I had the rare opportunity to speak at a father & son supper at the Mulder Church, a growing “country” church that is attracting hundreds of people in Elmore County. I shared with the men and their sons a few of the lessons my daddy taught me.

          I began by reciting the counsel of Solomon: “Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (Proverbs 23:22). I encouraged those who could still do so to listen to their fathers and learn well the lessons they are teaching by both precept and example.

          Fathers teach both with and without words. My daddy taught more by example than by the use of words. He understood what Saint Francis of Assisi told his preachers: “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary use words.”

          Solomon wanted sons to listen to their fathers so that by living a good life they could bring joy to the hearts of their fathers. He said, “The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him” (Proverbs 23:24).

          These are a few of the valuable lessons my daddy taught me by the way he lived and by what he said:

          One, remember at every mealtime to thank God for what you have to eat. I learned this at his table though I never heard him speak the words of that lesson. Daddy and Mama had a disciplined dinner table. My siblings and I were trained not to begin eating until Daddy had prayed.

When he prayed he “said” this blessing: “Bless heavenly Father, this food to our use and ourselves to your service, for Christ’s sake, Amen.” That is the only prayer I ever heard Daddy pray but he prayed it at every meal, at home and in restaurants. We held hands when we prayed. This mealtime habit taught me to honor God and to understand that even food on the table was a sign of God’s love.

          Two, treat your wife with respect and never ridicule her. I do not remember my Daddy ever belittling Mama. He did not resort to the use of a “put down” to remind her that he was in charge. Later as a husband I had to re-learn that lesson with my own wife. I realized that ridiculing my wife was a serious mistake and that I needed to treat her with the utmost respect at all times. Doing so has given us a much healthier marriage.

          Three, abstain from the use of alcoholic beverages. Daddy saw his own father die young, partly from the use of alcohol. He became a teetotaler and insisted that his children follow his example. A life of abstinence has been a good choice for me since I value highly the influence of my example. No one can deny that the use and abuse of alcohol continues to destroy lives and families in every culture. To use it is to risk hurting others, especially the ones you love the most.

          Four, honesty is the best policy. Daddy believed that a man’s word should be his bond. Cheating is always self-destructive in the end. I am a better man for having tried to keep my word.

          Five, try to leave your children the legacy of a good name. Solomon believed a good name is better than wealth. Daddy did not leave me a lot of things. Mama gave me one of his pocket knives and one of his walking sticks. They are important to me but not nearly as important as the good name Daddy left me. When someone says to me, “I knew your dad,” there is never anything but a compliment to follow. I want to leave such a legacy for my own children.

          Six, a man should learn that there is a place for tenderness as well as toughness. Daddy was as tough as nails but in his later years he learned the art of tenderness. After age 60 he learned to tell me he loved me. That blessed me in ways I cannot explain. What a blessing it is to remember that, once he learned how to say “I love you,” he almost never ended a conversation without saying it.

          It was surely for people like my dad and me that Saint Paul said, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).           

Seven, finally by his example Daddy taught me to overcome selfishness by living your life for others. After his death I began to realize that Daddy had not worked hard, from sunup till sundown, so that he could acquire things for himself. He lived for the purpose of being a blessing to his family. He wanted more than anything for his children to have a better life than he had.

          Daddy was far from being a perfect man. He had his flaws as we all do. But he taught me some lessons that have immeasurably enriched my life. I am so glad I listened to my father. + + +