Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

August 13, 2017


The remarkable power of your example


       Your example is everything. That is what Albert Schweitzer said and I think he was right. Here is the way the good doctor put it: “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”

        If, indeed, the only real way to influence others is by your example, then all of us need to work diligently every day to set a good example. Our family and friends deserve the best that we can be.

        When I reflect on the remarkable power of a person’s example, I think about my Daddy. In the years since Daddy’s death in 1995, at the age of 93, I have often thanked God for the difference Daddy made in my life. And it was not what he said, but the way he lived his life, his example, that impacted my life.   

Many people have colored the way I look at life. Some touched me with pastel colors, calling from me a gentleness that I long ignored and is not yet fully developed. Others, like my dad, stroked me with bold colors that birthed inside me a driving ambition to succeed. 

          I doubt that Daddy ever “decided” to exert his influence upon my life. It just happened. He influenced me simply by being the person he was, by the decisions he made in the ordinary affairs of life. I only began to realize in mid-life the extraordinary power of his example.

          Daddy was strong physically and mentally. He worked hard all day – from sunup till sundown. There was not a lazy bone in his body. When he encountered a problem he seldom ever quit until he found a solution. He was doggedly determined to reach his goals in any endeavor.  

          Few things could deter him once his mind was made up. If the cattle needed feed on a winter day, bad weather never stopped him. No matter that it was storming outside, that bitter, cold wind was chapping his face, he would not rest until the work was done. 

          I don’t think Daddy ever slept eight hours any night of his life. He had a routine from which he did not waver. Bedtime was 10:30 every night. He arose at 4:30, not now and then but every morning. Even in his late eighties, when he was unable to do much at all, he got up at 4:30 to drink coffee, listen to the weather report and read his Bible and The Upper Room.

          Growing up in that environment gave me a strong work ethic. Life is made for work. Get up. Get at it. Don’t waste daylight. Put your hand to the plow and go, man, go. Your work comes first. Don’t let anything stop you. Keep at it until you get the job done. That attitude was engrained in me from my childhood. Years later I realized that Daddy did not work hard so he could “feather his own nest;” his work was a labor of love motivated by a desire to give his family a better life. 

          Daddy’s honesty influenced me as strongly as his work ethic. He was a man of his word. He meant what he said and he expected the same from other people. He had no patience with liars and when he caught me in a lie, my rear end got a painful reminder of how important it is to tell the truth. 

          Growing up I became aware that my dad had a good reputation. I was never ashamed to be known as his son. People trusted him and that meant something to me. I was proud to be his son. I never heard a man speak ill of my dad and that gave me a desire to be an honorable man myself. 

          Now and then I encounter children in a family who show disrespect for their mother. They ignore her authority and talk to her as though she is stupid. Such lack of respect nauseates me and my father is responsible for my attitude. He did not tolerate any disrespect of Mama from me or my siblings.  

We learned that we would pay a price for “talking back to your mother.” To this day I am thankful for my dad’s example in this, and I deplore the way some dads allow their own children to disrespect their mother. Tolerating such lack of respect can injure a marriage and allow children to develop a despicable attitude.  

Daddy did not talk much about his faith. He lived it. His reverence for God was contagious. He did not have to teach it; we caught it from his example. In 93 years I never heard him one time take God’s name in vain. And he honored God by being a good steward and by the way he treated people. 

          Daddy was not perfect. He was an impatient man and sometimes he could be as hard as nails. But since his death I have realized that he exerted a mighty influence upon my life. He influenced my attitudes powerfully and in many ways I am the product of his remarkable example. It was a rare privilege to have been his son. + + +