Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
To find a treasured item that has been lost and mostly forgotten makes for a great day. Recently, Margie was going through a box of old items. She found a pocket knife. When she showed it to me, tears came into my eyes because I instantly recognized it as being my Dad’s.
Daddy always carried a pocket knife as did most men in those days. He had further reason to carry one in that he was an electrician and used it to remove insulation from wires.
Most of his lineman’s pliers (also called side cutters), have burnt notches in the cutter blades where he cut into live wires and the arc burned out a chunk. I still have such a plier I kept for the memories. The flying sparks didn’t seem to bother him. I can’t say the same for myself.
Daddy would not be without his pocketknife. It went into his pocket in the mornings and came out at bedtime. It was a part of him. To find that knife was like finding a part of him that had left me Oct. 31, 1984.
In today’s world, to carry a knife is seen by some as a crime or a threat. I was talking to a TSA agent in Los Angeles Airport (LAX) recently. He showed me a box containing confiscated knives. There must have been at least 200 in that box and he said that was from less than one month.
I have had knives taken from me in airports in Amsterdam and Memphis. The point I will make is: we are not being penalized because of crimes by knife carriers, but by the insanity of our society.
We carried our knives to school and church. I don’t remember any knife attacks or murders because of them. To be taught to carry a knife was seen as a matter of necessity and not having a need for a weapon.
Dads taught sons many things back in the fifties and sixties. Many of those lessons are seen by today’s generation as foolishness. For example, to consider a handshake as being a binding contract in today’s world is foolishness. My Dad considered a handshake or even a simple verbal agreement as binding. His life was in a different generation.
Many have come to believe, usually from an experience, never to take someone’s word for anything without having it on paper, signed, witnessed and notarized. Trust has become a thing of the past and my Dad would “turn over in his grave” if he knew the status of trust in today’s world.
My first pocket knife actually came from Uncle Charlie. He was like my second dad. I’m not sure how old I was, but Uncle Charlie handed me a nickel. He said, “I’ve got this knife to sell you. It’s bad luck to give someone a knife; it will cut their friendship.” So, I bought the knife. Our relationship was preserved and I was the proud owner of my first knife.
Pocket knives became collector’s items, keepsakes and, of course, that handy tool we could not live without. To say the knife Margie found belonging to my Dad is precious to me is an understatement. It not only reminds me of him, but of all the things he taught me.
I now carry that knife myself. I had most always had one with me for whatever reason I might need it. But this one has a special place and feeling for me. A day rarely passed that I did not think of my dad, but having the knife provides a perpetual stream of great memories.
Fathers in today’s world, in many cases, do not fulfill the obligation of being a father. To list the shortcomings of 2022 fathers would take pages and that is not the purpose of this article. Of course, there are many good fathers that try their best to teach their children and “bring them up right” in this world we live in.
The relationship of a father and son is priceless. The example set, the teachings both in practical applications but also in concepts and philosophies. My dad was constantly teaching me. The subject may have been plumbing or electrical wiring, or possibly in human relationships.
He had the idea I would become a businessman following in his paint, plumbing and electrical store. A book he insisted I read as a teenager was “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, published in 1936. That book helped form my life, not in that it taught me how to manipulate people, but to simply be a decent person.
Daddy taught me the importance of adhering to what Christians call the Golden Rule or Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
I, of course, cannot claim to have always lived up to his teachings, but Daddy tried. Of all the things he taught me, the most important were to go to church, believe in Jesus and read and study the Bible, God’s word revealed to us.
The Bible provides numerous lessons for fathers. Colossians 3: 21 “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” A similar verse is Ephesians 6: 4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
It is so easy for a parent to be discouraging to a child. One of my recent articles was titled “Failure to Encourage is to Discourage.” Constant criticism gives a child the belief, “I can’t do anything right.” We live in a world consumed with envy, so encouragement is minimal. This must not carry over to one’s children.
On a mission assignment at a church in Nebraska, a little girl showed Margie a picture she had drawn and colored. I would probably have asked, “What is it?” Margie said to the child, “Tell me about your picture; it’s beautiful.” Building up the child’s esteem resulted in an excited little girl explaining her artistic talent.
How a parent responds to a child in most every situation can have lifetime effects. To be prepared to respond positively is a skill that must be cultivated.
Fathers hold such an important role in a child’s life. We find that nearly 28% of the children in America are being raised by a single parent. Of those, only 2% are being raised by a father.
We also find in America about 2% (2.9 million) of the children are being raised by grandparents. In most cases, this situation exists because of alcohol or drug abuse, broken homes or simply because of negligent parents that have walked out. For the elderly to raise children is exhausting and simply stated, grandparents are usually out-of-touch with the realities in today’s world.
A man will become the father his father has guided him to be. Any father must never forget, “I’m not rearing one generation. I’m also responsible for future generations.”
A primary responsibility of any dad is to teach his children in the ways of the Lord and Bible teachings. Wouldn’t it be a much better world if that really happened? I have a lot to be thankful for and at the top of my list was the father I had and the precious memories I have of him.