Wikipedia defines the word duty in the following way: Duty (from “due” meaning “that which is owing”) is a term that conveys a sense of moral commitment or obligation to someone or something. The moral commitment should result in action; it is not a matter of passive feeling or mere recognition. When someone recognizes a duty, they theoretically commit themselves to its fulfillment without considering their own self-interest. Typically, “the demands of justice, honor, and reputation are deeply bound up” with duty.
Cicero, an early philosopher who discusses duty in his work On Duty, suggests that duties can come from 4 different sources:
- As a result of being human.
- As a result of one’s particular place in life (e.g. one’s family, one’s country, one’s job).
- As a result of one’s character.
- As a result of one’s own moral expectations of oneself.
Various words have been derived from the word duty. One such word is obligation, a concept that is part of duty; thus it is used in reference to services performed by a minister of a church, by a soldier, by an employee or by a servant.
My father spent 66 years of his life as a minister, soldier, employee and servant. He knew well the meaning of the word duty. It was my duty this past Tuesday to speak at my dad’s memorial service, and lay his earthly body to rest. But more than a duty, it was my honor and privilege to speak about the life of a man who touched many, many lives. We were overwhelmed by the love and support that was shared with us from our Lakewood family. The food, the visits and the words of encouragement truly lifted our spirits in a very difficult time for our family.
I know that it is not Father’s Day, in fact it won’t be Father’s Day for another 322 days, but with my father’s recent passing, I have had some time to think about the lessons that my father taught me in my 56 years. I look back at my time as a child and as an adult, and remember my dad teaching me some incredibly valuable lessons. There were so many! But, now, I look back fondly on those moments, and will treasure the memories of being taught by my dad. Here are just a few lessons I learned from my dad:
- “The apples that you reach for are better than the ones that fall at your feet.”
- “Refuse to accept guilt, unless you own it!”
- “Measure twice, cut once.” — I think that saved me money, effort and time.
- “Honor and respect your elders” — As a teenager, I learned this the hard way when I told him, “I ain’t gonna do it, Old Man!”
- “Check your oil and tire pressure regularly, and don’t let your gas tank get lower than a ¼ of a tank.”
And, perhaps, the most important of all the lessons that I learned from my dad was to “Love God and love people.” My dad was devoted to his family, his wife, his children, his country, the church, and most importantly, he was devoted to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Although my dad had several theological degrees, he lived out his faith very simply. For him, it was not so much about how much spiritual knowledge you had in your head, not about how much you knew, but who you knew! My dad knew his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.” My dad spent his whole life being an example of what it meant to love God and love people! If I learned nothing else from him, I cannot think of a greater legacy. Although my dad’s life took him many places, he always managed to “walk with God.”
I loved my dad! He was my mentor in life, my mentor in ministry, my confidant, my best friend, my teacher, my rock and my hero! If you still have your dad, I would encourage you when you get the chance to tell him that you love him, take a day to go fishing, take a day to work with him in the shop, or just take a walk in the neighborhood. If you are now like me and your dad is gone, remember some of those lessons, or do what you must to instill positive life lessons into your own children, grandchildren and each and every person you come in contact. Most importantly, remember to love God and love people!