Friday night was my dad’s surprise 65th birthday party. Different people took turns standing sharing about him, and it was very touching. I’m thankful for all the wonderful friends God has put in my parents’ lives. Also, my dad is a really wonderful man, and it blessed me to see how many others recognize that. I concluded the time of sharing, discussing the top three things I learned from my dad.
First, Dad taught us to work hard
My dad is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. When people shared about my dad, this was the most common thing they said, pointing out how he’s such a servant.
When I was growing up, I don’t remember much sitting around. We grew up in the mountains, and it seemed like Dad always had work for us to do. While most of my friends looked forward to summers, I remember thinking it just meant more work around the house. I tried to get a job as soon as I could, because at least then I would make money while working :).
My parents grew up in New York and moved out to California when I was one. My dad grew up working on his uncle’s dairy farm. The summer after 8th grade I flew back to New York to work on that same dairy farm. That was special to me to be at the place, doing many of the same things my dad did decades earlier.
There were plenty of times I hated how much Dad made us work. I was frustrated that I didn’t get to have as much fun as my friends. Looking back though, I couldn’t be more thankful for my dad’s work ethic and that he tried so hard to pass it along to us.
Second, Dad pointed us toward the Lord as early as I can remember
I became a Christian in my early twenties. My parents became Christians a few years later with me being able to baptize both of them. Now Dad serves as a deacon at the church I pastor. This is one reason I was so thankful to dedicate Marriage God’s Way to my dad and give him the first copy at a morning worship service at WCC.
From as early as I can remember my parents talked to me about God and told me Jesus died for my sins. We spent lots of evenings kneeling on the floor in our living room praying together as a family. Church was a priority. I remember almost never missing, including even when we were on vacation. The foundation God built on was laid by my parents, and especially my father.
Third, my dad taught me to take care of my family
Dad was a wonderful family man. My mother, brother, and I were the most important parts of my dad’s life. I don’t remember Dad having any hobbies. He worked a lot, and when he wasn’t working he was with us.
Dad also showed me what it looked like for a husband to make his wife a priority. I mentioned earlier that we moved out to California from New York. That’s because my mom’s parents moved out to California, and Dad left all of his family and friends so Mom could be with her parents.
My dad’s commitment to family has continued to this day. When my parents retired they moved to Lemoore, CA to be with us. When we moved to Woodland they sold their home and soon followed us. They’ve sacrificed a lot to be with us, but I believe it’s a sacrifice God has blessed because my parents said their years in Woodland have been the best of their lives.
My Dad sets the example for my family where I fail
I have plenty of weaknesses as a father and husband. One of the most glaring is in the area of service. I can be selfish, focusing on the things I have to do without thinking about the obligations of others, even those closest to me, like my wife. At times when I do serve, I don’t do so joyfully.
As parents we want to set the best example for our children. This is one more reason I’m so thankful for my dad and the close relationship he has with my children. While I don’t set the best example, he does. I hope they remember the way my dad loved and served others, especially his family and the church.
Happy birthday to my wonderful dad, John LaPierre. As my children get older I’ll feel very blessed if my children looked up to me as much as I look up to my dad.