This past weekend my son received his high school diploma. 13 years of school have come to a close, and we could not be more proud of his efforts. Over the past 13 years, we have exposed him to three different education models, and he excelled in all of them. The last two years he has been dual-enrolled in college at Cedarville University via on-line courses, and has done an amazing job there as well. He will walk on campus as a sophomore this fall.
There are so many events in our lives that we want to remember. Milestones exist so we can look back and see where we have been and how far we have come, and I have learned that those moments need to be recognized. We need them as confirmation in our lives that we are moving forward – achieving goals.
I have been blessed to be in a small men’s group where I learned the importance of taking the time to recognize these moments and commemorate them with a tribute. When we take the time to write something down from our hearts and give it to someone, it creates a lasting impression. Those encouraging words will endure long past the moment and will be a touchpoint we can go back to when we are feeling the weight of the world.
Sitting on my desk is a framed copy of a letter I received from my mentor for my 40th birthday. Aside from the words of encouragement I have receive from my Dad, it is probably the most prized collection of words I have received from any man on earth. It has made an impression on my life because of the relationship that we have. Men need to hear words like that and be reminded that they are doing good things – the right things.
So, it is with example from Lou that I put together this letter to my son on his graduation day. I read it to him at the graduation ceremony, and there will be a framed copy of it for him to take to college this fall so he will be able to see that his Dad believes in him, is proud of him, and prays for him.
I hope that reading this will give you an encouragement to recognize those milestones with your family and close friends. It may seem like it is only a letter as you write it, but I can tell you that when the relationship is there, the impact of a letter like this will last for years. Take the time to do it. It’s worth the effort.
I’ve wanted a son as long as I can remember, and I wanted that son to be just like me. When you came into my life, I thought I was getting that gift, but your Mom and I got more than that. We received a son that was a unique blend of the two of us. Your physical and personality traits seem to morph and shift back and forth so often, but there is no doubt that you are ours.
One of the things I have learned as your Dad is that as much as I wanted a son to be like me, I am thankful that you are an individual, and I have been learning, albeit sometimes slower than either of us would like, to appreciate you as that individual. You often hear that you are “just like your Dad”, but you and I know that there are a number of differences that make you an “individual”.
Your Mom and I are so proud of the young man you have become. Our goal as parents has been to equip you to take on the trials of adulthood, to stand as a man of God in a world that needs men who know how to stand. You have had opportunities to learn and grow in your faith, and have had to learn to lean on God during those times, and I am happy to see how you have developed.
You have made us very proud in your dedication to your studies, your love and devotion to your family and friends, and your desire to squeeze the fun out of life. You are a thinker, a processor and yet still manage to be spontaneous. A nice blend that has kept us on our toes.
Our dream is that you will be that man mentioned in Micah. We have seen the beginnings of that man as you seek to do what is right, show God’s mercy and grace to those you relate with, and maintain a humility in your relationship with God. We pray for those attributes to continue to grow as you enter the college campus this fall and begin the next steps toward what God will have you to do.
We have offered many prayers for you over the years, and today I want to offer this one more written by General Douglas MacArthur. It is titled “A Father’s Prayer”, and I cannot think of words that would make it any more my prayer for you as your Dad. Your Mom and I love you very much and will always be here for you when you need us.
“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.
Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee—and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge. Lead him I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.
Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.
And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.
Then, I, his father, will dare to whisper, ‘I have not lived in vain.’”
—GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR, “A FATHER’S PRAYER”
Be Relentless in your parenting. Build into the hearts of your kids and share with them how you feel about them. They need it, and coincidentally, so do you!