george_hancockstefanIn a conversation with a colleague, he remarked that some of my students have copied certain mannerisms and approaches to ministry that I practice. One of them is the great emphasis on holiness and silence at the Lord’s Table while the other one was an irenic, peaceful spirit in midst of crisis.

I thanked my colleague and then I started thinking that I have inherited many of them from my parents. Since I was the oldest of the four children, and also the only boy in the family, I spent a lot of time with my father.

One of the things that my father emphasized was his thanks to God for saving him from an alcoholic lifestyle.  He remarked from time to time that unless God had saved him, our family could have had the chaotic life and the problems that some of our alcoholic neighbors had.  He created a different lifestyle for our family because of what God has done in his life.

Second, I learned from my father that life on this earth is good. He told hundreds of jokes, loved playing pranks on us kids and on my mother, provided cheerfulness during the day and, in spite of many difficult circumstances, was always an optimist.

Third, I appreciated his commitment. We had a good number of divorces in our extended family.  My father spoke often about the commitment that he had made to my mother and the commitment that his father made to his mother.  Moreover, he was committed to God.  Living in a communist land, there were so many pressures to give up following God.  It would have been easier to avoid being mocked by the villagers and by teachers in the school system for raising his children as Christian when the vogue was to bring them up as atheists.  There were societal and economical benefits for denying Christ, but my father would not even consider such offers.

Fourth, I respected that my father would recognize when he made mistakes. He also recognized that his mistakes were costly, that he was wrong, and then he asked his children for forgiveness, which was rarely done in our culture.  

Fifth, I greatly enjoyed my father’s singing.  In his earlier years, he was a cantor in the Eastern Orthodox Church and he continued to sing in the choir of our Baptist churches.  There are times when I sing Christmas carols and it seems like I hear his enthusiastic singing.  Sometimes when I sit next to a good tenor in church, it seems that I hear the voice of my father who sang tenor and praised God with the gift of his voice.

Lastly, what I greatly appreciated about my father was his absence of fear when his life came towards the end. He talked about Christ’s promise that when we leave this place we are going to be with Him, which is better by far than what we have here.  For my father it was not a theoretical faith, but a robust faith that was strong. He knew when he left this earth that he would meet Jesus Christ, his Savior, who he has served without seeing.

Indeed I have been blessed by such a father.  As I bring this tribute to him, I pray that my children will be blessed by my life and impacted by the godly qualities that I have inherited from my father. Thanks Tati for a life lived well.