The best memories with my dad were made in his ’57 Chevy pick up. Wandering back roads. Watching the river from the oil-stained truck bed and then standing in the water with him, learning to fish. Inevitably, though, the truck would break down. This is where I developed my definition of a man. Watching my father under the hood, handing him tools, and seeing his satisfaction of getting the old truck along with his family back on the road. With arms covered in engine grease, he looked like the hero I wanted to become.
When I became a father, I searched for our family memory-making vehicle and found it in Bozeman, Montana. A ’86 VW Westfalia. I’ve taken my family all over the west in this van and it’s broken down in nearly every state it has travelled. The only difference is, I never learned how to fix the engine and when my family is stuck on the road a shame grows in the space where I fall short of my definition of manhood.
In John 5:19 Jesus himself describes coming into the fullness of his calling through watching his father, and understanding the importance of that relationship. “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
My father died long before I could ask him what it meant to be a man so my boyhood definition stuck. I struggled with this far into my own fatherhood when looking back I realized my dad had already modeled the definition, I just didn’t see what he was doing.
I’m not my kid’s hero because I can fix an engine. I’m their hero because I stand in the water with them. I teach what I know and am honest about what I don’t. I humble myself to call for help. I think. I pray. And I fight like hell to keep them on the road. That is fatherhood.
What is (or was) your relationship like with your dad and how are you similar or different?
How would you define a great man and would you say your dad is (or was) one?
Do you consider yourself a great man and if not, what would make you one?
If you'd like to learn more about the book We Stood Upon Stars, or the author, Roger W. Thompson, please visit: https://rogerwthompson.com/