My dad was verbally and physically abused throughout his boyhood; he wasn’t allowed to play sports or do any of the things other children did. In fact, he never had a chance to be just a kid. There was no man in his life that he could look up to or admire, least of all his own father. Rather than growing up to be abusive, my dad decided early on that he would be a good father to his children, an example they could follow, someone they loved. He determined that his children would have a better life than he had as a boy.

My dad fulfilled his wishes, and he is everything I could ask for in a father. He wasn’t a great dad or a great man overnight; there were many struggles and difficult times, but out of it all, my dad emerged. I don’t believe that any man could ever love me as much as my dad does. He may have not have always known how to show it, but I always felt it.

When I was in elementary school, the highlight of my day was when my dad came home from work. We did things together, like riding bikes, throwing the football, playing pitch and catch, or shooting hoops (my favorite). After dinner, my parents would play games or watch TV with my younger brother and me until bedtime.

In junior high and high school, my dad continued to invest himself in my life. He always made sure I had the best he could possibly give me, but it really wasn’t about material things. Of course, we had our times of disagreements. I was the first-born child and I was very strong-willed; however I always knew he loved me even if he was upset with me. My dad made it a point to be at almost all of my school activities, including my basketball games, either cheering or coaching. That meant a lot to me. He’s done the same for my younger brother.

If my dad said he was going to do something or be somewhere, he kept his word. That was a great lesson for me. He always came through and I knew I could depend on him, even to this day. My dad can teach without saying a word, too; it seemed that I always knew what he was thinking, what his beliefs were, just by the look in his eyes.

My dad taught me many things: the value of having good character, that hard work pays off in great dividends, that although bad things will happen in life, how we react and respond is what will make us or break us. I learned humility from him as he learned humility. My dad shared his own experiences in life to teach me the importance of moral purity, something that was probably hard for him to do. Because of his and my mom’s honesty and caring, I decided to wait until marriage to be intimate with anyone, a decision I’m glad I made. He has taught me how to maintain balance in my life

Most of all, my dad taught me that my relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important thing in my life. He wasn’t saved until I was about nine years old. Ever since that day, God was made the center of our family. My dad made God the most important focus in his life and his family second. I have had the wonderful opportunity to see the Lord change my dad right before my eyes. With my mom’s loving support, my father was able to become the wonderful man he is today.  She supported him in prayer and stood by his leadership even in the rough times; without her, Dad couldn’t have been the husband and father he became.

My dad is not only my father, but also my mentor. He has shown me by his example how to love my wife and my children, and how to live for the Lord. I’m so thankful that he showed me that a man can be a faithful husband in this day and age, that he can put the Lord first in his life and be a true role model to those around him. My dad is my best friend; I could go to him with any problem I might have and trust his response.

The Lord did send another mentor into my life–Sam. He was there to help me and my family when times were difficult at home. When things might have otherwise crumbled, he was there to help make sure it stayed glued together. I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of boys’ lives changed because Sam cared about them, boys who didn’t have a good father figure in their lives. Sam was kind of a “bonus” mentor in my life, someone who added to what my dad was teaching me.

I’m thankful for my dad, for the man he is and the man he is teaching me to be. My dad changed his family legacy from having a father who was an abuser to being a father who is caring and loving. Now I can carry on that legacy.