A life worth imitating

A life worth imitating

Fred Rogers, better known as Mister Rogers from the famed children’s TV show Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Emmys in 1997. In his recipient speech, he used his time in a way no one else had before. “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being,” he said. “Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are—those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life? 10 seconds…I’ll watch the time.”  

I find this to be such a powerful exercise of gratitude. Perhaps you can take a moment right now to do that: consider who has helped “love you into being” and thank the Lord for them.  

For many of us, this list of influential people would include someone who holds a unique place in our lives: our fathers. Whether we realize it or not, we imitate our fathers in so many ways. Sometimes it’s a genetic propensity, a personality quirk, or a life lesson that has stuck with us. Perhaps you have caught yourself saying things that your dad always said, without meaning to—maybe even some things you promised that you’d never say yourself!  

Some of the sayings from my dad include: 

“A job worth doing is a job worth doing right.” 

“Mutate, migrate, or perish.” 

Or my wife’s personal favorite: “Don’t forget to turn the light out in there!” 

I have inherited so many qualities from my dad. And I am grateful for all that he has given me. Sure, he isn’t perfect. None of us are. But I could list countless blessings that he has passed on to us kids, just by virtue of being who he is and being present in our lives. I would say that, in more ways than one, his is a life worth imitating.

I can say that I have a greater appreciation for what my dad did for me and the example he led now that I am a dad. Two months ago this Sunday, Kennedy made me a father. And I love her more than words could express. But with that love comes a responsibility. I have been called, just like my father before me, to pass on a life worth imitating. Because, as we well know, our kids will become like us whether our life is worth imitating or not! 

Of course, we are going to identify qualities in our fathers and in our upbringing that we don’t want to carry on. And that is OK. One of my mentors put it well when he said that true maturity is looking back on the way we were brought up, and then doing our best to cling to that which is good and let go of that which is not. This is something we must do if we want to pass on a godly legacy. 

So, how about you? As we approach Father’s Day, what are those areas in your own father’s life for which you can give God thanks? What are those qualities that you want to pass on to your kids or to those who you influence each day? And what are those aspects of your past that you want to leave behind? Every one of us has a legacy. What will yours be? 

Pastor Gunnar