I am the fourth of five children, the son of Kenneth and Mary Butts. The picture you see is of my Dad and I celebrating our birthdays together as we always did because they were in such close proximity to each other. It is one of the many great memories I have of my Dad.
My Dad spent most of his life operating heavy equipment (bulldozers, backhoes, etc…), eventually owning and operating his own excavation company. He was a hard worker who had little patience for laziness. When I turned thirteen he told me that I had to go to work with him during my summers and whenever I was not in school, where I was expected to work. Wanting to make my Dad proud, I worked hard. I am so thankful for having had this opportunity.
My Dad was a Christian too. He was by no means a perfect person (who is?) but because he knew how to treat people right, regardless of their race or economic status, he was always willing to help someone who was in need. This included things like giving the occasional hitch-hiker a ride, teaching a young hispanic man who couldn’t speak English how to count American money so that other less-than-honest people would not take advantage of the man, being a friend to a special-needs man, and many other good – love your neighbor as yourself – deeds.
Of course, like any great father (and parent, for that matter), his greatest legacy is his family. This past January marked fifteen years since Dad passed away from pancreatic cancer. Until his death, he remained faithfully married to my Mother and remained a true Dad…concerned for his children. So perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from my father is to be a father to my own children.
I’m writing this blog post about my Dad in honor of him and Father’s Day. But I also want it to serve as a lesson for fathers, like my self. I learned many things from my Dad because he was around and had time for me. When he was done with work, he came home. That doesn’t mean that he had a boring life or that he was all work and no play. My point is that he understood what his priorities are.
Fathers, let us never ignore our responsibility as fathers or farm out those responsibilities. Our children need us just as much as they need their mother. Being a father is not just a title, it’s also a function…a noble function. The greatest gift we can give to our children is to be their loving fathers, plain and simple.