I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But this authority is to build you up, not to tear you down. (1 Corinthians 10:8)
Most people gain their general view and feeling about authority from their parents, especially their father. If your father was harsh and unyielding, then you likely see people who are in authority as people to be avoided if possible.
If your father was passive or absentee, you may not have an appreciation for the benefits that God-ordained authority can bring to your life. If your father was abusive and controlling, you may view authority figures as people who simply want to use you or take advantage of you.
Our initial view of God’s authority is usually tinted (or tainted) by the character of the authority our father’s demonstrated to us. This can be awesome or debilitating, depending on the environment you grew up in.
Perhaps the greatest blessing God has given me, outside of salvation in His Son Jesus, was the powerful influence of an amazing biological father, Billy James Gressett.
My father died on July 13, 2010, leaving us all in deep grief but profound gratitude. Here are several bullets that encapsulate the kind of father he was to me and my brothers:
- He was always there for us and with us and there was never ever any thought that he might leave…ever.
- He was kind and generous to everyone, especially to mom and us.
- He was our greatest fan and always encouraged us to take risks and follow our hearts, even when it meant moving away from him.
- He truly loved God and treasured His word. And this was a daily relationship for dad.
- He busted our butts when we were young and rebellious. But never made us feel like he didn’t like us, even when he had to discipline us.
- He let us have motorcycles way sooner than anybody with any sense would have. This was no doubt because this would entice us to more willingly show up at the farm after school.
- Yes, he taught us how to work…and hard…on the family farm. Actually, he did more than teach us, he made us work. I didn’t always appreciate it at the time. But I certainly have since I’ve grown up.
- He taught us to handle money very early. We all had checking and savings accounts before we were even teenagers.
- He taught us that bosses and teachers and officers of the Law were our friends and deserved our respect.
- He taught us a lifestyle of sexual purity and faithfulness to one’s wife. I never observed my father even slightly flirt with anyone but mother.
- I could go on and on…….
Because of Dad’s influence, I can honestly say that it has never crossed my mind to think that God is unkind or uncaring or stingy or cruel. I’ve always assumed that God was for me and not against me. Though I certainly understood God has not always been pleased with my attitudes or behavior.
Because my dad characteristically did things that were not only in his best interests but also in mine, I’ve pretty much my whole life deep down knew that God’s will was really best for me – even if I avoided it for extended periods of my life.
Now Dad is with Jesus. But I’ve got a heart full of character and wisdom and love for God because of the way he built us up.
I guess that’s the bottom-line. Dad lived to build us up. Not just empty praise or vain flattery. He built godly character and faith into us. And it’s already spilling over into yet another generation of Gressetts.
If God is anything close to as good as my dad, He’s worthy of all my love and trust. And the reality is that Dad’s love for me was but a drop in the ocean compared to God’s great love.
Thank you, Dad, for a life well-lived. And for a legacy I can’t escape.