7 Ways My Father Influenced Who I Am

“My heroes are and were my parents. I can’t see having anyone else as my parents.”

—Michael Jordan

Today’s story contributed by Harold Herring.

my father

Harold Herring with his mother and father

When I was a freshman in college…we were asked to write a paper on the greatest man we’d ever met. It was an easy and immediate decision for me… I wrote about my Father.

Since that first year of college…I’ve met five Presidents, two Vice-Presidents, numerous Generals, Admirals, sports stars, singers, international ministry leaders and assorted other celebrities and persons in authority.

If I were asked to write the same paper during this the 25th anniversary of my 39th birthday year…I would still write about my father…for whom I will always call Daddy, so why change.

He was and still is the greatest man I’ve ever met.

My purpose in this blog is not just to write something sentimental about my father but there are several things that “Mr. Harold,” as Dad was known in our town, taught me…that will benefit and bless all who read these words.

Here are seven ways my Father influenced who I am:

1. Unconditional love

First, my Dad loves God with all his heart. No doubt. It’s evident to everyone who has ever met him.

Second, my Dad loves my Mom. I’ve never seen nor heard them fight in 65 years of marriage. In fact, I’ve never heard him raise his voice to her…nor she to him. What an example.

Third, my Dad loves me even at times when my actions weren’t particularly loveable. I’m blessed to have such unconditional love from my Father…and my mother as well.

Fourth, my Dad loves my fine wife of 40 years, Bev…whom he has always called daughter.

Fifth, my Dad loves my children and his grandchildren with an unconditional love as well.

Sixth, my Dad loves those who make loving them easy.

Seventh, my Dad loves the unlovely and the pretty much forgotten.

Matthew 22:37-39 in the New Living Translation says:
“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. ‘This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

2. Work Ethic

My parents started their lives together as sharecroppers but when I was four years old they bought a grocery store and service station. Later, the business changed into a Western Auto store and a grill that turned into a restaurant. They ran a business in the same location for 54 years.

Since the time my parents bought their own business…my father has always worn a white shirt and a tie. Didn’t matter if he was changing a tire, unloading a freight truck or cooking breakfast for customers during the early morning shift…he always dressed for the job he wanted…not the one he had.

Daddy was never afraid of hard work or doing whatever was necessary to provide for his family and those who were employed by him.

At this writing, Daddy is 85 and oversees his 16 rental mobile homes and then oversees another mobile home park with nearly 100 units to help out someone else.

“Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards.” Proverbs 12:14 NLT

One more thing…I’ve never heard my father complain about hard work or long hours either.

3. Square Dealer

Even when it would have been easy to do…I’ve never seen my Daddy take advantage of anyone.

I’ve seen Daddy refund money when there wasn’t any reason to. He’s the one who is always willing to go the extra mile.

He taught me to have character and not be one.

Daddy has always lived a life of integrity even when no one was watching.

4. Friend to the friendless

I’ve seen my father serve others when it wasn’t personally convenient for him or when it was obvious that his sacrifice would never be publicly known. But his godly example of service impacted and shaped who I am today.

I remember one man in particular that Daddy helped and protected …an older man who suffered a head injury which made others call him “abnormal.” Amy walked everywhere he went and was always talking to himself. People in our small town made fun of Amy and so a lot of the kids in school called Amy my brother. Truthfully, that never really bothered me because of the example created by my father.

Daddy gave Amy a place to say and food to eat for a number of years. But more than that…Daddy was instrumental in leading Amy to the Lord.

One more thing…the kind of love Daddy demonstrated back then wasn’t just to “white folks” but to anybody who had a need.

5. Soul Winner

Over the past 13 years…my father led over 70 people a year to the Lord in one on one evangelism. That is somewhere in the neighborhood of almost 1,000 folks who are born again…just because of one man’s witness.

I remember calling him three times on his 83rd birthday. Each time when I asked what he was doing my Father said “fishing.”

Even though my parents live on a lake…I knew he was fishing for souls and not bass.
Whether he’s sitting on a bench in the mall waiting for my Mom…or in a nursing home or hospital…he is always looking to rob hell and populate heaven.

Even though my Dad dropped out of school in the fifth grade…he’s one of the wisest men you’ll ever meet.

Proverbs 11:30 in the Amplified Bible says:
“The fruit of the [uncompromisingly] righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise captures human lives [for God, as a fisher of men—he gathers and receives them for eternity].”

6. Great sense of humor

My Dad taught me that you can be funny and witty without being vulgar. Here are five of my favorite ones.

“That food is so good it made my tongue slap my tonsils.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that person that a good case of salvation wouldn’t cure.”
When commenting on rude drivers…”It’s times like these that I wish I was driving a Sherman Tank.”
“Somebody ought to dust that boy’s britches and he’d act a little different.”
“If you take out more than you take in…you’re going broke.”

7. Everybody Deserves Respect.

I’ve never heard my Dad say anything negative about anybody. Now that may sound easy, but let me tell you that some of the customers they served for over 54 years weren’t, well, shall we say, the easiest people to wait on.

Nonetheless, my father would never allow me to disrespect anybody.

I was taught to say “Sir” or “Ma’am.” I learned at an early age there would be consequences if I wasn’t respectful.

My Dad also taught me that you never judge a man by the color of his skin or the color of his neck.

One more thing, I feel led to say.

The only one of the Ten Commandments to have a promise is the one commanding us to honor our father and mother. Exodus 20:12 says:

“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”

By the way, this scripture doesn’t say…honor your father and mother if they’re good people like mine are…if they live the kind of life you think they should…if they buy you a new iPhone or a new car when you turn 16…the commandment says to honor your Mom and Dad so that you may live a long time on the earth. The promise is for your benefit not theirs so don’t let them rob you.

If your father or your mother have done you wrong…forgive them. Always, remember forgiveness is for your benefit…not theirs. Even if they didn’t know how to make right choices…that’s even more reason to step out of the rut. Choose to bless yourself.

Harold Herring teaches scriptural strategies, and proven financial principles which are responsible for saving thousands of people millions of dollars in interest and debt. His seminaries, rallies and churches services offer a unique blend of humorous but yet motivational teaching. His experiences include President of the Debt Free Army, Founding Pastor of Triumphant Life Church, President of Rich Thoughts Television Network, and President of Millionaire University.

You can visit his blog at www.haroldherring.com

Your Comments

  1. Rita Davenport

    Harold’s life is a tribute to his “Daddy”. Seems kids don’t pay near as much attention to what you say, but are always watching what you do. You only have 18 summers with your kids…Give Them A Good Show!


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