In my various articles on my Bible blog, I often refer to my Dad, about the fact that he was a Pastor as I and my siblings were growing up, and about how our viewpoints on various issues are sometimes different.
It might be easy to draw wrong conclusions from these references about how I relate to my Dad. I’d like to set the record straight. In fact, my Dad is, with seriously no exaggeration, the most amazing, loving, considerate and enlightened father I could ever have asked for. I know I can confidently speak for my siblings when I say we are all incredibly proud of him. It is so hard to express how grateful we are. In fact, it is partly his fault that I am not yet married. I’m still trying to suss out who I know that could attempt to measure up to his standards!
As you read this article, it will become obvious that I adore my father, and that I think he is fantastic. If your experience with fathers has not been the same as mine, then please remember that we all have a Father, God, whose love for us far surpasses the love that any human father (mine included) could show his kids. The reason my Dad is so excellent is because he is a good representation of what God is like. However, he is only a representation – God is the real thing! Where my Dad is not perfect and can never be, God IS perfect. God is not limited in space or time or ability. God’s vision, His expectations, His promises to me are greater than those of my human dad. So why not reach out and claim God as your own Father today? He loves you so much, and He is longing for you to let Him be your Dad.
Fathers – could I ask you to just keep persevering in your role? Regardless of however things may have gone thus far, or whatever could have been done better. Just try to give the very best that you have and to be the best that you can be, and invest all you can, and one day, your own children will also proudly talk about how their father is the very best Dad possible! 😉
These are a few of the values that I grew up observing in my Dad:
1. Totally, totally, sold out to God
Wow. when I say that my Dad was committed to Christ, please note that that can only be a huge understatement. EVERYTHING in our house was all about God, about faith, about Christ, about service to God.
2.Deep revelation of the Bible as God’s Word
Wow, my Dad’s knowledge of the Bible is unbelievable, especially David and the Old Testament kings. You know all those obscure Old Testament names and stories that no-one else ever bothers to learn – like Asahel the brother of – Abner? Joab? or Shimea who cursed David or whosever hand it was that had to be prised away from his sword – my Dad knows all of those and can reel off those stories. I used to watch in astonishment as a kid and think “How does he do that?!”
My Dad’s level of revelation of the Bible was unimaginable. It was where deep knowledge of the Bible met deep intimacy with God, and the power of the insights would strike me – wow! I am biased, naturally, but in all sincerity, I have never heard anyone, anyone, whose understanding of the Bible as communicated in his sermons, compares to his. This includes any other pastor I have ever listened to, or anyone on TV – seriously. As a teenager I would tell my Dad this, and he would modestly shrug it off. If it was true then, it still is true now. (In fact, I was so impressed by his teachings that I started transcribing his sermons about Elijah and the power of God from I Kings 17 into a book, one time – and then I left London!). And as a pastor, he was also incredibly, side-splittingly funny. It was from him, perhaps more than from anyone else, that my Sis M gets her incredible gift of comedy. She’s good!
So when I say “I disagree with my Dad about….” what I mean is that “even though it is my Dad that says this, I disagree with even him…”
You know what, he was also a big person, in that he was secure enough to let us disagree with him. He would always discuss issues every rationally, and logically, and even almost encouraged us to cultivate our own viewpoints. He never said “I’m the adult, I’m the pastor, you have to accept what I say”. Looking back now, I of course realise that he was humouring us much of the time, but at the time I remember feeling so proud, that here I was having a grown up discussion with my Dad, and he was acknowledging my viewpoints!
3. Totally committed to his family
I cannot speak enough about the incredible investment and sacrifices that our Dad has made for us. Money, time, love, prayers. He was always there to discuss, to correct, to adjudicate between our million quarrels and squabbles. (It is an absolute miracle that we all get on so well these days. As children we would fight ALL the time – especially me and my Sis M!). Also there are 5 of us siblings in my family, so that was great fun for both my parents, but he was never too tired to deal with all our issues.
4. Phenomenal expectations
My Dad cultivated phenomenal expectations for all of us in absolutely every area of our lives. He brought us up to expect to excel and to push ourselves to excel in absolutely everything. This includes knowing God, and our relationship with God, knowing the Bible, our academic lives, dreaming big life dreams – everything! Whatever the absolute utmost was in any area, that is what we would automatically aspire to. So this is what has defined my attitude to so many things till today. This is why I do not think of myself as being a small person, or intrinsically incapable of x. This is why I expect to succeed at whatever I do, and I am not afraid to disagree with everyone, if necessary. I know I have quite pronounced tendencies towards arrogance, and I am definitely working on this. It’s kinda what happens when you’ve been told since conception how amazing, clever and gifted you are. And then, my Dad would pray accordingly. Looking back to childhood, I can only remember the hours and hours and hours that my Dad would pray for each of us, the very greatest prayers possible, about how we would achieve greatness in every aspect of our lives, and how we would be powerful instruments in the hands of a powerful God, how we would mightily impact our generations for Christ.
Only a girl?
(I’m laughing out loud!) Oh dear! My Dad brought us up to aspire after what the absolute best was in anything, and to think ourselves capable of it. He did not bring up his four daughters to be the best that women could be, but rather to be the best that it was possible to be, regardless of gender. Right alongside the boys, we got fed with stories of David and Joshua and Elijah and other great heroes of faith that my Dad himself continues to aspire to. As an adult, I do not even aspire to be as courageous “as a man”, but rather as courageous as it is possible to be. In practice, this means that I (and at least one of my sisters) demonstrate many supposedly “masculine” traits. Bold, brave, confident, aggressive (in the right places – prayer, commitment to the Word of God), outspoken, ambitious – SO ambitious! And I would not have it any other way. Please believe me. I am not “only” a girl. There is nothing “only” about me. Whenever someone tries to put me down, or make me feel small, I tend to smile to myself and look down. I think – “You so do not know whom you’re dealing with, and you don’t know whose daughter I am!”
“Will there be boys there?”
Ah yes, I almost forgot! A very important aspect of life growing up with my Dad is that he was so protective. If ever I was tempted not to appreciate this as a teenager, I am now, of course, so grateful. He always watched over us to prevent us from doing things that were physically harmful…and he was also unspeakably watchful regarding boys.
I remember once, when I was 16, our church youth group had gone to some event (our youth group was essentially me and my siblings! – v small church!) – and someone had been handing out flyers for this Christian nightclub. Now please understand, this was a Christian nightclub. Because I was a very good Christian girl – and – naturally – went to a girls’ school – and my parents used to watch over us very protectively, I had never been to any kind of nightclub before. However, as this was a Christian nightclub, I was confident that he would allow us to go. And sure enough, he initially agreed. But then, he inexplicably changed his mind.
Tosin: “But Daddy, this is a CHRISTIAN nightclub.” Daddy: “Will there be boys there?” Tosin: “Yes Daddy, there’ll be boys there” (Thinking to myself – “That’s kinda why we want to go, Daddy!”).
Now because I was used to dealing with my rational, logical, enlightened father, I was confident that I would be able to argue him around. But no, it was not to be. He flatly refused, and from that time till this I’ve only been to a nightclub once, when I was much older….and I have no plans to go anytime soon! 😉
…. So, when at uni, I told my parents that there was this guy whom I really liked, but who was not exactly a Christian, (but rather a staunch atheist) and who was not exactly Nigerian, I naturally expected that they would order me home, permanently. So instead, I almost fainted at what my Dad did say – “Perhaps he’s the one” T:”Daddy, did you not hear what I said? I said he’s not a Christian! Of course he’s not the one!” (And I also said something a little less PC – oh dear!) Even at the time, I realised that he was using reverse pschology on me – but still! In the event, nothing was to happen between me and Mr Cute Atheist, not least because this was totally one sided, on my part – but oh man, I liked him!… And then my Dad also surprisingly allowed me to go to China for 2 months shortly after graduation – wow!
Excellent, but not perfect
From reading all of this, you might be tempted to think that my Dad is perfect. I would not blame you, as I myself happily cherished that viewpoint well into my twenties. Yet now, I can definitely conclude that no, even he is not perfect. And if my Dad is not perfect then, surely, no-one is. I of course know that I am not perfect. Yet, when looking for My own Mr Huggie-Wuggie, and Mr Holdy-Handy, I have to remind myself that no-one is perfect; as I long for someone to accept me despite my own imperfections, so I also must be willing to overlook his own weaknesses. But he does have to aspire relentlessly after excellence. That is non-negotiable!
So that is my amazing Dad! Daddy, I hope you’re reading this. I’m so grateful to you, and I love you so much, and it has been such a blessing to be your daughter, now as always! I’m so grateful to God for the incredible headstart that I received in life from being born as your daughter – God bless you so, so much! 😉 😉 😉