My Dad’s Influence

“These words I command you . . impress them on your children.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NIV

“The reach of your life should extend far beyond the extent of your lifetime.”

My thoughts today are about “my Dad’s influence.”

Father’s day is this weekend, and that brings my thoughts to my Dad. When I speak of my regard and respect for him and for the things he taught me about God, I find myself referring to him as Father. When I talk about our relationship and the practical things he taught me about life and people, I hear myself calling him Dad. My Dad was Joseph Raymond Randolph, Ray to his friends and J.R. professionally. Born in Tarboro, North Carolina, my Dad grew up in Buffalo, New York.

He was converted at 17, never before having been in a church, when my grandmother was miraculously healed of terminal cancer at a prayer meeting. Soon after, he attended college in Springfield, Missouri, and became a college graduate, the only one from his family of six, in a generation when college was not common. He and Mom were pastors in Granite City, Illinois, until his death in a highway accident outside of Sikeston, Missouri, in August 1963, at the too young age of 44 years.

I was 21, married just three weeks, and preparing for my senior year of college when I lost the greatest influence in my life. Two weeks after his death, I was introduced as the young pastor of the church where he had served for the majority of my lifetime. As a father he was exemplary, a man of integrity and ministry, a loyal friend of many, a shepherd to people who still today speak fondly and kindly of his influence. As a Dad he was caring and kind, fun when appropriate and most serious about things that truly mattered. See 1 Corinthians 4:15-16 NKJV.

Along all these years, I have been surprised at how many times my words begin with, “My Dad taught me . . “ My Dad still shapes the man, husband, father, friend, and pastor that I am becoming. Dad’s words still guide my choices and guard my behavior; his words still shape my beliefs and convictions; his love for God and devotion to God’s Word are a foundation for my years of ministry and teaching. My Dad’s example and expectations of only giving your best still motivate my quest for excellence in what I do and teach. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:11 NIV.

The reach of his life extends far beyond the extent of his lifetime. I now understand that today’s verse explains how he lived his life and how his life impacts mine yet today. “These words I command you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them at home and when you walk along the road . . tie them as symbols . . write them on your houses and gates.” Deuteronomy 6:5-9 NIV. Only what touches your heart has the power to change a life.

Truth is born in a heart with a singular love for God, but that alone is not enough to touch the next generation. The transfer of truth and love of God must be the central task and devotion of a father’s lifetime – in everything he is, all that he believes, whatever he says, in everything he does, and wherever he goes. Consistency of character, personal conduct, training and teaching, exemplary manner of life, and spiritual leadership is the essential calling of a Dad. I am a blessed son to have had parents like that; I hope I am a blessing as a Dad and Granddad. See 3 John 4 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you hold fast to truth that is timeless and eternal.