Monday, June 16, 2014

My Fathers Legacy

My father has accomplished many great things in his life. I would like to take a little time to share some of those and point out his highest achievement yet.

Career - Service and Leadership
Some would point to the awards and accommodations he earned while working in the Kentucky National Guard these past 30 years. Take one look around his office and you see award after award, which speak of his excellence as a soldier, leader and officer. He has been a mentor to many young soldiers, helping them along the way. In his service, he earned the respect and trust of his colleagues in Kentucky and across the nation. He is an exemplary leader constantly encouraging his peers, colleagues, and friends to lead better. Perhaps most impressive is the attitude he takes after having received these accolades. He remains a servant. He does not expect praise or even enjoy rewards and prizes but continues to faithfully do the work before him with humility. He always sought how he might serve those he leads. This is the true mark of a leader and a lesson that I am proud to say my Dad taught me.

Marriage - Love and Sacrifice
In listing my Dads accomplishments, you cannot miss his marriage. If you have met my parents there is no question that they love each other. The way he looks at her and smiles a secret smile that only they share. It's captivating. I wasn't there, but I am sure it is the same look he had in his eyes on their wedding day. And this is no accident or just a coincidence. It took intentional work to guard that love and develope it into the kind of love that make other people jealous and ask how did you do it? I asked my Dad once that very question. His answer is in itself a testament to his legacy, "It wasn't easy but I had to learn how to love her more than myself. I had to love sacrificailly, giving up my wants to put her first, to listen to her wants and needs, and it's exciting because as we've both grown as our relationship has developed and changed. I'm still learning how to love her today."

Family - Fatherhood and Manliness
My Dad likes says that the best thing he could do for his kids was make sure they knew he loved their mother. As a kid, I didn't appreciate watching my Dad come into the kitchen after work with flowers and "smooch" my Mom. As an adult, I recognize the truth and wisdom of this. If you question the impact this might have on kids, take a look at my siblings and I.  My sister is a wife, mother, and amazing woman. She loves her husband and kids with grace, intelligence, and a sense of humor that looks for new ways to bring joy into her loved ones lives. My brother is a member of the National Guard, following in my Dads footsteps, and working on a Masters in IT Management. Much like my Dad he pours himself into the work given him, and always pushes himself to be the best he can. And me, well, somewhere along the way someone forgot to tell me that I couldn't make my dreams come true. I like to give my Dad credit for that.

Dreams - Perseverance and Faithfulness
My Dad is a dreamer. He has been dreaming of sailing for over 30 years. Most of those years he lived in a land locked state and wouldn't even touch the water. A lesser man would give up that dream and look for something more practical. My Dad held onto his dream and nurtured it. He talked about sailing, read about it, and would plan future trips long before he had a boat or even the time to go sailing. Now he sails with the love of his life several times a year and is looking at buying a second boat to live on. If you ask him if this is what he dreamed of 30 years ago, he probably would probably just smile and show you the pictures from his latest sailing adventure.

As vast and impressive as these achievements are they pale in comparison to his greatest achievement in life. 

Rodney George Hayes is a sinner saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.

It is the core of my Dads person. Not his service, leadership, love, family, dreams or character. No, the character of Christ has prevailed in his life. It has enabled him as a soldier and serviceman, looking to Christ as his example of a servant leader. He learned to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. I remember my Dad singing an old Phillips, Craig and Dean song. "I want to be like You (God the Father) cause he wants to be like me." I can proudly say that I know better what Jesus is like as a friend, servant, and Father because my Dad imitated and emulated Him for me. His dreams are as big as the God he loves and through his faith he finds the perseverance to hold onto them when life would have him despair.

My Dad will be the first to read this and note that he isn't perfect. He is just another sinner who lives in the grace that Jesus poured on us all when He paid the penalty for our sins. So I'll put it this way, my Dads greatest accomplishment was nothing that he did or earned, but rather a gift he received. He has used that gift well. I pray that I may do the same, because I want to be like Him.

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