Lessons from My Dad (by Len Winneroski)

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Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. – Proverbs 23:22

It’s funny how the older you get, the wiser your parents become. I am a very fortunate man. I grew up in a home with two parents who were best friends. They worked hard and loved their two boys sacrificially. Truth be told, my brother and I were both a pain in the butt, but they loved us anyways (I’m not sure if “butt, but” is proper grammar, or a nice thing to say, butt it seemed to fit so I went with it).

My younger brother wore his trouble on his sleeve. I did a better job hiding my trouble so that everyone thought that my brother was the “problem child,” and that I was the sweet one. I tried to be a good big brother but I was far from perfect. For example, I was a bad example to my little brother when I started to drink alcohol behind my parents back as a teenager. I wasn’t wise enough at that time in my life to realize that my little brother was watching me. He wanted to do everything that his big brother was doing, the good, the bad and the ugly. Thankfully, God saved me from a life of dependency on alcohol when I became an adult, but my bad example opened the door to a struggle that my little brother fought his whole life until the Lord took him home. I’m sorry Mike that I was too caught up in my own life to be the big brother that you deserved. I miss you and I know that the Lord has forgiven both of us. I can’t wait to laugh with you again in heaven. Life Lesson: Be careful how you act because someone is always watching.

My dad taught me many things growing up. He is still teaching me. I thought that I’d honor him this morning by sharing a few of the things that he taught me over the years in case it is helpful to others.

The truth is usually in the middle. I don’t know how many times I have said this phrase at work and in my day-to-day life and it has served me well. My dad told me, “Lenny, always listen to both sides of an argument because the truth is usually in the middle.” I’ve found that this is true in politics and in almost every facet of life. When you have two kids fighting in the back seat of the car yelling, “he hit me!” the truth is that somebody gave the first shove and the other “angel” responded so both are guilty. It takes two to fight! If you are in the habit of only listening to one side of an argument, the one that you like the best, maybe you should consider listening to the other side with an open mind.

Don’t back up to your paycheck. My mom and dad have always been very hard workers. They taught their boys the value of an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. As soon as we were old enough to work, my brother and I got jobs and started earning money. It’s funny how you care more about taxes and the cost of toilet paper when you have to pay for them out of your own paycheck! My parents also taught us to take care of the things that we buy and to be generous with what we earn towards God and others.

Don’t put ten pounds of poop in a two-pound poop basket. Truth be told, I’m still trying to learn to apply this little gem to my life. My dad taught us that there are only so many hours in a day and that we need to slow down sometimes and rest. We live in a world that moves so fast that people only have time to read Twitter news updates instead of the paper. When is the last time that you actually read a book instead of watching the movie version of the book? When is the last time that you picked up the phone and called an old friend instead just “liking” one of their Facebook posts?

You are never too old to kiss your dad goodnight. When I became a teenager I decided that I was too old to kiss my dad anymore, especially in front of my friends! Lucky for me, I also have a very wise mother. When my parents noticed that I had stopped kissing my dad goodnight for about a week I came home from school one day to find my mom waiting to talk to me about it. She said, “Lenny, dad told me last night that he was sad that you are not kissing him goodnight anymore. Are you mad at him?” I told my mom that I was a teenager now and that none of my friends kissed their dads anymore. I was a man now! My mom looked me in the eye and said, “you are not everyone else and your father is the greatest man I know. You are never too old to kiss your dad goodnight.” I learned my lesson, and have never been afraid to kiss my dad goodnight or in public since then. We should all kiss the people we love and tell them that they are special to us every chance that we get because our time with them is precious and limited.

You can’t control the fact that you will never be the smartest person in the room, but you can chose to be the hardest working. This gem from my dad has also served me very well over the years. I am privileged to work with legitimate geniuses (in science at least) at my place of employment. I learn a lot from them. I have just accepted the fact that I can’t compete intellectually with a Harvard or Yale graduate, but I can work my butt off (there is that word again..) to try to help my team discover new medicines to help people who are hurting and waiting for them. Stop trying to pretend that you know it all. It’s OK to say, “I don’t know.” Just be the person that God has created you to be and push yourself to learn something new each day and chose to work hard!

Respect your mother. My dad didn’t get mad too often, but if we were disrespectful to our mother that was grounds for an immediate, and sometimes painful, response. My dad often reminded us of how hard our mom worked to take care of our family, and that she deserved our respect. Now I am blessed to have a godly wife who takes care of her family and I have taught my own kids to respect their mother.

Always tell the truth. My parents taught us that we would get in a lot less trouble when we pulled a bone-headed stunt if we just fessed up and told the truth. They honored that promise. It’s a lot easier, and ultimately less painful, to just tell the truth rather than spin a web of lies. God is truth and He also expects His children to be truthful!

Well, I could go on and on, but I’m more interested in hearing about the life lessons that your mom or dad taught you. God instructed us in Exodus 20:12 to honor our father and mother so that we may live a long life. No parents are perfect. I think that my mom and dad would be the first ones to admit that. I know that I have made many mistakes as a father over the years but my kiddos have turned out to be pretty amazing young adults in spite of my mistakes. Truth be told, my kids are amazing because they have an amazing mother who has served her family sacrificially over the years just like my mom, and her mom did.

Thank you dad for always being there and for telling me that you love me and that you are proud of me. That has carried me through life. The world only loves you when you agree with it and seeking honor from the world is a waste of time. Thank you mom for always supporting dad and for being his best friend. You are an amazing, unselfish child of God. I’m proud to be your son.

2 thoughts on “Lessons from My Dad (by Len Winneroski)

  1. Well written Len. By the way, you definitely used the correct form for the word butt- indicating gluteous maximus rather than the conjunction form but, meaning instead or in addition to, etc.

    Although I never had a good relationship with my dad, I did learn from him the value of faith, hard work, and caring for your family sacrificially. I could easily look at my dad as all bad, taking on a victim mentality for wrongs I incurred from him, but that would be wrong. My dad did many things wrong, but his leadership in making church attendance and emphasizing the essential need for faith in Christ directly impacted my own faith. I grew in Christ, learning the importance and value of forgiveness- which led to me forgiving my dad for some serious inadequacies.

    In the end, it was never about me or my dad, nor what he or I was able to do or not do, but rather it is about the perfect father God and his perfect son Jesus, and all they they have done and will do in our lives.

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