Sometimes when you read a book or watch a movie you get the feeling that the author created such strong character that it became difficult to write the final chapters. That’s how I feel today.
I wanted to remark on one particular thing about my father’s life that inspires me. I don’t think he ever slowed down. He never “retired.” Throughout his life he kept setting new goals and kept working long hours.
One of my high school track coaches had a three word strategy for long distance races: “carry, move, race”. The words refer to the pacing strategy at different phases of the tough long distance and cross country races. I realized that this pacing strategy described what I had seen in my father’s life.
Usually when you think of the top ski destinations in the world, Chicago Illinois does not pop into your head. So in the mid 70’s when we moved from the north suburbs of Boston to the west suburbs of Chicago, to a non-salaried teaching appointment, it was not about leisure, it was about work. Just as a distance runner postures himself to carry through the early and middle phases of a distance race. My father began several decades of full time teaching , conducting sermons and seminars on the weekends, raising a family, keeping up a house, and putting three children through high school and college. He “carried” through the 70’s and 80’s. He kept his energy level up and concentrated on the getting the work done.
Sometime in the early 90’s my father decided to begin recording his lectures and discussions as a way of providing for future learners. He saw his taping ministry as a force multiplier for increasing the audience. This was even before people realized the communication power that internet would bring. Just as a competitive runner observes that he is half or two-thirds of the way to the finish line, my dad began to “crisp up” his pace and focus his vision in the 1990s. Just like a competitive runner, he began to “move.”
Nearing the end of a long distance running race, every competitor is battling different types of fatigue. You are not the same runner you were at the starting line. The energy is different, your body changes, your willpower can fade. As a competitor, your hope is that when you reach this point you will have the will to race, to “leave it all on the track.” My father seemed to find the posturing necessary, even after going through heart bypass surgery, to lean forward, work hard, and finish fast. Just like one of those magical moments in sports when you look at the clock and realize you have exceeded your own expectations or set a new record, my father surpassed his goals.
I am grateful for the family legacy of the Christian faith and for my father’s leadership. He trained us well and laid a strong foundation for the next generation of leaders.