Father@FortyTwo #12 – “Keeps On Going”

My place of employment, Barry-Wehmiller, values leadership and training its associates to become great leaders.  Our CEO, Bob Chapman, has been telling us for years that we sell capital equipment in the packaging industry and aftermarket parts to fund our internal university so that building great people leaders can take place.  We get regular insight from Bob on leadership, and this past week he sent out a bulleted list of characteristics of a good leader.  One bullet point really caught my eye and was re-enforced this past weekend during the Father’s Day celebration my family and I had the pleasure to experience.

“Leadership is not just what happens when you’re there, it’s what happens when you’re not there.”       – Ken Blanchard, from The Leadership Pill

I was fortunate enough to have a friend for a long time, a fellow deacon, named Ken.  Ken was blessed with a huge family and he served them all as an example Christian patriarch should.  Ken’s family is very reflective of the kind of man he was… playful, stern, accepting, loving, and loyal.  His influence reaches not only through the lives of his children, a hope that every parent has, but also through his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  With a family as large as Ken had (7 kids, at least 18 grandchildren, and I loose count of his great-grandchildren), you would think that he wouldn’t have room or time for those outside of his family but that simply wasn’t the case.  He often accepted others as family (such is the case with me) and had an uncountable amount of good friends.  He was a good ol’ country boy, a hero firefighter and ambulance EMT, a member of the armed services, and a devout fisherman.  You couldn’t help but love Ken.

Well over twenty years ago, Ken and his family (not just his immediate family but also his brothers, nieces, nephews, their children and grandchildren, etc.) established an annual tradition of camping at Bennett Springs State park in Missouri over the Father’s Day weekend.  All family members and those friends who wanted to join would drag their RVs, campers, or tents to “Bennett”, grab their trout tags for the next morning, get up at the crack of dawn, and fish to their daily limit.  Most would be done fishing before noon, get together and share stories of conquest or those bites on the line that “got away”, and come together in the evening to enjoy the day’s catch.  All of the men would deep fry the fish and potatoes and the women would put together the sides and desserts and there would be a grand feast of one hundred people or more.  You really couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate fathers and spend time with your family and friends in nature’s beauty.

Unfortunately my good friend Ken, who was waist deep into his eighties, passed away this past year.  He was very tough and had battled all kinds of cancer, including bone cancer, and heart disease for many years.  As is the case with all of us some day, regardless of how tough we are, Ken lost the fight and decided that eternity in Heaven was better.  It was crushing in a way to attend his funeral and see his family without their captain.  Many thoughts flood your mind as an outsider… “What’s going to happen now?  Are the kids and his wife going to be okay?  Who’s going to take up the mantle and lead the family?  Are they going to hold together?”

As the previously mentioned bullet point from Mr. Blanchard suggests, a great leader’s teachings and personality still influences those around them, even when he’s not there.  This past weekend, Ken’s family still got together at Bennett on Father’s Day… without their father.  His wife drove his old pick-up truck an hour and forty-five minutes to the camp site.  One of his many grand-daughters wore his pair of overalls and hat for our celebration on Saturday, his family were all still standing in a stream catching trout at 6:30 in the morning, and there were more people than I’ve ever seen eating said trout in the evening at the larger feast of fish.  All of the men ate last after having deep-fried buckets and buckets of fish fillets.  Beyond all of those important traditions, the ones most important… accepting others into the fold, joking around and having fun, loving one another, appreciating the blessings that have been poured into your life and family is everything… those still stood the test of their leader not being there to share in them.  A challenge to you and I may be this… what are we doing today that will establish tomorrow for our children, and their children, and their children?  Are we being that leader in our family that will be talked about for many years and influencing the future of our family in a positive way?  Are you encouraging behaviors and establishing practices that bring love, family loyalty, hard-work, forgiveness and hope to the persons who should be the most sacred to you while you live your life?

I have to believe Ken was smiling this Father’s Day as he fished in Heaven with the Master Fisherman.  You know they have to have at least a 12 fish limit per day up there!  :)

Other greats points of interest for the weekend:

  • I got to take my 20 month-old son fishing for the first time!  Ray thinks that fishing rods are swords so he kept hitting our rods with his little Iron Man rod yelling “Die, die!”  (His middle sister taught him that with Nerf swords)  Needless to say, within 15 minutes, he and I were sitting on the shore enjoying a snack of Cheez-Its and watching the others fish.
  • My oldest daughter Anna caught her limit of 4, being the only one in our family to catch anything.
  • Both of my daughters nearly drown in the swimming pool.  Abby was having difficulty in the deep-end of the pool and her sister, who isn’t a very strong swimmer herself, jumped in and was nearly drown by her panicked little sister.  Anna managed to grab a rope in the pool and pull them both to safety.  I told Abby that if she ever doubted that her sister loves her, this action speaks louder than any words.  (John 15:13)  Thank you Jesus for protecting them both!!!!  (Welling up!)  Anna, you are my hero.
  • I had a wonderful walk with Abby along the road next to the stream on our last day.  I really enjoy talking with Abby when we share time like that.  She has so many questions about life.

Happy Father’s Day all!


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