Just for Dads ~ October 2023
“Just Say No” and “Just Do It” were very popular slogans in the culture of the 1980s and 1990s. My mom had a slogan, too: “Just Say Yes” (when you can). She would encourage us to be the kind of friend, child, student, athlete, or sibling who would try new things and volunteer when given the opportunity.
My sophomore year of high school, I was a tall and lanky fellow on the outside, but in my head, I looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone. I went to a citywide party where there was a mud wrestling pit. The first person in the ring was a senior all-star offensive lineman who was daring anyone in the crowd to accept his challenge to a match. My inflated views of my own strength, desire for attention, and lifelong philosophy of volunteering led me to believe I could be like David and conquer the cocky Goliath. The match started, and the big man came running at me. I used some quickness or luck to get away from him, and he tripped and face-planted in the mud. The crowd cheered me on while laughing at him. In my imagination, I pinned him. The referee counted the match over, and the high school girls swooned around me and declared me their hero. In reality, my opponent did not like that he was being laughed at by a huge crowd of his peers, and he later proceeded to give me a thorough mud wrestling beating that I remember vividly to this day.
Volunteering is definitely an activity that has enhanced my life. Some of my volunteering has led to losing fights, money, relationships, pride, and time, as well as negatively affected the way some people see me. But I do not regret in any way that my mom encouraged me to take chances and put myself out there, even when there were negative consequences. Raising my hand, starting a nonprofit, entering a contested election, and following a girl to Birmingham has led to deeply rewarding relationships, adventures, and achievements. One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament book of Isaiah is when Isaiah sees the Lord, is terrified, and immediately answers, “yes, I will go,” when God asks who He can send. I pray you help your child keep their spirit of wonder and adventure and that you teach them to say yes to risks. Teaching your kids to hear God’s voice and say yes to the spirit’s prompting will lead them to a life full of purpose.