A few months ago I was involved in a conversation at a men’s bible study. We were discussing the handful of deepest fears and challenges that men face. Among these were:
The ability to defend oneself and one’s family from a burglar or attacker.
The ability to achieve in one’s career, keep a job, and take care of your family financially.
The ability to woo a woman or keep the attention of the one you are with.
The ability to stand up for what you believe in.
When the fourth one was mentioned I didn’t think that it was really one of the core fears, but several of the other guys seemed to agree that it was something they dealt with. For the next couple of weeks it was brought up a few more times and I was confused as to why they thought it was such a big deal.
It took me a while, but it finally dawned on me that this wasn’t a fear for me because I have always been outspoken about what I believe. In fact, I had to make it a habit later in college not to argue with every person who said something that I disagreed with. My outspokenness was not winning me very many friends.
As much as I would like to think that this was a level of bravery that I chose for myself there are a couple people in my family that should get much of the credit for modeling this behavior for me. Foremost is my father. While he and I disagree on some things he rarely, in my life, holds his tongue when it comes to what he believes in. It is sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes embarrassing, and sometimes funny, but you always know what he thinks about the issues. From my father I learned that there is no use in having an opinion if you’re not willing to defend it.
Secondly, is my Grandpa. He knows that I disagree with him on some things, but it doesn’t stop him from arguing his point. For better or for worse, he has held to a faith that has set him apart from most others. He has allowed his convictions to determine his lifestyle, instead of letting his lifestyle determine his convictions.
Not surprisingly, when the three of us get together the topic of conversation is almost always religion or politics. It probably drives my other relatives crazy, but I always find it fun.
To correspond with this recent Father’s Day I wanted to say thanks to my father and my grandfather for giving me such a strong legacy of conviction, that not defending my beliefs doesn’t really cross my mind.