A few weeks ago, my sister and I held our dad’s hand as he took his last, labored breath. For three days, we sat by his bedside waiting and remembering. Waiting for him to break free from his prison body and remembering all the little moments when his love shaped our hearts.
Dad was fearless. Whether he was straddling the back of an untrained quarter horse or taking on a cowboy who looked a little too long at one of his girls, Dad never backed down from a challenge. As a young man, his love of music gave him the courage to stand side-stage at the Louisiana Hayride week-after-week hoping for a chance to fill in for a guitarist too drunk to play. One night, his patience and confidence paid off when he got to play back-up for legendary country music star, Hank Williams. Growing up with a dad with such guts and gusto compelled me to be brave, too. After all, my daddy had my back.
Dad was passionate. Every inch of Dad’s heart was love. He would do, literally, anything for his family. He once fell on a porcupine trying to save his curious youngest child (me) from being “spined.” When I was a teenager, dad used to wake me up with a Coke over ice and a back scratch. He turned on my shower so it could warm up, took my breakfast order, and said, “Hit the deck” as he flipped on the light. When he became Papaw Bill, he gave so many piggy back rides that it’s a wonder he didn’t walk with a permanent stoop. No one doubted Dad’s love.
My dad was brilliant. Brilliant in mind and personality. For 40-plus years, he taught junior high and high school students how to do math and do life. He had a way of making hard things seem simple. If he didn’t know how, he figured it out. If it needed to be done, his hands were all over it. His spirit shone so that even strangers were drawn to him. At my college graduation dinner, we visited a steakhouse with a huge slide in the middle of the room. He slid down that thing with my nephew time and time again. Before long, every kid in the place was calling for Papaw Bill to slide with them, too. With a dad so intelligent and magnetic, I trusted his leadership and knew he always had my best interest at heart.
Of all the things my dad was, a strong Christian was not one of them. He believed, but he didn’t talk about it much. I don’t remember seeing him read his Bible or hearing him pray. In fact, Dad considered me the spiritual leader of the family. He always said, once I found the Lord, I traded my saddle in for a Bible, and he figured that was a pretty good trade.
While Dad loved his children well, he wasn’t always the best husband. He avoided conflict with Mom by saying, “Yes, Dear” and heading out to the barn with his horses and tractors. I resented that. I wanted him to lead our family, not bow down to my mom’s nagging. I wanted him to say, “Time to go to church” instead of me asking him if he’d like to come along. I wanted him to experience the rich reward of serving God, not just people.
Dad’s death and my concurrent involvement with Resignation of Eve have me reflective. Reflective about how influential my dad was on my Christian world view even though he wasn’t a strong Christian himself. Dad’s extravagant love helped me understand the love of God. Not just the “for God so loved the world” love, but the “swoop me off my feet” love.
My soul craves masculine leadership. While I look to wise women for mentoring and nurturance, I want my pastor to be a godly man. A fearless, passionate, brilliant man. A man my husband and sons can emulate. A man who knows how to stand up for God and be on his face before God.
Do I believe female pastors are out of God’s favor? No way! I am not prepared to tell anyone how they should serve God. After reading the diverse stories of my R.O.E. sisters, my eyes are open wide to all the ways God uses women for His glorious purposes. Go, sisters, go! But for me…I want a man in the pulpit on Sunday mornings.