On Father’s Day, 2017, I hereby proclaim my dad, Warner Joseph Workman Sr., as the “World’s Greatest Dad.”
I have firmly staked my claim to the elementary school yard proclamation of having the “World’s Greatest Dad.” I give not one inch to any other dad, past, present, or future. The boyhood playground proclamation has been around since dads were first invented. Preteen boys weave a tapestry of dad abilities making even Superman envious. My dad is stronger, faster, smarter, more successful, more handsome, more athletic, invented fire, and has been into outer space. The list of achievements, both factual and fictional, knows no bounds to young men who view their dad as the single most important historical figure of mankind.
My Dad will be 77 years old this December. Twice retired, he still works a 40-hour week. I am proud to carry his name and even prouder to have given it to my first born son, born on his 50th birthday. Bottom line– I love my Dad. Insane, isn’t it?
I pondered about what it takes to be the “World’s Greatest Dad.” Beyond the superficial schoolyard boasts, what visible traits are required to win the coveted title of “WGD?”
Man, at our core, expresses only conditional love, we love only when, and if certain conditions are met. Agape love, or unconditional love, is not a natural human condition. For man, agape love is a learned trait, one that must be practiced to make perfect. There was never a time that I felt unloved by my Dad. Regardless of my actions or condition, the love of my Dad was consistent, persistent, and unwavering. He expressed this not only to me but to those around him. When I errored, I did not escape discipline, a key component of agape love. But those errors and subsequent discipline became life-long lessons of making wise choices, personal responsibility, and forgiveness. Lesson learned: Love always, be slow to anger, discipline justly.
Man, at our core, is selfish and self-absorbed. We exhibit this trait early in life, as toddlers grab for anything and everything and claim it is “mine.” Another learned trait is giving. To this day, my Dad had never kept more than two nickels to rub together in his pocket, and yet, he is the wealthiest man I know. From assisting his blended family in times of need to assisting complete strangers, there is nothing that he possesses that he will not give to help others.
While my Dad never had monetary wealth, he did have time and ability. He changed more flat tires and jump started more cars across the fruited plains than Mr. Good Wrench. He distributed more bags of food to the hungry, and at the same time, our family never went without a meal. Lesson learned: Put others before self.
Man, at our core, is unforgiving. Man carries around more baggage of bitterness and hatred than airport baggage handlers at Christmas time. Forgiveness is a learned trait, and it goes against every fiber of our moral being. My Dad had an uncanny way of exercising discipline, forgiving, and then moving on with life, never to be brought up again. I was never shackled to errors of my past. With my Dad, every day was a new, baggage-free day. Lesson learned: Forgive as you wish to be forgiven.
Man, at our core, lacks a moral compass. Without a strong external moral framework with guidance and limitations, we simply devolve into moral chaos and barbarism. My Dad always painted a clear picture. I was never confused between right and wrong. Like the bumper guards at the bowling alley, he always gave me room to roam and explore, but he was always there to keep me out of the gutter. Granted, I did not always do right. But, I was never confused, and I never suffered from moral relativism. In the back of my mind, I asked the question: “WWDD?” or “What Would Dad Do? Lesson learned: Just Do Right!
My Dad did not have the opportunity to attend college. But after my four years of college, I was amazed at how much my Dad had learned (pardon, Mr. Twain). After I had traveled internationally for almost two decades, I was amazed at how much my Dad knew about international politics and human nature. With no college and no world travels, I always wondered how my Dad became wise.
In my teen years, I began reading the Bible; in college, I began attending church. Finally, my parents’ God became my God. Listening to sermon after sermon, and reading from Genesis to Revelation, I finally discovered my Dad’s secret. My Dad was far from perfect. But he always tried to reflect the image of a perfect Father illuminated throughout the pages of the Bible. The agape love, the giving, the forgiveness and the morality, all stolen from the pages of the Bible. Those traits I see imperfectly in my Earthly Father I now see perfectly in my Heavenly Father.
Happy Father’s Day, Pop and thanks for being the “World’s Greatest Dad.”