He doesn't remember.
Every son remembers that moment when he transitions from childhood to manhood. Traditionally, it involves some manner of confirmation by his father. I remember one night being awaken by my father after the rest of the house had gone to bed. He took me downstairs to the family room. It was only the two of us. He pulled out a VHS tape he had rented and popped it into the player. Together, we watched the movie, The Hunt for Red October. He was sharing with me the experience which drew upon his military service in the submarine fleet. This event indicated to me that I was now in a different category from my siblings, a member of my father's group.
This entire precious moment, my father does not remember. My father has no disease of mind that prevents his memory, but he can't see his own contribution to my life. A few months ago, we were discussing what topics he was thinking about teaching in Sunday School. I suggested that he teach a class on discernment, since I see it as needed in the church. He dissented with this suggestion because he disclaimed any knowledge on the issue. This response threw me. I have told everyone that my discernment came from my father. He doesn't see it. Was I wrong?
Lately, I was talking with my Dad again. As we were talking as a family, he said, "One of the things I always tried to do with you kids was to teach you to take the Bible and apply it to your life." I couldn't help but grin. What is discernment, but the taking of Scripture and applying it to all aspects of life?
It's not just that my Dad doesn't remember, but neither do I. Some things are so foundational to my thought and life patterns that I cannot remember their origins. Nevertheless, most of them I can trace back to my father. He didn't tell me what to think, but trained me how to think. He rarely told me the right answer but regularly questioned me about my answer.
My Dad and I often discuss deep issues and matters of wisdom. I sometimes wonder if he recognizes that in a major way, he is simply discussing these things with himself. If I can mirror the method my father taught me, to keep the Bible the lodestone of direction in every aspect of life, I have done well. Even if Dad doesn't remember that I am only speaking his words back to him.