Back in the day #CIRCA99&The2000, Caller-I.D. was reserved for those AT&T customers who could afford that small external device that sat next to your cordless phone in the living room (this means you actually had a landline in your house). Those customers could decide if they wanted to answer the phone or not based on the name that appeared on the Caller I.D. Usually if it said “Unknown” you wouldn’t answer (at least not in my parents’ house). For those of us who did not own a caller-i.d. device, if we didn’t want to talk until we figured out who was calling, what we do?… let the phone ring, and after they hung up, we’d pick up and dial *69. If you grew up making prank calls like I did while on three-way with my friends, then you know what our favorite code to dial was… *67 (system would show PRIVATE NUMBER). Some of y’all are probably still doing that (side eye). Fast forward to the year 2017 and now everyone has caller-i.d. capabilities built directly into their cell phones. So, when I call someone and they answer, I know they made a conscious decision to speak with me.
And the point of all that is to say, I’m glad I answered the phone last week!
*Monday: INCOMING CALL FROM: Brian S. – I was outside watering my grass when I got a phone call around 8am. When I saw Brian’s name come across the screen I answered quickly, and I'm glad I did. Had I missed his call I would have been missing out on Mr. Creative Catalyst himself. Brian is never short on creative ideas. More importantly, on this call we exchanged notes on the pride of being fathers to daughters, two in his case. His youngest daughter is not to much older than Journey, his oldest is almost 4. I needed Brian to share with me the dynamic changes that occur with girls, especially as I think about the transition Journey will take from baby girl to toddler daughter. (I’m not ready)
*Tuesday: INCOMING CALL FROM: Jeremy R. – Moving around the house relatively slow on Tuesday morning, an unknown number appeared on my phone. I decided to answer, only because I thought it was the insurance guy calling, but it turned out to be one of my childhood friends Jeremy. Had I decided to ignore this call, I would have missed the encouragement of a friend and some amazing news he wanted to share. Jeremy was calling to give me his new number, and to catch up a bit about the impact he believes we and other peers are making in our community. However, the most rewarding part of that call was Jeremy sharing the news that he will soon be a father himself! His excitement reminded me of when I found out I was becoming a father. By the end of that call I found myself outside in the heat watering the grass and inviting Jeremy over to the house in the upcoming weeks.
*Wednesday: OUTGOING CALL TO: James L.(PJ) – Now I actually called PJ, after getting a text asking to speak with me. The call was suppose to be a review for an upcoming meeting, but if you know PJ you know that the call quickly transitioned to the subject of life and God’s purpose for us/me. Had I not picked up the phone and called him, I would have missed out on some amazing words of affirmation from someone who is a spiritual father to me and many others. PJ is a dedicated father to three sons of his own, and leads by example both in action and words when it comes to fathering. I was on that call a little longer than expected, luckily I had watered the grass earlier that morning, beating the heat.
It was on Thursday morning during my quiet time (Watering the Grass), that I realized the need for calls such as these on a regular basis. All three phone calls encouraged me in a different aspect of fatherhood. The talks I had each morning, in many ways, served as a catalyst to me getting my day off to a great start! Which is the premise of this entire blog post. So the question to you is… “Who are you answering the phone for?”
Fathering is a lifelong job that comes with highs, lows, twists and turns. Some of us had amazing fathers as examples for how we currently father, or plan to father. Some of us had fathers that showed us the opposite of how we want to father. And then there are a great deal of us who grew up absent of a father or father figure all together. Regardless of your example or lack of one, fathering is not a job we have to take on all by ourselves. We all know the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. I’d like to believe “it takes a village of fathers to encourage the next one”. If you are reading this post and you share the same desire as I do, to be the best dad you can be to your children, and those who are like children to you, then allow me to share one of my favorite scriptures with you.
“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers” – Proverbs 11:14
Dad’s let us all surround ourselves with wise counselors, advisers, friends and mentors in order to avoid the unnecessary/avoidable falls of fathering in hopes of propelling us towards victory for the sake of our children and our legacy as fathers. Pick up the phone today and call a dad to either share advice, get advice, or compare notes. None of us are above growing… let’s be the water to someone's grass!
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