Over the years, my father and grandfathers have taught me life lessons through their words and by their examples. They have taught me how to throw a ball, the importance of family, how to love, and that a small act of kindness can go a long way. As Father’s Day approaches, I am led to thoughts of these father figures and all the many ways they have influenced my life. Naturally, these thoughts lead to reflecting upon the advice—both sought after and unsolicited—my siblings and I have received from them.
In honor of Father’s Day, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite pieces of advice given by my own father and grandfathers and the lessons we can learn from them:
1. “If you mess up, it’s okay—you can always be used as a bad example for the other kids.”
This advice is humorous in its own way, but it also has a lot of truth to it. We can joke about being used as an example of what not to do, but everyone messes up in life. Once made, nothing can reverse a mistake. Yes, we can be forgiven and, if necessary, we can repent. But there is no time machine that can take us back to before the mistake was made so we can do things differently. As Benjamin Lipson says, “you can’t expect to win unless you know why you lose.” All you can do is learn from the mistake and become better because of it.
2. “You decide the kind of person you will be regardless of your circumstances.”
We don’t get to choose what challenges and circumstances we face in life, but we do get to choose how we respond to those challenges and circumstances. You can either become bitter, or you can become better—the choice is yours.
3. “Leave it all in the mission field.”
Come home exhausted! You spend 18-24 months serving where you have been called. Spend those months working as hard as you can so that when the time comes to return home, you can do so with honor and without any shoulda, woulda, couldas.
4. “No phones at the dinner table.”
In a society completely dependent on technology, sometimes we forget that the people who most deserve our undivided attention are the people who are currently in the same room as us.
5. “Making money is great, but make sure you enjoy what you’re doing.”
Whatever you do for work, you will spend a large portion of your time at that job. Money cannot buy happiness, so make sure that you can enjoy the work in whatever field of work you choose to go into. No one wants their mother or father coming home grumpy every day just because she or he hates what they spend their time doing. Happy parents are more effective than rich parents (but both isn’t bad either…).
6. “Marry the right person, at the right time, in the right place, and forget about the reception—that part doesn’t matter.”
The most important part about a wedding is not the party afterwards, but rather the actual ceremony inside the temple where a new husband and wife—who are completely devoted to each other and to the Lord—are sealed together for all of time and eternity. That is the only thing that matters—not the cake, not the dancing, and not the gifts.
7. “If you shoot someone, it better not be an accident.”
Obviously, this advice is not intended to be taken literally. However, the message is still there: no matter what you set out to do, make sure you do it with all of your heart. Don’t let life happen to you, but rather make life happen, on purpose.
8. “Be better, be kind, be honest, cherish your spouse and children, put a cheerful salutation in your voice, a smile on your face and greet people.”
This piece of advice is loaded with lessons to be learned! This one speaks for itself though. Alway strive to be a better person today than you were yesterday, always be kind and honest, never take for granted the blessing that family is in your life, and never forget that happiness is contagious—spread it!
9. “Don’t do stupid stuff.”
Just don’t. It’s not worth it.
10. “Follow your heart, but take your brain with you.”
Mother’s intuition, gut feelings, promptings from the Lord, and feelings of the heart…none of these should be ignored. However, neither should the reasonings of the brain. Sometimes, it’s worth the risk to follow the path to our dream job, even when the road seems rocky. We were given brains to reason and think things through. Write out a pros and cons list, think about the decision logically, but make sure you listen to your heart.
11. “Ask your mother.”
Seriously…she’ll always know what to do.
What’s your favorite piece of advice you’ve heard from your dad? Tell us in the comments below!