Growing up with a preacher for a father has a certain dichotomy
to it. On one hand, I've been marinating in church doctrine for
so long that I feel like I could go head-to-head with even the most dogmatic of theologians. On the other hand, none of the information feels divine because it was such a big part of my everyday life. Hearing my first dad preach, didn’t have the same impact on me as it did to the rest of his congregation.
He was my dad. The same guy who carried me around in his old green coat when it was cold outside. The one I could never beat at chess but could somehow always find during hide-and-go-seek.
I was always a little embarrassed when people asked what my dad did for a living. I wasn’t ashamed of him but having a preacher for a dad wasn’t as cool as the kid whose dad was a fireman. It always took more explaining than my friend whose dad worked at a bank. Sometimes I would just say that he worked on the college campus because he did sometimes work on the college campus as a chaplain to some of the teams.
Tens years later, after brain tumors finally got the best of him, I still meet people that have been influenced by him. My memories of him have faded, leaving only the interpretation of details. Like the white stripes he would get on his chin when he grew a beard like Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments.
Not all that long ago, my mom remarried another preacher. Now that I’m older and so much wiser, I realize that having a preacher for a dad isn’t all that bad. We have our own song and I have a feeling that our prayers get priority (one of the fringe benefits). I think back to my first dad and I can’t help but be proud of him too.
When I hear my second dad preach I don’t take it for granted anymore. The man who stands at the pulpit every Sunday is the same man who I call and ask for barbecue advice. He helps hundreds with spiritual guidance but we talk about whether Steve McQueen was tougher than Charles Bronson. I can’t help but wonder if my first preacher would have had the same opinions and I miss him.
I’m the son of a preacher man twice as much as anyone else and I’m damned proud of it.