My father passed on three values

| April 26, 2013 | 1 Comment


Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Layden Colby
U.S. Army Pacific Command

At 80 years old, my father is still going strong, for the most part.

Though he stoops over when he stands, shuffles when he walks and can’t hear much even with hearing aids, he has a sense of presence.

People listen when he speaks.

Of course, growing up in his household meant that I had to learn to listen when he spoke — sometimes the hard way! I wasn’t always quick to obey and didn’t always think he was particularly smart about some things, but now that I am older and seeing the next generation come into their own, I realize there are some values my dad passed on to me that I want to pass on.

The first value is integrity. My father put it this way: Your word is your bond. If we make a promise to do anything, then we should do it, simple as that.

Of course, sometimes things come up making it near impossible to keep the promise. But those occasions require two things: We need to let whomever we promised know of the difficulty, and we need to give a recommendation or a solution that will make up for the inability to keep the promise. That way, we keep our word and our integrity.

The second value is to provide an honest day’s labor for a full day’s wage. My father would say it like this: “Son, there is clean dirt and dirty dirt. When you come in from work and you are covered with grease or mud or blood, because that’s what it took to get the job done, that’s clean dirt. On the other hand, if you cheat your boss or a customer or skimp from doing your very best, then you are covered with dirty dirt, no matter how sweet you may smell.”

A third value I would pass on is to stand up for yourself. My father would often tell me to honor who I was and what I had to contribute — even if it meant ridicule or isolation. Many people’s natural tendency is to try to not stand out, hide in the background and not get noticed. These are common misconceptions, even in the Army, where we hear: “Never volunteer for anything.”

But we need to volunteer to be ourselves and to stand up for what we believe in. If we allow ourselves to be pushed around, to allow other people to do our thinking for us or hide from a fight, we become less. Each life is unique with unique insight and a way of living by that insight. God has set up all life that way so that we all have a chance to make something of the conditions set before us.

Let’s not wait until our parents are 80 years old to realize how precious life is.

(Editor’s note: Colby is the deputy chaplain at USARPAC’s Chaplain Office.)

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Category: Footsteps in Faith, News

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  1. Jim Carpenter says:

    Great article, and those are three excellent values. I met your grandmother in Richfield back in 1980 when we worked together. Would love to have met your dad too. Great to see your smiling face again, sir! I wish you all the best.

    Jim Carpenter

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