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Tomorrow is Father’s Day, and I thought I would share with you a little of the wisdom my father has taught me over the years. Wisdom that I have carried with me throughout the many ups and downs of life. Wisdom that has had such an integral role in making me who I am today. I sit here poised at my keyboard and say to myself, “I’ll pick the most important lesson he has taught me,” and, suddenly I don’t know where to begin.

There is so much I could tell.

I could tell you how when my older brother and I were little, my dad would make up stories to tell us before bedtime. They were about an intrepid private eye who solved the most thrilling cases. My dad instilled in me a love of storytelling and taught me that no matter how old you are, you should never lose your imagination, that you should always look for ways to touch the souls of others and put a smile on a person’s face.

Or I could tell you how when I was older, he made history come alive for me. He’d take my family to the Gettysburg battlefield and could explain nearly everything there was to know about that battle and about the Civil War. All of this he had learned from reading countless books. He taught me the power of reading and gave me a thirst for knowledge as well as a love for history.

Or I could tell you how when I was in high school, he was my debate coach. And when I decided to enter essay contests, he was always there by my side, cheering me on. But he always reminded me not to be crushed if I lost. That as long as I had done the very best I was capable of and had striven for excellence, I could hold my head up high regardless if I won or lost.

Or I could tell you about the innumerable hobbies my father has had all while being an entrepreneur and running his own company and taking care of my family. How he always finds time to learn something new, how he began an educational website with videos about American history in order to teach others, how he has taught me to never stop learning and reinventing myself, to pursue my calling with enthusiasm and to have a strong work ethic so I can achieve any goal I set my mind to.

Or I could tell you how he has taken me to church every Sunday, how he has taught me the importance of always standing true to my convictions, of being humble and honest and compassionate, of finding ways to be a servant to others and give of my time and talents…

After writing all of this, I realize that I could sum up all of these lessons in a single quote my dad says nearly every morning:

“Kindness and happiness will be the order of the day.”

Ten words packed with meaning. Ten words that embody the single most important lesson my father has ever taught me.

First, to be kind to others. To look for ways that you can be a helper and an encourager and a teacher, sharing the knowledge you have gained and helping others to succeed. Not to hide your writing or other gifts away but to share them with the world. To use those God-given gifts to bring light into the lives of others.

And, second, to be happy. To always strive to make others happy, and to make sure you are happy too. Because when you are happy, you have more than enough happiness to share with those around you. This means never making money or fame your ultimate object. Instead, it means honing your talents to the best of your ability in order to glorify God. It means pursuing a path that will bring joy to your life and to those around you. Finding ways to inspire others and give back to the world.

I chose a photo of a train to lead off this post because trains are one of my dad’s favorite topics to talk about. Now as I think about it, the train really is a picture of his life philosophy. How it rushes forward, unafraid to climb the mountains of life, forging a road ahead, as it carries people along in its cars, making their lives easier, and bringing them to places they could never have reached before.

Thank you, Dad, for inspiring me and pushing me to always strive for excellence, to be the best possible version of myself, to always stand up for what is right, to work as hard as I possibly can so I can inspire others and contribute something beautiful to this world.

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