This is part two of a continuing series of messages Phil has written to share the values his father held dear and that he wants to pass on to his adult children who never got to know their Daddy Al because he died so young. The links to the whole series can be found at the end of the article.
Dear Zachary and Megan,
Well, this is my second letter to you about your grandfather's values. Even though neither of you ever got to know him, you've seen some of Daddy Al's traits in me — good ones and bad ones, I'm afraid. But, it still saddens me to know that you didn't get to experience some of his wild and crazy antics firsthand. Even your mom never knew my dad when he was well. This makes me sad to think about, so I think I'll just get to the second principle he taught me that I hope will live in you.
Principle Two: Live with Passion!
Your grandmother, MiMi, always said of Daddy Al, that right or wrong, he was always enthusiastic, certain, and passionate. She was absolutely correct.
Your grandfather lived with passion. His years on earth may have been few, but his life was certainly full. He lived the motto, "Pedal to the metal!" He taught me the phrase, "Muy sicem!" which is not in any dictionary, but was just his way of saying, "Go get 'em tiger and don't let anything stop you!"
Daddy Al didn't just talk about living with passion, he was a great example of living with passion. Sometimes, however, that passion got the best of him — his anger could flare, especially in the later years when his medicine made it worse. For these times, he later apologized and cried, asking for my forgiveness. This was several years before his death. He realized that he had been impatient and quick to anger for much of life, and so prayed that God would take that away or teach him to be more patient. He felt his illness was part of God's discipline and correction to help him mature past this weakness in his character. Even in illness, he was passionate about being the man God wanted him to be.
But, your Daddy Al was also passionate in fun and exciting ways. He is the one who taught me the loud hyena laugh. He would use it to spice things up at just the right time. Anywhere we went could be fun, because if things got boring, you knew Daddy Al was going to spice things up.
The doctors he called on as a pharmaceutical rep loved him, too. He knew all the latest jokes as well as how to handle product information and the science behind it. The receptionists and nurses liked him, too, because he remembered their names, brought them cokes and treats, and would listen attentively to the stories about their families.
Some of my greatest memories of Daddy Al's passion involved his leading singing. He was a worship leader before they were called worship leaders. He would fill the worship time with what he called "toe tappers and heart tinglers" as he tried to stir the church's passion. He told the people to put down their song books and just sing along from their heart as he led the first and last verse of five or six songs in a row. Because he often led youth and college devotionals, he would also teach the older folks new songs the kids sang.
As I sing the new songs that are so popular today, I miss your grandfather very much. He would be so pumped by these new songs we've learned to sing the last decade, especially the new powerful hymns over the last few years. He wanted our worship singing to stir our souls and our souls to stir our passion to do something great for God.
Daddy Al also loved to tell stories. Most of them were either funny or dramatic. He got this story telling gift from his mother, Granny. He would tell stories filled with emotion and passion to try to convince teenagers and young adults to live for Jesus. Many of the stories were from his own experience. Others were stories he had heard. Some people just seem to have a gift for remembering and telling a story, and he sure had that gift. He sure knew how to use it to motivate, inspire, and touch our hearts with emotion.
Daddy Al also believed that true passion came from the Holy Spirit. He believed and taught about the Holy Spirit when most folks were afraid to do it. He loved Romans 8, and this was his favorite chapter in the Bible even when in his last days 2 Corinthians 4 and 5 became so comforting.
Passion meant that life could be fun. This idea of passionate fun made Daddy Al a great motivator of young people. If "perfect loves casts out all fear" (1 John 4:18), then holy passion makes you fearless under pressure! This understanding of life helped him motivate people as a dad, a coach, and also as a mentor. In dad's mind, if you live passionately — fail or succeed — you have been successful, at least that's how he viewed it. So what is there to fear? "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:37 TNIV), because "I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21).
My prayer is that whatever you do in life, you find something you can do with passion. If it isn't your job, then find a ministry or hobby or service interest that lets you get worn out living your passion. And when you are tired and weary, thank God for the opportunity to do something great for the Kingdom.
I love you both, always, and pray that you will live and love with passion!