This is the fifth letter of Phil to his grown children, Zachary and Megan, sharing with them the values he learned from his father, known as Daddy Al. The other letters in this series can be found through the link at the bottom of this page.
Dear Megan and Zachary,
Hope you are doing well and have been blessed by these memories I'm sharing with you about your Daddy Al. I wished you had gotten the chance to know him in person. Even the pictures you have seen are mostly from the last few years of his life when his physical vitality had been sucked from his failing body. In younger years, he was a vibrant, passionate man who was quite athletic. At one time, he had actually won the 100 yard dash and the long jump for Dallas Sunset in the district track meet and went to college on a track scholarship.
I remember one very distinctive physical trait about your grandfather: he had piercing blue-gray eyes. They could be soft and inviting; they could also be hard and withering. His eyes would also sparkle and open wide when he was excited. He had full eyebrows that were animated when he talked, so they accentuated the ways his eyes appeared. You never had to wonder what kind of mood he was in, because his eyes told the whole story.
Why would I share this with you? That's easy to answer today. Eyes — especially eye-to-eye contact between people — were very important to him. The fifth key life-principle I learned from my dad, your Daddy Al, was this: Look people in the eye when you talk to them.
At first glance, you're probably wondering, "Where in the world do you find this principle in the Bible?" But let me share with you what lies behind this principle.
First, if you tell the truth to folks, you don't have to hide anything. If you are telling the truth, you are going to look someone in the eye and share what is on your heart. Part of this principle of looking people in the eye has to do with your word. Are you honest? Does what you say have integrity? Are you trying to hedge the truth? Are you trying to "schmooze" someone and trying to sell them something? For Daddy Al, your word was your bond. Honesty was essential and a person's eyes told their true story. Hide your eyes, you're hiding something. Look away and you are dodging something. Look down, and you are ashamed or don't want someone to see into your soul. Look someone in the eye and own up to the truth. As Jesus and his brother, James, put it, "Let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no' for anything more than that is from the evil one." (Matthew 5:37; James 5:12, this is a paraphrase). It's a lot harder to lie or distort the truth looking someone in the eye.
Second, looking someone in the eye is a sign of respect. You are focusing your attention on that person and what he or she is saying. You are blocking out all distractions and listening just to them. This is especially true when you around someone who is older. To not pay attention to them would be to disrespect them. Listening shows people we truly honor their words by looking them in the eye and paying attention to what they are saying (James 1:19). Look people in the eye and listen respectfully when they talk to you.
I'm not sure where this week will take you. I do know, however, that you will meet many people as you follow your daily routine. I hope you will look them in the eye, treat them with integrity, speak with them honestly, show them respect, and value them as Jesus does. As you do, I know your Daddy Al is proud of you.
Love you both so very much,