Commentary: The world needs fathers who do not fear failure
"Failure is temporary. Your dad told me that on the night I asked him to marry you," recalled my husband. I laughed. My dad wasn't talking about marriage or relationship failures, but instead encouraging my husband to step out and take a chance by leaving his corporate career to move home to work in his family's business.
I continued to listen as my husband spoke about the lessons in failure my farmer dad had shared with him. It was election night, and Nathan had just learned he wouldn't win a seat on our local school board.
Both Nathan and I knew it was a teachable moment, not only for us as adults but our elementary school-aged daughters.
Nathan went on to say, "I'm not failing at business, or as a father or a husband. I'm not failing in my marriage. I'm not failing in my health. Failing at a run for school board? This is the best failure I can have in my life right now. It's temporary."
Too often we teach, "Failure is not an option."
But the reality of life is failure happens. My dad and husband are both correct. Failure is not a permanent state. It's temporary. I respect Nathan for running for a board because he took a stand, shared his voice and worked hard to listen to others while trying to create change.
We want our kids to develop their own positions on issues and not simply be like sheep and blindly follow the herd and its leader. Even though he wasn't elected, I hope our girls realize the positives from the experience and aren't disappointed.
One daughter quipped, "Daddy is brave and did his best." I felt a bit of relief. The teachable moment was happening.
It was quiet. Our other daughter raised a finger and said, "Well, I don't think enough of the Lutheran ladies voted for Dad. And we know the Baptists didn't."
Our serious teachable moment turned to laughter with her small-town girl voting analysis. Our kids weren't disappointed. They are as proud of their father as I am.
Nathan works long days, alongside many others, to grow a rural business. He volunteers for community boards and activities. He encourages and supports all types of people, whether they are like him or not. He takes a stand, even if it means not being popular.
Our daughters and son don't care if their dad wins or loses an election. Most importantly, as he said, Nathan is not failing as their father. He leads and teaches them. He works long hours to provide for our family and is rooted in his firm faith. He knows failures of this world are temporary.
I recognize relationships with fathers can be broken and complex. But if you have a father in your life who feels like he's failing in an area of his life, can you build him up and encourage him? On Father's Day, let's pause to celebrate the good guys in our lives, whether they are a father by blood or a father figure. They are the fathers who take a stand for what they believe in, who fervently love others, who selflessly serve, who are helping raise up a next generation to know and see what it means to be a man of character. The world needs more fathers who don't fear failure.