My dad, a textile mill worker in rural North Carolina, loved Jesus passionately. Forced to drop out of school in the seventh grade to go to work, after coming to Christ as a young man, he studied the Bible voraciously.
Dad taught an adult Bible study class, wrote poems about faith, and often wept when he heard a gospel song on the radio.
At 59, he died of kidney failure. At the time I was 29, with two boys. As I reminisce about him, I realize there’s a lot I never learned about my father, and even more I could have learned from him, but didn’t. I wish I could go back and ask him these questions.
- How did you come to faith in Christ?
I’d probe for who was responsible for leading him to faith, or what circumstances created an openness to the gospel. As a teen, he was known for hard drinking and fist fights—even gashing others with his knife at times.
- What is your favorite Bible book? Chapter? Verse? Why?
- What were your mom and dad like?
I never met my paternal grandmother, and my paternal grandfather only once. All I recall is that he was an alcoholic. I’d probe for ways dad’s upbringing affected him.
- If you could start your life all over again, what is one thing you’d do differently?Why?
- What is one thing you’d do the same? Why?
- When it comes to raising kids, what did you learn that could help me as a dad?
- What is the most important thing you’ve learned about succeeding in marriage?
- Think of an event or situation that caused great joy to well up inside you. Tell me about it.
- Think of a time or experience that caused you significant pain. Tell me about it.
- If you could give me one nugget of counsel to help me in my pilgrimage as a Christian, what would it be?
Not only would his answers ramp up my knowledge of my heritage, but asking him those questions would have given him a chance to mentor me. I could have elevated his self-esteem and sense of contribution by giving him an opportunity to share his input. He would have known without a doubt that I not only loved him, but that I respected him and his wisdom.
What question could I have added to this list?
If your dad (or mom) is still alive, it isn’t too late for you to ask him (or her) questions of this sort. But don’t procrastinate. Don’t experience my regret.