Dan Fogelberg was a gifted songwriter who wrote “Leader of the Band”. Fogelberg’s father was a musician and he passed that talent down to Dan. Parts of the lyric made me think of my own dad in his final years..
The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough
And, papa, I don’t think I said ‘I love you’ near enough
My dad knew how much I loved him. Still I wish I had told him more. But this is the portion of the song that continues to impact me as his son.
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band
Paul Burchett was a wonderful, kind, loving, and flawed man. I have the flawed part down. I hope I am learning to live out his legacy of joy, kindness and love that he modeled so well. I realize with each passing year how much the leader of the pack impacted me. Every dad impacts the lives of their children. Children sporadically listen but they always watch.
Only with the perspective of age and life experience can I begin to comprehend what this man accomplished. Born in the dirt poor Appalachian hills of Kentucky, he never achieved higher than an eighth grade education. Yet he became a career success in corporate management by having a Masters in Common Sense and a Doctorate in Kindness.
Perhaps he couldn’t help me with calculus or composition but he taught me that all of God’s children are to be valued. That everyone is important and deserves to be treated with dignity.
He taught me the concept of grace. When I was in junior high I somehow manage to establish “credit” at a hobby store. I ran up a debt that was monumental in those days. When my dad found out I was terrified. But he taught me that grace means unmerited forgiveness for obvious guilt. He taught me what forgiveness looks like and what it means for someone to pay for your mistakes when it is undeserved. I got a little foretaste of how Jesus would pay a debt for me that I could not pay later on in my life.
He taught me that humor is a gift from God. That laughing at life and especially at your self makes it a whole lot easier to deal with daily frustrations.
He was not perfect. Like all men he made mistakes but even in failing he taught me valuable lessons. He modeled with his humility and deep contrition the wisdom written by the Apostle Peter.
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter, 4:8, NLT
My Dad taught me it was okay to say “Forgive me” and “I’m Sorry”. God’s Word consistently paints an image of God as our Father. Many people struggle with that picture because they can only relate to an angry, dominating or distant father. I thank God that I was blessed with a father who gave me a clear image of how I can relate to God as my Heavenly Father.
My friend Bart Millard of MercyMe sings a powerful song about seeing his dad when he makes it home to Heaven some day.
I’m gonna wrap my arms around my daddy’s neck, and tell him that I’ve missed him. And tell him
All about the man that I became, and hope that it pleased him. There’s so much I want to say,
There’s so much I want you to know.
When I finally make it home. When I finally make it home.
I am so grateful that I had a dad that helped me to understand the real love of a father and what it means when God says I am His child.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are! –1 John 3:1
That is what we are! A child of God. Even if your earthly father fell short I pray you can believe that amazing promise today.