There’s a memory from my childhood that’s meaningful to me. It’s a little blurred around the edges, as childhood memories can be. I was eight or nine years old, and it was near Christmas. My dad was going to run some errands and asked if I wanted to join him. I jumped at the chance to spend time alone with him.
I don’t recall any of the errands we ran that day except for one, the stop at Dad’s bank. We walked in, and he introduced me to all the tellers and the bank president. He was an extrovert and knew everyone at the bank. Dad was there to deliver a Christmas present, but it wasn’t to any of the people I’d just met.
We walked back outside, and he introduced me to the parking attendant. Dad knew him also and had developed a warm rapport. The gift was for his friend, the parking attendant. As I grew up and reflected on this story (and others), I realized my dad’s kindness and authentic friendships with people of all income levels was extraordinary, not ordinary.
He especially had a soft spot for people who struggled financially, and he instilled in my siblings and me a sense that we are all equal at the table of God. People who were poor weren’t worse than us or better than us; they just had struggles we didn’t have. And he taught us, we had a responsibility to help those who struggled, and this was rooted in his understanding of Christianity. The Bible told him to help others, so he did, modeling for us what faith in action might look like.