Musings on Father's Day 2018
First of all, I am grateful to my father, Dallas Givens, for loving me enough to teach me about discipline and hard work. Dad never pandered to anyone, especially his three boys. We were expected to work hard and to respect absolutely everyone who we encountered. This included holding doors for ladies because we respected them; saying "yes, sir" and "yes, ma'am" to anyone who appeared the least bit older than I was; carrying groceries for older women; and mowing lawns for widows and shut-ins. These were all part of the disciplines of life that dad instilled in myself and in my brothers Mark and Lyn as well. These attributes have paid off in countless ways, especially when it comes to being respected as a fellow work associate. My older brother Lyn, now with the Lord, was a mentor and guide in my life for many years. He invested far more in his little brother than most fathers would invest in their children. Now, my little brother Mark is also a loving father and devoted husband and an example to me.
Secondly, I want to express my gratitude to the men who "fathered" me along the way, guiding me with wisdom and instructions that I never could have known otherwise. As a youth ball player, my coaches had a huge impact on my life. Coach Jones, Coach Rivers, Coach Denson and others whom I cannot recall all greatly influenced my life. High school teachers like Major Price, Colonel Hanks, and Major Hinson also impacted my life in ways that I can still find value in to this day. My college professors, who were clearly more like spiritual fathers to me: Dr. Alden Gannet, Dr. John Talley, Dr. Hugh Hughley, Dr. Jim Raiford, George Maronge, Dr. Glen Atkins, Jan Langford, Gary Greene, and others all modeled spiritual values that I have yet to attain. But, I will always strive toward these values because of the investments of these men.
Other strong mentors for me through the years have been in my church families, international missions opportunities and camps. David J. Jones, my pastor as a child and model for ministry, could never be thanked enough for his example in my life. Larry Ezell (my Sunday school teacher and now elder) has always exemplified Christ. Jim Wilson, who served with me at two churches in Birmingham, has always been a hero. Dr. Dick Vignuelle and Pastor Drew Ramsey took me under their wings and taught me much about ministry and how to love church folks. Viskey, Ference (Feri Basci), one of the few people I know who was physically tortured for his faith in Jesus, remained strong in truth and taught me much about commitment. Doci Attilia and numerous other friends from Romania deeply impacted my walk with Christ. Robert Davidson and Al Denney serve as my elders and continue to offer wisdom and counsel that I could not attain without them. Robert E. Cochran and Warren Watson, men who are now with the Lord, stood beside me for years as encouragers, counselors, critics and friends and treated me as a son. I owe them both more than I can ever repay. Archie Pennington, Brian Marhant, Teddy Hardeman, John Aulds, Matt Rutland, and others at summer camp have covered me in prayers and counsel many times.
I know there are men who I am leaving out and, upon uploading this post, I'm sure I will think of dozens of others. Please don't be offended if your name is not here.
Lastly, I want to thank many men who, although they are younger, are also the ones who have encouraged and built me up in my faith. The young men from Vestavia Alliance Youth Group and Shades Mountain youth, including college and career groups, all have been huge in training me up in the Lord. Some of you taught me to pray a lot for patience, but most of you taught me, by your example, how to walk close to the Lord. Eddie Bostic, Brad Willis, Christian Sheetz, Mason Ellenberger, John Headly, Danny and David Colpo, Paul Moy, Sam Causey, Verick Burchfield, Scott Boone, Les Wright, Austin Davis, Steven Bargainnier, Jimmy Oliver, Tim Laatsch, Micah Weringa, James Williamson, Paul Timmerman, Scott Shewmake, John King, Jeff Denney, Dave Nielsen, Tim Strickland, Nathan George, Jeff Beabout, Kent Smith, Jason Luker, Gerald Archer, Kevin Liming, Chris Callahan, Dave Nelson, Tim Adkins, Edwin Attaway, Brian Person, and Josh Ginsburg are just a few of the good men who walked with the Lord and sought Him as their guide. Today, Cody Walker, Josh Wattier, Brandon Ezell, Joshua Purvis, and Mike McCord all serve as examples of men seeking to put Christ first and follow His ways. I could never repay any of you for your fellowship and your walk with me.
I have left off dozens of peers who daily help me grow. But, I know that the Lord is watching us all. Each church mentioned in the early part of Revelation has this phrase associated with it, spoken by Jesus: "I know your deeds."
I have been blessed beyond measure to walk with good men throughout my journey. God's immeasurable grace has truly abounded in my life. Happy Father's Day to all of my the dads in this blog post and to fathers everywhere.