Finding Margin in Business and in Life

Five Life Principles from My Father

With the approach of Father’s Day this weekend, I’ve been reflecting on my life as a father and, of course, thinking about my dad, too.   Dad was born in 1947.  A baby boomer.  A baby boomer who spent over 30 years pastoring a small church in the great American desert of western Kansas and now retired.

Pastoring is a difficult career choice and certainly not for the faint of heart.   In many ways it is strikingly similar to leading a business, albeit at a much more personal level.   His responsibilities included: leading, studying, writing, preaching, teaching, meeting, counseling, marrying, coaching, burying, comforting, visiting, dedicating and a host of other responsibilities.   From his experience as a pastor he shared a number of life principles with his children, which I strive toward each day.  Below are a few of those principles.


  • Give your best every day.  From the moment you set foot on the job, you give your best.  Be early.  Work hard.  Learn your trade.  Anything else is stealing.  Resist the temptation to just “phone it in”.  Don’t participate in gossip sessions about coworkers or the boss.  It doesn’t matter if your boss could care less or the most difficult person on the planet…give it your best effort.  (If you get stuck with the second type of boss, see my post on working for a manipulative boss.)
  • Continue to learn new things.  Dad understood something that took me some time to fully grasp.  Life is Change and Change is Life.  Continuous learning is one way to make yourself more pliable to change.  It seems common sense now, but to be effective in your field you have to keep educated.   It definitely applies to the world of accounting and taxes!   In fact, this principle applies to all areas of our lives:  vocational, relational, physical or spiritual.   Change is change, so embracing the attitude of an eager student is an important skill to acquire.
  • From a physiological perspective, learning new skills keeps our brains active and energetic.  In certain instances, the kind of skill you develop actually helps forge new neural pathways for processing information, which is incredibly helpful as we age.  Never stop learning!
  • Make your family a top priority.  For us guys it is really easy to mess this up!  We tend to overemphasize our obvious responsibility to be the provider for our families and often, unintentionally, neglect the relationship with them.   As a kid I can tell you we never worried about a lack of income, but we relished the times Dad spent with us throwing the baseball around, shooting baskets or wrestling on the living room floor.
  • Kids needs their dad’s attention and approval.  It is here kids find their identity and foundation.  As my daughter begins her senior year of high school, I am telling you time with your kids is too short to miss out on it!  Andy Stanley has two great books I recommend fathers read, The Principle of the Path and When Work and Family Collide.  Both are excellent resources for fathers serious about taking care of their families.
  • Live within a budget.  Vocationally speaking, one does not become pastors for the money.   That may be shocking to some, but I can assure you it is the norm.   Within this context Dad learned to account for and control the household expenses so unexpected financial issues could be handled; and indeed they did!
  • To this day I am certain my father architected the most sophisticated manual budgeting/accounting system ever conceived for managing our family finances all inside the checkbook register of his checkbook.  It was a thing of complex beauty!  (Only an accountant would think this so cool!)
  • Be a good steward.  I’m not sure this is something that Dad expressly taught us as much as how he has lived it out.  We observed his generosity regularly growing up.   We learned at a young age we are merely stewards of the money in our possession and good stewards invest in others.   Generosity applies to time and relationships, too.   It turns out there are a number of ways you can demonstrate kindness to others in this life; we just have to be open to the opportunities God presents us to give.
  • Being a father is a sacred responsibility; one that carries tremendous impact in the lives of our children, grandchildren and beyond.  Be intentional with your children while they grow up.  Let them know who you are.  They will learn who they are, too.  I know who I am.

May God bless all you fathers out there!  Happy Father’s Day!

Question:  What lessons did your Dad teach you?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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