Hall of Fame Dad

Jason Taylor used the platform of his Hall of Fame induction speech to recognize the importance of fatherhood.

When we think of the Hall of Fame, we usually think of great accomplishment. It’s a term most often associated with sports, where the best athletes compete with the best athletes and only the very cream of the crop is remembered for all-time. But, the same can be applied to any number of professions, whether it’s mathematics, science, medicine, and so on. What’s consistent is the notion that being in the Hall of Fame deals with going out into the world and making a mark. Jason Taylor, recently inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, knows this well, which is what made some of his remarks Saturday night at his induction speech both surprising and refreshing.

At the 26:14-minute mark of this video, you can see Taylor get choked up. He then addresses his children, and this is what he says:

“I’ve always believed that no matter what you do in life for a profession, I want to be the best at, but no level of success in any walk of life means anything if you’re not taking care of what’s important first. I never had a father. There’s no bigger honor, there’s no bigger blessing, and there’s no greater job in this world than being a father. I made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but when I die, all I want in this world is for my kids to be able to say, ‘He was a Hall of Fame Dad.'”

So often our world tells us that our profession defines us. We must have a career, and we must put that career before all else. Men and women feel pressure to prove ourselves in the world to the point that we make all sorts of sacrifices in our personal, social, familial, and spiritual lives. But, our professions are temporal. Love is eternal, especially between a parent and child.

As I’ve learned over the past two years, being a father immediately becomes the most important job in any man’s life upon the birth of your first child, just like it is for a mother. It is a job and a role that cannot be explained, only felt and understood through experience. The job does not come with a manual. There are no guidelines, requirements, or recommendations, just that infant looking up at you in total dependence. In many respects, the responsibility and importance are terrifying.

But, then you realize that while it is a difficult job, it couldn’t be any simpler. It requires no talent to be present. No intelligence to show love and affection. No feats of strength and athleticism to play with your child. What is required is intention, attention, and effort. Above all else, the job takes love and endurance.

Thank you, Jason Taylor, for using the grandest stage of your career to focus the attention on what truly matters. Now that your playing days are over, and I cannot root for number 99 on the field, I will be rooting for you to make the Hall of Fame that matters most. And, I will be praying that we all will be united with our Heavenly Father, because as great as a father on this earth can be, we are all flawed. But, our Father in Heaven is perfect and can bring us into His perfection:

9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

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