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Words of Life

The Importance of Fatherhood

By Gregory W. Slayton June 17, 2012 Words of Life

You and I will probably have many jobs in our work careers – that is the way of the modern world. A few jobs may be great, a couple will be horrible, but all will come to an end (and some will come to an end sooner than we would like). If we are deeply honest with ourselves, none of us is truly irreplaceable in our professional jobs. That’s not an insult – it’s reality.

Among my other roles so far I have been a CEO, a venture capitalist, and ambassador, and an Ivy League professor. (I’ve also been unemployed.) In every role I’ve ever had – even in roles in which I have won prestigious awards or achieved marked success – I knew that there were others out there who would probably do as good a job, or maybe even a better one, then me. But in my job as a dad to my children, like all dads for their kids, I am literally irreplaceable.

The same is absolutely true of you as well. You are literally the best-qualified person in the entire world for the job. There is no one else – no one – who has the emotional, spiritual, and physical assets you bring to this job. No other man will ever love your children as much as you do (and I know you love your kids, or you wouldn’t be reading this). No other man is in the spiritual and emotional position to understand your kids as well as you do. And no other man is likely to be as committed to helping your kids build a successful future as you are. For them, you are, quite literally, irreplaceable.

Not only are you the very best person in the world for this job, but it is also literally the most important job you’ll ever have. The statistics are clear. The lives of your children will be hugely impacted by the job you do as their dad – and not only the lives of your children, but of their children and their children’s children.

I have been privileged to know a number of US presidents personally – some better than others. And no matter what you thought of him as a president, George W. Bush was – and is – an exceptional father. He knows a deep secret that all great dads know: being a good father and a faithful husband is as much of a blessing for him as it is for his wife and daughters. He understands that learning how to be a good dad has helped him to be a better man in many important ways.

Once, early in his first term as president at a beautiful evening event at the White House, he took me aside, looked me right in the eyes and said, “Gregory, you and I have a lot in common: We both married way above ourselves. Don’t ever forget that.” I understood that as a reminder to always love and honor my wife – something he told me more than once. That was very good advice then, and it still is today.

But then he went on to say something even more profound: “Becoming a husband and then a dad is one of the best things that ever happened to me, because it forced me to be a better man than I was.” The president certainly had it right. It is in bearing the burdens of family and fatherhood that our inner man grows stronger.

What other job will you hold that will ever bring you so much happiness over such a long period of time (the rest of your life)? What other job can so materially impact the wider world? Just consider the example of Albert Einstein. He was a scientific genius, but he didn’t think he would have gotten there without the early guidance and help of his father. And what other job pays such important dividends for future generations? Being a good father today will impact your descendents to the third and fourth generation… and possibly beyond.

That’s right, your influence as a father goes beyond just your own children and grandchildren; it impacts society now and for generations to come. So, as a job that will last a lifetime, hold countless tangible and intangible rewards, and have almost an unlimited potential for benefiting you, your family, and others long into the future, I hope you will agree with me that being a dad is the most important job you and I (or the president of the United States) will ever have.

But, being a good dad isn’t only vital for the future of our families and our society; it is also crucial to our own development as men.

Excerpted from Be A Better Day Today! Ten Tools Every Father Needs (Regal Books). Used with permission. The Honorable Gregory Winston Slayton is an American author, businessman, diplomat, philanthropist, and professor. Watch his interview with Randy Robison on LIFE Today Plus.

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