There’s a massive difference between knowing who your father is, and knowing your father.
Most people know their fathers as something other than a father – a businessman, a distant relative, a stranger, but I’ve always known my dad as my father.
I knew my dad had a job. Like I saw how my dad went on TV for business things. I recognised that my dad spearheaded the company’s ventures into China, and was the only Chinese Christian boardmember in a sea of Malay Muslims (this is an important distinction that I kind of allude to in the first 2 paragraphs of this blog post). It made sense when my childhood pastor would continually reach out to my dad for testimonies and advice for other Christians in the marketplace. But again, I knew my dad as my dad. He mentioned work but never let it come between family time.
Growing up, I saw him serve and lead in different parts of the church, from small groups to pre-marital counseling to advising the church’s finances. But again, I knew my dad as my dad. He never bragged or complained about serving – he just did it faithfully with my mother at his side, together as a strong team that was Spirit-led.
I also knew my dad had connections. Our family always had dinners with ‘family friends’ (my dad would always have to explain how he or we knew them), or how he’d always have some friend to eat a meal with while he was on a business trip. My dad would casually drop names of famous CEOs that became his friend; I remember how shocked that my brother found out my dad knew ‘Jack’, and how shocked my brother remained for the following week. Yet my father never conflated his identity as a father to his children with any other relationship he had, especially as a husband to his wife.
It’s a privilege to know your father as who he is. The blessing is becoming like your father because he is someone to become.
I inherited the rebellious and cheeky streak in my soul from him. He was the parent I counted on for the late night drives for Roti Canai, or the late night McDs ice cream. He’s faster than me at poking fun of someone (but that’s just cause he’s lived a longer life than me).
My father is also the reminder that the rebellious spirit needs to be harnessed for the good cause.
There is no point submitting to the wrong instructions, and there is even less meaning with not following the right people either.
Because of him, we’re both proof that when God chooses to use the rebels for His glory, we get leaders who bring a little bit of Jesus’ light and righteousness into our spheres of influence.
From a young age, my father instilled a strong sense of the ‘daughter’ identity in me. He never let me feel less than because I was not a son; he harnessed my gifts and strengths because I am his child, his daughter, and wouldn’t let anyone look down on me for who I am.
The importance of knowing you’re someone’s beloved daughter is so crucial in teaching girls that they are loved and valued for who they are, because I knew that I could always run to my father with any problem (including boy problems), because I am safe as my father’s daughter.
The best part about knowing my father is knowing the benchmark for my future husband to attain (or exceed). Being my father’s daughter taught me to never settle, because my father only wanted the best for me and gave me the best. And I saw this through the way he loved my mother with his best.
Above all, my dad constantly reminds me that he isn’t the most important father. He’ll always give way to the bigger, better father.
My dad shows me that it’s more important to know my heavenly Father than to know of my heavenly Father and all that he’s done. To know that His heart is for my good, along with the truth that He also has sent Jesus to die in place of me.
My dad knows that the first father I should respect and listen to is not him, but God.
And that makes me think that: perhaps what’s even more important than knowing who your father is, is that your father knows who his father is too.