Lotts of Love on Father’s Day

Father’s Day is terribly hard for some people because they never grew up with a father, or because the one they got was not so good. Maybe he was angry and abusive or maybe he just wasn’t around much for some reason.

Empathy isn’t my bag, so let me just say to readers without a good father that I wish you’d had a Dad like mine.

Bob Lott is not the strongest father in the world or the tallest or the richest or the smartest — though I’ll let you in on a little secret: he’s a lot smarter than he lets on. But I think I speak for all of the brothers Lott when I say that he is the best.

Dad is a Baptist minister. People immediately think “preacher” when I tell them that, but no. The conventions of a Baptist pulpit are too strictly formal and bullet-pointy for his style.

What he is is a teacher who leads through deed as much as Word. I watched him as a youth pastor for over a dozen years, and lately as an associate pastor for longer. He worked to provide needed direction for some pretty screwed up young lives and he recently held his country church together through a difficult transition.

Then there’s baseball, always the second great devotion in the Lott household. Dad has coached church softball teams for as long as I can recollect. It was only this year, part way through the season, that he sidelined himself. He says he’s done, but I’m not so sure. His knees are bad these days, yet don’t bet against him finding his way back onto the field.

Dad coaches like he pastors, because he sees one as an extension of the other. He works hard. He repeats simple but necessary advice (“Base hits, guys!”; “Never go down looking!”). He searches for the best place to put a player, on the field and in the lineup, not only to win the game but to help him learn. He doesn’t yell at players because he doesn’t have too. The look on his face is enough of a reprimand.

Dad has coached some very winning teams, but he rarely gloats. He rejected my plaintive cry, after one particularly glorious victory, to put “We beat Christ the King,” the local Lynden megachurch, up on his church’s signboard.

Why not? Poor sportsmanship? Theological objection? He never spelled it out and I’m not sure he could articulate a single reason. For Bob Lott, much more than for most, life and love and faith run together.

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