I remember Dr. John M. Perkins once saying, “There’s no such thing as a sophisticated Christian.” I have never forgotten those words. Dr. Perkins wasn’t saying that people should be simplistic or unskilled in their work. What I think he was saying is that people should be simple and pure in their devotion to Christ and other people.
My father was a simple man. In contrast, I grew up wanting to be sophisticated, and I wished my dad were that as well. How I longed to be marked by near-omniscience and hailed as a sage by my peers! While I have never received such accolades, one person was convinced early on that my father was one of the brightest men who ever lived: one of my nieces once boasted as a child to those at school that her grandfather (my dad) knew so many languages. She had witnessed as a little girl how he would strike up conversations with people from different countries. This impressed her. But she didn’t seem to know at that time that Dad knew only a few words in each of those languages, and that he was out of his depths once they responded. It gave my dad great joy to speak a few words of Japanese or Polish, for example, and watch Japanese and Polish people’s faces light up when they heard him speak to them. My dad had a way with a few simple words of greeting and with making people’s days brighter wherever he went.
On Father’s Day, I am thankful for Dad’s profound relational simplicity: he loved people, really loved them. As I grow older, I hope to be more and more like my late dad—not fixated with being sophisticated, but relationally pure and simple.
This piece is cross-posted at The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and at The Christian Post.