Today we celebrate the fathers in our lives.
I am very fortunate to have had two wonderful earthly fathers. My dad, Richard E. Steele, Sr. was a man’s man. Most of the lessons I learned in life both positive and negative, I learned from watching him. He was a entrepreneur in every sense of the word and the first networker I knew although no one called it networking back in the 60’s. Dad was medically discharged from the Army when he re-injured a knee that he had injured during his football playing days at the University of Georgia. Dad began his career with a wife and new born son making $200.00 per month. He worked hard and built many businesses over the years by networking in the Columbus area. One of the things he did that made me most proud is his making the decision to integrate the largest hotel in Columbus. Dad was one of the owners along with a few wealthy businessmen he partnered with to purchase the hotel several years earlier. He received many threats, late night phone calls, and cars would ride slowly by our house late at night. Dad never backed down because he knew that he was doing the right thing. My dad died on March 17th, 2002. I slept on the sofa next to his bed every night for weeks and I was with him as he took his last breath. The pain I experienced watching him die was very tough and I did not think it possible to experience any worse until my mother died 5 months 7 days later. 2002 was not a great year in my life. I am so thankful to God for making me Richard E. Steele, Jr.
My second dad I inherited when I met my wonderful wife to be. James R. Ellis was a very different man than my dad. He was content with where he was in life and focused on important things like his faith, family, and friends. Jimmy never had an unkind word to say about anyone. He was the manager of a restaurant in Columbus and probably never made $20,000 any year of his life yet he was one of the wealthiest people I have ever known. Jimmy had a hard life growing up but did not let it make him bitter as it would be for some folks. He loved me as a son and I learned a great deal from him. Jimmy died much too early at 57 years old in 1987. I lost a dad and a great friend that day. My children barely remember Jimmy and that is a shame. My children would have learned lessons from Jimmy that I did not have the ability to teach. My children all turned out great. However, I am confident they would be even finer people if they could have had Jimmy in their lives for a few more years. I thank God for putting Beth in my life and as a result of our relationship, I gained a wonderful, kind, loving, father in Jimmy.
My third dad I have known my whole life. He is my heavenly father and yours. Unfortunately for me, I have not followed him or His direction all of my life thinking that I could run my life on my own. I started off as an entrepreneur following my dad’s footsteps. The biggest problem with “self-made” men is that they are in love with their creator. I began following my heavenly father in 1975 and was very passionate about serving Him. Several years later due to a tragic event, I decided that I did not need His help any longer. I reengaged with Him in 1995 through the High Tech Prayer Breakfast. I would give anything to have back the 15 years I spent running away from God. I made more than my share of mistakes over those years and unfortunately can not change the fact that I hurt people along the way. What I do know is the minute I came to my senses and asked God to again become my Father, a heavy burden was lifted off of my life. I received forgiveness that I did not deserve because of the price He paid for my sins. That forgiveness did not change the fact that I had hurt people and made a lot of mistakes. There are always consequences for behavior both good and bad. I have suffered through some tough and awkward times as a result. However, I have survived because I have a heavenly Father who loves me in-spite of me being me. As much as I loved my dad and Jimmy, I love my heavenly Father so much more. I know one day I will see my dad and Jimmy once again when I join them in our Father’s house.
Whether your earthly father is alive or not, you do have a heavenly Father that is very much alive. He loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. I encourage you to learn more about Him.
Happy Father’s Day!
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