Children love bragging to other children how their father is the biggest, best, or most talented, the best there ever was. I didn't participate in that childhood game.

But as I grew older, I found out many things about my father I had never before known-information that might have led to that childlike bragging if I had only been aware of it. I found out that my father was a very gifted and talented man. As I grew to know him, he became a favorite companion. We were friends who came to know a unique parent-child bond of friendship, trust, and caring.

He cared about what I cared about. He was attentive to my needs and concerns. He loved me and encouraged me. All this, yet we never attended a father-son banquet. All this, yet he never took the time to sign one of my report cards. All this, and more-even though my father died four months before I was born.

Most children have the opportunity to be raised with the love of one father. But through my father's death, I found that God had blessed me with many "fathers."

I didn't miss that parental figure during my childhood. I guess one doesn't miss what one doesn't know. Only after I began to search and question did the answers come. I had a father. In fact, I had many. He's the multifaceted, special friend and loving father in the people around me. When I need a father, he is there. He is any man who takes the time to love me as a son, friend, or child of God.

I learned a lot about fatherhood from my friends' dads. Three of these men especially stand out. When I spent the night at one of my friends' houses I noticed that one dad was very strict. The house became quiet when he came home from work. Supper was very proper, and there seemed to be an absence of laughter. Another friend's dad was so much fun. He brought joy and laughter when he entered the room. He took a great interest in his children's activities and he even seemed more like a friend to his children than a father. He always made me feel very special. Yet a third friend's father was a very nice balance of boundaries and fun; respect and great caring. Little did these men know when I visited their homes that their example and skills would play a part in shaping me to be a father.

God blessed me with uncles who loved serving the Lord and his people. I am so thankful for their faithfulness to God's Word as well as their calling to be faithful fathers. I have no doubt that God placed them in my life, instilling within me a compassion for people and a desire to serve Him.

My high school teachers played an important role in my life as well. What a blessing to be surrounded by these men during my formative years. Coaches taught me a love for sports. Teachers left me an example of creating fun from even mundane situations. Instructors taught me the importance of learning while encouraging me to work harder. Advisers kept me in line and kept me focused on my goals.

Although I never had the opportunity to know my real father, I thank God that he has blessed me with many fathers to fill that role. Most important, I thank him for the relationship he has created between us as perfect Father and less-than-perfect son!

I know I shouldn't brag, but it's difficult not to when you've got the biggest, best, and most talented dad around...all rolled up in one. I'm grateful God brought out the best in all of those men who cared for me and, in turn, gave me the best there ever was!

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