Here is my confession: I put the letter in the bottom drawer of my desk. I never saw it again. I lost the letter.
This is the way fatherhood often goes. Raising teenagers could be characterized as: “parental intentionality met by adolescent irresponsibility.” I felt great shame for losing the important letter. In fact, I never told Dad about it. He didn’t find out about it till about a month ago. (I’m sorry I lost your letter, Dad. I wrote a book about you–does that make up for it?)
Later on I speculated about the contents of the lost letter. Perhaps it was advice on purity and sexuality at my tender age? Never one for half-measures, Dad didn’t do one sex-talk… he seemed to give one every week—it was his favorite subject. He never taught me to throw a baseball, but I got major league coaching on sex.
At other times I wondered if the letter contained the secret location of all my dad’s book royalties we never seemed to get our hands on. Then I wondered if maybe he put a bunch of his secrets in the letter. Or maybe the letter contained incriminating secret evidence about powerful people he worked with including instructions to release the information if they murdered him during a board meeting? Who knows!?!
I have no idea, to this day, what was in that letter. I lost it.
What I’ve come to understand is that the contents of that letter didn’t matter as much as the content of his character as a father. I lost the letter, but he never lost me—in part because he wrote more convincingly with his life than he ever did with his pen.
2 Corinthians 3:2 says:
“But the only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves! Your lives are a letter written in our hearts, and everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.” NLT
Many very influential leaders gathered on October 1st at 12Stone Church to honor my father and consider what it means to influence others like he did. (And in fact he didn’t hear about the lost letter until that event when I shared this from the stage. Talk about a surprise!)
As a leader and mentor, the best letter of recommendation for my dad was right there in that room, which included mega-church pastors, church planters, regional and international denominational leaders, missionaries, college presidents, and CEOs of major non-profit orgs. I was most impressed with those who took time out of their intense schedules to plan every detail of the event, including Tim Elmore, Steve Moore, and Dan Reiland.
Eugene Peterson translates 2 Cor 3:2 this way: “You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read just by looking at you.” MSG
I am his letter, his endorsement. He knows this… I am in his heart just as the Corinthian people were in Paul’s heart.
The best endorsement, the best letter of recommendation, you or I will ever have is our kids. Max Lucado may have endorsed my book, but it’s so much more important to hear what Max, Karina & Lauren (my kids) might tell their close friends about me.
We don’t need to chase after the big endorsements. The big ones are nice… but the “little ones” are those that count most.