Sunday, November 20, 2011

Someone once asked me to define a leader.
The dictionary definition of a leader is ‘the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country. A chief, head, conductor, guide, director, captain.’ 
‘A person followed by others.’

One of my first life memories is me standing in the entrance hall of our old house in Port Elizabeth – well over 20 years ago - and waiting for my dad to come home. I can distinctly remember standing there and staring at the front door as my mom had told my brother and I that he had just driven into our driveway in Walmer. The excitement and adrenaline that rushed through my 5 or 6 year old body can be easily compared to as if I were about to make a speech in parliament or go for my first interview. 
The love and respect I had for my father was tangible.
 When he opened that front door and stepped into our house – I anticipated what would happen next. He would pick me up in his strong arms and tell me how much he loved me. I can still recall the smell of his work shirt – stained with traces of deodorant and sweat after a long day at the office.
He was the strongest person I knew.
He was the man who taught me right from wrong.
He was the decision maker in our home.
He was the one who fixed my problems.
He was my hero. 
I can remember my dad trying to do a plait in my hair when I was about 7 as my mom was away. He didn’t know how to plait but he tried. By the time I had climbed out of the car for school, the plait had fallen out, but I didn’t care.
My dad had plaited it.
I was so proud of that. 
There was a moment when I was in grade 8 and failed an accountancy test so badly that the teacher had been angry. I was told that I had to show my parents and they had to sign next to the fat zero out of 40. Instead of being upset my dad wrote something on that paper that has literally stuck with me forever (I still have it). 
He wrote:
 “My Faye may have failed this test but she will pass the next one. I am proud of her no matter what.”
In grade 10 I had a boyfriend whom my parents weren’t overly excited about. However, my dad would drop me and fetch me to and from every party and event I attended. He would set a specific time to fetch me and sacrifice sleep, petrol and inconvenience on the weekends to make certain I was safe and did not go beyond the lines of safety.
He put up with my bad attitude throughout high school and blessed me irrelevant of my inability to communicate or love as I should. He opened our home to my rebellious friends and never failed to believe in me. 
In matric, my dad suggested that I do something called Life Team after school. It simply entailed spending a year serving at a church in Johannesburg. However, I was unsure, emotional and fearful. He gently encouraged me and steered me in the right direction – never forcing me to do anything. 
That year changed my entire life. 
When I was learning how to drive, I bumped my parent’s car into our driveway wall. My dad was away on a trip so my mom broke the news to him a few days later as he stepped off the plane. I remember sitting at home, trying to study at my desk, and praying that he wouldn’t be angry with me...
His response was said with overwhelming graciousness and a quirky grin, 
“I think we will keep that bump on the Jetta as a momento to your driving lessons.”

My dad has always encouraged me to live with passion, to strive for more, to never settle for the mundane, to do beyond what is required, to dream massively and pursue the impossible.
He has offered council in situations of confusion.
He has put his strong arms around me when he can see I’m struggling.
He has asked questions that matter and given answers that carry me.
He has reassured me when I don’t believe in myself.
He has put money into my account when I haven’t even asked.
He has let me go but never stopped fighting for me.
He has taught me the difficult tension of living on the edge,
taking risks,
never regretting but always being wise, discerning and sensible.
He has shown me how to fight for the Kingdom,
directed me to Jesus and trained my arms for war.
He has lived his life with unhindered ferocious devotion to Christ.
He has inspired me like no one else.
He has never given up.

Someone once asked me to define a leader. 
My answer was simple: 
My dad is the best leader I know.