I sat there listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit telling me to go. But I stood in our family’s restaurant that was my dad’s dream. It was his shot to take a risk and do what he always wanted to do; and a lot of it was riding on me.
Rewind the clock sevens years.
After I graduated high school I had no direction. None. I was floundering through community college and partying on the weekends. That was it; a circular pattern that left me in the same spot over and over again. In the middle of this season of life, my parents approached me about an idea. They wanted to open a restaurant.
When I was younger, my dad competed in BBQ cook-offs as a hobby, and it was always his dream to open a BBQ restaurant. His dad had owned a restaurant, and my dad always had fond memories of those times. My parents were positioned well financially, and they even owned an old, closed down gas station off the highway. It was the perfect moment. So, we decided we would renovate the gas station and open up a BBQ restaurant. My dad brought me into this new business as an owner, and my job would be to run and operate it. My parents sent me off to culinary school, I learned my way around a kitchen, and we were off to the races. We opened our restaurant in April of 2007. This restaurant was situated in the midst of a budding community that had very few dining options. Our restaurant didn’t do so bad. Our goal was to have honest recipes, fresh food, a clean restaurant, and a smile. It worked.
So there I was, 20 years old, owning and operating a business with my parents. This restaurant was exactly what I needed as a young man. For the first time in my life I had a vision and mission that was bigger than me. It was a task that would take a lot of hard work, determination, and risk. I loved it. For a new restaurant, which is a hard business to succeed in, we did well. A few years in I was able to save enough money to buy my first home and things looked great. I was growing into a man.
Fast forward several years and a lot changed in me. I came to faith in Jesus Christ at the age of 23 and God began to grow me. Eventually I was offered a job that would allow me to travel and preach the gospel. I could not say no.
I approached my parents about resigning from the restaurant business completely in order to devote myself to a new work. Without hesitation (at least from what I saw), they said, “Go.” I took this blessing for granted. I didn’t realize the weight of leaving the restaurant. I didn’t take into account all the risk my parents took to start up this business. After all, they were the equity owners, and I was more of a hired hand. I didn’t take into account their reputations that would be on the line, “Oh, it’s just another failed restaurant experience.” I didn’t think about any of that; I just left. In 2014, we shut down our restaurant.
Here is the point to this whole story: My dad had a dream, and he did me a favor. He allowed me in on it. He gave me a huge responsibility, giving me an opportunity very few get: to own a business without risk. He set me up to succeed, and in the end, my dad’s dream died so that my purpose could live. That sentence is hard for me to type and say, but it’s the truth. It’s been eight years since I left the business, and that sentence gets heavier each year.
Since I transitioned out of the family business, my dad has been one of my biggest cheerleaders. During my singleness, when I would travel and preach, he would drive me from place to place. He would encourage me after each message, and he still does. He loves keeping up with my life, ministry, and supporting my marriage to Olivia. He wants me to succeed.
Here’s what I’ve learned about this. To love is to sacrifice.
My dad laid aside his dreams, and, in humility, considered the dreams God has for me.
My dad sacrificed his business, so I could walk in God’s will for my life. He gave me no guilt trip.
My dad patiently handled me as I walked this new road of ministry that on the outside didn’t seem like a great career choice.
When this time of transition came in my life, my dad did what he did when we opened our restaurant. He risked, but it looked different. He wouldn’t build, but he would sacrifice. He wouldn’t seek his own interest, but he would consider my interest. He showed patience and gave me room to hear the voice of God and obey. He released me to a vision and mission that was bigger than myself.
It is my hope that when I enter my third and fourth quarter of life, that I would model the same to the next generation. I hope that I will not forget this lesson and lay my life down for the sake of the next generation. Dad, thank you for setting a great example for me. Thank you for showing me the actions of Jesus Christ.
Happy Fathers Day, dad!