The death of Rev. Daniel Humbert's dad taught him the meaning of leaving boldly:
My dad died 24 years ago at the age of 59. We were both far too young for him to die. For him it was a chronological thing, for me it was a maturity thing. He died of colon cancer. It was six months from diagnosis to death. His death, however, is the reason I have already had 3 colonoscopy procedures and another on the horizon!
My dad never knew either of my children and he missed out on knowing two other of his grandchildren. Even though my dad and I did not have what anyone would consider a close relationship, I still miss him…a lot. I can’t even write this without getting a bit misty-eyed, 24 years later! I can only attribute that to his leaving boldly.
I grew up the youngest of 4 kids—3 boys and a girl. It was a strict household. There were quite clear expectations and consequences for not meeting those expectations. I witnessed my oldest brother leave home at age 17 over conflicts with my dad. My sister got out a little later, but still as quickly as possible. There was never any abuse, just rigid rules and clear consequences. I think that’s why I didn’t have a close relationship with my dad. He seemed too harsh; too strict.
Unlike my older siblings, I had the fortunate opportunity to encounter my father in some other ways separate from home life. I was in Boy Scouts and my dad was a leader. We had all kinds of connections on campouts, leadership events and other activities. I was also involved in local soccer—long before select and tournaments existed! My dad was, too. He coached for a while, but he also got involved at the local and state association levels. He wanted to influence how the kids were treated and trained. The one thing my dad was involved in for all of his kids was the PTA and school sponsored events. There was no doubt he had a passion for helping kids grow mentally, physically, emotionally and to some degree even spiritually.
What I didn’t appreciate about my dad when I was young was the amazing and powerful impact he was having on young people’s lives all the time. What I further didn’t realize as he was dying was the way in which he was leaving boldly. As former scouts and soccer players and school families began to discover dad’s diagnosis, the visits and cards and calls began to flood in. Former scouts from 20+ years ago would stop by to visit or call. Former commissioners and players in the local soccer association and the state soccer board would send letters. People who I knew of but had never met would visit or call.
They all told a similar story. Dad had made them feel significant. He had offered them mentoring. He had given them himself. Mostly, they said, he had taught them how to live well. I remember dad always saying if a person has to tell you that they are a Christian, then it's always suspicious. He felt actions, behaviors and attitudes ought to exemplify one’s following of Christ. What I began to realize, but could not fully appreciate, was the impact my dad had on young people’s lives.
He had desired to help them grow into full statured, mature, well-mannered, productive citizens of society. What he didn’t fully know until his dying days was the impact he had on their lives. They were now returning in droves to let him know the kind of impact he had! He was leaving boldly.
It was at his funeral that we discovered this even more. For at our home church, where Kay and I had grown up, the sanctuary was standing room only. Literally, over 500 people must have shown up. Former soccer players, scouts, school families, church friends, city dignitaries, former employers and family all showed up to acknowledge that Drew Humbert had left a legacy in their lives. He had made them in some small way somehow a better person.
It did my heart good to witness his legacy that day. I was too immature, even at 27, to understand the significance of that legacy. It wasn’t until I became a parent that the full impact became reality. What legacy will I leave? How will I leave boldly? Guess what? I often find myself reflecting, as I’m sure you do, too, "How would dad have responded?" Even 24 years later, I sometimes still ask that question.
That’s leaving a legacy. Thanks dad, for leaving boldly! I’m a better person for it and so are your scouters and players and school families who have all begun yet another generation of living your life lessons!