Never underestimate your impact

Yesterday was the 3-year anniversary of the death of my dad, Eric. He was 64.

As I look back, I think about the kind of dad he was. He was a great dad. But to be honest, he probably wouldn’t have won a dad-of-the-year award. He was more low-key than that. Plus, he wasn’t perfect. Just as you and I aren’t perfect.

But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a great dad. And it doesn’t mean he didn’t have a huge impact on my life.

For years he went to work, cut wood to heat our house, took my brothers Deric and Jason and me to hockey and drama and musical performances, volunteered as a baseball and hockey coach, loved my mom day-in and day-out, and cared for his parents.

But that’s not all…

He taught me that standing out isn’t important—but that working hard is (no matter what you do).

He taught me that making family a priority means making sacrifices.

He taught me that you can take life seriously and be silly at the same time.

He taught me how to paddle a canoe, and that sometimes you just need to tune out the criticisms of other people.

He taught me that experiences are more important than stuff. 

In light of that, and as I type these lines, I can remember our family sitting around a dancing campfire at Kel-Mac campground as he played harmonica into the dark, still sky.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” And there’s the thing. Never underestimate your impact on the life of someone who’s watching you. You may not end up in a history book. But that’s okay.

Someone is in your life right now. Someone is feeling the impact of your words and actions. Someone is watching and learning how you navigate life, make decisions, and walk into an uncertain tomorrow.

For years my dad loved that old Randy Travis song, “Forever and Ever, Amen.” He would walk around the house whistling it. So maybe that’s a good note to end on:

Never underestimate your impact on the life of someone who’s watching you. That impact will endure… forever and ever, amen.

By Matthew Ruttan


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