How to Tie a Necktie

In 2003, our youngest son Joel moved from Minnesota to the Washington DC area with hopes of finding a job.   He called frequently to update us on his prospects and to request our prayers.  Close to the time his money was running out and the situation was becoming critical, he called and informed us he had an interview lined up.  The night before his interview, I returned home from work around midnight.  When I crawled into bed, my husband stirred which was unusual, since he was used to my evening shifts and rarely woke up when I came in.  My antennae was immediately up and on alert.  In distressed tones he said, “I failed as a father.”

My heart sank, and I asked anxiously, “What do you mean? What has happened?”

He replied, “I didn’t teach our son how to tie a necktie.”

I sighed with relief and then suppressed my giggles, since my husband was obviously, genuinely guilt ridden over his sin of omission.   It must have been a male thing, some rite of passage between a father and a son that I did not get the importance of.  My husband went on to describe his phone conversation with Joel earlier that evening.  I continued to bottle up my laughter as Howard seriously told me of how he had tried to give necktie instructions over the phone.

The ncxt day, I called Joel to see how his interview had gone.  I asked, “Did you wear your tie?”  After he replied yes, I questioned, “So your father’s telephone instructions were successful?”

“Are you kidding me, Mom?  Dad should have been videotaped.  He kept putting the phone down and then walking to the bathroom where he looked in the mirror and did the next step.  Then he walked back to the phone to try and tell me what he had just done.  He was so flustered and upset.”

“How did you learn how to get your tie on?  Did your roommate show you?” I asked.

“I found Internet instructions, Mom.”

Do boys need dads in the age of the Web?  As I pondered this question, I thought of all the things our son had learned from his father, things the information network might hold as important but can never teach, things that have to be caught –  compassion, kindness, respect, honesty and integrity.  Boys and girls still need parents to role model values.   Our son wore his dad’s character traits to the interview.  They were more important than his new tie.   Oh, and by the way, he got the job.

Father God, let me wear your character each day.  Let my character reveal what a good Daddy You have been to me.  Let my behavior prove that I spend time watching and copying Jesus, not by my efforts but by Your power at work in me.

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