Tuesday, August 24, 2010


My Dad ~ Father, Son, Brother & Friend

A tribute to my Dad: Alfred Ray Bishop, given at his memorial service on July 19th at Glenwood Baptist Church in Glenwood, NC.

I think that it is appropriate that this is Father’s Day weekend, and I am here to speak to you about the life of my Daddy. A man we all knew and loved.

I have many thoughts and stories that I could share today of Dad’s compassion, humor, and love of life. However, today I would like to focus on the lessons I’ve learned while observing my Dad in the role of father, son, brother and friend.

In 1 Timothy 3:4 we read that a father “must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.” On the point of management of the family, Dad excelled in leading by example.

Some of you know that some time back Dad professed himself as the “Head-Honker” of the Bishop family; all of his family. That includes those of us gained through birth, and all of you which were grafted in through love.

Needless to say I, being the strong-willed child of the family, didn’t think too highly of Dad’s self-appointed title. I felt that Dad wanted to control or remind me that he was “in charge.”

As you might imagine I provided Dad with the biggest challenge on the respect part of the 1 Timothy verse I read earlier.

Thankfully, by God’s grace, I decided to learn some facts about geese in an attempt to understand, and hopefully alter my thinking in regard to Dad’s self-appointed title and role within his family.

I believe that after I share these facts you, like me, will be convinced that Dad was fully qualified for the title of “Head-Honker.”

· Geese fly in the “V” formation because it cuts wind drag to the next goose in line. The lead bird has the hardest job because it is the one expending the greatest effort. It is not upfront to “be seen,” make decisions for its own good, or to be applauded as the strongest flyer. Rather, its sole purpose is to shoulder the load for the good of the flock.

· I learned that there is no single bird that is always in the lead. The lead will be changed often to conserve the energy of the entire flock.

· Finally, the “V” formation will shift to resemble more of a “check-mark” pattern when the flock encounters cross-winds. This moves the strongest fliers to deflect the blunt of the wind and allows the weaker birds to conserve energy thus will be less stressed.

Dad, like the lead goose kept us flying in true pattern; the path of righteousness before God. He knew that to accomplish our earthly flight we must file a flight plan with air traffic control, before conducting lift-off.

Dad spoke with the control tower on a regular basis; carrying his prayers, praise and petitions for his family, friends and loved ones to the throne room of God’s grace.

He served in his role as father, brother and friend by living sacrificially, utilizing his spiritual gifts of serving, teaching, encouraging, giving generously, leading and governing. He did these things not to be seen or applauded, but to help lessen the burdens faced by all of his flock.

Dad encouraged each of us to move into our full potential. He spent his life training and preparing us for this time when each one of us will be called upon to take the lead flight status.

He encouraged us with humor, grace, and love, helping us to move toward the only goal of lasting worth; Salvation through Christ Jesus.

Dad taught that serving the Lord is not a one-time thing. We must grow in our relationship to Christ each day; always being ready to give an answer as to why we find hope in Jesus Christ.

Dad taught us to deal with the winds of change, through faith in our Savior; unfailing, unflinching, unquestioning faith.

Dad taught us to depend upon the law of truth contained in the Bible. He lived James 1:6 which states, “believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind.”

Dad didn’t question God’s plan. Even when God called Mom to heaven before we were ready to let her go, Dad exhibited trust and faith in Him.

During my study of the geese, the “check-mark” flight pattern became an awesome word-picture culmination of Dad’s relationship to God ~ the relationship of faithful son to his father.

The “check-mark” flight pattern demands the cooperation of the entire flock. The flock must trust and respect the one who is to be the leader, and the leader must rely on the flock to faithfully follow.

Dad had the ability to assess the gifts, talents and strengths of each member within his flock. He made his assessment with humility and faith. He would consult the instrument panel, then trust It to guide in making any correction in course as necessary.

Dad had given over control of his vessel to the Holy Spirit; therefore, he could trust that his reading of life was true and not influenced by worldly factors. His instrument panel was in perfect working order as it was powered by God’s fuel cell; His Word. The knowledge that Dad lived his life trying to walk daily with Jesus gave all of us the confidence and ability to trust him and respect his opinion.

So, it is with great humility and love that I realize my Dad did deserve the title of “Head Honker.”

I would do well to emulate his example. Now all that is left to say is. . .

“FLY ON DAD! I look forward to rejoining you in our heavenly flock soon where we will all sing HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is He; to the ultimate HEAD HONKER!”