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4 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

Taryn Austgen
Taryn Austgen

June 14, 2012

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father and daughter

Last year, a mere week before Father’s Day, I was frantically remembering that I should probably pick out a Father’s Day gift for my dad. This year, an entire month before the day I was thinking about all the things he’s taught me over the years. It’s funny how moving halfway across the United States from your family will cause you to “wax nostalgic” when holidays come up.

The result of my musings was an overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude.

And because they were such important life lessons, they deserve to be shared. My dad taught me way more than four things, but I have found myself coming back to these recently.

1. Play so they can’t take you out

Anytime I complained about playing time in any sport I played growing up, that was my dad’s response. “Play so they can’t take you out.”

Keeping that mindset has and will take me well beyond childhood sports. If I am consistently adding value at work, in a ministry, or in any situation I’m placed in, I can become an indispensable part of the team that won’t be “taken out” or easily replaced.

2. Live so no one will believe it

I was in third grade the first time someone spread some lies about me. I was devastated about the untrue things people were being told. My dad sat down with me and explained that if I continued to live the way I knew I was supposed to, it would be impossible for the people who knew me and who really mattered to believe the lies.

Sure, people believe things they hear, but the truth always appears. It may take months, years or a lifetime, but the truth will always come out in the end. The only thing I’m responsible for is living my life so no one who truly matters can or will believe the lies people spread.

3. Always return/leave things better than you got them

Years ago, some family friends borrowed our car for a week. They returned it washed, vacuumed, and with a full tank of gas. I will never forget the teachable moment my dad took advantage of. He explained how that was the way you returned things and how you showed gratefulness.

It doesn’t matter if you borrow something as big as a car or as small as a plate, you return it clean and, if possible, in better condition than it was given to you.

4. Work hard

My dad didn’t have to tell me every lesson he taught me. Some he just demonstrated.

My dad owns his own business and his alarm goes off at 1:00am, 5-7 days a week. It’s been like that for over 20 years. I think he’s had about 3 weeks of vacation in that same amount of time, too. And he’ll be the first to tell you, he’s NOT a work-a-holic by any stretch of the imagination! He does what he has to do to provide for his family and run the business God has blessed him with. He works hard, he works long, and he doesn’t complain. Ever.

My dad taught me so many more things over the years: always finish what you start, you’re not entitled to anything and it’s never too late to say you’re sorry. And as I’ve moved away from home and started life “on my own,” I’m learning one more, new lesson: how to appreciate my dad (and mom) more and more.

What are some life lessons you learned from your dad? I’d love to hear about them!

Taryn Austgen
Taryn Austgen

Taryn is a lover of learning, great literature, a Capella music, writing, and singing and dancing wherever she goes. A California girl at heart, she now calls Texas home.

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