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3 September 2020
David (centre) with his children, from left, Amanda, Josh, Bethany and Matt.
Words David Godkin
It’s early May 1984, and I am sitting in a rocking chair at 2.30am in my lounge room trying to get my newborn daughter to settle so her mother can get a few hours’ sleep before the next feed. I have, cradled in my arms, a perfect three-day-old baby who is completely dependent on her parents for every need and nurture that will shape her life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
There were so many thoughts going through my mind in that moment as a new father. I had completely fallen in love with this precious life and was overwhelmed with the responsibility to care, nurture and influence her as a father should. I remember thinking to myself, “I’ve had no training to be a father; I hope I get this right.” The greatest blessing was partnering in parenthood with my wife Sandra, who was such a wonderful mother.
I then realised that for the previous 24 years of my life I had received training, teaching, coaching and mentoring on how to be a father … from my father. There was no semi- nar, conference or lecture, just the reality of everyday life. I wanted my daughter to grow up knowing she was loved, valued and could trust her father to protect her and that who she was had far more value in life than anything she would ever achieve.
Fast forward to Father’s Day 2019, and I received a card from Amanda, now 36. She wrote these words: “I’ve always been proud of you Dad. You taught me to see life was filled with possibilities, you wiped away the tears of disappointment, you listened with your heart and brought such comfort to me in those challenging times when you could have so easily said ‘I told you so’. Your love has been a priceless gift to me. Your faith in me gave me the courage to pursue my dreams so confidently. I just want you to know I will always be … ’Daddy’s Girl’!”
David with his dad, John,83, who is a regular at Parramatta Salvos, Sydney.
I have achieved quite a few things in my life – my office wall has recognition of most of them hanging up in frames – but none of them give me as much satisfaction and contentment as the affirmation of a child that she/he values the love and nurture of their father.
We have four children and 14 grand- children, and last year at my 60th birthday party, surrounded by them all, I said, “I’m the richest man in the world!”
I didn’t have a lot of material wealth growing up; more than some I’m sure, but there were many things we went without. Life for us, however, was filled with an abundance of love, nurture, faith and adventure. Many people refer to their fathers as their ‘hero’. I’ve never called Dad my hero, mainly because of the concept I had of a hero. For me, a hero was a supernatural, untouchable being who only turned up in a crisis; they rescued the person, then flew off to save someone else.
My father was so much more than that. He certainly rescued me from crises, but he was always present in my life. He was a constant rock and reminder that I was loved and valued. He taught me to swim, play footy, hit a cricket ball, drive, invest, forgive and so much more. He was an example of a loving and caring husband and a faithful follower of Christ. Mum died last year and I watched Dad lovingly care for her through the dementia she battled for almost five years. It changed my perspective on Dad – he really was my ‘hero’. Dad – thank you for everything you taught me about life, love and my Eternal Father. Amanda, Josh, Matt and Bethany – thanks for making me the richest man in the world!
David Godkin oversees The Salvation Army in Queensland