In public, my dad was one of the great pastors of his generation. He served most notably for twenty fruitful years at Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, where John and Noel Piper worshiped during their Fuller Seminary days. Dad and John were dear friends. In private, my dad was the same man. There was only one Ray Ortlund, Sr. — an authentic Christian man. The distance between what I saw in the New Testament and what I saw in my dad was slight. He was the most Christlike man I've ever known, the kind of man, the kind of father, I long to be.
In no particular order, here are ten lessons on fatherhood I learned from watching him, each lesson living on in my life from memories of his care for me.
1. He was never too busy.
My dad was a busy pastor, but he was never too busy for me. When he felt he hadn't had enough time with me, he'd say, "Hey Bud, want to skip school tomorrow and go down to the beach?" It didn't take me long to agree to that! So off we went. We surfed and talked and had fun together. The next day he'd write a note to the school to explain my absence, and when I took it to the principal's office they always marked my absence "Unexcused." I guess the reason didn't count with them — a father wanting to catch up with his son. But dad didn't care. I mattered to him. And I knew it.