A Father’s Ambition

As a kid, I distinctly remember an episode of Adventures in Odyssey that involved the character Lucy Cunningham-Shultz competing in a Bible Quiz competition.  She loses the contest but it was the material that she flubbed that stuck with me, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 “…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you”.  In recent years these words have taken on new significance as I’ve realized I have a wonderful example of this in real life – my Dad.

As I look at my Dad’s life – as I know it – he fits this description to a tee.   For as long as I have been alive he’s spent his occupational time building things; houses, cabinets, tables, cutting-edge pinewood derby cars and tracks, and experimental airplanes. That desire and talent to build took on new meaning during my college years when he began to design and build what has become the FENX project, a series of experimental “electric rocket car” mobility devices that have enabled me to traverse both my college campus and – presently – various areas of Washington D.C. as I pursued the dream of working on Capitol Hill and moved on after that season ended.

He’s also led a pretty quiet life.  He’s not a well known author, speaker, or celebrity, just a Dad who provides and cares for his wife and offers wisdom to his two sons, and plays drums in the church band.  Nevertheless, when I often talk about him in telling the FENX story, there is always a surprised reaction when I explain he’s not a college educated engineer, but a God-gifted Dad.  He’s always been a “behind the scenes” guy whom I often liken to Q from James Bond: building things in the lab and only in the field if James wrecks the car.  Late into my senior year at Cedarville I spoke to the families of our graduating class after driving the previous version of the FENX on stage and it garnered a lot of attention afterwards.  Where was dad while this transpired?  Quietly leaning against a tree, just watching me tell the story to interested parents.

Years later, when the opportunity arose to appear on NBC Nightly News and share the FENX story with a global audience, he resisted.  I had to convince him that this is something we needed to do together even if he was supportive of the idea of my going solo.  His idea of a full life is simply one of following Jesus and being the husband and Dad Jesus would have him be.  Despite the initial resistance, he agreed, in large part because the NBC producer saw this as an an opportunity to highlight something rare: a close, positive, relationship between a guy in his late twenties and his father.  So convinced of the merit, the producer traveled to Detroit to conduct the interview personally because he just had to meet Dad.  I see that as a testament to who he is, and the power of quiet, thoughtful people; a man like this changes the way ambition is understood when you realize that his ambition isn’t himself, but Jesus and others.  For some, that is a mystery worth investigating, at least it was for a television news producer.

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Aaron

About Aaron

Author, Speaker, and Super Nerd. Aaron Welty speaks and writes regularly connecting the dots of life, faith, and science fiction. Originally from Michigan, he now lives and works in the Washington, D.C. Metro area.

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