One of the greatest joys of fatherhood is leaving an honorable legacy in your children’s hearts. Radio host and author of “That’s My Dad”, Joe Battaglia, shares the story of how his father believed in his dreams and helped him achieve success
As a kid, I would often accompany my father during the summer to his shoe repair shop in East Orange, New Jersey. It was a long day for a boy who would have preferred to be playing baseball with his buddies, but it was also fun to just be with my dad on these occasions.
My father never pushed us to follow in his footsteps as a shoemaker. He always wanted my brother and me to have a college education and have more than what he had, although that little trade put two of us through college and we never lacked for anything that was worth anything. His sole focus was his family and providing for them, and ensuring that my brother and I would have the opportunity to do more with our lives.
After I graduated with my journalism degree from Boston University, I returned home and, through a series of providential events, had the opportunity to launch my own publication. It was a magazine that focused on tying together the body of Christ in the New York metropolitan area, and defeating the mind-set of what I called “the Elijah Syndrome”—Christians bemoaning the thought that they were the lone believer in the New York area, similar to the prophet Elijah sitting under the juniper tree complaining to God, “I, even I only, am left.”
Well, this was quite an undertaking for someone with no capital and no distribution platform, armed only with a vision that God had given to me. At that point, I partnered with someone who would become one of the greatest mentors in my life and used his nonprofit organization under which to publish the magazine. That was helpful. The only caveat was that he could not afford to pay me, which could obviously be an issue.
So with a vision in hand, and not much else, I approached my father and explained what I felt I was called to do—except that I would not get paid. I had been working since I was sixteen, and even worked all four years through college so I could help support myself because my father was paying for my college tuition. I thought that following this dream of starting the magazine might not be so well received because of the financial issue.
After explaining to my father the situation, he did not even skip a beat in his response, which is one I will never forget. He simply said in his broken English, “Hey, I took care of you for twenty-two years. What’s one more?” That response was his way of really saying to me, “Son, I believe in you and I want you to follow your dream. Caring for you is my calling. My legacy will be carried on through you.”
I launched that magazine and, because of it, the following year I did a story about a radio station in Jersey switching formats to carry Christian teaching programs and a new type of music that would eventually be called contemporary Christian. I was offered a job at that station as a result of that story, which led to everything I have today and all the wonderful things I have been privileged to do and people I have met. This is one immigrant father who selflessly said to his son, “What’s one more year?” and helped launch him on a marvelous journey to what he’s become today, which included the writing of this book.
THINK ABOUT THIS
Like Jeff Kemp’s dad, David had lots of influence, was a leader of his nation, and exposed his son to the most well- known people and influencers of his day. Scripture does not say this, but it might very well be that the home environment of David and all the people Solomon was exposed to early in his life contributed to his legendary wisdom.
Both men made some mistakes; neither of them was perfect. But that did not prevent God from saying that David was a “man after His own heart,” and that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. David left Solomon a legacy—he left the whole world a legacy. In fact, from David’s lineage would come the Messiah. Now that’s some legacy.
Jeff Kemp’s famous dad had his great platform, entertained the greatest leaders in the world, exposing his son to all of that, much like David. And at the end of his life he could say that his family was more important to him than all of it—or even any of it. At the end of his life, Solomon could look at everything that the world had to offer and called it vanity.