You got it from your father
It was all he had to give
So it’s yours to use and cherish
For so long as you may live.
If you lose the watch he gave you
It can always be replaced
But a black mark on your name, son
Can never be erased.
It was clean the day you took it
And a worthy name to bear.
When he got it from his father
There was no dishonour there.
So make sure you guard it wisely,
After all is said and done
You’ll be glad the name is spotless
When you give it to your son.
I would agree that the poem above could provoke a great deal of stress and pressure in a young boy’s life (not to mention his father’s). No one’s “name” is that pure. And, to be sure, without God’s grace and the power and guidance of God’s Spirit, no one will go through life with an unblemished record. Still… I like the poem as something to bear in mind as I encourage and help my sons navigate their way through life. One day, as part of that instruction and encouragement, I will have to share a few times when their father got quite a few dark smudges on the family name. And then I shall remind them of the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ.
(By the way, if you want to see an incredibly powerful presentation on the significance of one’s name, watch this scene from The Crucible. In this scene, John Proctor accepts a death sentence for something for which he was innocent, rather than passing on a blemished name to his sons. After several years of searching for this scene, I finally found it. There is a short and helpful little commentary at the beginning… which is worth watching as well. But by all means, please watch the scene that follows it.)
And while I’m feeling like imparting some inspiration to my sons… here’s a great video-version of Rudyard Kipling’s “If.”