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A Father's Words

There are few things as powerful as a father's words.


In June 1992, Jim Davidson and Mike Price climbed Mt. Rainier. On the way down, the two climbers fell 80 feet through a snow bridge into a glacial crevasse: a pitch-black, ice-walled crack in the massive glacier that cover Mt. Rainier. Mike Price died.

In his book The Ledge, Jim Davidson tells the story of his miraculous survival and courageous climb out of the crevasse. Throughout the book, Jim reflects back to his childhood and young adult years, describing his relationship with his dad. As early as Jim can remember, his father had shown what some considered an almost reckless confidence in his son. Jim worked for his father, painting high, steep-pitched roofs and electrical towers as early as age 12. The work terrified his mother, but Jim's father kept communicating his belief that Jim could accomplish great things if he pressed through adversity and kept going.

As Jim stood, bloodied and bruised, on the two-foot-wide snow ledge next to the body of his climbing partner, he heard the encouraging voice of his father. With minimal gear and no experience in ice climbing at that level, Jim spent the next five hours climbing out, battling fatigue and the crumbling ice and snow that threatened to bury him. Throughout his ordeal, Jim kept recalling the words of his dad. And five grueling hours later, thanks to his father's words, Jim climbed out of the crevasse to safety.

The words we speak

Our success as fathers depends a lot on the words we speak to our children. Few fathers will ever have the value of their words tested so dramatically as Jim's father. For most of us, the test comes in small doses over a long period of time. But sooner or later, the effectiveness of our words will be evident.

In some circles, the role ...

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Mark Mitchell is pastor of Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, California.

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I. The words we speak

II. The context of a father's words

III. The shape of a father's words