Friday, May 1, 2020

You Should Be Driving A Mercedes

It’s the truth, you should be driving a Merc. It’s just how things are supposed to work. You were born in Taiwan into abject poverty, one of the youngest of eight children. By the sweat of your brow and the sacrifices of your mother and older siblings, you earned a university degree and moved to America with mom to pursue higher education. You toiled for years to bring your family up out of the class you were born into and raise them to upper middle. Because of you, mom and Andrew and I have had a good life. Especially in recent years, we have had all our needs more than met and grown accustomed to comfort. However, you’ve reached the point in your life where you are no longer battling to help your family survive and the path should have turned towards you enjoying the unprecedented fruits of your labor. Your children are now adults with their own jobs, the bills are paid well in advance, and you should be thinking less about needs and more about luxury and recreation. I’ve seen this pattern before. People in your stage of life, who have done what you have done, and arrived where you are shouldn’t still be driving ten year old Honda Pilots and going on annual holidays to Lancaster, PA staying in Days Inns and “treating themselves” to a nice dinner at Ruby Tuesdays. You should be going on cruises, driving a Mercedes (of course), and yam cha-ing all the time because of all the free time you now have. And you shouldn’t even be home for 4-6 months of the year because you finally have the time to travel and see the world and take a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower and come see your grandchild in Australia and eat cocktail shrimp at the buffet on the “Spirit Of America”, cruising through the Hawaiian archipelago. But you’re not doing any of that. You don’t travel, don’t buy anything you don’t absolutely need, don’t shop for luxury goods, don’t bother upgrading anything you have even though you can afford to… phone, car, clothes. You don’t own a second home (unless you count my home, which you helped me buy). And you don’t play golf. You are spending your golden years working harder and more joyfully than ever before in your life. While holding down a full-time job, you put yourself through seminary, graduated, and then started your own church. You spend your days reading the Bible, writing sermons, and organizing activities, and cooking for people. You spend your evenings in church meetings, running Bible studies, and visiting people’s homes. And you spend your late nights catching up on your work as a software engineer. At the age when most people start to slow down, “live a little”, and enjoy the fruits of a lifetime of hard work, you are only picking up the pace. That’s why you’re my hero. Whenever we talk, you are quick to tell me how much you are enjoying life right now. How happy you are. How, after a lifetime of fulfilling obligations, you are finally getting to pursue your dream of serving God and preaching the gospel to your heart’s content. Dad, because of you, our family is prospering like we never have before. This is the time when you should be able to loosen up and spend a little bit more on yourself. And in a way you have. Your spending habits would be characterized by any prudent financial advisor as reckless and extravagant. But not a penny of it is going to you! It’s always going to others. Your wallet’s always open towards those who are in need, whether it’s in formal giving or through spontaneous acts of generosity. You have told me time and again how happy you are to have the ability to give so freely. You have taught me and Andrew that it is better to give rather than receive. You have told us over and over again never to worry about money. You said to us with pure conviction that we are all rich in Christ and that the Lord will look after all our needs, so we should never lose sleep over financial troubles. You have always emphasized to us how important it is to honor God and not be miserly. And you practice what you preach. Maybe there was a time in your youth when you envied people who had nice things. But for as long as I’ve known you, you have never been enticed by material wealth. You enjoy simple things. You have taught me that many of the best things in life are free or surprisingly inexpensive. And you have taught me that in comparison to the immeasurable riches that are in store for us in Christ, worldly pleasures are silly to pursue. I can go on and on and on about how much I admire you, how much I still look up to you even to this day, and how much I love you for how you’ve raised me and taken care of our family, but I learned in the art of writing that there is a law of diminishing returns. The average person is capable of reading up to about 1000 words, but anything you write that’s longer than that, you end up alienating your audience and losing readership. And I want people to read this. I want people to know what a great man you are. I want it to be known that everything that is good about me, everything noble and honorable within me, is because of you. You’ll get a longer version of this birthday card emailed to you. I want to wish you a happy birthday. God has made you in a great man and a strong, powerful, humble leader. We are so fortunate. 

My dad loves being a grandpa. He is always telling me to make sure to lead Abby in prayer every day and to read the Bible with her. We read through her entire picture Bible just a little before she turned one.

My dad was intermittent fasting before it was cool, and before it even had a fancy name. His way of keeping his weight is to just not eat unless it's socially.

The Shih men are deceptively emotional. I'll never forget what an ordeal it was when you had to say goodbye to Abby at the airport last year.

This is a good example of the kind of lavish meal that he and mom prepare several times a week for church groups ranging from 5-25.

Happy birthday, dad.


  1. Dan, this was super inspiring. You are blessed to have your dad and his example. Thankyou for sharing!

    1. Thank you! I think dad would agree with me that all glory and credit goes to our God. - Dan