Kids of a preacher man

Published 10:06 am Saturday, June 20, 2009

FRANKLIN—When Pastor David Dillon has the urge to see his family, he need not look far.

The father of three has kept his brood close — so close, in fact, that his wife, Patty, and two sons continue to work at the church and school the Dillons founded more than three decades ago.

“Working as a family — I look at it as a tremendous, tremendous blessing, especially since my boys came up through the school,” Dillon, 57, said.

Ben, 35, is the principal and high school learning center supervisor at Rock Church School. Danny, 33, is the school’s youth pastor and worship leader.

On this Father’s Day, the family patriarch — a tall man they lovingly call “Big Dog” — will be honored as the rock of his own family — spiritually, emotionally and professionally.

“I have an unbelievable dad,” said Danny Dillon. “He is my hero and my best friend, and it was a privilege being raised in his house.

“As a pastor and principle and a father, he did an amazing job carrying all those hats.”

Ben Dillon, who is expecting his first child with wife, Micah, in January, said he will take the life lessons he learned from his dad and apply them to his own family.

“He prepared me to be patient, think before I speak and to try to love others like Jesus loves others,” he said. “He never really got mad at us growing up. If he ever was in the wrong, he would always come apologize. However he acted at home was the same way he acted in public. He’s the real deal.”

Scripturally, Dillon said his favorite guiding influence is James 1:17.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.”

“It means that God is a giver,” he said. “That’s really my goal as a father. That’s what I see fatherhood as — consistent giving with the right attitude.”

Danny Dillon is raising three boys (Jack, 6, D.J., 5 and Benny, 1 ½) with wife Jill, with some of the same ideals as his father.

“He taught me early the importance of discipline and, in my case, it was early and often,” he said, with a laugh. “I don’t ever remember him raising his voice to us and I hope to continue to have the patience that he had with us.”

Dillon, who will celebrate his 39th wedding anniversary on July 14, said his wife, Patty, should be remembered on Father’s Day, too.

“When I think about fatherhood, I think about her because, obviously, without her I never would be a father but also because of her love and devotion to our family.

“She was about pouring her life into the kids, and that helped make me a better dad.”

Dillon said since he and Patty were young parents (both were 19 when daughter, Tate Ballance, 37, was born) there were lots of opportunities for blunders.

“We made plenty of mistakes, but I think we tried to learn with our kids and to ask forgiveness when necessary,” he said. “We always saw the value of hugs and kisses and family traditions.”