The Power of Five Seconds

the power of five seconds

I recently heard a story that floored me. It was about myself, my father, and a sleeve full of tears. It was also about another great man who understood the power of five seconds – five seconds that would have a huge impact on thousands of people.

A Most Important Story

If you’re familiar with Facebook, you know that when you first go into it each day, it might show you a memory you had on this day from some previous year. Earlier this month a post came up where I told a story of my father.

It’s about the best thing my dad ever showed me. You can click the link to read a version of the story for yourself before or just read this quick synopsis. Bear in mind, the story will be more powerful, the synopsis will simply be factual:

My dad was a busy pastor, always finding time for people, but often at the cost of having free time. It made it difficult to expect time with him. After a call to his secretary one day, she let me know that he told her to always let me through no matter what was going on. This simple act made me feel so important and valuable. I’ve never forgotten it.

I found it amazing the power of five seconds in that moment.

I’ve shared that story several times. I’ve shared it with a crowd of about a thousand people at my father’s funeral. I’ve posted on this site with over a thousand views. I’ve shared it with different crowds and in different ways. Each time it has made an impact.

What I didn’t know is the five seconds that preceded this that may have made this happen. It wasn’t until just recently, after reposting that memory that I may have discovered the act that made this act possible.

Some Unexpected Backstory

After posting this story on Facebook, a good friend connected with me. She and her sister were very close with me and my sisters.

She messaged me and provided a little backstory that showed the power of five seconds, and she was gracious enough to let me share it:

When my dad [Dan] was Head of Maintenance at [Christian Life Center] (during your dad’s pastorship there), he and your dad were very close. Just a few months difference in age – they got each other.

My dad told me a story … about you and your dad. It was when you were maybe in elementary school. You were at the church one afternoon and sitting out in the lobby; you were crying. I don’t remember if my dad knew why – but he stopped to talk with you.

… [W]hat he got out of the conversation was that you wanted to have time with your dad and he was making you wait – which was making you upset. My dad went into your dad’s office and shut the door. He had a heart to heart with your dad about the influence he has over his children and how time is a precious thing. He told your dad that you were crying in the lobby. 

An amazing thing is your dad didn’t get mad at my dad for being so ‘forward’ about the situation – your dad started crying and thanking my dad for giving things to him straight. He got up and shut things down. My dad left for the day and your dad came out to you.

Dan took a chance and used the power of five seconds … to make a choice that could cost him a friendship and even a job. To make a choice to do what’s right, or do what’s easy. Dan chose to do what’s right, and it made an impact.

An Imperfect Father

You see, my father was far from perfect. Don’t get me wrong. He was a good man. I dare say a great man. He impacted tens of thousands of lives. I have yet to find anyone who has anything but good things to say about him. He always made time for people.

Which is why he was imperfect. He struggled between his calling to help everyone and his role as a father. I’m pretty sure for a long time he thought God’s view was that his family was second to everyone else because of his calling. It was a challenge at times to not feel second place.

He tried hard and did a lot of family activities. He was not an absent father, but he also wasn’t always present.

So what changed him? What changed him from the person that would keep working while his son cried, to the father who would drop everything to connect with his son? I can’t say for sure, but if I know my father, he took Dan’s words to heart. Even if he slipped up on occasion, that would have been a pivotal point in his life that would have put him on the path to change.

The Power of Five Seconds

We often don’t know how powerful our actions are. We typically don’t see all the ramifications. Yet in five seconds Dan made a decision that not only changed my life and the life of my father, it positively impacted thousands of people, and possibly will impact thousands more.

We often don’t realize the power of five seconds. We don’t know what impact just a small little gesture can have.

When it’s the right thing to do, five seconds can be exactly what’s needed to repair a relationship, help someone see a better way to do things, or even inspire thousands.

When you’re faced with a five second choice, do the thing you know to be right. It may not be easy, and it may not make sense, but you never know the good it will do.

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About the author

David is a father, speaker, blogger (obviously), and author of How to Create Amazing Presentations sharing the tools, tips, and techniques of the experts to make you an amazing presenter, 7 Steps to Better Relationships built on the stories and lessons on this blog with seven easy steps to help you maximize your interactions with the people you care about most, and The Man in the Pit to help you care for loved ones struggling with depression.

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