Papa Don’t Preach

By Reba Phelps

When I was in the seventh grade my papa became a preacher. Being so young I really did not comprehend what all this would entail. Outside of the Madonna song from the 80’s, I had never had any type of experience with a preacher. I was delighted to know that this meant I was being permanently installed into the prestigious club called, “The PK Club”.

Being a preacher’s kid in a small town means that you are under surveillance at all times and everyone in the community will judge the preacher based on his fruit. If the fruit spoils then he must not be practicing at home what he preaches behind the pulpit.

I spent the rest of my childhood trying to conceal from my papa that I may have been rotten fruit. If there was childhood folly going on then you can guarantee I was not too far away or I partook in the event. I went to get lengths to hide the occasional smell of wine coolers on my breath. I was also a professional at blaming others for the faint scent of cigarette smoke.

A couple decades later the tides would turn. I found myself needing my father’s advice more often than I ever had in my whole life and for much more serious issues than childhood follies.

I knew the only way to get accurate advice that would actually help was to let him know that I was not perfect. My mistakes would have to be known.

Much to my surprise, he was not shocked when I informed him that I was, in fact, not perfect.

The very first time I poured my heart out to him it took me half of an hour to explain the entire situation. He just stared at me for what seemed like an eternity and then said, “The lone banana gets skint”.


“You know when you go to peel a banana you always grab the one not attached?”

I then stared at him for an equal amount of time trying to process what he said. Maybe he means we work better as a team? Maybe he wasn’t listening to me at all? Regardless, It made me laugh hard enough that I forgot why we were talking.

The next serious problem I brought to him would surely end with some deep spiritual advice that only preacher’s kids are privy to. After I explained my imperfection I waited for the preacher to preach. That never happened.

My dad merely said, “Do you realize that when people made mistakes in the Bible that their mistakes were written about in a book that is still around over two thousand years later. Their stories are used to try to teach others not to make the same mistakes. Just be glad you aren’t in that book”

Another request for advice was answered with one of his famous sayings, “Don’t shoot yourself in the foot just to see if it hurts.”

Still, to this day, I have not discerned whether my dad’s advice is clearly too deep for me to understand or if it was so simple that I was the one making my problems worse. Maybe the advice was merely musings to distract me from my current problems?

Maybe since my dad has been a minister for over thirty-three years he was simply fatigued from doling out advice day in day out.

Whatever the reason is for his puzzling advice I thank God every day that I have my papa around to preach the good news to me and my daughters. We are very blessed to have a patriarch with such great connections to the man upstairs.

Happy father’s day, Brother George.

“I will guide you in the way of wisdom and I will lead you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered, and when you run, you will not stumble”. – Proverbs 4:11-12

4 thoughts on “Papa Don’t Preach

  1. Reba, I too am a member of the prestigious PK club. Several years ago we were sitting around the table at my parents house visiting. I told my dad I wasn’t getting in trouble on purpose growing up I was just giving him sermon material. I’m very fortunate and blessed as an adult to have preachers as parents because Lord do I ever need their advice and prayers!!

  2. Reba – knowing your father as well as I do I’m sitting here laughing so hard I may even cry! Great tribute to your dad and my great friend (need to see him)! Pawdaddy

  3. Reba,
    I can relate to your story, I love your dad dearly! He is like a dad to me, a spiritual dad for sure and those replies, they did and do have deeper meanings from personal experience Amen! Your dad, Brother George has been a blessing to me! As a pastor myself now when I need to talk to someone, when the weight of this world and all its problems / sin gets heavy your dad is one of the ones I call or go see.
    A very good and up lifting story, thank you.


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