A Father’s Integrity
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Bryan Loritts joins his father, Pastor Crawford Loritts, to talk about the value of a father’s integrity.
Bob: As parents, when we say one thing and live a different way, that hypocrisy can leave an impression on our children that marks them for life. Here's Bryan Loritts.
Bryan: When you just live this duplicitous lifestyle, you are modeling for your kids what's acceptable behavior; and that gets handed down generationally; that stuff is learned in the home. It sets them up for failure; it sets them up with what's okay in how—in treating women, you can say, “I promise,” or take a vow—but if integrity wasn't modeled in your home, then “It's no big deal if I make a vow and I break it, because that's what Dad did.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, September 23rd. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You’ll find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. The decisions we make as dads—they don't just impact us or our marriage—our kids are paying attention to those decisions and seeing if what we say is true/is how we live. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We're talking this week about the gifts that we are supposed to be giving our kids, as their father. I'm not talking about Christmas gifts, or birthday gifts, or material gifts; I'm talking about a different—
Dave: Good. [Laughter]
Bob: You're such—
Dave: I don't want to give any gifts.
Ann: He's a humbugger!
Bob: —he is such a tightwad.
Ann: He is, Bob.
Bob: You are such a cheapskate.
Dave: I did not say I don't want to give them gifts, but you know. [Laughter]
Ann: It's true. [Laughter]
Bob: We're talking about different kinds of gifts—
Ann: —different kinds of dads.
Bob: —and gifts that cost differently. They may not cost money, but they're going to cost time and intentionality; we're talking about dads.
Our friend, Bryan Loritts, is joining us again because he's written a new book called The Dad Difference: The 4 Most Important Gifts You Can Give to Your Kids. Bryan, welcome back.
Bryan: Always good to be with you all.
Bob: Bryan has spoken with us on the FamilyLife Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise. He and his wife are part of The Art of Parenting®video series and the Art of Marriage® video series. Bryan is an author; he's a speaker; he is the executive pastor at the Summit Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.
This new book, as we've been saying this week, is not Bryan's testimony about everything he's done right as a father; it's really a lot of what you've learned from your own dad, and you've been trying to apply.
Bryan: That's right.
Bob: But I'll just say this, because I've observed you as a dad. You have been applying/you have been purposeful and intentional as you're raising your boys. You haven't done it perfectly—none of us has—but you have been aware of the fact that there's a mantle—
Bryan: That's right.
Bob: —that you carry, and this is not something you can be passive about.
Bryan: That's right. You know, we've been talking a lot about the word, “intentional.” I think the default for man is to slide back into passivity. I think that was an unfortunate gift that Adam gave us; right?—he sits there and watches the snake talk to his wife. I've had bouts with passivity; and you know, I battle it all the time. There's plenty of times I'd rather be watching the game by myself.
But you know, I've never felt bad about being intentional with my children. I have felt bad about being passive and watching TV when I should have seized the most of that opportunity.
Bob: Bryan, your book's built around four gifts—that's the subtitle. We've talked about these; but just refresh us: “What are the four gifts?”
Bryan: Yes; so it's what we call “Fathering RITE”: so it's Relationship, Integrity, Teaching, and Experiences.
Bob: And we've already dug into the whole idea of relationships. I think I misunderstood
what integrity is supposed to look like when I was raising my kids. Here's what I mean by that: I thought that integrity meant that I should be as close to perfect in their eyes as I could be. I should keep hidden my flaws and only show the righteous side of me—that's not integrity; is it?
Bryan: No; it's not. The analogy that I use—you know, I grew up in Atlanta—and like the Wilsons, I know what it's like to have a struggling football team; right? [Laughter]. I had to look elsewhere for heroes. My hero, growing up, was Walter Payton. I loved Walter Payton so much that I did the unthinkable—I ate Wheaties®. [Laughter] Now, if you've ever had Wheaties—like that's the worst cereal, ever—but Walter Payton was on the cover of a Wheaties box. My hero's eating Wheaties, so that's just the cross I'll bear.
My dad is a pastor; he's a preacher. Oftentimes, sports teams would come into town and ask my dad to do chapel. The Bears did it; they asked my dad, “Hey, can you come speak at chapel?” My dad brought me along; and boy, I was on cloud nine. My dad's speaking at chapel; and when he's done, they said, “Hey, do you want to stick around with the team?”
Bob: Oh, look! [Cheers] Look who just—
Bob: Look who just popped into the room!
Bryan: Unbelievable. [Laughter] I'm going to get a picture of this.
Bob: We should let our listeners know—and we thought this would be fun—we didn't tell Bryan this was going to happen. We thought, “Let's reach out and see if the man we've been talking about this week could join us for a little bit.” Crawford Loritts has joined us in the studio; welcome, Crawford.
Crawford: Hey, Bob. Hey, Dave and Ann. Good to see you guys and—
Dave: Great to see you.
Crawford: —Bryan, good to see you, my brother.
Bryan: Hey, Dad. I need some gas money; can you give me some gas money? [Laughter]
Crawford: Yes; those days are over, my brother.
Bob: I want to know what you think of the book, The Dad Difference, since there are so many stories about you in here.
Crawford: Ah, yes. Here's the deal—Bryan and his mother/my dear wife—[Laughter]—they all knew about it; I didn't know anything about the book.
Bob: So all of these stories in this book—did you get buy-off on—
Crawford: No! No.
Bryan: Wait a minute. Are you kidding me? Do you know how many stories he told about me in sermons that he got paid for?—[Laughter]—that I never got any remuneration on.
Crawford: Yes, you did; you got a roof over your head. [Laughter] I read the manuscript/as I'm reading the manuscript, I'm like in panic mode: “What story is he going to tell?” [Laughter]
Bob: It's got to be humbling to read a son talking about the power of relationship, and integrity, and teaching, and experiences—and Crawford to go—your son is saying, “My dad did these things in my life.”
Crawford: Yes; it's humbling, and I'm grateful. Obviously, you know, I don't walk on water; so I'm just grateful that God in His sovereignty helped clean up my mistakes. It is quite humbling; it is quite humbling.
Bob: We were talking about integrity when you dropped in. I was saying that I thought integrity meant that I was only supposed to reveal to my kids the positive side of who I am. I was supposed to keep anything hidden that was unrighteousness and only show righteousness. I realized, later on, I'd set a standard for my kids that they can't achieve if they never see dad make mistakes and own up to those mistakes. A part of integrity is messing up and owning up; isn't it?
Crawford: That's the point. Integrity is not moral perfection. I think that's where our legalists have stepped in. In their desire to project this moral perfection, they get seduced in being a Pharisee; and just the opposite happens.
Integrity has to do with closing the gap between your shortcomings and repentance becoming your friend.
Crawford: Repentance is your friend—and you turn from it [shortcoming/sin]—and it’s transparency. Even when you fail, there's a sense of wholeness about you; because you move toward confessing your sin, repenting of it, making it right. I don't think authentic integrity can take place apart from humility and repentance—they fuel integrity.
Bob: Bryan, when your dad dropped in, you were talking about “Sweetness”/about your hero, Walter Payton. What was the point you were making about integrity/of what he modeled?
Bryan: Yes; so Dad takes me to the chapel; he speaks and then we get invited to breakfast. Like I said, I've been eating Wheaties; because Walter Payton, my hero, had been eating Wheaties. When I showed up to the breakfast table, he's not eating Wheaties; he's eating Raisin Bran®. [Laughter] I just remember: “I've got to ask this guy about that.” And so I said, “Mr. Payton,”—as respectfully as I could—“I eat Wheaties because I thought you eat Wheaties; but you're eating Raisin Bran.”
I'll never forget what he said—he kind of had this scowl on his face—and he said, “Oh kid, I don't eat that stuff; that stuff's horrible!” [Laughter] I never really ate Wheaties again. Years later, it dawned on me that all Wheaties was for him was a paycheck. There was a sense in which I was disappointed that my hero wasn't even buying what he was selling.
I think that's what we're getting at when we talk about integrity—is buying what you're selling—and even when you fail, the Bible is clear that I need to apologize, own up to it, confess it. Even in our imperfections, we can still be people of integrity. I talk plenty about dad apologizing to us.
Dave: I've got a question for either one of you guys. This has never happened to me; because I've always been perfect, and I'm a perfect father. [Laughter]
Bryan: Stop! [Laughter]
Dave: No; it's happened to me many times, and I know it's happened to you. If I lack integrity—if there's a gap between what I say and what I do/my walk and my talk—and I have to come to my sons or my daughters and apologize; what's an apology look like? How do I go there, in a family room or in a discussion with my kids, about my integrity?
Bryan: I think your question is great, because I think just a lot of people in our culture just need a good old-fashioned tutorial in how to apologize. An apology is not: “I'm sorry it came across this way,” or “…you heard it that way,” or “…you took it that way.”
Apologies should take ownership: “I'm sorry for what I did.” And they should be specific/they should specifically name the offense; and then at the end, I think an apology should make the big ask: “Will you forgive me?” I think that's a healthy apology.
Ann: Crawford, do you remember a time where you had to go and apologize? I'm sure—you've got several kids—so—[Laughter]
Crawford: Yes; I mean, just like—I did it daily. [Laughter] Actually, I tell a story about his brother/his youngest brother. I had to—I'll shorten it—he had been doing something that I had told him, repeatedly, not to do. He sort of kept doing it. Well, I thought he had done it again; and by this time, I'm ticked off; okay? I shut him off; I did not—he was going to give me a reason—I said, “I know you did it; now close your mouth, son.” I just came down hard on him.
Well, come to find out, his older sister told me that Bryndan did not do that. I had some humble pie. I had to—you know, I'm rationalizing this thing: “Well, he did it before; and okay, I mean, he deserved it.” I'm talking myself out of it. But then the Lord just grabbed ahold of me. I had just dropped him off at school; so I made a U-turn, went back to school, got him out of class, and had to look him straight in the eye and say, “Son, I'm sorry. I was wrong; you did not do this. Would you please forgive me?” I've had to do that a number of times.
Bob: Those elements that you just modeled—again, that's what we taught our kids: “I'm sorry. I was wrong,”—and then name what it was you did—“I'm sorry for this.
Bob: “I was wrong in doing that specific thing.
Bob: “Will you please forgive me?” And then we made them hug at the end.
Dave: You made them hug?
Bob: We made them hug.
Dave: Boy, I'm impressed.
Bob: We said, “Okay; now, hug each other.” And they were always kind of like halfway hugging.
Dave: We had our boys do a fist bump; [Laughter] you know.
I tell you—one night—you know, I coached high school football when my three sons were going through high school. I wanted to be on the field with them, and that was a way to be part of their life. We're in a playoff game. I'm not only the quarterback coach—I'm also the chaplain—because we did chapel on Thursday nights—it's a public school, so it was really great ministry; right?
Crawford: So you can't lose your cool.
Dave: Can't lose my cool!
Dave: And I'm always telling the kids: “You know, you gotta keep your cool.” Well, guess what happens? It's an important game/playoffs; we score. This [other] team—by the way, a bunch of jerks—let me tell you—[Laughter]—they walked through our pre-game thing; they're yelling. It was nasty from the get-go; right?
Our guy scores. I watched this kid [from the other team], as he's [our guy] handing the ball to the refs, spear him/literally, dives at his legs. This is five seconds after the touchdown score, and hands the ball to the ref, dives at his legs. The ref on our sidelines, right by me—I go, “Did you/did you see that?!” He turns, and looks at me, and he doesn't say a word. I go, “That's ridiculous! You've got to call that!” And he goes, “I'll call it”; and he throws a flag on me. [Laughter] The coach gets a flag! Well, let me tell you, the whole sideline's like, “Coach Wilson just got a flag because he cursed!”
Bob: —“the pastor.”
Dave: That's what I heard; [Laughter] they said I cursed.
I never said anything but, “Did you see that?”—right? My head coach grabs me and goes, “Get over here! If you get another flag, you can't coach next week,”—and blah, blah, blah. I'm like, “You've got to be kidding me; that guy threw a flag! I can't believe it.”
Well, as I go home that night, my son's like, “Dad, what happened? Everybody's saying you cursed. I can't believe you cursed.” “I didn't curse.” He goes, “Well, did you do anything wrong?” I go, “No; that was a terrible call.” Then, as I went to bed, I was like, “Yes; I did do something wrong. That was wrong; I absolutely did what I told my kids never to do.” The next morning, as we were watching film, it's one of those moments. This is the only good story I have in my entire life; because they're all negative! [Laughter]
I had to stand up in front of 70 kids and say, “I was wrong. Here's what I said…Here's what I did…Here's why it was wrong…The ref did the right thing; I did the wrong thing. I modeled for you what you should never do, and I am sorry.” I'm telling you—there are kids, ten years later, who said, “Coach, I don't remember a single thing you taught me about football; that's the only thing I remember—
Dave: —“is that you owned up to your mistake.”
It's just so important—right?—for our kids to see that.
Bob: Bryan, if a dad lacks integrity, what does that do to the kids?
Bryan: That's devastating. It's one thing to—you know, all sin is a breach in integrity, to some extent—but that gets stitched up real quick with an apology, which is the whole point we're making. When you just live this duplicitous lifestyle, you are modeling for your kids, what's acceptable behavior. That gets handed down, generationally. That stuff is learned in the home, and it sets them up for failure; it sets them up with what's okay—and how, in treating women, you can say, “I promise,” or take a vow—but if integrity wasn't modeled in your home, then it's no big deal: “It's no big deal, if I make a vow and I break it, because that's what Dad did. Dad kind of granted me permission to live this immoral lifestyle.”
Ann: Bryan, you tell a story about—I think you head it up by saying that: “My dad really did believe this Jesus stuff.”
Bryan: Yes; yes.
Ann: You tell the story of him driving and a man hitting him. I love that you're both here, because you can share this story. What happened?
Bryan: I think it was either my freshman or sophomore year in college, so I wasn't there. I get this phone call that dad's driving down; I think it was Highway 29 or something like that, Dad.
Bryan: This guy just runs into my dad, totally the other guy's fault. Airbag deploy; Dad's a little thrown off by it; he gets out. The guy who hit him just happened to be a white guy; and this guy comes walking towards my dad, using a racial slur towards him. I'm like steaming as my dad's telling me this. Later on, Dad just said, “Hey son, pray for me. We're going to see each other in court, and I really want to share the gospel with him.” That's when I'm like, “Wow; you really believe this Jesus stuff.”
Crawford: Now, there was a little bit of time in between that. [Laughter]
Bob: That wasn't your first thought; right?
Crawford: No, it wasn't my first thought; but I appreciate that, son. I finally got there.
Bryan: Yes; yes. But I think that who you really are is shown in adversity. And so, in these adverse circumstances, to see my dad's character was very inspiring for me.
Bob: And there is good news. Crawford, I want you to speak to this; because some dads, who would look and say, “I have not modeled integrity. I've not been a man of integrity. I've been duplicitous. My kids have not seen that [integrity] in me.”
The good news of the gospel is we can come and confess, and we can repent. Not only will God forgive, but we can set a new course and a new pattern that our kids can look at and say, “God is real, because my dad's life changed when turned around.”
Crawford: Sometimes we just have to stop wasting our lives by beating up on ourselves you know? If there’s breath, there's opportunity for change and repentance; and that, in fact, is the hope of the gospel. None of us have done it right; none of us come from perfect backgrounds—we screw up all the time.
The issue is: I think you have to spend enough time in remorse—you know, being sorry about what you've done and taking an inside look and identifying what you haven't been/what you haven't done—but then you need to focus on the cross and focus on: “What can God do in my life and in this situation?” And then, “How do I change?”—and being willing to do whatever it takes to change. By that, I don't just mean praying a prayer. Sometimes, what it means to change is to humble yourself, and find a mentor or find somebody else that can speak into your life/that can hold you accountable. Being humble enough to go back to your kids and to apologize—to your wife or [whomever]—and begin making things right.
You know, that's the hope of the gospel; that's what it's all about.
Bob: Crawford, in one sense, this book is a tribute that your son has written to you. I know you have, on many occasions, taken the opportunity to write letters—he talks about it in the book—to affirm him/to bless him as a father to a son.
I also know that he's gone through some challenging moments in the last year. I'm just going to ask you as we wrap this up: “What would you want to say to him today
about what you see God doing in his heart and in his life that you're proud of?”
I'm going to start crying here. You know, there's so much I'm proud of Bryan about. I'm proud of the fact that he just keeps coming back to Jesus during hard times. He keeps coming back to God's Word. That, in his heart, he chooses the right hard thing to do; and he presses into that, and God validates that in his heart and life. That's all you can ask for, and so I'm just proud of the man that he is. I'm proud of his integrity. I'm proud of his pressing into the Lord. I know that sounds almost cliché, but that's what I'm proud about.
You know, we all have to remember/I mean, we ain't across the finish line yet; and so we keep pressing into dependence on the Lord. That's what we're stumbling toward—holiness—and God is with us. So I am proud of that.
You know, I am humbled beyond measure that Bryan would write this book—and my other kids, they say kind things—I am overwhelmed by this. I write in the introduction of the book that many times—and Bob, I think you've heard me talk about this through the years—when they were small, and I was traveling a great deal of time on staff with Crusade, and I'd be in some small college town—I can't tell you the number of nights that I would wake up, in the middle of the night, and just petrified/these horror stories of friends and colleagues, whose kids walked away from the faith, because their dads were gone and they—and I would just cried out to God, “Please God, don't let my kids be bitter, because I have to be away.” To see how they have responded, in spite of me/but to that prayer, just does my heart good.
I'm proud of Bryan; I could not be more proud of him; and his faithfulness to the Lord; and pressing into hard, difficult stuff; and seeing God carry him; and how God is using him in a great way.
Dave: I would just add “Thank you,” to both of you men. You have been mentors to me. Bryan's younger than me, but he's mentored me. Crawford, you're a little older than me;
[Laughter] but you have been a tremendous mentor—
Ann: —for both of us.
Bob: —for all of us.
Dave: —not just as a man, but as a husband and as a dad—both you men. You're a mentor to thousands,—
Dave: —and you're changing legacies. We appreciate it; thank you.
Crawford: Well, thank you for the privilege of being here. Sorry I had to surprise you this way, son. It's Bob's fault. [Laughter]
Bryan: Well, I surprised you with the book. [Laughter]
Ann: There you go. [Laughter]
Bob: Thank you, guys, for the conversation today. We are making your book, Bryan, available this week to FamilyLife Today listeners. It's our way of saying, “Thanks,” to any listener who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. You know, our mission/our goal—and you guys are part of this—is to effectively develop marriages and families who change the world one home at a time.
Anybody who invests in this ministry—you're helping us reach tens of thousands/really, hundreds of thousands of people every day to provide practical biblical help and hope for marriages and families. When you make a donation today, that's what you're investing in; and we'd like to say, “Thank you,” by sending Bryan's book, The Dad Difference. Request the book when you donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to donate: 1-800-FL-TODAY is the number—1-800-358-6329—that's 1-800-”F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
I hope both moms and dads will check out the Art of Parenting. Bryan and Korie Loritts are a part of the faculty for the Art of Parenting video series that we've put together—Dave and Ann Wilson, Dennis and Barbara Rainey; we've got contributions from Phil Vischer, Tim and Darcy Kimmel, Susan Yates, Elise Fitzpatrick—a whole bunch of people—Stephen and Alex Kendrick are a part of the Art of Parenting.
It's great to do, as a couple, or to do in a small group setting. Find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Find out how you can do this online/do it virtually with others. Or if you're starting to gather in appropriately socially-distanced small groups, this would be a great curriculum for you to go through with other parents. Or if you're an empty nest couple, take some younger parents through the Art of Parenting. Again, find out more at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, tomorrow, we want to talk about how we can do a better job in marriage of encouraging one another/building one another up—those are biblical terms—“How do we affirm each other in marriage?” Matt and Lisa Jacobson will join us to talk about how we do that practically. I hope you can be with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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