FamilyLife Today® Podcast

A Word About Humility

with Tim Kimmel | September 27, 2006
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On today's broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Tim Kimmel, a father of four and author of the book Raising Kids for True Greatness, about how parents can cultivate character, humility, gratefulness and a servant spirit in their children.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • On today's broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Tim Kimmel, a father of four and author of the book Raising Kids for True Greatness, about how parents can cultivate character, humility, gratefulness and a servant spirit in their children.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Tim Kimmel talks about how parents can cultivate character, humility, gratefulness and a servant spirit in their children.

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A Word About Humility

With Tim Kimmel
September 27, 2006
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Bob: As we raise our children, there are some things that really matter and some things that are less important.  As Dr. Tim Kimmel points out, events in human history can have a way of helping to clarify which is which.

Tim: One day in recent history permanently seared its mark into America's conscious -- September 11, 2001.  Many successful people found themselves trapped in the clutches of this ghastly event.  At 9:03 that Tuesday morning, their SAT scores and the cars they drove to work meant nothing.  In the Twin Towers, who's who died side-by-side with who is he?

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, September 27th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Today's program should help us, as parents, refocus on what really matters as we raise our children -- a different standard of greatness.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  We've been talking this week about greatness.  I've been thinking about Muhammad Ali, you know, he used to talk about himself -- "I am the greatest."

Ali: [from audiotape] I just beat Sonny Liston, and I just turned 22 years old.  I must be the greatest!

Dennis: Yeah, right.

Bob: I think he was measuring that by a different standard than our guest is measuring that by, don't you?

Dennis: I do.  Tim Kimmel joins us and gives us a fresh definition of greatness.  Tim, welcome back.

Tim: Thank you.  Always a pleasure being with you guys.

Dennis: Tim is the executive director of Family Matters.  He and his wife Darcy speak at our Weekend to Remember conferences, and I've done this in the past, but it's probably good for Tim.  He, for a number of years, in fact, he still holds the record for the one who got to take home the watch -- the coveted watch award …

Tim: It was an egg timer, it wasn't a watch.

Dennis: I thought it upgraded.

Tim: I would love a watch.

Dennis: Folks, we have these Weekend to Remember conferences and throughout the weekend there's, how many hours of content, Bob?

Bob: Oh, there's about 15 hours where we present material.

Dennis: That's right, and so there's a schedule.

Bob: Yeah, there's a schedule.

Dennis: And generally the speakers are asked to follow the schedule, and these were much earlier years in Tim's life and ministry.

Tim: Well, I was still influenced by my '60s upbringing where you -- it's far easier to ask forgiveness than permission.  Do what you're going to do.

Dennis: I've got this picture of Tim holding the egg timer, because he received it for being the one who got to go over.  Actually, I had fun with that because I had a problem with the clock, too, and it's just good to know there's somebody …

Bob: Somebody else that was …

Dennis: … who struggled with it as well.

Bob: Well, I introduced Tim to our staff this morning.  He spoke to our staff, and I made a point of mentioning that it was more than a decade ago that Tim received that egg timer.  He is a repentant ..

Dennis: Well, we retired it, Bob.  We gave it to him permanently -- gold plated it.

Bob: I've spoken with Tim at these events, and he makes it his aim to end on time.

Dennis: He has repented.

Tim: Well, I went through a 12-step program for people who go overtime.

Dennis: There you go, there you go.

Bob: "Hi, my name's Tim, I go over."

Dennis: Well, he is a disciplined man.  He has written nine books, the latest "Raising Kids for True Greatness," and, Tim, you tell a story about a man who made an observation about a bricklayer?

Tim: Actually, he was a laborer supplying bricks for a bricklayer.  Let me kind of back up and give you the bigger picture.  This father is a -- he's a builder of high-end homes out in where I was living at the time, and he had a son that had a gigantic chip on his shoulder, and he was so angry at his father, and he'd gotten so testy, and so I'd been brought in to umpire this thing.  And in the process, we were going through his project there, where there were a lot of these houses being built and different levels of being built, and we were driving along slowly, and he's telling me about different things, and then a laborer came out of the house to get a pile of bricks, take it into the bricklayer that was apparently building a chimney or a fireplace on the inside.

 This father thought that he would use this as a chance to really tell his son, you know, what for, and he said, "You know, son, if you don't get your act together, you're going to end up like that guy right there, and you're going to be a nothing.  You're going to be at the bottom of the food chain.  You'll be an economic waste of time."

 I didn't say anything because I thought there was enough tension in this family without me humiliating Dad in front of his son, but we got back to their house, and the son just left and, I mean, I just didn't hesitate once the son was out of earshot.  I said, "Why did you say such a stupid thing about that man back at your project?  Why would you go and disparage that man who was doing a good service, in fact, for you, and working hard for his pay?  How do you know what kind of a man he is.  Just because he doesn't make much money, how is that a measurement of a man's true character?" 

 And he just kind of looked at me, like, dumbfounded, like, "What are you talking about?"  "What am I talking about?  I mean, this is basic life," and yet we, as Christians, and this was a Christian man, highly regarded in his spiritual circles, and yet he'd bought into that success lie that the only way you are significant in life is where you fall in either the economic food chain, the beauty food chain, the fame, or the power chain.  And what he would prefer is that you're at the top of all four.

 And yet that is something that is so easy to default to as parents.

Dennis: I was speaking at a conference a number of years ago, and it's not been often where I felt like the Lord really gave me a kick in the seat of the pants, but I was listening to Coach K., the highly successful coach of Duke, speak to a group of highly successful businessmen and women, and he started describing his mom and where he grew up in Chicago.  And he began to talk about the greatness of his mother who worked in a hotel and who cleaned rooms.

 And he started talking about because he knew her so intimately and what kind of character she had and the courage it took for her to do that, to raise him as a boy as a single parent and just the grit and the perseverance to not cave in and despair of life, I mean, that's not one of the more noble positions in terms of work in our culture.

 But as I listened to him describe his mother, and as I listened to him talk about how he treats other room-cleaning personnel, housekeepers in a hotel, I really felt convicted that I somehow looked down on courageous people.  And you know what?  It was really good for me.  I changed my opinion because greatness is not found in the position.  It's not found in what you wear, what you drive, where you live, but it really is an internal quality, isn't it, Tim?

Tim: Absolutely.

Bob: And what you've been pressing us for this week is that we need to replace the artificial standards of the culture for beauty and power and fame and money and education and instead be pointing our children toward cultivating character, humility, gratefulness, generosity, and a servant spirit.  If our kids have that, then that's where real greatness is found, right?

Tim: Absolutely, and it takes all this silly and senseless competition out of the parenting model, where you have to be the top of the class, and you've got to make the best grades, and you've got to get this high-end score on our SATs, and you've got to go to Division 1, and you've got to be in this sorority or fraternity -- all that silly stuff that we get wrapped up in.

Dennis: And all the pressures parents feel to provide all that stuff for our kids.

Tim: Yes, and then all the pressure our kids feel trying to measure up and knowing that no matter what, it's never going to be quite good enough.  I was reading about a movie producer, and he is so insecure, he was saying that he got on the front page of "Newsweek," and his father said, "Yeah, but 'Time' has a higher circulation."  And that's the kind of father he was brought up with.  It was never enough.

 And so this egocentric view of the future, when it's imposed on a kid, basically raises them up to make a lot of money with a lot of beautiful people around them, be well known, and so forth -- and irrelevant.

 Can I read you something -- is this very rare that we actually read from a book?

Dennis: Well, if it's a good book.

Tim: Well, I don't know.  Let me just read you something.

Dennis: It's your book, right?

Tim: Yeah, it is, but unfortunately there -- this is in the beginning of Chapter 2 of "Raising Kids for True Greatness" -- "One date in recent history permanently seared its mark onto America's conscious -- September 11, 2001.  This defining moment exposed the best and the worst things about us.  It forced us to look in the mirror as a nation and ask ourselves what really matters.  The terrorists who slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center caught us completely off guard.  In the middle of a business-as-usual morning, they showed us how naïve we were about the magnitude of their hate and the extent to which we could be humbled by their violence. 

 Many successful people found themselves trapped in the clutches of this ghastly event.  At 9:03 that Tuesday morning, their SAT scores and the cars they drove to work meant nothing.  There was very little that their pedigree and resumes could do for them.  The famous as well as the obscure became equals in the statistics in the Twin Towers' who's who died side by side with who's he?

 But in the midst of this crisis, there were magnificent people who responded to the urgency of the moment and gave everything they had for the sake of others.  As the successful rushed down the stairs of the World Trade Center, the truly great ran up.  As the well-heeled and comfortable ran for their lives, the truly great slipped inside the nightmare to see what they could do to help those who were left behind.

 And after the smoke cleared, thousands of truly great people stepped out from their quiet positions within the ranks of successful Americans and opened their hearts and their wallets to those whose lives had been shattered by this cataclysmic event.  Isn't it ironic that, as a nation, we worship those who are successful but when tragedy strikes our survival depends upon those who are great.  A cry for help is always answered first by people who live for something more valuable than their own fame or fortune.  They respond even though there isn't a thing in it for them, and that's why when it's time to bury our dead we mourn the loss of those who were successful, but we celebrate the memory of those were truly great."

Dennis: Tim, what you've written about there is such a contrast between arrogance and achievement and pride and a quality that you write about of humility that is the essence of true greatness.  In fact, when Jesus was asked by His disciples, "Wish that we could sit on the right and left of you and be in the position of greatness," He answered them by speaking about humility, didn't he -- and calling them to a servant spirit.

Bob: And this is where I need help as a dad, because I would say I'm trying to make sure that my children are pointed toward humility and gratefulness and generosity and having a servant spirit, and I'm trying to model those things as best I can.  Is the modeling of those things sufficient -- if I'm modeling that as a dad, is that what I need to do so my kids will get it and wind up there?

Tim: I would say if we were going to put a percentage on it, the lion's share of transferring this to their kid's heart is by your example.  Now, what you don't go by is where they are at this particular point in their life -- they're 14, 15, they're 8 or 9, they're just kids.  They're in the front side of their life, they were born with a sin nature, and maybe they haven't been redeemed yet by Christ or, if they have, they're just on the front side.  Let them grow a bit. 

 But what they are going to refer back to as they move into their adult life, is the standards that their mother or their father established for them at the heart level.

Dennis: And it's so easy to lose heart as a parent.

Tim: Yes.

Dennis: When you look in the eyes of that 14-year-old or 15-year-old -- boy or girl, it doesn't matter.  And they give you one of those, "You're stupid."

Tim: Oh, I know.  You want to wait until they go to sleep sometime and just go in there and put your hands on their little forehead, sleeping, and say, "Demon, come out!  What is wrong with you?"

Dennis: We received an e-mail from a mom who said, "You need to help me.  There has been an alien who took my sweet daughter to another planet and brought an alien daughter back to live in our home.  She's a different child."

Tim: It's the alien of adolescence.

Dennis: It is, and, you know, to those parents what you're saying is look beyond the moment, to be objective and keep modeling that humility that Bob was talking about.  Now, tell me, Tim, and this is going to demand some self-analysis by you -- but can you give me a great moment in your life when you feel like you modeled humility for your children?

Tim: Well, I'll tell you one where my mother modeled it for me.  Can I start there?

Dennis: You can start there, but I want us to come back to you.

Bob: But it's kind of self-defeating if he's telling you about "my most humble moment," you know?

Tim: And I really have a difficult time answer that question that way, but I have -- I'll tell you this -- I have something that I can refer to that shows them how I was trying to teach these things to them, but, see, it came easier to me because of the way my parents modeled it for me.

 And I remember there were times -- we lived back in Maryland when I was a teenager, and every once in a while we'd get one of those big blizzards that comes into Maryland and drops a ton of snow, and my brother Tom and I, we'd get up, and we'd look out the windows, and everybody would be seeing snow, and all we'd be seeing is money, because we knew -- we're going to shovel out driveways and we're going to have tons of money in our pockets.

 So we get up, and we get our stuff, because we're going to go out and start shoveling snow.  But before we left, our mother always would give us, she would always give us this list of shut-ins, these are senior citizens that were living on a pension, and before we could go after the money customers, we had to go to their place, dig them out, and we were not allowed to take a dime, and that had to be first.  That was just the way it is.  You gave her any grief, you know, I never found out what a snow shovel would look like on the side of my head, but she wouldn't have been against that, but this is just what you do.  You live your life for others.

 Darcy has a theory on when you start teaching your kids humility, gratefulness, generosity and servant spirit, and that is as soon as they can breathe.  It just becomes -- it's not an event in their life, it's a way of life.

Bob: I have been getting together with a group of guys for the last several weeks and together we're going through a little book that C.J. Mahaney wrote on the subject of humility, and it's been very challenging for us to work our way through this book and to talk about this issue and to see our own pride revealed as we go through it to talk about how servanthood is at the heart of real humility.

Tim: It is.

Bob: You mentioned that servanthood really is the encompassing character quality …

Tim: … of humility, gratefulness, and generosity.

Bob: Mm-hm, and I've just been aware again of what I think is the chapter in the Bible that all of us can spend some time meditating on if we want to understand God's perspective on humility.  It's Philippians, chapter 2 -- that's where Paul says that we are to do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind, we are to regard others as more important than ourselves; not to look out for our own interests merely, but also for the interests of others.  And then he goes on to say, "You are to have this mind in you, have the same mindset that Jesus had, who, although He was God, did not regard a quality with God something to be held onto but He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, being made in the likeness of man and ultimately being crucified on a cross."

 That's the kind of character that we would love to see molded into the hearts of our children, and what I hear you saying is if we want our children to evidence that kind of selflessness and humility, then we've got to be models for them.

Tim: Absolutely, and in the process we raise their potential, their spiritual stock value, all the options that God can do in them, for them, with them, through them, in the future.  We paved the way for a much more pleasant marriage for them because the thing about truly great people, you know, when it comes to marriage -- that they're low maintenance.  They are.

Dennis: And if they've learned what you're talking about here -- true humility -- that's how you establish a great relationship. 

Tim: Exactly.

Dennis: You're never going to have a great relationship with two proud people.

Tim: Not at all -- talking about never satisfied.  And the neat thing about a truly great person -- they tend to attract that type of person.  It's easier to wake up next to a person like that.

Dennis: I just want to pause for moment and encourage a single-parent mom, maybe it's a mom or a dad raising a child, you're in a tough time -- this is cross-country …

Tim: … it is …

Dennis: … it's not a sprint.  It takes time.  There are a lot of losses, there are a lot of mud puddles that the kids get into, and they drag you into it.  Just keep on keeping on, and I want to encourage you -- keep modeling what Tim has exhorted us to do here today, which is -- well, it's back to Philippians 2, Bob -- "Have this attitude in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."  And if you model that for your kids, they may not be able to articulate, "You know what?  That was humility that Mom was modeling at the dinner table today."  Or Dad did in traffic the other day.  No, it will be later on when they're 30, 40, 50 years old, when they finally recognize the quality, but keep on keeping on, and don't give up.  It matters.

Bob: And stop and ask yourself this question -- as a parent, let's go out 20 years, and your child is now married with two kids and living a life on his own or on her own, and you've got this option.  You could either have a child who is living real well, making a lot of money, got fame and power and beauty, but is arrogant and selfish.  Or you can have a child who is living in an apartment and working an average job and making car payments but somebody who is humble and somebody who is focused on others.  What do you really want?

 That's a question that I think is at the heart of the book you've written, "Raising Kids for True Greatness," which we've got in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  Our listeners can go to our website,  There's a red button right in the middle of the home page that says "Go," and if you click on that button, it will take you right to a page where you've got more information about the book, "Raising Kids for True Greatness," and, again, I think this is a book that all of us, as parents, no matter where we are in the process -- if we're just starting, if we're in the golden years with our kids, if we're getting ready to launch them, I think this is a book that helps us sharpen our thinking about what really matters as we help mold and shape the hearts and lives of our children.

 Again, our website is, and if you click the red "Go" button right in the middle of the home page, it will take you to a site where you can get more information about Tim Kimmel's book, "Raising Kids for True Greatness."  Another book that you've written called "Fifty Ways to Really Love Your Kids," is also available from us here at FamilyLife, and any of our listeners who would like to get both books, we will be happy to send at no additional cost the two CDs that feature our conversation on this subject this week so that you can review it again or you can pass it on to friends or relatives, to your own adult children as they raise your grandchildren. 

If you would prefer, you can call to request these resources at 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.  We've got the team here who can take your phone call and make sure that they can answer any questions you have about these resources or get them sent out to you this week, if you'd like to receive them.

 Let me quickly say a word of thanks, if I can, Dennis, to the folks who not only listen regularly to FamilyLife Today but there is a handful of folks in each of the cities where FamilyLife Today is heard who have contacted us either by phone or by going on the Web, and have said, "We think FamilyLife Today is helping us as a family, we think it's important for our community, we want to make sure it stays on our station, and we want to see it continue to be on other stations all around the country, and they've said that by making a donation to the ministry of FamilyLife Today. 

 Some folks have called to make a $10 donation, we've had folks who have called with $100 or $1,000 donations to the ministry of FamilyLife Today and, I'll tell you what, each time we get a call like that, it is so encouraging for our team to know that we've got folks who believe in what we're doing enough to support it financially.  Let me just say if you're a regular listener to FamilyLife Today and if the program has benefited you, can we ask you to consider making a donation of any amount, again, to help with the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  We're listener-supported, and those donations are an essential part of our ongoing ministry efforts here at FamilyLife. 

 You can donate online at or you can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, and this month, if you are able to help with a donation of any amount, we want to send you a two-CD series -- an interview we did with Shaunti Feldhahn, the author of a book called "For Women Only," a book that helps wives understand what's going on inside the heart and mind of a husband; how she can help support him, respect him, encourage him.  That two-CD set is our gift to you when you request it as you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of FamilyLife. 

 If you're donating online, you'll fill out a form online, and you'll come to a keycode box.  When you get to that box, type in the word "women," and we'll know that you'd like to have these CDs sent to you, or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY.  You can make a donation over the phone and just mention you'd like the two CDs with Shaunti Feldhahn or the CDs called "For Women Only."  We'll be happy to send them out to you to help strengthen your marriage and your family and also as our way of saying thanks for your partnership with us here at the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  We appreciate you.

 Tomorrow, Dr. Tim Kimmel is going to be back with us.  We're going to continue to talk about the priorities that go into true greatness in the lives of our children, and I hope you can be back to join us as well.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.

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