FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Becoming a Difference Maker

with Derwin Gray | January 7, 2010
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Inside every good man is a hero. Former NFL player Derwin Gray sounds the call for husbands and fathers to step up and be the men God has called them to be. Derwin talks honestly about his own struggles in marriage and shares how abiding  with Christ has changed the way he loves his wife and children.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Inside every good man is a hero. Former NFL player Derwin Gray sounds the call for husbands and fathers to step up and be the men God has called them to be. Derwin talks honestly about his own struggles in marriage and shares how abiding  with Christ has changed the way he loves his wife and 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.

Inside every good man is a hero.

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Becoming a Difference Maker

With Derwin Gray
January 07, 2010
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Bob:  Derwin Gray’s main ambition in life used to be playing in the National Football League.  Today he has a whole different ambition and it all revolves around his relationship with his wife Vicki.

Derwin:  Christ says in Ephesians 5:25 husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church so what I want to do is I want to get a PhD in Vickiology.  I want to know my wife so well that Ephesians 5:27 takes place and she is beautified.  I want her to blossom like the most beautiful rose there is.  I want her fragrance to be glorious. 

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, January 7th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I am Bob Lepine.  We are going to hear today from a former NFL football star who had his priorities adjusted for him early in his NFL career. 

Welcome to FamilyLife Today thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition.  At the beginning of each of our programs this month we are challenging listeners to spend some time together as a family or as a couple in God’s word and our hope is that in 2010 family’s will be a little more intentional in that process.  We thought that maybe we could jump start things by giving listeners a particular verse to chew on today.  We are using the verses that are found at the beginning of the daily devotional Moments With You written by Dennis and Barbara Rainey.  What is the January 7th verse?


Dennis:  It is Proverbs 16:23.  You have to think about this one a little bit.  Listen carefully.  The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips.  What it is saying is that a wise person thinks about what they are going to say before they say it.  Their heart instructs their mouth.  It tells the mouth, mouth don’t say that.  You’re going hurt your wife.


Bob:  Say this instead.


Dennis:  That’s right.  You don’t have to be picky.  Think about being persuasive with your lips and saying sweet things that feel like honey. 



Dennis:  Then maybe tonight at the dinner table talk about what are the times during the day or week or month when these kind of words flow from your mouth.  When your heart isn’t doing a very good job of instructing your lips.   


Bob:  What is the reference for that again?

Dennis:  Proverbs 16:23.  The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips. 

Bob:  Well, and again, whether it is this verse or a verse of your choosing we are hoping you and your family will be intentional and purposeful to be in God’s word throughout the year.  We will keep reminding you of that all through the month of January. 

Now, quickly let me also remind folks about the special offer we are making to FamilyLife Today listeners this week and next week for the upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference season.  We have conferences starting Valentine’s weekend and continuing throughout the spring and into the early summer. 

If you register for any upcoming conferences this week or next week and identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener when you register for yourself your spouse comes free.  It is a ‘Buy One – Get One Free’ registration offer and all you have to do is let us know that you listen to us on FamilyLife Today.  If you are registering online, you identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener by typing my name, “BOB,” in the key code box on the registration form.   All the details you need about locations and dates; all of that can be found online as well. 

Or, call 1- 800- FLTODAY; register over the phone and just say, “I listen to FamilyLife Today, or say Bob sent me,” or something like that.  And again, when you register for yourself, your spouse comes absolutely free.  It is basically a half price registration for any upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. 

By the way on Valentine’s weekend Dennis and his wife, Barbara, are going to be at the Washington national hotel in Washington, D.C. and that same weekend I’m going to be at the Hershey lodge in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  So if you want to come to one of those two conferences we’d love to say hi and meet you.  Again, there will be conferences in cities all across the country throughout this spring and the buy one get one free opportunity is good for this week and next week only so get in touch with us and get registered for one of these upcoming conferences. 

You know when I first saw the book Hero that Derwin Gray has written that we are talking about this week I thought Dennis is going to like this book because it is a call to men to be men. 

Dennis:  When you open the cover of the book it’s just from the heart of a man to a man.  It’s a call for men to step up.  Derwin welcome back to FamilyLife Today


Derwin:  Thank you.  I’ve never had my book described as sweaty but I like that.  


Dennis:  Well, you know you were in the NFL for half a dozen years.  You are now a pastor and you are preaching at The Gathering which is a multi ethnic intergenerational church in Charlotte, N.C.  You and your wife, Vicki, have two children and you give leadership to another ministry called One Heart at a Time Ministries.  You are ministering to men all over the place and you want to make a difference in guys and call them to be the men that God made them to be. 


Derwin:  Absolutely.  It is a fervent passion of mine to see men be all that they can be.  My heart’s desire is particularly for men who are married that their children adore them and think that their dad is awesome because of the way they love their wives, serve their church, and the way they are impacting and leaving a lasting tattoo in this world.

Bob:  We watch guys play whether it is basketball, football or baseball and in the sporting arena you see a guy out performing athletically and you think that is a man.  And yet you recognized as you were playing in the NFL that although you were aggressive and taking action on the football field in your marriage and family that wasn’t the same kind of guy you were was it?


Derwin:  No.  I was very passive and I think one of the things that we see in our culture…


Dennis:  Wait a second.  Passive?  A linebacker passive?


Derwin:  Very.  On the football field I was secure and off the football field I was insecure.  


Dennis:  You knew the plays on the ball field but when you were placed at the head of the dinner table with your wife, Vicki, and she and the children were looking around the table at you you didn’t know what to do?

Derwin:  You want to hear something sad.  When my wife and I got married we never ate dinner together as a family.  My natural instinct was to get a tray and put it in front of the TV.  There was no sitting at the head of the table because I didn’t even know what that was.  I was passive.  I didn’t know what it meant to be a man.  The picture that I had of being a man was not a biblical man. 

I think it is time for us to reclaim our birth right to be sacrificial servant leaders but that doesn’t happen within ourselves.   It happens by looking to the great Leader himself and allowing his fierce love to transform us.  To be aggressive doesn’t mean that we are an ogre and say “woman, come here and come into my cave.”

Bob:  But this is all first generation stuff for you. 


Derwin:  First generation.

Bob:  Because you never saw this and this was not modeled for you growing up.

Derwin:  Right.


Bob:  You weren’t reading books that were telling you how to be a man, husband and dad. 

Derwin:  I didn’t like to read. 


Bob:  So when and how did the lights come on for you to say being a hero at home is the guy I want to be?


Derwin:  August 2, 1997 is when my wife and I came to faith.  She was six months before me and as we began to progress and journey there was a man named Allen Bacon who was my mentor.  I saw the way he loved his wife and the way he loved his kids. 

Then in 2002 some enthusiastic friends told us about this conference called a Weekend to Remember.  What did you remember and they said you just need to go.



So they even bought our tickets to go and we went.  From the moment that the speakers began to speak we were captivated and my wife and I were in awe.  This is what we can have.  So at that moment we both became ferocious readers.  We read the book Rocking the Roles.  I read your book Bob, The Christian Husband.  We continued to read and then we went to the conference the next year.  This is first generation so I don’t like the excuse of well…


Dennis:  It gave you the playbook didn’t it?


Derwin:  The playbook and any good football player knows this.  In order to be successful on the field you have got to know the playbook.  What the Weekend to Remember did was it gave us a playbook and we recognized the more we studied the playbook the better we could execute the plays in the game of life which was our marriage.

Bob:  When you went to the Weekend to Remember if you had been describing your marriage to other people at that time what kind of a letter grade would you have given it?

Derwin:  I would have given us probably a C minus.  I was passive and didn’t get into arguments.  I’d go okay, honey, whatever. 

Dennis:   You just retreated.

Derwin:  Oh, man I would retreat and stonewall and all of the classic things.  

Dennis:  Would that make her mad?

Derwin:  Yes, it would make her mad and she’d yell more and then the more she yelled the more I would retreat.  What the gospel has done for me is it makes me secure in the deep love of Christ so therefore when I interact with my wife I can filter what she says through the grace of God which allows me to stay secure and be able to engage. 

What the Weekend to Remember did is it gave us tools in how to honor each other.  She needed to learn to respect me.  It doesn’t mean to be a doormat but it means to respect me.  I needed to learn how to love and cherish her.

Bob:  Let me take you back to that C minus though.  A lot of people who are giving their marriage a C minus are starting to look for an exit strategy. 

Derwin:  Yes, the one thing for us is the “D” word was never ever spoken even before we were Christians.  I never heard my wife say this until we were speaking at a marriage conference together about two years ago.  She was sharing with the ladies and at age five she saw her biological father leave.  She said I always felt like I was never worth staying for.  That absolutely crushed me.  So the gospel of Jesus Christ told her you are worth so much I am going to die for you.  That’s how valuable you are. 

Our passion is that marriages can be restored.  My wife gives so much wisdom.  One of the greatest things I heard her say is, “adultery may be grounds for divorce but it’s certainly grounds for forgiveness.”  That is what we need.  Forgiveness.  We harbor so much bitterness and anger at each other and we close Jesus out and he’s saying let me into all those areas in your life and let my love influence how you interact with each other. 


Dennis:  Yes.  I want to say thank you for not continuing to be a passive male but for getting out of that easy chair and going with your wife to a Weekend to Remember and for agreeing with her to go with the playbook because you didn’t have to do that either. 

I want to say a word to the audience, Bob.  There are a number of listeners who have listened to us for a long time and they have heard us talk about the Weekend to Remember and they think it’s not for them.  You know what?  It’s for everybody.   It is not just a biblically based blueprint and game plan for marriage and family.  But it will bring life to you, your spouse, and your children.  It will create a new legacy for your life. 


Bob:  If we were to call Vicki right now and say what is different about Derwin today versus the first five years of your marriage.  If she was going to point to one or two things what would she say?


Derwin:  Wow, the first thing to flash to my mind is one of the things that my wife does is she writes notes.  I came home from a trip and I walked into the bathroom and on the mirror there was a note saying you are my hero.  She would say he loves me and he loves Presley and Jeremiah.  That’s only because God first loved him. 


Bob:  How is she different today?

Derwin: That’s a good one. (laughter)


Bob:  Than she was in the first five years of your marriage? 


Derwin:  I would say the first thing.

Dennis:  I wish our listeners could see the grin that just exploded off of Derwin’s face.  It looked like he just got Dan Marino from behind.   

Derwin:  That’s right.  I would say the first thing is this.  She honors and respects me.  She is my biggest cheerleader there is.  Early on in our marriage she didn’t know what respect was and she is very accomplished.    So now she knows what it means to respect and honor me.  That doesn’t mean to be a yes person but it means to disagree in a way that is honoring and respecting. 

The second thing is the sacrifices I’ve seen her go through.  During our pregnancies and I say “our” because it’s a team sport she goes through a condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum which is a Latin word for throwing up all day every day.  Seriously for nine months she would throw up all day every day.  There had to be home nurses with IVs and even during delivery she’d have to stop to throw up.  So I’ve seen her sacrifice to bring our kids into the world and in between the two kids we actually lost one who one day we will see again in new heavens and new earth. 

May 17, 2004 she was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma which is thyroid cancer so to watch her walk through cancer and to watch her embody the gospel message and then the last thing is she is a very gifted teacher and evangelist.  I marvel at the way that people come to Christ through her.  Kind of the joke in the neighborhood is don’t move next to the Grays or you’ll get saved. 


It’s primarily through her influence. 


Bob:  Is that because you tackled her?



Dennis:  Our listeners don’t know what you mean, Bob.


Bob:  You are well known for the video you were in called the Evangelism Linebacker.  You go around and if people aren’t sharing their faith you tackle them and take them out, right?


Derwin:  She threw the javelin so…


Bob:  So you leave her alone.


Derwin:  Yes.  She is a woman who is near the heart of God and his greatness radiates off of her.


Bob:  Why is it so important to you that she respects you? 


Derwin:  As a man our fundamental need is to be respected.  You can even see it in kids when little boys interact.  When she writes me a note that says you are a great provider or I love you because you did this or this.  Those type of things build me up.  That’s the heart cry of every man.  We are designed for respect.  Ephesians 5: 33 says wives see to it that you respect your husband.  It’s built into us to need this. 

In Ephesians 5:25 it says husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church so there is the dynamic of love and respect.  What I want to do is I want to get a PhD in Vickiology.  I want to know my wife so well and her love languages that my primary ministry is to love her so well that Ephesians 5:27 takes place and she is beautified.  I want her to blossom like the most beautiful rose there is.  I want her fragrance to be glorious.  I play a role in that.


Dennis:  You sure do and if you do it right she begins to radiate the love of Christ back to you and your children.  That would be the other question I’d ask.  How did your relationship with your children change after those first five years of marriage. 

Derwin:  I would say one of the classic examples and I use this in the book is I’ll never forget holding Jeremiah when he was three weeks old in 2000.  At that time he was really small and I could hold him with one hand.  I was looking at him in his eyes and my soul was just arrested that God you have to help me be like you because this little guy is one day going to be like me.  I craft time to invest with my kids.  I fish with my son.  I coach his football team.  I date my daughter.  I build into them.  There are a lot more speaking engagements I could have but I don’t want my life when it’s over to go wow, Derwin spoke at a lot of venues.  I want my tombstone to say he was a hero to his wife and his kids.  That is spelled out in how I live my life.  I want to spend quality time with them to know them.

One thing my daughter and I have is we travel together.  We do camps and she’ll go with me to preach.  This past July we were at the international Christian booksellers convention where I was signing my new book and watching her interacting with adults.  Everybody was amazed that she was 13.  I was so proud of her and the way she displayed Christlike virtue and character.  Building into her and investing in her and building and investing in my son I am preparing my son to be a hero.  I’m preparing him to be a warrior.  His weapons are faith, hope and love.  I’m preparing him to be a husband and a father to break this generational curse so that he can leave a legacy. 

I believe Jesus has left Christians here to change the world.  I really, really believe that.  I want my kids to change the world and that happens as I’m intimate with Christ and with them to equip them. 

Dennis:  You have been a gift giver to our audience in sharing your story today and the life change of what has occurred between you and Vicki as husband and wife and both of you as parents.  I want to give you two gifts. 

First, I want to give you Passport to Purity.  This is a weekend getaway for your daughter and Vicki to prepare her for the issues that she has already begun to face as a 13 year old.  You can also take your son through it when he gets 11, 12 or 13. 

The second gift I want to give you a book I wrote called Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date

Derwin:  I like that.

Dennis:  I’ve seen a picture of your daughter and you are headed for some serious confrontations with young men.  You said you interview young men with a Bible and a machete.  Well, this is a little cut above that.   I only had a ball bat. 


It’s really a lot of fun.  It’ll outline some ways that you can interview these young men who do begin to circle a young lady who is attractive.  I promise you if she is like Christ she is going to be attractive to these young men.

Bob:   And for a dad to step up like you’re stepping up is one way that as men we are heroic.  This is what heroes do and that is what you are trying to address in the book that you’ve written call Hero: Unleashing God’s Power in a Man’s Heart and we have that book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.  Along with Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date and the other books we’ve talked about today.  Rocking the Roles by Robert Lewis and the book The Christian Husband

You can get more information about any of these books when you go to our website  There is more information there about how you can get a copy of the book or call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY; that’s 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life” and then the word TODAY.  We will make arrangements to have a copy of the book sent out to you. 

And let me suggest that maybe another way you can be a hero at your house is by contacting us and finding out about the upcoming season of FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences.  We are going to be hosting conferences in dozens of cities all across the country this spring starting Valentine’s weekend and continuing all the way into June. 

This week and next week FamilyLife Today listeners can register for one of those upcoming conferences and you buy one registration and you get a second one free.  So you register for yourself and your spouse comes along absolutely free. 

All you have to do is either go online at; we have got all the information you need about the conference available there, where it is coming to a city near where you live, and you can register online and if you do, just type in my name.  Just type ‘BOB’ in the key code box in the online registration form and you will qualify for the special offer.

Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329, we can answer any questions you may have about the conference, we can tell you when it is coming, where it is going to be, and we can get you all signed up over the phone.  Just make sure you mention that you listened to FamilyLife Today or tell them Bob sent you, and again you will qualify for the special – ‘Buy one, Get one free’ opportunity.  It is good this week and next week only, so let us hear from you and we hope to see you at one of our upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. 

Dennis and his wife, Barbara, are going to be speaking at the Weekend to Remember at the Gaylord National Hotel in Washington, D.C. Valentine’s weekend and while they are in the nation’s capital I’m going to be in the chocolate capital, Hershey, Pennsylvania.  We have other conferences going on that same weekend so no matter where you live find out when the conference is coming near you and plan to attend a Weekend to Remember this spring.

One final note for those of you who happen to be helping to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today as a Legacy partner.  These are folks who make a monthly donation to FamilyLife Today.  If you sign up as a new Legacy partner and go ahead and have those donations made via credit card each month, we will send you a certificate for a fee registration for a Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.

So, you have got the opportunity to ‘Buy one – Get one free’ offer this week or next week, or you can sign up as a Legacy partner and we will send you a certificate for both of you to attend a conference as our guests. 

You can find out more about becoming a Legacy partner online at or again call 1-800-FL-TODAY.  Let me just say ‘Thanks in advance for your monthly support of the ministry.”   We appreciate your financial partnership with us here at FamilyLife Today.

Now tomorrow we are going to be back to talk more with our guest Derwin Gray about what it takes for a man to be hero in God’s eyes.  I hope you can be here for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I am Bob Lepine.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.


FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Help for today!  Hope for tomorrow!

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