FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Dad as an Encourager

with Steve Farrar | July 25, 2012
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Dad, are you dropping the ball where your family is concerned? Steve Farrar coaches dads on how to encourage their sons and daughters with life-giving praise and God-ordained wisdom.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Dad, are you dropping the ball where your family is concerned? Steve Farrar coaches dads on how to encourage their sons and daughters with life-giving praise and God-ordained wisdom.

  • 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.

Dad, are you dropping the ball where your family is concerned?

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Dad as an Encourager

With Steve Farrar
July 25, 2012
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Bob:  Well, ladies and gentlemen, what an unbelievable finish to an unbelievable game!  After being completely dominated by their children in the first half of this game, the parents, under the superb tutelage of Coach Steve Farrar, fought their way back; and on the last play of the game, tied up the score with their children—sending this game into overtime. 

That means that each team will leave the field for a few minutes for additional coaching tips.  Let’s go down, right now, to our man on the field—that would be Dennis Rainey.  Dennis, are you there? 


Dennis:  I’m there, Bob.  It’s been an exciting game.  We were really down at halftime.  They had the dads—

Bob:  That’s right, Dennis!  [Laughter]  We’re going back in the locker room. 

Dennis:  We’re going to go back to the locker room with Coach Vince Lombardi—I mean—Coach Steve Farrar, [Laughter] author of Point Man and also a new book that Steve has written called Anchor Man: How a Father Can Anchor His Family in Christ for the Next 100 Years.  That’s a good book to take into the locker room, Bob, to talk about how you can pull out an overtime victory.

Bob:  Well, Coach, you’ve got us to the point where we tied it up in regulation.  We’re back on your playbook at page 62, and we’re going through the coaching tips.  You’ve got some more for us today? 

Dennis:  Well, there are 50 here, Bob.  He’s got plenty more, I promise you. 

Steve:  We’ll be here for three weeks.  [Laughter]

Bob:  That’s right. 

Steve:  Another tip for kids—and you’ve got to start early with this because it takes them a long time—is coach them to do a job right, the first time.  If you’re taking out the trash, take it out right.  If you’re picking up your room, pick it up right.  I just went through this before I came up here with my 17-year-old.  He got it 97 percent done, but three percent.  I’m thinking, “How long is this going to take?” —but you know, “He’ll get it.  He’ll get it.”  Teach them to do the job right, the very first time around. 

Coach them—here’s another one—“Coach them to open the door for their mother.” 

Dennis:  Ah, that’s a good one. 

Steve:  That’s a good one; isn’t it? 

Dennis:  You bet! 

Steve:  “Coach them to share their victories, their joys, their sorrows, their defeats, their hurts with you.”  The way you do that is by listening.  David said, “I love the Lord because He hears my voice.” 

I was a communications major in college.  It dawned on me several years after I graduated that I did not have one course on listening.  Although, for communication to take place, somebody’s got to talk and someone’s got to listen.  They didn’t even offer a course on listening.  Good dads know how to listen. 

Bob:  We tend to be, as dads—we tend to be lecturers.  We tend to think our job is to fix it and give you the answer and move on—rather than to hear what you are going through. 

Steve:  Yes.  There’s a part where they need some fixing, and they need some coaching; but they need an open heart.  They need to know they can get inside.  I’ve said to guys at our conferences that, “When your kids hit adolescence—12, 13, somewhere in there—something is going to happen.  Your kids, when they hit adolescence, are either going to go to their peers—and together with their peers, critique you and your wife—or when your kids hit adolescence, they are going to go to you and your wife.  Together, with their parents, they are going to critique their peers.”

Now, what we want to have happen is for our kids to come to us and critique the peers.  How do you ensure that will happen?—by listening to them when they are young—by having an open-door policy. 

Dennis:  The way you end up listening to them is you pursue them. 

Steve:  Yes. 

Dennis:  It’s a mistake if a parent thinks a teenager is really going to pursue them during the most self-centered time of their entire lives.  A teenager is very self-absorbed.  So, a father has got to realize that, “If you’re going to listen, you not only got to be there, but we got to be all there.”  You got to be pursuing them around the issues they’re facing.  As you ask questions and you get an answer, you don’t just take the answer for face value.  You may peel the onion a little deeper. 

I asked my daughter, who’d been out to the fair, what kind of evening it had been.  She just, all of a sudden, got this funny look on her face.  So, I asked another question; and the face got a little funnier.  What happened, as a result of that, was we had a good conversation around some issues that she saw while she was at the fair, that would never have occurred if I had taken the little, “Yes,” answer or the little, “It was okay,” or, “We had fun,”-type of experience.  It gave me a chance to really debrief around a situation that was very helpful to her, as a young lady. 

Bob:  I remember when my daughter and I were out looking at colleges together.  We would get done visiting a college.  I’d say, “Well, what did you think, Honey?”  She would kind of get this look on her face like she wasn’t sure how to answer that.  Finally, she started saying to me, “Ask questions, Dad.  Don’t ask the general question, ‘What did you think,’ but ask a bunch of specific questions because I can get there.  Ask me the abstract—” 

I think that’s what we tend to do, as parents.  Rather than asking specifics, we say, “How was the evening?  How was your day at school?”  We don’t say, “Tell me about what you learned in Science today.  Tell me about the kids you talked to at lunch today.”  Those specifics will help our children unlock and communicate. 

Dennis:  Yes, and dads are the worst at this.  We are notorious for the two-minute answer.  We don’t give the Technicolor®, full report of what took place.  We’d rather boil it down to its essence, and that bites us when it comes to a teenager. 

What’s another coaching tip? 

Steve:  Here’s a big one for all of us.  “Coach them to do what’s right when no one else is around because Jesus is always around.”  Jesus will reward them because they have character.  It’s a great proverb—Proverb 15, verse 3, says, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good.” 

Someone asked my youngest boy, Josh, a few months ago, about character.  I just happened to be there, and I have to tell you it was one of those moments where I was very grateful for the Lord.  They asked him about character and what it was.  Josh said to them—he said, “Well, there’s a difference between character and reputation.  Reputation is what people think you are.  Character is what you are when no one else is around.”  I thought, “Thank You, Lord—that he picked that up.”

Dennis:  This next one you’ve already touched on; but is there something else you feel like, Head Coach Farrar, that a dad needs to teach his son about pornography? 

Steve:  Well, when my guys were little, I used an analogy—and this is going to be a little offensive, perhaps; but it should be offensive.  In our conversation about pornography—and I was talking to John and, then, later, Josh, about how we are as men—and, “To see a lady without clothes on—that’s attractive to us; but you can’t get in that habit.”  One of the things I said to John—I said, “John,”—this is pretty gross—“could you ever be so thirsty that you’d go in and get water out the toilet and drink it?”  He goes, “Oh, Dad!  That’s gross!” 

I said, “You bet it’s gross; but what you need to understand, John, is that pornography and looking at that kind of stuff is like putting toilet water in your mind.  It’s dirty water.  The thing about it is, John, something you look at when you’re 12—something you look at when you’re 14—you remember when you’re 80.  See, and that’s—and you want to keep your mind pure and clean.” 

Literally, John had a situation in his life, a few years ago, where he was with some buddies, in a van, going back from a game.  Somebody put in a pornographic tape; and his natural inclination, when he saw it, he covered his eyes.  It was a natural instinct because it had been instilled in him early.

Dennis:  You know, that’s good that you put this in terms of a coach because we can’t control our children to do what’s right always.  As they grow up, they have to make it their own choice—

Steve:  That’s right. 

Dennis:  —but we can be a coach.  What’s a coach doing when the running back has got the ball and running down the sidelines toward the end zone?  He’s yelling his fool head off, “Keep going!  Keep going!  I’m for you!  I’m cheering you on!”  That’s what dads need to do with their kids. 

In fact, I was reminded, this weekend, in a meeting we had with two other parents.  This dad—his gift is encouragement.  I’m looking at a set of circumstances with my child through my eyes—this dad is looking at it through his eyes.  My eyes may be to think about the standards and calling young people to high standards.  This dad’s strength and spiritual gift—he has is encouragement and cheering that child on.  You know what?  I think we both left that meeting—a set of two parents there—both raising standards and also raising encouragement. 

A coach is an encourager.  He’s cheering a child on when he makes a right choice because it’s tough to be a teenager today.  They need to know you’re for them.  You recognize their right choice, and you are thrilled that they are growing up. 

Steve:  Absolutely, you praise them.  I remember the FamilyLife® conference.  In the section on dad, there was a phrase in there, “Praise them for their character.”  When you see those character choices being made, praise them.  Get out the red plate.  Ring the bell.  Do whatever you have—I mean, we get excited when our kids learn to hit a curve ball; but when they hit a moral curve ball, we need to jump up and just go crazy. 

Dennis:  You are exactly right.

Steve:  Here’s another one, “Coach them not to lie before they get into the habit.”  The other thing about lying is, “Make the consequences for lying severe.”  Lying will destroy their lives.  Lying is a corrosive.  What does lying do?  It destroys trust.  Can I make that anymore clear? 

Bob:  You know, I heard—

Steve:  Give me 45 minutes. 

Bob:  You know I heard someone say once—and I thought this was interesting.  They said, “If it’s hard for someone to lie, it’s hard for them to do any kind of sin.”  If it’s easy for them to lie, then, they can sin and think, ‘I can cover that up;’ but if it’s hard to lie, there’s that natural checkpoint that, “If I’m caught, I have to tell the truth.”  That’s one of those restrainers that keep us from sin. 

Dennis:  The core of lying is deceit, and wrapped all around deceit is hiding.  It’s hiding the truth, or hiding from the truth, or denying the truth.  If we don’t teach our children to embrace the truth, we are training them, in my opinion, to grow up to be—maybe successful basketball players, football players, maybe moms and dads—who are deceitful, who can’t be trusted—as you said, Steve.  But you have to train at the very core of that character issue. 

There are a couple of times in a child’s life when this is really important.  We’ve found that children go through a lying phase, somewhere around four or five and then, again, at nine, 10, 11—just around some major change points.  It’s very important that you work hard—just as you’ve coached us here, Coach Farrar—to really nip that lying in the bud before—before it becomes a habit. 

Steve:  Dennis, I think there is one other phase that can come about.  That’s around the 16-year-old phase because when they get their driver’s license and they want the freedom, sometimes, there’s hedging on the truth because they think if they tell the whole truth, they’re not going to be able to do what they want to do.  So, all the facts aren’t given.  That’s one we’ve run into here recently, that we’re working on a little bit. 

Bob:  Again, if the punishment for lying is severe, they understand that, “If I cover it, I’ll get in a lot of trouble.”  They’ll take their medicine often, at that point. 

Steve:  Yes, the other thing I’ve got to let our kids know is, “Your sin will find you out.  You cannot cover it.  It will come out.”  Better for you—whenever we tell the truth, whenever we admit sin, whenever we quit covering up—we outflank the enemy.  He doesn’t have anything on me anymore when I tell the truth. 

Bob:  Alright, Coach, back to the playbook here. 

Steve:  “Coach them that some things are more important than sports, although sports are important.  [Laughter]  Coach them that some things are more important, like Sunday worship.”  It’s amazing, to me, how many parents are caving on this issue.  You know, “Hey, football is important,” “Basketball”—but let me tell you something, “There are some things that are absolute priorities.”  Dad needs to set the pace. 

Bob:  When you live in a major league town—and I know you live near a major league town—there are lots of folks who have made Sunday the day you go to the home games.  If church has to be sacrificed, “Well, this is only a few times a year;” right?

Steve:  I just think we have to watch this.  You don’t want to get hard-nosed and legalistic about it, but I think the thing that has to come across to our kids—there are certain things in life that are a priority, and you live it out.  In areas where the Scripture isn’t black and white, we’ve got to come up with these things. 

Bob:  Alright, back to sports here. 

Dennis:  You know, I’m looking at the clock—and Coach Farrar, I need five of the best coaching tips left in this list because we’re about to go out on the field, and it’s sudden death. 

Steve:  Alright. 

Dennis:  I mean, whoever scores first is going to win the big game. 

Steve:  Alright, here’s a biggie, “Coach them to say, ‘No,’ to movies that their friends—even their Christian friends—are going to.”  That’s tough!  I think it’s—we fight this all the time.  “Hey, Dad, can I go see—all the kids from a Christian school are going.”  Well, you know what? 

We’ve gotten to a point—I’ve had to say to my boys, at certain times, “Listen, I can’t help it if your Christian friends have lousy fathers.  Excuse me.  Just because a guy can write a check to a Christian school doesn’t mean he’s doing his job.  If he’s not aware—Listen, I’d love for you to go see that movie, but I know what’s in that movie.  I know that movie is going to do damage.  Now, when you’re 18 and you’re out of here, you’re going to make your own choices;” but I think this is something where we can’t allow other people to call the shots in our family.  We’ve got to call the shot. 

Dennis:  I want to find out who’s doing the survey that these teenagers all tap into that says, “Everybody is going to see this,” because, in reality, no such survey exists.  There are a whole lot of Christian parents that aren’t bowing their knee—

Steve:  That’s right. 

Dennis:  —to all these different movies coming out. 

Steve:  Yes. 

Bob:  Okay, quickly, more tips, more tips. 

Steve:  “Coach your son to be a gentleman.  Coach him how to handle a relationship with a young lady; and conversely, coach your daughter to be a lady.”  I remember—Dennis would use the illustration about taking his daughter out on a date and going through the whole nine yards.  He’d knock on the door, open the door, and take her in the car.  See, that’s coaching.  That’s showing social graces. 

Let me give you another one, “Coach them that when you say, ‘No,’ you mean no.”  Here’s this line, “If I have to tell you one more time, —”   Well, why would you tell them one more time?  You’ve said it. 

Bob:  What did the first time mean? 

Steve:  What did the first time mean?  Again, it’s a matter of drawing lines, drawing parameters.  When you’re consistent, they’ll get the message. 

Dennis:  My father-in-law gave me a poster that I have on my lamp at home that says, “What part of the word, ‘No,’ is it that you don’t understand?” 

Steve:  Yes. 

Bob:  Which letter?  [Laughter]

Dennis:  There’s a couple more, Steve, I’ve got to get you to cover here.  It’s coaching tip 40 and 41. 

Steve:  Forty is, “Coach them to know what to look for in a husband.”  I think our daughters—here’s what happens:  When they hit 15, 16, these young men will start circling your house.  I use that term very carefully—like buzzards.  These young men are going to want to come into your daughter’s life and build relationships.  

Here’s what happens—I think our daughters take the grid of their father’s life, and the grid of their father’s example—and every young man that comes through that grid—if a guy comes into her life and he is disrespectful to her, he’s going to bounce off of the grid of your example. 

One more, Bob, I think—I saw you coming. 

Bob:  Yes.  [Laughter] 

Steve:  I saw you blindside me. 

Dennis:  He just put on his coach’s hat there.  He couldn’t resist it. 

Steve:  I saw him coming after me, Dennis. 

If a guy takes them out and starts to take advances physically, he’s going to bounce off the grid of the example of your life.  You’ll probably put a contract out on the guy’s life because you’re a protector.  See—then, when a young man who come in who knows Jesus Christ, respects her—he loves the Lord, he comes from a godly family, he’s going to fit the grid—he’s going to fit the model of what she should be looking for because she’s lived with it for 18,19, 20 years. 

Bob:  The other day, I said to my oldest daughter, “Honey, when the time comes that you start looking at a young man as a prospective husband”—I said, “What qualities that you’ve seen in me will you want him to have?”  She started listing a few, and I wasn’t asking for personal affirmation.  I was coaching here. 

Steve:  Yes. 

Bob:  Then, I said, “What qualities have you seen in me that you’ll hope he doesn’t have?”  It sparked a great conversation around what we look for, what we do, and helped her thinking about what will be one of the most significant choices she’ll ever make in her life. 

Dennis:  Okay, what about the young men?  What should they look for in a wife? 

Steve:  I think we really need to talk to our guys about this.  I remember being—Josh and I went to Chick-fil-A®.  We were grabbing a sandwich.  I said, just out of the blue—I said, “So, Josh, hey, you’re 12.  In ten years, you’re going to be 22.  You might some find some gal when you’re 22—it might be 24.  What are you going to look for?  What’s your list?  What are the things that are important to you?” 

We just started talking.  He said, “Well, Dad, it’s got to be somebody like Mom.”  I said, “Okay; well, tell me about Mom.  What’s most important about Mom?”  He said, “Well, Mom really loves the Lord.”  I said, “That’s right.  That’s got to be number one, man.  What’s another thing?”  “Well, there’s really got to be integrity there.”  We just started going down the list.  Then, I think we can help them and say, “Let me tell you a trap.  Some guys—all they can see is the outside beauty.” 

Dennis:  Yes, the packaging. 

Steve:  You know—“Oh, man!  Look at her.  Wow!  Wow!”  Let me tell you something, man, “That lasts about three days.  Then, you’re in this for 50 years.”  You’ve got to look on the inside, and you’ve got to find a gal that is committed to Jesus Christ, and you’ve got to find a gal that loves Him with all her heart because you’re going to get in situations that there’s going to be nobody else in the world you can turn to, except her. 

Dennis:  I hear the bands playing out there.  [Laughter]  You’ve got to give them 47 quick, Coach.  You’ve only got 30 seconds to give it to them.  We’ve got to rush onto the field. 

Steve:  “Coach them that Daddy will never, ever, ever leave Mommy—ever!”  If you give your kids that, you’ve given them 95 percent.  You can forget most of the rest of this—you give them that—your kids are going to be more secure, more emotionally well- adjusted than their peers because they live in an environment of consistency and security.  Give them that, guys.  Don’t go anywhere. 

Bob:  Let me ask you, just before we go back out on the field.  You’re looking at the game, all across the country—you’re talking to dads.  “Do we have a chance to win this game?” 

Steve:  Yes.  I mean, we have a chance, but we’ve always been in the minority.  We need to understand that.  The majority has never been moral.  There’s always been a remnant.  When they went into the Promises Land, they were surrounded by pagan cultures, against God.  They were called to build godly homes in the midst of that.  That’s what we’re called to do. 

You know what?  There’s always hope.  I can’t go change the nation by myself.  I change it in my family.  I change it by relationships.  I change it by following Christ.  God’s doing this—there are millions of homes that are doing this.  I take care of my family.  God’s looking at the big picture.  There are all kinds of hope. 

Dennis:  I think what Steve is saying is, “This is not a home game.  This game is on the road, and we’re playing in front of a hostile crowd.” 

Steve:  Yes. 

Dennis:  You know what?  You can win on the road—

Steve:  Absolutely. 

Dennis:  —if you’ve got a good game plan.  That’s what men need to have—in Steve’s book, Anchor Man.

Bob:  Well, we’ve got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.  If a listener is interested, go to  You can order the book from us, online, if you like.  Again, the website is; or call, if you’d prefer: 1-800-FL-TODAY and ask how you can get a copy of the book, Anchor Man, by Steve Farrar.  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”. 

Now, keep in mind, we’ve got an event coming up for husbands, and dads, and for men.  It takes place, not this Saturday, but a week from Saturday.  It’s the Stepping UpNational Men’s Simulcast.  It originates in Chicago and is going to be simulcast in churches all across the country on Saturday morning, August 4th.  If you’d like to attend this event, you can go to and find a list of churches that are participating as simulcast sites. 

There’s still time, I’m told, if you’d like to sign up your church as a host church for the National Men’s Simulcast:  James MacDonald, Crawford Loritts, Robert Lewis, Dennis Rainey—the worship team from Harvest Bible Chapel is going to lead us in worship that day.  We’ve got a lot planned for the day.  It’s a four-hour National Simulcast for Men. 

You can either attend by going to and finding a church near you that is a host site; or if you go to, you can sign your church up to be a host site, if you don’t find one nearby.  Again, the website is  If you’ve got any questions, call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY; and we’ll see if we can answer those for you.  You just need to know our commitment to this issue—helping men step up and be the men that God’s called us to be as men—is something that we’re very focused on as a ministry, currently. 

We want to say, “Thanks,” to those of you who help support FamilyLife Today to make, not only this daily radio program possible, but all that we’re trying to do to call men to be men, to strengthen marriages and families.  We appreciate your financial support that makes all of that possible.  We’re listener-supported, and the cost of producing and syndicating this radio program comes from folks, like you, who help defray those costs by making a donation. 

This month, if you’re able to make a donation to support FamilyLife Today, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you two CD’s—a CD from Dennis Rainey, talking about men stepping up and embracing biblical manhood, and a CD from Barbara Rainey for wives about how a wife can help her husband step up and be the man that God’s called him to be.  Again, we’ll send you those CD’s when you make a donation, this month, to support FamilyLife Today

You can donate online at—just click the “I CARE” button that you see there and make an online donation.  When you do, we’ll send you those CD’s automatically; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.  Make a donation over the phone, and just ask for the two CD’s on Stepping Up.  Again, we’re happy to send those out to you.  We appreciate your support for the ministry of FamilyLife Today, and it’s always great to hear from you. 

We hope you can be back with us tomorrow when Steve Farrar is going to join us again.  We’re going to talk about a dad’s role in providing a framework of discipline in the home.  I hope you can tune in 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'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today

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