God’s Man for the FamilyJune 14, 2004
Nationally known best-selling author Steve Farrar tells Dennis Rainey how fathers can anchor their families in Christ.
Nationally known best-selling author Steve Farrar tells Dennis Rainey how fathers can anchor their families in Christ.
God’s Man for the Family
Steve: We have, in America, what I call "drifting families." Drifting families have no leadership; they have no direction. Where did I come up with the term "anchor man?" Every family needs a man somewhere in their family chain who is anchored on Jesus Christ. When a guy gets anchored on Christ, you stop the drifting in a family, even if it's been there for 10 generations.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, June 14th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. As a husband and as a dad, how can you make sure that your family is anchored in Christ? And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition – and that is really the question. What can we do, as dads, to see to it that our families, our children, are firmly anchored in a relationship with Christ and to see that extend for multiple generations? If somebody can help us with that, I think all of us are ready to listen. That fulfills what the Bible says in 3 John, verse 4, when it says, "I have no greater joy than this, to know that my children are walking in the truth."
Dennis: You know, Proverbs 27:17 says, "Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." I can almost hear the grinder starting up right now, because we've got a guest on the broadcast (grinder noise).
Bob: There it is, there it is.
Dennis: Here's the grinder. There's going to be a little grinding take place.
Bob: A little iron-sharpening happening.
Dennis: You know, before I introduce our guest on the broadcast, Steve Farrar, I want to tell a story that happened back at Promise Keepers in Houston where I spoke several months ago. After I had spoken, they do television interviews afterwards, and a TV camera was stuck in my face from CBS, and they said, "Outside there are women who are picketing this event here at the Astrodome" – 40,00 men inside, a dozen women or so, maybe 30, outside, who were really ragging on the Promise Keeper about their stand about men and taking advantage of women, and I just looked at that glass camera in the eye and said, "You know, it baffles me how any woman could criticize an organization that is calling men to be responsible men." I said, "Up front, just to the left of where I spoke, was seated more than 30 prisoners dressed in white who were given the day off so that they could come to Promise Keepers for the entire session today and experience this time of worship and praise." And if you went up and interviewed them, you would find that most of those men are incarcerated, they are in prison, because most of them never had a daddy. They didn't have a man in their lives who could shape their character, love them, hug them, weep with them. In fact, many of them never saw their father, never met their father, and that's why they ended up in jail. I said, "It baffles me why you would criticize and organization that is calling men back to their primary responsibility to serve and love their wives and to spiritually shepherd the next generation of young people."
Well, that's the passion that our guest on the broadcast today, Steve Farrar, has. Steve, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Steve: Thanks, Dennis, it's great to be with you.
Dennis: Steve and his wife Mary, for a number of years, served on our FamilyLife marriage conference speaker team, Bob. That was before you joined the speaker team but way back there before the earth's crust hardened.
Bob: I've seen the pictures of that young Steve and Mary and that young Dennis and Barbara.
Dennis: You know, he really hasn't changed. I have, but Steve hasn't changed.
Steve: Right, only 40 pounds.
Dennis: Many of our listeners know Steve from his bestselling book, "Point Man – How a Man Can Lead His Family," which he authored back in 1990. Steve, I can't believe that book has been out that long, and yet it still is a great book for men to know how to lead their family and how to do it practically.
Steve: You know, Dennis, we're sitting here in Little Rock, and I remember writing that book upstairs in my bedroom about two miles from here – nine years ago – 10 years ago, now. That's just remarkable how God – what God does, and I think half that stuff was your material I borrowed, now that I come to think of it.
Dennis: Well, Steve is the founder and chairman of Men's Leadership Ministries, which is based in College Station, Texas. Tell us just a little bit about that ministry, Steve.
Steve: Well, it really came out of writing the book, "Point Man," because back in 1990, Dennis, I started getting calls. In fact, the first year "Point Man" was out, I didn't count them, but somewhere between 300 to 400 calls – "Hey, could you come and talk to our men about being spiritual leaders of their families?" So, really, that's the heartbeat of our ministry, is not to tell men that they should lead but to try to show them how to lead. I have found, as you, you know, the FamilyLife conferences – guys want to lead. I mean, I really think they have a desire. But if they have never seen it – if someone were to come and say, "Hey, Bob and Dennis and Steve, we need some guys to go to London – the cricket team, the United States Cricket Team has gotten hurt. We'll pay all your expenses. You can take your wives."
Well, we might go, but I don't know about you, but I wouldn't have a clue. I wouldn't know where to put on the pads, does that go on my head? You know, do you run left? I've never seen cricket, and I think spiritual leadership is the same thing. A lot of guys have never seen it. So that's what we're trying to do is just try and give them a model. So – and let them know, "Listen, this is doable stuff, and it's all in the Scripture." That's really the heartbeat of what we're trying to do.
Dennis: There are a lot of our listeners who are men but more than 50 percent of our listeners are women, and I know it's on the minds of a lot of our women listeners is all this work of the men's movement truly a work of God and is there hope for women that men will finally come home and love them and lead them?
Steve: You know, Dennis, there has to be hope. I think because this whole thing, it comes from God. There has never been anything like this in history, because I think when all else fails, read the direction – God wants men to lead the family. He wants men to lead the church. So I think this whole thing was started by God. It took a lot of us by surprise, but I think God always has His men, I think He's got a remnant, and I think it's stronger than it was 10 years ago. And some folks have said to me, "Well, you know, the crowds aren't as big in some places." Well, that may not be. But crowds have never been the issue. I mean, Gideon had too many men. It's the quality of men, and that's what encourages me, because as I go around the country, as you guys do, I see men that are sold out and are making right choices and guys who are at different points in their maturity. But, man, I'm encouraged.
Dennis: You've written a book called "Anchor Man," and in this book, Steve, you outline some of those changes that are occurring in men, and you outline those changes around the Ten Commandments. And, Bob, I enjoyed reading this because I think it reminds us that there is change occurring in the hearts of men, especially when they're confronted with the truth of Scripture.
Steve: You know, Dennis, I think the Ten Commandments really was the benchmark of the Old Testament, and here's what I was seeing – I began to realize I'm running into men all over the country who will have no other gods before them. I'm running into guys who will not make graven images. They're done with idolatry. They're going to love the Lord their God with all their heart and soul and mind. I'm running into men who will not take His name in vain. I'm running into a lot of guys who are motivated at work but not so motivated that they won't take one day off, at least, because He's commanded that we do that. I'm running into men that honor their fathers and their mothers; are helping to take care of them as they reach retirement age. I'm running into men that will have nothing to do with murder, whether it's literal murder or the assassination of somebody's character behind their back.
Dennis: Or whether it's encouraging your spouse to take the life of an unborn child.
Steve: And that's one of the great, great sins of this nation. But God has never, never supported the taking of human life. In the Old Testament, the Canaanites, they were known for sacrificing children. But there is a whole movement of men that stand against that and put themselves on the line.
Dennis: And real men protect human life.
Steve: Yes, they do.
Dennis: They are protectors of life.
Steve: Yes, and let me say something to you gals, because some of you have boys, and little boys are so different. Don't instill in your boys a fear of getting hurt, because you can overdo that as a mom. God wants boys raised so that they won't be afraid of getting hurt, because they are to be sacrificial. Now, I'm not saying let them do things that are crazy or jump off a 40-foot oak tree, but I'm saying you have to be careful because that young boy needs to grow up to be a sacrificial husband and a sacrificial father and a sacrificial leader, and if he's not willing to get hurt, he can't be the protector. That's what protectors do. Protectors are willing to get hurt for the people that they love.
Dennis: Preach it.
Steve: I love this one – I'm running into guys who will not commit adultery, even though everybody around them is saying it's okay. Dennis, have you noticed that peer pressure didn't quit when we got out of high school? It's everywhere. There are guys that say, "No, I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to touch pornography, because I've made a commitment. I'm going to be a one-woman kind of man." I'm running into guys that will not steal time, they won't steal things, they won't steal taxes, they won't steal possessions – God's behind that. I'm running into men all over the country who won't bear false witness. They tell the truth. They don't spin the truth.
Mark Twain said if you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. I'm also running into men who will not covet but who are learning to be content and thankful and not be men who complain but be overwhelmed with the blessing that God has given them in their lives on a daily basis.
Bob: Those are men who are being transformed by the Gospel. That's what the work of the Gospel is, isn't it?
Dennis: You know, Romans 12:1 and 2 talks about not being conformed to the world, and it's almost like at every point, Steve, you were contrasting the way a worldly man thinks and behaves with the godly man and the right, wise choices that he makes.
Steve: Right. Psalm 1 talks about the godly man – "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly," and it gives about four or five descriptions, and then the next line it says, "The wicked are not so." Everything that is true of the godly man, the opposite is true of the man who isn't.
And, you know, I think that's part of what God is doing.
Bob: You know, I remember the first time I saw, on the cover of your book, that statement – that a man can anchor his family in Christ for the next 100 years." And I thought, "For real?" I mean, that's what we all hope for and all desire, but our kids – they're free moral agents. They're going to make their own choices. What can I do, as a man – what are you talking about with this whole concept of being an anchor man?
Steve: Well, the anchor man came out of Deuteronomy 6, which, personally, I think is the Great Commission of the Old Testament. Deuteronomy was written to the men of Israel, and in Deuteronomy 6 he says, "This is the commandment" – the judgments – "which the Lord your God has commanded me" – this is Moses talking – "to teach you so that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess." They're getting read to go into the Promised Land. And then he says this – "So that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord."
I've got three teenagers at home. Actually, Rachel has gone to college in California, so I've got the two boys at home. I think most of us think our job is to raise these kids today. But according to Deuteronomy, I think what we're seeing there, it's not just my boys but it's their boys – it's you and your son and your grandson. And what I got to thinking about was, you know, we all have genealogies. We don't tend to think of them like this because all of us, we don't know our genealogy except for maybe a few previous generations. A genealogy is a chain, it's a very, very long chain.
When I was seven, my dad and I toured the USS Shangri-La, which was the biggest aircraft carrier in the world at that time. The flight deck – it was docked in San Diego Bay – the flight deck was four-and-a-half acres, 6,000 men. We pulled up alongside that gigantic ship; a huge chain is coming out the side. And later I did research on what it takes to anchor an aircraft carrier. That chain is longer than four-and-a-half football fields. That chain, by itself, weighs over 675,000 pounds. At the end of that chain is an anchor that weighs 60,000 pounds, and there are two of them.
A genealogy is a family chain. We have in America what I call "drifting families." Why do they anchor that aircraft carrier in San Diego Bay? They don't want it drifting. Drifting aircraft carriers do a lot of damage. Drifting families do all kinds of damage. Drifting families have no leadership; they have no direction. Where did I come up with the term anchor man? Every family needs a man somewhere in their family chain who is anchored on Jesus Christ. When a guy gets anchored on Christ, you stop the drifting in a family, even if it's been there for 10 generations.
Dennis: I've got to read something from your book at this point that you said – you said, "Every family chain, in order to survive and raise godly children, must somewhere have a man who has a godly vision, not only for his own children but for the children of the generations to come. The fact of the matter is," you say, "one man with vision who is anchored in Christ can influence his family and the generations to come for hundreds of years."
Now, Bob, that really is true. I think we underestimate the power of a man today, and I think one of the great strategies of the devil is to whisper in a man's ear, "You don't matter. It doesn't matter if you make a wrong choice. It doesn't matter if you divorce her. It doesn't matter if you commit adultery. It doesn't matter if you steal." The reality is, every one of those choices is a link in that chain that Steve is talking about.
Bob: Well, and, Steve, that's why the Bible says to us that the sins of fathers are visited on the next generation.
Steve: It does, and we're all very aware of that, but we tend not to be as aware of Deuteronomy 7, verse 9, that says this – know, therefore, that the Lord your God, he is God, the faithful God who keeps His covenant and His loving kindness" – now this is what I love – "to a thousandth generation." Man, is that compound interest or what?
And oftentimes, you know, in the conferences we do, I'll have a guy say, "Well, Steve, wait a minute. You're telling me I'm supposed to lead my family, anchor my family, for 100 years?" Well, when you take you and your son and your grandson – on a timeline, you've got 100 years. I don't have grandkids, but one day we will have grandkids, if the Lord doesn't return.
Now, in 100 years will I know who those kids are, those grandkids or those great-grandkids? No, I probably won't. But you know what? They should know who I was. They should know who you were. Not because we left them a lot of money or because we're so smart, but because of our love for Christ; because we hung in there; because we finished strong.
You see, I really believe that God wants to bless us so that in 100 years we're not looking to be legends, but you know what? We need some legends.
Dennis: We sure do. You think of what's happening today in the press and media attacking heroes and, as a boy, I remember feeding off my heroes, and I had some guys, some sports heroes, war heroes, even political heroes that anchored me as a young man but none more powerful than Hook Rainey, my dad. His nickname was "Hook," because he had a real wicked curve ball, okay? It wasn't evil, but the batters thought it was. But he was a good man and you know what? I still live off the legacy of Hook Rainey, who was a man of integrity.
If I would have had a father who didn't have integrity, I don't know that I could be loving and leading my wife, because what is a commitment to your wife but that of integrity. It's making good on a promise, living up to that commitment.
Bob: You know, I would – I sit here today thinking about my five kids and the fact that it's likely that some of those five kids are going to have kids of their own, my grandchildren, and that that may go even beyond to the next generation, and I'd love to think that every one of those kids and every one of those grandkids would be walking in the faith consistently throughout their lifetime. Yet I have heard one person describe what often happens, where you have a first generation that is faithful, a second generation that kind of hitchhikes off the first generation's Christianity, and the third generation apostatizes.
Okay, so how do I be an anchor man and not fall into that trap?
Steve: Yeah, Bruce Wilkinson is the guy that I heard come up with that and, quite frankly, no one has perfect kids. There are no perfect parents. We all go through stuff. We're all in the same boat. But there are times – we went through a time last year, about a six-month time, with one of my kids. And it was their tough time. I was not only praying for them, I was fasting for them. "Lord, I don't have what it takes, I don't have the wisdom, I don't know what to do here." And what we're talking about here is spiritual warfare. I think we have some weapons at our disposal that, if we will utilize the weapons, if we will ask God – you have not because you ask not. Have we ever asked God for our grandchildren to all come to Christ? My question is – how many people have ever prayed that prayer?
If we were to pray consistently, my feeling is, as I read Scripture, why would God not honor a request like that – that would bring glory to His name? I believe that. I believe we have a weapon that we have allowed to get dusty and to sit on the shelf, and we haven't used it.
Dennis: And, really, what you're talking about, Steve, is a lack of vision in men. We're not looking up to the horizon and thinking about the three-peat, and you've reminded us how to do that, and it begins with prayer.
I'd like to add a couple to that, if I could, because, as we pray, I think, secondly, we need to live our lives – and you talk about this in your book – we need to live our lives in light of those three generations, and so that our model is worth being copied. And then a third, I think, is to challenge our children to pass on the reality of Christ in their lives to their children, and then to challenge their children to pass it on to their children. At that point, you have a relay race where the baton is being handed off to generation after generation.
Bob: And, you know, I'd love to think, just as you talked about it – I'd love to think that two generations from now my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren would look back and say, "You've heard, haven't you, about Grandpa Bob" or about Great-Grandpa Bob? Not because I want the glory for me, but our families need an anchor, something they point back at and say, "That's our legacy." That's powerful, isn't it?
Steve: You know, I was sitting here thinking, Dennis, we had a lunch, probably, 12 years ago, 13 years ago, and just chatting, and I remember you talking about postage stamps, and the issue was, you know, you had stamps in your desk for the ministry, but a personal letter you'd written or something – do you use the postage stamp that the ministry had bought for your personal letter? And that was the issue you were dealing with that day that came before you, and you didn't use the postage stamp – you got your own postage stamp. That's how you lead a family. How do I lead a family for 100 years? By following Christ with my whole heart today. That's how you do it.
Dennis: And, you know, every man today wants to know how you do that, practically. And that's where a book like "Anchor Man" is so powerful because it fills in the blanks, Bob. It's one thing to have that vision out on the horizon of three generations, that if a guy is left, to kind of scratch his head going, "Hm, what does that look like? How do you get there?"
Well, Steve, I think, really does a great job in this book of illustrating this through other men's lives and showing us biblically how to get there from here.
Bob: And, you know, it's hard, when you're in the thick of it, as a parent, to think that your children will ever rise up and call you blessed because right now they're just rising up and calling you …
Steve: … calling you other things …
Bob: … calling you crazy.
Dennis: I don't know what it is at your house, but it's mutiny at our house occasionally.
Bob: But, you know, it can happen, can't it? If you're faithful and you persevere as a dad, and you do the stuff you're supposed to do; you follow what Steve talks about in his book "Anchor Man." You can lay a foundation; you can pour the cement that will hold your family in place spiritually for the next generation and for generations beyond that.
We've got a limited number of copies of Steve's book "Anchor Man" available in our FamilyLife Resource Center along with a book that you wrote, Dennis, called "Growing a Spiritually Strong Family," and if our listeners want to contact us to get both of these books, we will add, at no additional cost, the CD audios of our visit this week with Steve Farrar. You can ask for both books and the three CDs when you call 1-800-FLTODAY or go online at FamilyLife.com. Of course, you can order the book individually, if you'd like, as well.
That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY – that's the number to call. Or go our website at FamilyLife.com for more information on how you can get either or both of these books and get the CD audio of this week's visit with Steve Farrar. And keep in mind that this coming Sunday is Father's Day, and that's one of the reasons we wanted to focus on this theme this week – to challenge dads to be the kinds of dads that God would call us to be.
When you get in touch with us here at FamilyLife, if you are able to help with a donation, particularly here in the summer months, it is always a challenge for us in the summer. Folks get into other routines, other patterns and, for whatever reason, our donations go down during summer months, and yet our bills continue, month in and month out. The cost of providing these radio programs stays the same throughout the year. So if you are able to help with a donation here in the summer, we would appreciate it. You can donate online at FamilyLife.com, you can phone in a donation at 1-800-FLTODAY or if you want to write a check and mail it to us – if you've got a pencil – the address is Post Office Box 7111, Little Rock, Arkansas, and the zip code is 72223. Again, it's Box 7111, Little Rock, Arkansas, and our zip code is 72223.
Well, tomorrow we're going to see if we can get some coaching tips from Coach Farrar on things we can do, some specific things we can be doing as dads, to make sure our sons and daughters are spiritually locked in for the next generation and beyond. I hope you can be back with us for that.
Thanks today to our engineer, 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.
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