FamilyLife Today®

Influencing Your Family Through Core Val

with | August 20, 2004
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Love, joy, peace, patience - these are just some of the values parents are trying to pass along to their children. Today on the broadcast, Tim Stafford tells Dennis Rainey how parents can influence their children through core values.

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  • Love, joy, peace, patience - these are just some of the values parents are trying to pass along to their children. Today on the broadcast, Tim Stafford tells Dennis Rainey how parents can influence their children through core values.

Influencing Your Family Through Core Val

August 20, 2004
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Bob: Every mom and dad ought to be working to promote basic godly characteristic qualities in the lives of our children – things like concern for others; generosity; and truthfulness.  Here is Tim Stafford.

Tim: I am really struck by the degree to which our culture truthfulness is just very relative, and it's on every level.  People just say things that just are not at all the case.  But my parents raised me with a definition that was very helpful – a lie is an attempt to deceive.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, August 20th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We're going to talk today about cultivating godly characteristic qualities in your family.  Stay with us.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.  I'm thinking about changing my list of family values.

Dennis: The ones that you have at …

Bob: … yeah …

Dennis: … that you put on earlier this week?

Bob: Well …

Dennis: … you just put them on there, Bob.  You and Mary Ann hammered out …

Bob: … you sprung this thing on me and said, you know, we need you to whip up some family values real quick …

Dennis: … are you saying …

Tim: … we talked about submission yesterday, Bob.

Dennis: Gimme five – way to go, Tim.

Bob: Did I complete the assignment?  Yes, I completed the assignment.  I submitted.

Dennis: The verification is there on the Internet to prove it.

Bob: But now I’m thinking – here's what I'm thinking – I'm thinking I should have gone with love, joy, peace, patience – I want an infallible list of family values – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, self control – against such things there is now law, right?

Dennis: Yeah, that's a good job.

Tim: That's all right.

Bob: And so those could be my family values, couldn't they?

Tim: Well, that's a good place to start.

Bob: Okay, then I was thinking about …

Dennis: … Bob, whatever you want.

Bob: I was also thinking about Romans 13 – "Love is patient, love is kind, love is" – you could use that as a list.  You used the Ten Commandments for yours, and I thought, "He started biblically; I should have started biblically instead of just looking at his list and modifying it, you know, so I could complete this.  That's what I did.  So I'm rethinking them.

Dennis: Well, the "he" that Bob is referring to is Tim Stafford, who has been with us all this week.  Tim, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.

Tim: Thank you.

Dennis: Tim has written a book called "Never Mind the Joneses." 

Bob: Which is what I did when I put my list together.  I went straight to the Staffords and said, "What's their list?  I'll borrow that."

Dennis: They have 14 core values for their family, which you can see, in modified form, on our Internet site – and Bob's list.

Bob: That's right, but I might change it.  So hang on.

Tim: Look quickly, it's going to be different tomorrow.

Dennis: Actually, what I want to do quickly, as we wrap up our week of talking about core values, is I want to talk about all 14 of these, but we've mentioned some of these earlier in the week, like the first one – putting God first.  We've already talked about that earlier.  But we haven't talked about number two, Tim, "Concern for others."  This is about loving your neighbor.

Tim: Yes, and it covers a whole range of things.  It includes reaching out with the Gospel to people; it includes feeding the hungry, caring for your brother when he stubs his toe.  You know, it's a wide range of things, but we do teach our children this core value that other people are really important.  It's a very high priority in our lives.

Bob: And it's not just strangers or acquaintances – it's concern for our friends; it's concern for the folks next door; it's concern for anybody God puts in your path or brings into your life.

Tim: It's a core value.  It touches every relationship and every situation.

Dennis: And I like the way you put it in the book – "It, for sure, touches evangelism, which is concern for the eternal well being of a person," and also justice, which is the issue of fairness.  And, in our culture, if anyone ought to be a champion of justice …

Tim: … Christians should be.

Dennis: We ought to be – we ought to be looking out for those who have been taken advantage of.

Tim: Because nobody is a bigger champion than God.  When you read Scripture, the amount of concern for justice and His demand for justice is powerful and repeated in Scripture.

Dennis: We're going to have to keep moving – your third is "hard work."  That really is one that Barbara and I embrace in our top values.  Barbara believes strongly in the work ethic.

Bob: We touched on that a little bit earlier this week, too.  You talked about your kids and sports.  How early did you have your kids out in the work force getting a job?

Tim: We made the decision with our kids and in our family culture, that we did not want to encourage them to have part-time jobs.  I know that is not every family culture, but here is our reasoning – we really believed that our kids were committed to hard work in their sports, and they were very active in sports, all three of them, and they were really hardworking students, and they were taking very difficult classes in high school.  And my assessment was that they really were not going to be able to do a good job at those and live a normal life if they were also working 10 or 15 hours a week.  So we encouraged them to work and take jobs – particularly, I set them lots of tasks for pay, in some cases, around the home so that they would learn that, but I really had hesitations about the part-time job thing.

 Now, I'm not suggesting that's right for everybody.  But in the kids that God gave me, and the kinds of interests and activities they had, I thought it was probably more destructive than helpful.  And that's where family culture really comes into it.  You know, your family may not be the same as my family.  We have the same core values, but I want to ask – am I teaching my kids how to work hard?  Not, you know, do they all have part-time jobs because our neighbors, the Joneses, all their kids have part-time jobs, and I admire them.  But what works for us.

Dennis: Yes, and what you've said is that you taught your kids through sports about hard work.

Tim: Yes, and I really believe my kids learned the value of hard work.  I think they all know that value.

Bob: Truthfulness is one of your core values.  It's on the list.  And you've got a zero tolerance for blowing this one, right?

Tim: Yes, I think this is really important.  I am really struck by the degree to which our culture – truthfulness is just very relative, and it's on every level.  People just say things that are not at all the case.  My wife's a counselor, and she just says that's the one thing that astonishes her.  You know, it's hard to shock a counselor.  They see a lot of stuff come in the door that just blows your mind, but she says the way in which people will just say things that aren't true for no particular reason just amazes her.  But my parents raised me with a definition that was very helpful – a lie is an attempt to deceive.  You may say the truth, you know, "I was with my friend, Jimmy," but if you don't tell the whole truth, if you're really trying to pull the wool over your parents' eyes, that's a lie.  It doesn't matter whether every word was factually truthful.  You were trying to deceive.  So we have a zero tolerance position on truthfulness, and we've really tried to work on teaching our kids not to deceive in anything they say.  And that has implications in the way you do your taxes, it has implications in a lot of areas.

 The other side of truthfulness, too, though, we've tried to teach our kids is that truthfulness is "truth fullness."  It's really a positive concept.  It's not just eliminating deception.  It's also learning to speak the truth, and that may mean confronting unpleasant realities.  It also means speaking truthfully about God's goodness, counting your blessings, I think, is a powerful cultural practice, a family cultural practice.  Learning to count your blessings – that speaks the truth, because the truth is we are incredibly blessed, and we should be talking about that.

Dennis: Okay, I'm going to have to keep you moving if we're going to make it through all 14.  We've talked about a couple of these next ones – generosity, about the need for teaching our children the importance of giving – not just financially but giving of their lives for others.  Then we've also talked this week about the subject of submission.  Now, the one we haven't talked about this week is sexual fidelity.  Is this more than just Mom and Dad remaining faithful with one another?  Does this spill over to young people protecting their sexual innocence?

Tim: Yes, I think it very much does, and I'm just saddened when I realize how reticent many parents are in teaching their children about sexual faithfulness.  And faithfulness is faithfulness to your marriage partner.  You can start being faithful to your marriage partner before you're married.  You can start being faithful before you even know who that person is.  So it really extends to all your behavior sexually – that you recognize that God has called a man and a woman to be married only to each other, to embrace each other in love throughout their lives.  And if you have that value, then you're going to form your life around that value, and from the time you are very young, you're going to be looking at that value and living out that value.

Bob: Tim, I saw a statistic the other day, and I don't know the source, I don't even know the full accuracy of the statistic, but it said that 9 out of 10 kids who had signed a "true love waits" commitment had reneged, had blown it.  Now, we've seen a lot of effort over the last decade to try to impress on the hearts and minds of young people the need to be innocent, to be pure, not to be sexually involved prior to marriage.  I read that, and I thought, "Are we getting anywhere?"  Do you think we are?

Tim: Well, we're going against a tremendous tide, let's be honest.  Our culture is not interested in promoting sexual fidelity in any way, shape, or form.  You said we've seen tremendous efforts.  I guess it's the question of whether the glass is half empty or half full.  I would like to think we are maybe getting through a little bit.  I think the cultural climate has changed a little bit in favor of at least permitting somebody to say, "Well, I believe in sexual fidelity."  It's okay to say, "I'm going to wait for marriage."  Ten years ago I don't know that it was.

 So there's maybe some progress, but it's a tough row to hoe.  It's not easy to get this through, and I want to say parents are the communicators on this.  It's got to come from the parents.

Dennis: I really agree with you, and I think a lot of parents look to youth group leaders to do this for them.

Tim: It's not going to happen.

Dennis: It really won't.  The family structure really is the place where sexual fidelity, as a core value, needs to be embraced and taught.

Bob: All three of your children are still single, right?

Tim: They are.

Bob: And this has been a value that they've embraced?

Tim: Yes and, boy, will they tell you about it.  I mean, we were involved in our church in having a class that was part of Vacation Bible School where my wife and I taught basic sexuality to entering middle school students, and my kids will all tell you that was one of the worst weeks of their lives – having to sit through that with their own parents.  It was very embarrassing for them.  But, you know, that was really almost the end product.  We really made an effort to communicate with our kids and to have specific times when we talked to them to sort of open the gates.

 One thing I want to note is, I think parents often wait until kids are too old to start talking about this.  They think maybe when they're teenagers, maybe when they're 14.  You really need to start more when they're eight or somewhere in there, and we really get it out on the table and start having a dialog with them.

Dennis: I still want to keep us moving here.  We've talked about boundaries and family unity and love – those are important core values for any family.  But this next one, I have to tell you, Tim, our family could have used – well, we could have used you coming into our family as a life coach and helping us, because we needed joy and thanksgiving.  Our kids just kind of grumbled.  We just had to help them with their griping and complaining and doing all things without grumbling or complaining.

Bob: I was just thinking Philippians 2 was a memory verse for your kids.

Dennis: It was, I'm telling you, but you tried to teach your children that joy and thanksgiving were going to be a core value.

Tim: Yes, I think this is very clearly a core value.  There's a lot of commands in Scripture about praising the Lord, thanking God, being joyful at all times.  There's a ton of Scripture you could quote on this.  I think it can be taught, and the book gives a lot of particular practices that you can try and see how this works for you.  I'll mention one.  My mom had a practice every Thanksgiving.  She put out three candy corns at every place.  I don't think this is original with her.  Everybody at the Thanksgiving dinner, and we usually had extended relatives and visitors and friends.  They had to, before the dinner started, give three things they were thankful for.  It took a little time; people were often a little edgy about having been put on the spot and so forth.  But, you know, it sticks with you, even if it's only once a year.  I have to say three things I'm thankful for, and it's amazing, some of the things that will come out in that.  That's just one little training practice, but it goes deep.

Bob: Did your kids seem Mom and Dad being joyful and thankful most of the time?

Tim: You would have to ask that.  You know, my wife is one of the world's – world-class affirmers, and she really doesn't just affirm other people and thank God for their good qualities, but she kind of forces you to do it, too.  Because she'll say, "Wasn't that wonderful?  What did you think about what your brother did?  Wasn't that incredible?  Tell him what a wonderful job he did."  And she will not let them off the hook.  So, yes, she – I give her a lot more credit.  I'm sort of more the negative guy in the family.  She has a very affirming spirit and doesn't just have it, she works at passing it on.

Dennis: This next core value is one that our family embraced not because I was good at it but because my wife embraced it.  You believe in the concept of biblical rest.

Tim: Yes, it's very much in the Scriptures that we are to rest.  There is a rhythm of life – we work, and we stop.

Bob: It does seem to be built into the parameters of a week.  I mean, God worked for six days, and then He rested, and that does seem to be a cycle.  I don't think we can say, "Well, I'll rest in the summer after I work all winter."

Tim: No, I think you're right.  I think the week pattern is Scriptural and eternally valid.  But how exactly we practice that is going to vary.  I've read too much 19th century literature where, for some people, the Sabbath was so oppressive and so joyless, that I don't want to go there.  That's not really helpful, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Dennis: If you read the Bible, and you go to Genesis, chapter 1, you soon find out that God gave man responsibility to subdue the earth and to have a part in taking care of God's creation.  And I honestly don't think, Tim, I've ever seen a family value statement that has included the protection of God's creation.  But your list has that.

Tim: Yes, and this is the cultural mandate in Scripture, as you referred to it in Genesis – that we have a responsibility for this beautiful, wonderful, complicated world that we're part of.  That didn't end with Adam.  That continues on to this day, and we need to pass that on, and there's things that we can do to talk about that as we garden together, as we raise pets together, as we do, you know, just ordinary family practices but to try to put that into the framework of this is God's creature, this is God's creation.  It is our skill and our care and our love that will make this to flourish and make the world a more beautiful place.

Bob: This isn't just because you're a California backpacker, you know, living out in California with all of that, is it?

Tim: No, I don't think so.  At least, I think I read it in the Bible for everybody.

Bob: I'm just making sure.

Dennis: Don't write us, please, if you're from California.  We love you out there.

 We've already talked this week about a core value that you have, Tim, for your family, of contentment.  But we've now covered 13.  There's one left, and I have to turn to Bob and ask Bob – how are you feeling, Bob?  I mean, how is the yoke?  Does it feel light?

Bob: I've got some work to do, baby, that's how I'm feeling.  I'm feeling I've got a lot of work to do.  I've got to go home, we're going to have to have some family nights around this.  I've got to revise my whole list.  The Internet is going to look completely different next week.

Dennis: I'm telling you, Tim ends his book with an inventory, asking you to do a family value inventory, and I'm listening to these 13, I'm going, Barbara and I are miserable failures, you know?  We've blown it.  Do you think any listeners feel that way?

Bob: Nah.  They're tough.  They can handle it, yeah.

Dennis: What do you think they're in need of right now?

Bob: They're in need of Tim's book, and I'm going to tell them how to get it, all right?  Can I do that?

Dennis: All right, but I want Tim to share what number 14 is.

Bob: All right, hang on.  1-800-FLTODAY is the number to call to get a copy of Tim's book, "Never Mind the Joneses."  You can order online at  You can read Dennis's list online; you can read Tim's list online; you can read my ever-changing list online.

Dennis: Have you changed it since you put it up?

Bob: I'm thinking about changing it since we started the program today.  1-800-FLTODAY or go online at – ask about the book, "Never Mind the Joneses," and you can also download the core values project that we talked about this week that will get you started in articulating your family values.  That's on our website at, and you can just print it out from there.

 And there is a book by Dr. Robert Lewis called "Real Family Values."  In fact, for those folks who really want to make this a priority for your family, get Tim's book and get Robert Lewis's book, and we'll throw in, at no additional cost, the CD audio or the cassette audio of this entire week's worth of conversation with Tim Stafford on this subject.

 Again, order online at or give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY and let's see if we can't get some families established in a core set of values for their families.  I mean, you stop and think about the cultural values, we really do have to kind of build a foundation and build our family around that foundation.  That, of course, is what we're trying to do every day here at FamilyLife Today – help people think practically and biblically about the issues that face us in our families and make sure we're centered in what the Scriptures have to say, and the way it feels to us right now, it feels like the cultural noise is getting louder and louder and, if that's the case, we've got to – well, we've got to get louder, too.  We're not going to get more shrill, but we want to make sure that we're being heard in this culture.  Your donations help us adjust the volume, help us be able to be heard in a culture that is pressing things in the opposite direction.

 So if you can make a donation in August, online at or call 1-800-FLTODAY – write a check, mail it to us.  If you don't have our mailing address, you can get it online or give us call and someone will pass it along to you.  We're really hoping to hear from as many listeners as possible this month so that we can move ahead aggressively in the weeks and months ahead.  We want to make sure we continue to think biblically and think critically about these issues and stay rooted in our foundation.  Dennis?

Dennis: Tim, first of all, thanks for being with us.  I really do appreciate all that you have done here in exhorting us.  But all of these values, they can create guilt.

Tim: They sure can.

Dennis: But it really sets up the last family value that you mention.  Number 14 …

Tim: Number 14 is grace, and it's the fundamental value, you might say.  While we've said God first, love your neighbor, those are pretty fundamental – the core of the core.  But in another way, this is the core of the core.  God's grace pervades all His teaching and all His values that He passes on to us.  And if you lived all these values to perfection, but you didn't do it graciously, if you didn't pass them on with a light touch to your kids with love and grace, you wouldn't do much good for your kids, and that's the kind of home that kids rebel against.  They learned all the right things, but they couldn't wait to get out of the door.

Dennis: When I read this one in your book, I couldn't help but say, "Oh, yes, this one here has to be a part of every family."  Why?  Because family members are imperfect and how are selfish, imperfect family members living in such close proximity to one another – how are we going to do that for 18, 19 years – that's how long the children have – but then the adults.  You know, if you hope to go for the silver, like Bob just accomplished this past year on his 25th, and then on to the gold.  If you're going to do that, you're going to need plenty of grace in your own life to dispense to the other family members.

Tim: And to yourself as well so that you don't feel burdened by an overwhelming guilt for the failures that you will inevitably have.  I really want to emphasize this wonderful gift of grace, and I have one practice that a family taught me.  It's just so small but really precious to me, and that's spilt milk.  Every family has glasses of milk spilt.  No one ever intends to spill a glass of milk.  It happens and especially it happens to little people, because they're clumsy.

Dennis: We averaged anywhere from three to six spills per meal. 

Tim: Now, this family taught me that when somebody spills the milk, they are not berated for spilling the milk.  No one is shocked that they spilled the milk.  Someone else in the family wipes up for them without a word.  It's just a family practice.  Somebody gets up, if need be, the parent says, "Jimmy, would you get up and get a cloth for your brother to wipe up the milk?"  There is no upset, "How could you do that?"  There is just grace.  And I think it's just a small, little practice that communicates the kind of family we are.

Dennis: We thought about having our kids come to dinner with their raincoats on.

Bob: You know, we're really talking about love covering a multitude of sins.  That's what grace is, and that's what we need to be putting in practice if we're going to have a successful family.

Dennis: And that's why, in my opinion, the Bible and Christianity speak so clearly to the needs of humanity today.  Because what other world religion offers, at its center point, forgiveness?  Grace, mercy – first of all, from God to us, and then He commands us – forgive one another just as God, in Christ, has forgiven you.  That's what a Christian is to model for his children.

Tim: And that's a core value that we really need to pass on to our kids.  Not to just be communicating, "Oh, well, there's a perfect way to be it."  Yes, there are some good things to do, some important values to pass on, but the most important value is that mercy, that forgiveness, that love.

Dennis: Thanks for being with us, Tim.

Tim: It's great to be with you.

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


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