FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Leading in Love

with Robert Lewis | June 7, 2006
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On today's broadcast, pastor Robert Lewis, author of the book Raising a Modern-Day Knight, talks to fathers about teaching their sons to lead courageously.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • On today's broadcast, pastor Robert Lewis, author of the book Raising a Modern-Day Knight, talks to fathers about teaching their sons to lead courageously.

  • 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.

Robert Lewis talks to fathers about teaching their sons to lead courageously.

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Leading in Love

With Robert Lewis
June 07, 2006
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Bob: This is Bob Lepine from FamilyLife Today.  Have you ever thought to yourself, "Fatherhood is harder work than I ever thought it was going to be?"

Robert: Being a dad these days is tougher.  Kids have a lot of choices, and even good things are not always the best things, and it takes time, energy, it takes getting away sometimes to be able to focus on those noble things and to call each other up.  One day we have sons that are 12, the next day they're 25.  Time gets away, and there's no better time to implement principles than right now.  I just want to tell you that I'm proud of you and that I love you, and that I've seen you excel out here in the outdoors.  I've seen you with your adventurous spirit.  I'm proud of you.  Your courage, you've shown me some courage that I didn't know you had, even though I know you had courage, and so that gives me a lot of hope because being a man takes courage.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, June 7th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We're going to talk today about some of the things your son longs to hear you say to him.  Stay with us.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.  I talked earlier this week about giving my son directions on how to get to the dentist's office, and I was looking through the video curriculum for "Raising a Modern Day Knight," that you and our guest, Robert Lewis, were involved with.

Dennis: That's a six-part video series that's designed for a group of young fathers to work through together and to come up with a game plan to know how to really give their sons a vision from moving to boyhood through adolescence to manhood.

Bob: To use at a church setting or a small group setting, whatever.

Dennis: Right.

Bob: But I pulled out – there's a roadmap in the video curriculum.

Dennis: Oh, yeah, Robert's got them covered.  Robert took care of them.

Bob: Introduce Robert, and let's talk a little bit about what you drew on this roadmap, can we do that?

Dennis: I will introduce Robert.  He is my friend, Robert Lewis, from Little Rock, Arkansas.  Welcome back to FamilyLife Today, Robert.

Robert: Thanks, Dennis, it's great to be back again.

Dennis: He is a good direction giver and a especially around the subject of casting vision for what it means to be a man and then passing that on generationally and, truthfully, if you haven't been listening this week to FamilyLife Today, you need to go back online and go to and listen to our previous broadcast, because we've attempted to take you into Robert's definition of what the core definition of a man is and then begin to talk with you and share with you and equip you how you can begin to pass that on to your son.

Bob: And I guess, really, before we look too hard at the roadmap, we need to finish defining what manhood is all about, because before you get behind the wheel and start driving, you need to have a sense of who you are, right?

Robert: That's exactly right.  And so we talked about that a biblical definition of manhood, at least the way I went at it, was comparing the two foremost men of Scripture together, Jesus Christ and the first Adam, and in seeing their lives manifest four masculine characteristics, the first of which was that a real man rejects passivity.  The first Adam fell into passivity.  The second Adam, Jesus Christ, was always a man of initiative.  That's why people liked to be around Him because His initiative was constantly giving energy and life to people around Him.  Whereas, the black hole that Adam left was a passivity that's constantly taking life away from people.  A lot of women today feel like men are just sucking the life out of them – that comes from the first Adam.  So a real man rejects passivity.

 Secondly, a real man accepts responsibility.  In Genesis, you see the first man being given three responsibilities.  He was given a work to do, he was given a will to obey, and a woman to love.  And unfortunately, as you follow through the Genesis story, he fails in all three accounts.  Whereas, when you look to the second Adam, Jesus Christ, you see the second Adam follow God's will perfectly.  You see Him do the work.  In fact, you have Jesus at the last of His life saying, "I've accomplished the work that Thou has given me to do."  And then you see him love a woman fully by dying for that woman called the church.

Bob: The bride of Christ.

Robert: The bride of Christ.  So a real man accepts responsibility in those three premier areas.

Bob: Can we unpack that a little bit more?  Because I'm thinking of guys today who are saying, "Okay, I do want to step up.  I want to be a man."  And you're saying there are three arenas where you need to take some initiative and need to grab responsibility, and the first one is around the work that a man has to do.  Are you just talking about his job?

Robert: No, I'm talking about those responsibilities that God has given a man specifically to perform in life.  Some of that involves his marriage, some of it involves raising children, which is what we're talking about on this program, some of it does involve his workplace, and some of it involves building the kingdom of God.  Those are the four primary areas.  And in our men's fraternity that we've been talking about this week, we labor with three years of curriculum to help unpack all that.  But those would be the four areas.  But that's the work to do.

Bob: Okay.

Robert: The will to obey is a man deepening in understanding the call of his life.  It's a general call that you see in the Scriptures for all men, but it even goes beyond that to some specific calls, and we help men earn ways to understand his God-given design, his temperament, the gifts and abilities he has, because those are all roadmaps to that specific will for his life.  And, of course, the woman to love is the woman orbits around him in a dating relationship when we show young men how to act responsibly towards a woman and then in the marriage how those responsibilities broaden and deepen when you have a lifemate.

Bob: And you're not saying that a single man can't be a real man because he doesn't have a wife to lead, right?

Robert: No, because even a single man is going to have women that are going to be in his life, and he needs to know how to conduct himself responsibly in that regard.

Bob: As you talked about this idea of obeying His will, I'm thinking about a lot of guys that I run into this days who will approach the Scriptures this way – they'll look there, and if they find things there that they fundamentally agree with, they're affirm that.  But if they find anything there that is challenging or that they're not sure that the buy into, they just set that aside.

 If a man is going to have a will to obey, he has to say, "That book doesn't just give me some opinions to evaluate.  It gives me direction for life."

Robert: Right.  That, actually, Bob, spills over into the next part of the definition – "leads courageously."  Because one of the things I tell the guys in the manhood definition is that they're going to always run up against things God's calling them to do, but they don't feel like doing.

 And so "lead courageously."  One of the things that we talk about in that particular prong of the definition is that to lead courageously, a man is going to have to master his greatest obstacle in life as a man, and that is his feelings when he doesn’t want to do it.  But a real man continues to move into the will of God even when he doesn't feel like it.

 Now, that brings us to the last prong of the definition, and the last prong is expecting the greater reward.  See, the only way he can move against his feelings is he has to believe that on the other side of that is a greater reward.

 Now, young people, especially young men today, are talking about, you know, just follow your feelings, and the problem is it always leads to the lesser reward, which is exactly what the first Adam got.  He followed his feelings.  The fruit, the forbidden fruit, looked like a delight to the eyes.  It looked like it was going to get him somewhere bigger than God, but what it got him was pain and death.  He got the lesser not the greater.

 Whereas, the second Adam, Jesus Christ, in face of the cross, as hard as that was, went against His feelings, which would be to run away from the cross, put Himself on the cross because it says in the Scripture He was looking to the greater reward.  It said, in Hebrews, "For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross."  He knew on the other side was the redemption of mankind; was the full obedience as a man, Himself; and was to bring glory to God for all eternity.  So He worked through His feelings expecting the greater reward. 

And I tell guys that's the way it's going to be in life.  You're going to look at the Scripture, and it's going to tell you that you are to cherish you wife, to be romantic, to protect her.  You're not going to feel like that half the time, but a real man moves against the grain because when he does that his wife affirms him, his kids admire him, and he begins to discover a greater intimacy that he never knew existed except going against the grain.  And when men hear that it's like lights start coming on, and they go, "It's masculine to accept responsibility, go against my feelings, and plunge headlong in a daring way to believe God and see if the greater reward is out there."  And when they do, here is what happens – they touch the essence of masculinity, and they want more of it.

Dennis: You know, when you turned the corner there, and you said you were helping men recognize the number-one nemesis – I don't remember exactly, Robert, how you put it, but you said feelings were that trap.  You know what I thought you were going to say?

Robert: What?

Dennis: Pride.  Because throughout history what got the first Adam was pride, and what the second Adam, Jesus Christ, perfectly displayed was humility.  In essence, what Christ had to do was not go with His feelings, but He had to submit Himself to God to become the man God created Him to be and to fulfill the work God had put before Him.

Robert: Right.

Dennis: If he had given into his feelings, he would never have accomplished the work that God had sent Him to do.

Bob: In fact, it was Jesus who said, "If it's possible, let this cup pass me by."

Robert: Oh, oh, and, see, we go to that passage because you get that moment – what was raging inside of Jesus Christ?

Dennis: Feelings.

Robert: Feelings – you don't want to do this, this isn't going to go anywhere.  This is going to be horrible.  You're going to be in agony.

 You know, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Nothing fulfills a man like the triumph of principle in his life."  And I just think that's another way of saying that obeying the will of God and moving through feelings, whether it's something to avoid or something to pursue – when a man feels the triumph of principle in his life, truth, in this case, the will of God, nothing satisfies like that.  But he's got to know that his enemy, his obstacle, is going to be his feelings.

 And sometimes feelings can be a great complement to life, but I just want guys to understand it's also a barrier to real masculinity, and you've got to learn how to move through feelings towards principle or truth and obey the will that God has given you to do, and on the other side of that is the greater reward.

Bob: And, again, we're dissecting here …

Robert: Yes, we're dissecting the definition.

Bob: A definition that you've come up with that a real man has to reject passivity, to accept responsibility in three areas around the work God's given him to do, the will God's given him to obey, the woman God's given him to love.  He is to lead courageously, and he is to expect God's greater reward.  And you talk about that leading courageously.  You know, for years, for me, when I thought about loving Mary Ann, I really wrapped that up in service to her.  And, Robert, I'm pretty good at that.  You know, "Honey, what would you like me to do today?  How can I serve you today?"  On Saturdays I'd get up and say, "What's on your list?  What would you like to see me accomplish?  This is my day at home.  What do you need done around the house?"  She could give me a list, I could get it done, at the end of the day I could go, "I have loved her well today."

 But if you leave out leadership, and all you become is kind of the handyman around the house, you have not loved your life well, have you?

Robert: That is so well put, Bob, because this kind of leadership that I'm talking about is looking into the Scriptures.  Let's say, in this case, for a wife, it's Ephesians 5 and seeing that you're going to lead your wife with the Word of God, you're going to protect your wife, you're going to provide for your wife, and you're seeing these things, and that's proactive – that's a proactive husband, and he's going, "What does that mean?  How does that play out?"  His wife shouldn't answer that; he should answer that.  And that becomes a proactive husband who is leading courageously because to get to that point he's got to overcome his passivity, he's got to overcome his feelings of indulgence, wanting to just kind of let her do it.  He's got to overcome all that, and he's got to have a vision that when he gets there he's going to turn around, and his wife and family who receive this life that flows from him because he's exercised that initiative, he gets to experience that greater reward and, in that, he gets to experience the full bloom of his masculinity, and he knows he's there.

Bob: Let me take you back to this issue of leadership because Mary Ann and I have joked about this.  Women do want men to lead them, and yet as soon as we say that, here is how we've joked about that.  I've come home sometimes and said to Mary Ann, "How about going out to dinner?"  And she said, "Sure."  And I said, "Where do you want to go?"  And she's say, "I don't care, you pick."  And I'll say, "Okay, how about Mexican?"  She'll go, "No, I don't feel like Mexican."  I'll say, "Well, how about Chinese?"  She'll go, "No, that doesn't sound good to you?"  And I'll say, "Well, what sounds good to you?"  And she'll go, "I don't know, you pick." 

 And we've laughed, and I've said, "You want me to lead you as long as what I pick is exactly what you would have picked if you were leading, right?  You want me to lead but just don't make any wrong steps."  And we've interacted about that.  It's been healthy interaction for us.  She really does want me to lead.  I'm not going to always lead well or lead right.  I'm going to make some mistakes, but if she shuts me down when I make a mistake, both of us lose, don't we?

Robert: That's exactly right.

Bob: Leadership involves both her affirmation that "Go for it, and I know you're going to stumble from time to time," and me saying, "I'm going to press through, and when I do stumble, I'll get back up and lead again."

Robert: I think that's particularly true, Bob, early in a marriage where a young woman needs to be encouraged to let her husband make some mistakes.  She can maybe feel secure if he's got some mentors in his life, that's always helpful, but if you do that early, then this young man figures out ways to make more successes than mistakes, and then she has the privilege of one day looking at him in an unforced way and saying the words that every man longs to hear from his wife, "I'm proud of you."

 When he hears that, his masculinity is, for the first time, established in the battlefield of life.

Dennis: And, Robert, you were speaking of a younger man needs to hear that from his new bride, because he's just starting out, and he doesn't know what he's doing, but he needs some affirmation.

 I've been at this thing 33 years with my bride, and I recently led a phone call with all of our kids on the phone.  We had a conference call, and we had one hour for six family units plus Barbara and me to be able to share what's going on.  And so I took charge of the call, and guided us through all those people talking.  Every family member talked, and at the end of the time I gave a little charge, a little spiritual charge to them, and told them to not be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good and prayed and got off the phone.

 My wife turned to me, and she said, "You really did a good job leading that phone call."  I have to tell you, I'm 58 years old, but I kind of soaked in those words of my wife.

Robert: It went to the core, didn't it?

Dennis: It did, as a man, when you step out and attempt something.

Bob: You said elaborate on that a little bit – explain a little more what you meant by that.

Dennis: Well, you know, here's the thing doing anything with a family of a bunch of strong-willed stallions, which is what – I don't know where they got it – but you attempt to lead it, and we had to reschedule that thing four or five times, you know, to pull it off and be able to execute it so everybody could be on that call.  And there's pain in leadership, and if a wife realizes her power, she can use her words to spur her man on to even greater reward.

Bob: But you know what's going on in her heart – she's thinking, "I'm afraid."  The whole issue of safety and security – he may lead me wrong and then what?  So it's counterintuitive for her to just sit back when her husband stumbles and cheer him on, because she doesn't know that he's going to be any more capable the next time out than he was the last time out.

Robert: And that's one aspect of it.  You know, it reminds me of one of the sessions in Men's Fraternity that we do with the young men and the older men – we ask them to learn a practice, and the practice is to at least once every six months or so to date your wife but on the date have a specific conversation.  And that specific conversation is, "How can I better meet your needs and how can I better make you secure?"  And the reason we use the word "secure" and "better meet your needs" is because, first of all, I teach the guys that security is the wife's number-one need.  And in opening up a conversation is a number-two need or needs.  So it's just these two questions – how can I make you more secure?  And when a man asks that, and a woman knows he's looking to make her more secure, she gives him the freedom to make more mistakes, if necessary, to get her secure, because she believes he's still after he best interests.

 I think that's what a woman is really asking – is he really after my best interest?  She might let him go out on his own if he is communicating that he understands what's at stake.  That's what I want to teach men – communicate to your wife you know what's at stake.

 One of the assignments I gave to the guys after that session – I said, "Why don't you go back tonight – this is just one thing you have to do tonight, trust me, just see your wife's eyes light up.  Go back, after dinner, come up, put your arms around your wife and say these words 'Honey, I just want you to know, I will never, ever leave you.'"  You just spoke to the core of security.  You said you are her teammate for life, and all that does is just make her go, "Wow.  You're there. You understand." 

Dennis: And when a man does that, he's stepping up to manhood.

Robert: Absolutely.

Dennis: And leadership and loving, and he will get the greater reward because of that.

Robert: Yes.

Bob: We've been focusing on how dads can pass this information on to their sons.  You wrote a book called "Raising a Modern Day Knight" that deals with that.  You and Dennis helped create a video curriculum that deals with that whole issue.  But as we're talking about this issue, I was flashing back to the book you wrote before "Raising a Modern Day Knight," which is the book, "Rocking the Roles."  In some ways "Rocking the Roles" is the prequel to "Raising a Modern Day Knight," isn't it?

Robert: Right.

Bob: That book helps couples understand how their identity ought to be lived out, how their gender identity ought to be lived out in marriage.

Dennis: Both men and women.

Bob: That's right, and it's from that framework that you can then begin to pass that on to your sons as you are raising them, and your wife can pass it on to her daughters as she is working to raise them.

 We've got, in our FamilyLife Resource Center, copies of the book, "Rocking the Roles."  I remember the first time I read it, I remember being on about page 25, and just wanting to go in the other room and go, "Honey, honey, read this."  And I'm sure you've had other guys say the same thing, where it's just like somebody is putting words here around something that I knew is true, but I didn't know how to say it.  This says it, this – it's just like lights went on, do you know what I'm talking about?

Dennis: It explains what you wish your spouse knew not only about what a man's role is but what her role is as well.

Bob: We've got copies of the book on our FamilyLife Resource Center along with the book, "Raising a Modern Day Knight," and the video curriculum that you created now for dads to go through together with other dads on that subject.

 I want to encourage our listeners, if you've not read "Rocking the Roles," get a copy of that book.  If you have sons, get a copy of the book, "Raising a Modern Day Knight," and, if you can, get a group of dads together and go through this video curriculum.  All three of these resources are available from us here at FamilyLife.  You can go to our website,, click the red button you see in the middle of the screen that says "Go," and that will take you right to the page where you can get more information about these resources. 

 Again, the website is, and if you want to get copies of both "Rocking the Roles," and "Raising a Modern Day Knight," we can include at no additional cost the CDs of our conversation this week on the subject, and even if you've been able to listen all week long, you may want to get the CDs to pass along to a friend, someone else you know who would benefit from hearing this material.

 Again, the website is, or you can call 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.  Someone on our team can help you know how you can have these resources sent to you or answer any questions you have about the books or about the video curriculum.

 Many of the programs you hear on this station, like FamilyLife Today, are listener-supported.  We depend on listeners who hear the program; who benefit from the program; and who think it's something valuable to have on your local Christian station, have on in this community.  We depend on folks like you to either pick up the phone or go to the website and make a donation so that this ministry can continue.  That's what it means when we say we are listener-supported.  This month, during the month of June, we wanted to find a way to say thank you to those of you who can support us with a donation of any amount, and our team was looking at the fact that many of our listeners responded very favorably to a series we did a few months ago with Elyse Fitzpatrick.  She had written a book called "Love to Eat, Hate to Eat," about how we can approach food with biblical thinking.

 And so we thought we would send out the CD audio of our interview with Elyse during the month of June to any of you who would make a donation to the ministry of FamilyLife Today and who would request the CD when you do that.  You can make a donation by going online at and filling out the donation form online.  When you get to the keycode box just write in the word "Eat," and we'll know that you'd like to have the CD sent out to you, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY and, again, mention that you'd like the audio CD, and we're happy to send it out to you as our way of saying thanks for standing with us, we appreciate your partnership, and thanks for your support.

 Well, tomorrow Dr. Robert Lewis is going to be back with us as we continue our weeklong look at what we can do to help raise sons who embrace a biblical understanding of manhood and masculinity.  I hope you can be back with us 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'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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

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