FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Leading Your Family Spiritually

with Dennis Rainey | June 13, 2013
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Who’s leading your family? If you are husband or father, then I hope you say it’s you. Dennis Rainey throws the gauntlet to men and challenges them to intentionally lead their families.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Who’s leading your family? If you are husband or father, then I hope you say it’s you. Dennis Rainey throws the gauntlet to men and challenges them to intentionally lead their families.

  • 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.

Who’s leading your family?

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Leading Your Family Spiritually

With Dennis Rainey
June 13, 2013
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Dennis:  Today, gentlemen, I want to talk to you about being the spiritual leader of your family. As I was preparing and praying about my time with you, the Lord stopped me, dead in my tracks, and said, “I’ve got something different for you to pass out, this time, at Promise Keepers.”

I want to turn this stadium into a coach’s corner. I want to give you 25 coaching tips about how you can be the leader of your wife, the lover of your wife, the servant of your wife, and the spiritual shepherd of your entire family.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, June 13th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Guys, get ready. Coach Rainey has some thoughts for you. Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. I have often wondered, “If you hadn’t wound up at FamilyLife, I have wondered if”—

Dennis:  I’d have my own fishing show today. [Laughter]

Bob:  Yes?

Dennis:  Fishing and hunting.

Bob:  Actually, I have thought something geared toward men. You would have gotten involved in some kind of ministry—

Dennis:  I think so.

Bob:  —because whenever I hear you speaking to a group of men, I can tell there’s something that gets activated inside of you.

Dennis:  I just want to encourage men. I think men get beat up today. I think they need somebody to put their arm around them and say: “You can do this thing. You can be the man God’s called you to be.”

Bob:  You wrote a book called Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. We’ve come up with a DVD series—that is a ten-week series for guys to go through. There’s a one-day event—that’s a video event that guys can host for other men. It’s all built around what is your life message for men—that they need to step up and embrace God’s design for them, as men.

Dennis:  Yes. A number of years ago, I had the privilege of speaking at one of the PK events in Stockton, California.

Bob:  Some listeners are young enough to know—what’s a PK event?

Dennis:  Promise Keepers. It was stadiums—filled with men. I was there in Stockton. I have no idea—I don’t know, 40,000 guys, 50,000—somewhere in there. Anyway, I was driving in, the night before, listening to John Maxwell preach. I thought: “Man! He is inspiring.” I really wondered if I had chosen the right message that I was getting ready to give the next day.

It was right on target because I thought, “The men don’t need any more inspiration.” John had done a good job doing that. I gave them practical application for how to be the spiritual lover and leader of their wives and their families.

Bob:  This was one of those crazy messages you did—where, instead of having three big ideas—

Dennis:  I had the wild idea that I could somehow make 25 points in 35 minutes. This week, you’re about to find out if I could do it. We may take all week doing this, Bob.

Bob:  We just have what we have left. So, let’s dive in. Here is a message—it’s a classic message, from more than a decade ago—speaking to a crowd of guys in Stockton, California—with 25 big ideas on how to spiritually lead your family. Here’s Dennis Rainey.

[Recorded message]


Dennis:  Over 100 years ago, a young man had just graduated from a Chicago high school. His name was William Borden, heir to the Borden dairy fortune. His father wanted to give him a very special gift, upon graduation from high school. He gave him three things: money to go on a trip around the world, a servant to help him, and a brand- new Bible. After a month of touring Africa, Asia, the Middle East, William had seen the pain and suffering, through the eyes of this Book—through the eyes of God. He turned to the last page in his Bible and he wrote two words, “No Reserve”. There was no holding back.

William Borden had a call upon his life. He enrolled at Yale University, as a freshman. Years later, graduated—was courted by Wall Street. His family business needed him, but he turned his back upon fortunes because Jesus Christ had captured his heart. He enrolled at Princeton. He wrote, again in his Bible, two words underneath the first two, “No Retreat”.

Three years later, William Borden graduated and set out for the nation of China. On his way, William Borden stopped in Egypt, where he became ill. Thirty days later, William Borden died, at the age of 25. Weeks later, his father was rummaging through William Borden’s Bible. He found that William Borden had added two additional words to his Bible. He found the phrases: “No reserve”, “No retreat”, “No regrets”.

Six words—gentlemen—that I believe should challenge you and me to choose, this day, how we will live in our marriages and families. Today, gentlemen, I want to talk to you about being the spiritual leader of your family. As I was preparing and praying about my time with you, the Lord stopped me, dead in my tracks, and said, “I’ve got something different for you to pass out, this time, at Promise Keepers.”

I want to turn this stadium into a locker room. I want to give you 25 coaching tips about how you can be the leader of your wife, the lover of your wife, the servant of your wife, and the spiritual shepherd of your entire family. Turn to page 23, get a pencil, and write them down. At the end, I’m going to call you to do an exercise—at the end of this message. You may have to write small.

Number one: Pray daily with your wife. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things.” God is speaking. He’s speaking to you. He says call upon Him. In verse six, He tells you what He will do. “Behold,” He says, “I will bring it to health and healing, and I will heal them, and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth.”

Now let’s cut to the chase, guys. There are a lot of homes, in this stadium right now, that need an abundance of God’s peace and God’s truth. That will never happen unless you put your arm around your wife and pray with her. I can honestly tell you, gentlemen, I do not know if I would be standing right here today if I had not received the advice I received from a man, at the beginning of my marriage, to end every day in prayer with your wife. Whether you end the day with prayer with your wife, or you begin it in prayer with your wife, the issue, guys, is pray daily with your wife.

A second thing you can do to be the spiritual leader of your wife—you’ll love this, guys—write her an old-fashioned love letter—not the kind you’d like to receive. Write her the kind of letter she would like to receive. Any leader knows that if he is to be effective with his followers, he must do it by winning their heart. Guys, you must express love, in words, to your wife. Find fresh ways to do it. Write your wife a love letter.

Number three: I want to challenge you to discover, over the next 12 months, your wife’s top three needs. Then, I want you to go all out! I want you to go on a quest—a quest to meet your wife’s top three needs. Do you know what they are? Right now, without asking her, do you know what is just knocking the slats out of her life—what’s discouraging her? Do you know what would cause her to blossom and bloom?

Is it an emotional need? Is it a need for conversation?—a need for romance? Or is it a need for you to fix something around the house? Ooooh! Is there a need for you to ask her for forgiveness? Maybe, it’s a need for you to lead the family out of debt—to take your credit cards, and cut them up, and burn them. [Cheers]

It may be that your wife needs you to help with the dishes, or maybe serve her and the family by putting the kids to bed and letting her do some of her list that she needs to do. Maybe, there’s a man, here, who has a wife, whose need is for you to stop abusing her—to stop kicking her, slapping her, cursing her, abusing her emotionally with words. All I can say, guys, is I don’t know why a man would do that; but some men do.

I want to tell you—no matter what you’ve done, no matter how badly you’ve failed—the land is flat, at the foot of the cross. [Cheers] Jesus Christ welcomes anybody who will kneel and cry out, in humility of heart, “God, forgive me, a sinner.” So, my statement to you—if you’re abusing your wife, “Repent.”

A fourth way to be the spiritual leader—listen carefully—this is highly scientific. Buy her a rose. Buy her the rose, take her in your arms, and hold her face gently—not like one guy did, who was like he was grabbing a football. [Laughter] Hold her face gently. I want you to look into her eyes and say this: “I want you to know that marrying you was the smartest thing I’ve ever done, Sweetheart. I want you to know that I would do it all over again.” [Cheers] Now, some of you guys may need to have an oxygen tank handy for resuscitation, at this point. [Laughter] Tell her you’d marry her all over again.

Fifth: Plan weekend getaways for you and your wife. We had six children in ten years. My wife needed to get away. We needed to get away. What I did was I would arrange the babysitting. I would arrange the location, and I would make it as easy as possible for her to get away. We try to do this still—two to three times a year—two nights away from the telephone, from the To Do lists, and the mail.

Some of you men need to stay home with the children and let her get away for a weekend alone with her best friend. I did that one time, guys. I’m telling you—I got a new wife back when she came back. Gentlemen, sometimes we have to do the thing that is sacrificial—for our wives—to love them. That’s what communicates true, authentic Christian love.

Sixth: Read the Bible to her. You don’t have to be a theologian. You don’t have to be a professor. Just open the Book and read it. You say, “Well, Dennis, I don’t know where to begin.” Let me give you some locations you can just read her. Just read her this chapter, sometime, over the next few days—Philippians, Chapter 2—that’s a great passage of Scripture to read. Get the Living Bible so you both can understand it—something simple. Isaiah 40 is a great chapter—reminding us of who God is. Second Peter, Chapter 1, is a great reminder. If your wife is losing hope, read Romans 5, verses 1 through 10. And if you always want to turn to the Psalms, the Psalms are a great place to always read to your wife.

A seventh way to spiritually lead your wife and your family—listen, carefully, guys. Replace the “D” word with the “C” word. Never, ever, ever again, from this day forward, in your marriage, ever use the word, “divorce”. Never let it enter into your mind and come out your lips. Never use it again! Vow, before God Almighty, you will never use this word in any kind of conversation with your wife—you’ll never do it. Why?

Because once a word is uttered, it can become a possibility. I’m going to tell you guys, we are robbing a generation of knowing what it means to come from an intact family—where two people are committed for a lifetime—because we’re selfish. It’s time to say, “No,” to the culture of divorce and say, “Yes,” to the “C” word—covenant and commitment—because our God is a covenant-keeping God. [Applause] No leader—no leader, who wants to be the spiritual leader of his family—will knowingly create fear among those he is seeking to lead. Your assignment—my assignment—is to serve her—give up my life for her in such a way that it will cast out all fear—Ephesians, Chapter 5 tells me. Never ever again use the “D” word with your wife.

Eight: Court your wife. Some of you guys have allowed marriage to rob your relationship of its romance. You may say, “Does God talk about courting?” He sure does. You ought to take a look at the Book of Song of Solomon. Solomon knew how to court his bride. Now, the problem is guys—you and I spell romance differently than how our wives spell it. You and I spell romance S-E-X. Our wives spell romance—you ready for this?—friendship, relationship, time to talk, conversation. They need to be courted. One of the best ways you can court your wife, guys, is—in the middle of the day, from work, is just call her on the phone and say, “How’s your day going, Sweetheart?” Then, tell her, before you get off the phone: “Sweetheart, I love you. I’d marry you all over again.” Court your wife.

Nine: Remain faithful to your wife—in action, deed, and in your thought life. Jesus said, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Some of you, in this stadium, right now—in fact, it’s more than some. It’s a lot. You have a problem with pornography. There is not room in the marriage bed for three people.

Pornography—gentlemen, listen to me. Pornography is one of the most hideous, gravest things that you could ever do to your wife. It is the most deceitful. It is an affair of the heart. It means that you are giving your heart—your dreams—to someone else, other than your wife. Some of you need to know that the most courageous thing you need to do is not share with the rest of the men here. The most courageous thing you need to do is to go back home and cleanse your computer. Then, get with a group of guys that you can talk about your problem.

Because I want to tell you guys, right now—right now, if we asked every man to be honest—who’s dabbling in this, and who’s sampling on it, and who’s channel-surfing and watching, and kind of lusting after it—right now, if we did it, guys, over half of this stadium, I believe, would stand. You know what? That is to our shame, as men. But you know what? We do not have to live there. We do not have to live under the bondage, the guilt, the oppression of being enslaved to a yoke of lust. You promised your wife, guys—you vowed, as a part of your covenant, that you would remain faithful—fidelity. You may say, “Dennis, I don’t have an affair going on.” You may have one of the heart.

A tenth way that you can love your wife is by fulfilling your marriage covenant. It was more than a promise not to divorce. Your marriage covenant was a covenant to love, honor, cherish, care for, to sacrifice for, to give up your life on behalf of your wife. What I say to you guys, “Come on! Do it! Life is too short! No reserve, no retreat, no regrets.”


Bob:  Well, we’ve listened to the first part of Coach Rainey’s charge to the team. That’s really a little bit of what it feels like. It’s equipping. You’re not just giving a pep talk.

Dennis:  It’s game time.

Bob:  But you are challenging the team to leave it all out on the field.

Dennis:  You could hear it in my voice. I wanted to stop the message, right there, and have an altar call.

Bob:  Yes.

Dennis:  I was ready. It was like: “Come on, guys! Let’s go!” If we stopped right here, this is enough—love your wives, care for them, lead them, cherish them, honor them. It is part of what we promised when we made our vow to our wives.

Bob:  As you look at guys today, do you think guys are getting this?

Dennis:  I think there’s a movement of men, again, who do want to love their wives. They just need some mentors. They need to be discipled by some older guys. It’s why, Bob, I’m so passionate and pounding the table about our Stepping Up video series because it really tees it up for a group of guys to get together—whether it be 5 to 10 guys or 500 to 1,000 guys.

Bob:  We’ve seen it happen both ways.

Dennis:  We have. All over the country, more than 50,000 guys have been through the Stepping Up video series, or event, in the last six months. It’s just an opportunity for guys to connect with other guys, and to rub shoulders, and to be shaped, and challenged, and exhorted, and encouraged, and helped back up when they fail. Guys need all that. I mean, we’re not perfect.

But I do think men do want to do this right. They are seeing the impact that the families they came from had on them. They want to do something better—something that would be a greater gift to the next generation.

Bob:  And you talk about the need for mentors. In the Stepping Up video series, guys get an opportunity to be mentored by you, by Robert Lewis, by Bill Bennett, by Tony Dungy, by Mark Driscoll, by Matt Chandler, Voddie Baucham, Crawford Loritts. There is a great lineup of guys who have participated in this video series—who are coaching men on all aspects of biblical manhood—what it means to stand firm, as a man, what it means to take initiative, what it looks like to engage others with wisdom and with grace. And how do we plan ahead and provide for those who are under our protection and our care?

Find out more about the Stepping Up video series when you go online to This may be something you want to go through, this summer, with a group of guys. It’s easy enough to do. Anybody can do it. Just gather up four or five friends—go through a session. They’re about half-an-hour long. Spend some time in a workbook, and you’re done. It’s that simple.

There’s some homework for you to do during the week so that you can get the maximum benefit from going through this material. If you want to see a sample of what we’re talking about, there are a couple ways you can do that. We have some clips for you, online, at Just click the link for “Stepping Up”, and you’ll see some video clips that are available from the series.

Or we will send you a copy of Dennis’s book, Stepping Up, at no cost. We’ll send it to you free. All we ask is that you cover the cost of shipping and handling. We’ll include, with the book, a DVD sampler that has all of Session One from the Stepping Up video series and the first half of Session One from the Stepping Up video event. You can get a preview of what the material looks like—give you something to decide, “Is this worth going through with a group of guys?”

Whether you do it this summer, or whether you’re starting to make plans for the fall, get in touch with us. Get a free copy of Dennis Rainey’s book, Stepping Up, along with the DVD sampler. Just cover the postage and the handling, and we’re happy to send it out to you. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order a copy of the book or with any questions you might have about the Stepping Up materials.

You know, the message we’ve been hearing from Dennis today is one of a couple of messages he presented at Promise Keepers events, all across the country—maybe, a decade ago—one of the other messages that Dennis presented at a Promise Keepers, years ago. This was in Jacksonville, Florida, at Jaguar Stadium. Dennis talked about how dads can be proactively engaged in protecting their teenagers by connecting with them, heart to heart.

We have copies of that message. In fact, we’re making them available, this month, to anyone who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation. We’re listener-supported. It is folks, like you, who make this daily radio program possible by making occasional donations. Or some of you are Legacy Partners and make a donation every month. We appreciate whatever you are able to do.

Again, when you make a donation, right now, we’d like to send you a copy of Dennis’s message, “Turning Your Heart toward Your Children”. It’s a message for men. Go to, click the button that says, “I CARE”, and make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make a donation over the phone, and ask for the CD from Dennis Rainey called “Turning Your Heart toward Your Children”. We’re happy to send it out to you, and we’re grateful for your financial support of this ministry.

And we hope you can join us back again tomorrow. We’re going to hear Part Two of Dennis’s message—this time, with coaching tips for us, as dads—about how we can make the important spiritual handoff we need to make to our children. That comes up tomorrow. Hope you can join us.

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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