Making a Positive ImpactJune 17, 2004
On today's broadcast, author Steve Farrar talks to men about making a positive impact on their families.
On today's broadcast, author Steve Farrar talks to men about making a positive impact on their families.
Making a Positive Impact
Bob: Part of a father's job is to make sure that boundaries are clearly established in the life of a child. Here's Steve Farrar.
Steve: How do you deal with foolishness in the heart of a child? It says, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, the rod of discipline will remove it far from him," Proverbs 22:15. Now, you're not going to discipline an 18-month-old child the way you do an eight-year-old, but you've got to start early. You have those teenage battles? The time to win the teenage battles is when they're two, three, and four.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, June 17th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll learn today how part of a father's job is to use discipline to train his children for godliness.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. We're here with Coach Rainey and Coach Farrar. We've had a couple of days of coaching tips from Coach Farrar.
Dennis: We've had several requests from some of our female listeners – "Please do not take us back …
Bob: … no more football …
Dennis: … to the locker room for anymore coaching tips." They appreciate the help for their husbands, but it gets a little smelly in the locker room down there where we've been for the past couple of days. Bob, of course, is referring to Steve Farrar who joins us here for a fourth day here on the broadcast. Steve, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Steve: Thanks, it's great to be back with you guys.
Dennis: Steve is an author of numerous books, speaks all around the country for men's groups, is the founder and chairman of the men's leadership ministries, which is based out of Bryan-College Station, Texas, and is married to his wife Mary and has three children. In fact, for a number of years, Steve, you spoke at our FamilyLife Marriage Conferences all around the country.
Steve: Yeah, that's a special time in our lives, and I'll never forget, back in the early '80s, I went through a wilderness time and was in a small church. The average age was 70 years old, I was 30, and thought that perhaps that's where I would always be. I didn't feel like I was real effective, didn't think I could make that church grow, but the Lord was teaching me some character lessons. And I just resolved I was going to stay there. I wasn't going to do anything to leave. But I struggled a lot with hopelessness and depression.
Dennis: That was a real valley.
Steve: It was deep. I had days – I had many hours of weeping. The people were great, they were wonderful -- it wasn't their issue, it was my issue. But I will never forget one day I literally had gotten up out of my chair and was walking towards the door to leave, and my secretary buzzed me, and she said, "Do you know a guy from Arkansas named Dennis Rainey?" And I went, "Rainey, Rainey, yeah, yeah, he knows Robert Lewis," and I got on the phone with Dennis, and that was a call that really changed the course of our life.
But you were calling to ask if I would be interested in joining the FamilyLife speaking team. God used you in my life; that opened some doors for me. It expanded by borders. But you were the guy that took a chance on somebody you didn't know from Bo Diddley, and I know now you lived to regret it.
Dennis: That's not true at all.
Steve: The Lord used you in my life, and I appreciate you very, very much, and it's just great to be here and see how God has expanded your borders and the borders of FamilyLife ministry. But, you know, before God can do that in our lives, He's got to do something deep, and it usually hurts, and it usually breaks our hearts. The issue is obedience. That's what it gets down to.
Bob: Well, and the point of your book, "Anchor Man" is that every man God is using to anchor his family for a generation or two or three – for the next century. His obedience to Christ and his commitment to his family can set the course of a family for a century.
Steve: That's exactly right, and I think one of the things that happens, as we talk about this, I don't want to give anyone the sense that there's a magic formula. None of us in this room have got it together. We're all totally dependent on the Lord. There is one master. The rest of us are just a bunch of average guys. You know, Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, has a great line – "Over the years, I've learned that God is greatly attracted to weakness." And, you see, none of us like to be weak. And sometimes, you know, when you write books, Dennis, and when you're on the radio, people think, "Oh, that guy's got it together." We don't have it together. There is great weakness in our lives. If there was no weakness, we wouldn't have to depend on Christ.
Bob: Yeah, the Bible says that when we are weak, he is made strong. It's in our weakness that God's strength is perfected, and that's where we get the consistency and the perseverance to be obedient to what God calls us to and, Steve, one of the things you talk about in your book that God does call us to, as anchormen, is the assignment to provide consistent discipline. And, I've got to tell you, one of the hardest things I've done, as a dad, is to be consistent in my discipline with my children. Because they keep asking for it day in and day out, you know what I mean?
Steve: Yeah, yeah.
Bob: Disciplining is a hard chore.
Dennis: Your kids ask for discipline?
Bob: Yes, they ask for it. Yeah, they don't come up and say, "Dad, will you discipline me?" They ask for it by being disobedient on a regular basis.
Dennis: Yeah, in fact, I love the quote that you have at the beginning of this chapter. The chapter is entitled "Taming Your Barbarians." But you quote John Owen, he's a great writer. He said this – "We ought as much to pray for a blessing on our daily rod as upon our daily bread." I like that.
Steve: Yeah, that's a great line, and then you go back to Deuteronomy 6 and this idea – we talked about anchormen and leading your family for 100 years – in Deutronomy 6 he says to men – "So that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord." The fear of the Lord is a pivotal principle that runs through the word of God. You cannot have a society that functions well without the fear of the Lord. Why is America in such deep trouble? Why have we lost where we used to be? We've lost the fear of the Lord.
You know, the Scripture says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; the fear of the Lord prolongs life." In Proverbs 14:26 it says, "In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence." You can work your way, with a concordance, take the phrase, "fear of the Lord" and go through Proverbs.
There are so many benefits that come from the fear of the Lord. My point in this is this – where does a child learn the fear of the Lord? Fathers are told to instill the fear of the Lord not only to their sons but to the next generation. I think, before a child will learn the fear of the Lord, they must first learn the fear of a father. My dad taught me to fear the Lord. But the way I learned the fear of the Lord was by first learning the fear of my dad.
There are abusive fathers, and we are not talking about that. That has nothing to do with the fear of the Lord. What we are talking about is an awe; is a respect. Nevertheless there was a fear there, and let me give you an illustration. I can remember San Mateo High School, my junior year, after a football game. Two of my buddies pull up, they've got a trunk full of beer. There were three gals in the car – one that would be available for me. You guys know the drill. "Hey, Steve, let's go. Come on." And you know what? There was something – yeah, that might be interesting. And I pondered it for about a nanosecond, and I said, "Tell you what, you guys go on." And they said, "Oh, no, come on, let's go." I said, "No, no, you guys go." Why didn't I go with them? Let me tell you why. I knew that somehow, some way, in his omniscience, my dad would find out that I did it. I'm dead serious. And you know what? It just wasn't worth it. I was 17, but, you see, I wanted to live to be 18.
And what I'm saying is, knowing that I'd have to face my dad kept me from doing something very, very stupid and very, very foolish.
Dennis: You know what you're talking about here as you talk about the fear of the Lord, and there are a lot of things encompassed around this principle from the Bible, but it's a respect for authority, and if you don't have respect for authority, you're not going to be obedient. Secondly, it's submission to authority. It's learning how to put yourself under authority without kicking and screaming, realizing that's where life comes from. Third, I believe the fear of the Lord is living your life in the presence of God. You laughed about it, Steve, but you talked about your dad, in his omniscience, would find out. And, you know, God knows everything and living your life in the fear of the Lord means we practice His presence.
And, finally, the fear of the Lord, I believe, leads us to understand that for every act there are consequences. They may be good consequences, they may be not-so-good consequences, but the fear of the Lord teaches, I believe, there is a payday someday for every action that we take, and as we have this as a basis for discipline, I believe it teaches our children ultimately to live their lives circumspectly.
Bob: You know, I've just got to jump on the soapbox here for a second.
Dennis: I'll get off, Bob, excuse me. I didn't mean to keep you off of it, Bob.
Bob: I think you're dead-on to this, Steve. Mary Ann and I were walking – I'll never forget – walking down the street together in San Antonio a few years back, and I said to her, "I'm not sure our children fear me, and I think that's probably not right. I think they probably should." And she looked at me like what are you talking about? And we had this discussion. But here is where it turned. I said, "Our children will learn to fear and respect me when they see you, as my wife, showing them how to do that."
Now, I wasn't trying to whip her into some submissive state, but I really do think this principle is profound, and I think that moms, I think that wives, need to understand that what they model for their children by talking honorably about their father and you need to be careful around your dad and be respectful of your dad, don't talk that way to your father, and then modeling it in the way they relate in front of the children to dad. If they're contradictory, if they're provoking their father in front of that, they're setting the kids up not to have any fear of Dad.
Steve: You're talking about an attitude of respect that a wife conveys and that kids pick up on.
Bob: Well, you know, I was thinking back to the old movies. You remember the old movie where there would be a family of eight kids, and Dad was this patriarch, and Mom would say, "Shh, Dad's coming home." And she'd be there trying to get everything right for Dad. Now, you could look at that and say a lot of men have abused their office, and that's one reason, I think, we've lost the fear of it. We've got to recapture a holy sense of that.
Steve: And, you know, there are some guys that want that, expect it, and demand it. Those are the guys that don't get it.
Bob: That's right – and don't deserve it.
Steve: It's like – when we moved to Texas, one of my sons was on a Peewee Football League. The first thing this coach gets up and does and says to these kids is, "Guys, if there's one thing I demand, it's respect." And I thought, "This guy doesn't know leadership from the back of his head." You don't get up and demand respect, you live it. You live your life, and the respect is the by-product.
Dennis: I think today in many men they're trying to be pals with their kids, buddies, and in the process of being so "their level," they lose that respect Bob is talking about and, as a result, their kids don't have that sense of awe that we're speaking about here for that authority.
Bob: That's kind of a foundational issue as we've described it, but in your book you lay out some very specific, very practical, principles for discipline. Just coach us here, as husbands and as dads, as anchormen, what are some things that we can do that are effective ways of disciplining our children so that we do show love and respect for them, but that they show love for us. I think you've got 10 tips that you give in the book. Just share them with our listeners.
Steve: And the 10 tips, quite frankly, came right out of Proverbs. Let me give you quick references here, and then I'll hit the ten, because I want you to know the biblical reasons for this. Proverbs 15:20 – "A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish man despises his mother." He's talking about respect in the home. Here's another one, Proverbs 17:25 – "A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him." How do you deal with foolishness in the heart of a child? It says, "A foolish son is destruction to his father" – that's 19:13. I love 19:18 of Proverbs – "Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death." In 22:15 we're talking about foolishness, it defines it – Proverbs 22:15 – "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, the rod of discipline will remove it far from him." There are several other passages, but I came up with ten principles, and let me just give them to you.
Number one, start early in disciplining your child. Anne Ortlund had a great line, and she had a title of a book called, "Children are Wet Cement." You can't wait until the cement is dry. You have got to shape them while the cement is freshly poured.
Bob: Two, three, four years old – are you talking about that early?
Steve: Oh, yeah, and if you read – you know, James Dobson, we've all appreciated, he's written some of the best books on discipline. Jim talks about the fact that you start 16, 18 months. Now, you're not going to discipline an 18-month-old child the way you do an eight-year-old, but the principle – not letting that will get the upper hand. You've got to start early. You have those teenage battles? The time to win the teenage battles is when they're two, three, and four.
Dennis: Yeah, if you lose them when they're two, three, and four, you'll really pay the price when they're teenagers. What's the second tip?
Steve: Use discipline for training, not humiliation or venting anger. This is where we have to be in control. We have power as parents. You know, God has all power, but the great thing about God is, God has power over His power. So when we discipline, it has to be for a specific purpose. We're trying to train kids, we're not trying to abuse kids.
Bob: Yes, in fact, if you find yourself losing your temper, losing control, that's the time to back off and not be involved.
Steve: That's exactly right. If you can't control yourself, then don't try to control a child. You've got to get control of yourself first.
A third principle – deal swiftly with disrespect. I can't say enough about this. When I went out for football my freshman year, I was five-foot-seven and weighed 135 pounds. Twelve months later, football rolls around, I'm six-three, I weigh 180. That was a year of a lot of growth. We'd do two-a-days. You ladies, you're not familiar with this, but when you start football, you practice in the morning and then you go back in the afternoon, and it's a horrendous experience. Your body is so sore. I'd come home from two-a-days, I walk in the door, and I am literally aching from head to toe. And I've got to go back to practice in three hours. I just want to get a sandwich, and I want to get prone on the floor.
My mom says, "Steve, I have some ladies coming over. I need you to sweep out the garage." Now, the first thought in my mind was, "Are these ladies going to eat in the garage?" I didn't say that, but what does that have to do with anything? The garage needs to be – and I said, "Mom, you know what? I'm dying. Can I just do that later?" And she said, "I need you to do it now." And I said, "Mom, please, I'm just aching." She said, "Steve, do it now." And you know what? I'm six-three, I'm 180, I look down on my mom, and I said, "You know what, Mom? I'm not going to do it. I'll catch it later. I'm sorry, but I don't feel good." I walk in, get my sandwich, and then I hear my dad drive up.
My dad came in the house. "Steve come over here, I want you to have a seat." We sat on the blue sofa. I'll never forget it as long as I live. My dad looked at me, and he said, "You know, Steve, I want you to have a happy life." And I'm kind of looking at him, but he said, "But I want you to know this. If you ever talk to your mother like that again, I'll pull you off that football team so fast it will make your head spin." Nobody loves football more than my dad, but there are some things that are more important than football to my dad. He said, "I'll pull you off" – and I knew he would. He had the credibility capital built up. He also said to me, he said, "I don't talk to your mother like that. You will never, ever again in your life speak to her in that tone of voice." He said, "The other thing you need to realize – this is not an issue between you and your mother. This is an issue between you and me." He went on another 25, 30 minutes.
Bob: Did you go clean out the garage at that point?
Steve: Oh, yeah, yeah, quickly. My dad demanded respect for my mom. What's funny is, I've got two teenage sons. One of them grew nine inches in nine months a couple of years ago. We had a similar situation – kind of a smart remark. I dealt with it. We were watching it for about a week. I was on a trip, I'd come home, I found out the smart remark had been made again. I came in late, about one in the morning. I found about this, got him out of bed, sat down with him, I looked at him, and I said – and it was John. He wouldn't mind me telling this story. I said, "John, you know what? I want you to have a happy life." And then I said to him, "This is not – John, you need to understand something. If you ever talk to your mother like that again, I'll pull you off that basketball team so fast it will make your head spin. I don't speak to your mother in that tone of voice, and you will never, ever again speak to your mother in that tone of voice. The other thing, John, you need to realize – this is not an issue between you and your mother. This is an issue between you and me." And you know, guys, it was all I could do to keep from cracking up. The funny thing about this whole story is this – in 30 years, John's going to be sitting down with his son.
Dennis: Sure he is.
Steve: And saying, "I want you to have a happy life." You see, but what's the principle we're talking about here? My dad dealt swiftly with disrespect. This is a non-negotiable.
Dennis: And what we're hearing in all of these principles about discipline is a father who is involved – capital "I" – spell out the word in all capitals – INVOLVEMENT. Step in there and swiftly engage your child around these issues, because they need a daddy.
Steve: And even daughters, as they hit certain times, you know, in the early teenage years, sometimes they'll think Mom's not cool. Rachel is a sweetheart, she's a great kid. She went through a period of time that Mary could do nothing right. And, finally, I had to sit down with her, and I said, "Rache, listen sweetheart, you don't see this, but I want to tell you something. Your mom can't do anything right in your eyes right now, and I know you love Mom, but everything she does you're critiquing, and your big deal is you don't think she's cool. I want to tell you something – I think Mom is cool. I think Mom is real cool. I think Mom is sharp, and in your heart you do, too. So you know what? We're just not going to do that anymore." And that's all I needed to say, and the tears started flowing, you see? But that's where dads step in. It's really an issue of protection. You demand respect for your wife.
Bob: And I think you've illustrated one other thing that's profound and shouldn't be missed, and that is that when your dad set you down on the blue sofa, he wasn't just talking to you. He was talking to your son, John. He was being an anchor man. And not only was he talking to your son, John, but he was talking to John's son, because, you're right. John will someday have that whole discussion with his son, and it all happened because a dad invested. He was an anchor man, and that goes on for 100 years.
Dennis: You know, in all these things we're discussing here, we're talking about dads assuming their responsibility to provide, to protect, to set a course for their families and a lot of times we think of that in terms of monetary provision, provision of homes, material provisions, but, Steve, what you've illustrated to beautifully here, as we shape the character of the next generation, is you're providing the moral basis, the moral foundation, that is going to determine the choices your sons and daughters make in the future. And that's what every man needs to hear in this. This assignment God has given us is not optional. You can't just decide to do it one day and then not for a week. You've got to hang in there, you've got to be there, and you've got to shape that child's conscience, because if you don't, the world will.
Bob: We've also, Dennis, got to lean on the shoulders of those who have gone before us who can give us the kinds of practical tips that Steve is giving us, and in his book he talks about the need to communicate rules clearly and then enforce them the first time to make sure a child understands why he's being disciplined. Make the mid-course corrections, even admit when you've been wrong, how you've got to be united as a husband and wife in front of the kids, how you've got to discipline with your child's temperament and personality in mind, and make sure that the punishment fits the crime. All of those practical issues of discipline are helpful reminders …
Dennis: … right here in this book.
Bob: That are a part of the book, "Anchor Man." We've got the book available in our FamilyLife Resource Center. You can contact us to request a copy at 1-800-FLTODAY, go online at FamilyLife.com. Also ask about the book that you've written called "Growing A Spiritually Strong Family." These two books together can give dads a game plan for not just how to raise your kids but how to make sure your relationship with your wife is all that God intends for it to be so that your family is anchored in Christ. Ask about the book, "Anchor Man," and the book, "Growing a Spiritually Strong Family."
When you contact us if you order both books together, we're going to throw in something free. We've got the CDs or the cassettes of our visit this week with Steve Farrar. Ask for a copy of either one at no additional cost when you call to get the two books, "Anchor Man," and "Growing a Spiritually Strong Family." The toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY. You can also order online at FamilyLife.com, and if you need any information about the resources, find it on our website. Again, it's FamilyLife.com or give us a call – 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
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Well, tomorrow we're going to have Steve Farrar back with us, and we're going to talk about how the decisions you make as a dad today affect not just you or your family, but they affect people you have never seen and may never meet. We'll talk about that tomorrow. I 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'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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