About the Guest
Kids aren't the only ones who mess up. Parents often do as well. Pastor and author Crawford Loritts recalls a time in his childhood when his father taught him the consequences of stealing and the power of repentance. Crawford goes on to explain the difference between godly discipline and violent punishment or denial, and reminds parents of the value of shame.
Kids aren’t the only ones who mess up. Parents often do as well.
Bob: Do you need to cultivate in your sons and daughters a healthy self-esteem? Dr. Crawford Loritts says, “Yes, but—”
Crawford: Well, I think there is a tender balance we have to have. God does not reject our personhood. He affirms all that we are. We are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image.
Crawford: Yet, on the other hand, we also have to be in touch with the reality that in us lies no good thing—in us, in us—not us but in us lies no good thing. I think it’s a big mistake to raise our kids with them thinking that they don’t have the propensity or the ability to be awful!
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for August 2nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If your kids are going to get an accurate picture of their nature, they’re going to need to see you blow it and repent. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. We’ve been getting some help this week on understanding what it means for men to be men—and got a guest joining us today who is helping us get a vision for what it looks like for a man to be a patriarch.
Dennis: Yes, that’s exactly right—with us, on the broadcast, Crawford Loritts. Crawford—welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Crawford: Good to be here, Dennis.
Dennis: Crawford is a great friend. He and his wife Karen are really bosom buddies of Barbara and mine. We enjoy spending time with them. They live in Atlanta, Georgia, along with their four children. Crawford—we so appreciate your work in urban families, across America. It’s so valuable. You know that we, here at FamilyLife, believe in you and your ministry and count it a privilege to partner with you and help you in every way possible to strengthen urban families.
You’ve written a book called Never Walk Away: Lessons on Integrity from a Father Who Lived It. You’ve got a section which talks about discipline. In sharing some lessons you learned from your father, you take us back to a day in 1962 that was burned into your memory because you stole something.
Crawford: Yes, I’d have to say that this is probably the most important lesson I’ve learned in my life having to do with shame—the good thing about shame. Let me tell you the story. In 1962, I was going to Central Avenue Middle School. It was June—early June. There, in the Northeast, we get out of school later.
Dennis: You lived in Newark.
Crawford: We lived in Newark, New Jersey. The school was about maybe a mile—mile and a half away. We walked to school. I was walking with a bunch of my friends. We walk passed this factory that made chains for necklaces and that kind of thing. It’s an inner-city type of factory. Trucks pulled right up onto the driveway, right off the curb there.
Well, they had a bunch of these boxes of chains out on the sidewalk. A few of my other friends—a few of my friends said—had the bright idea of snatching a few and running. Well, I was very susceptible to peer pressure. I’d never stolen anything in my life, but I was with the group. I grabbed a handful. They grabbed a handful, and we really took off. I literally—that’s the only time I did it.
Well, my other friends decided to become more entrepreneurial in their escapades. They, I understand, went back several times. It seems like, whenever I had a crisis experience or whatever, my dad happened to be home. This one evening, he was off again. The police came to my house. They came to our apartment—
Bob: Oh! Hello!
Crawford: —knocked on the door; open the door. My father—I’ll never forget his words—he said, “What are you doing here?” They said, “Well, we have two of your son’s friends in the car downstairs.” I did what any noble 12-year-old boy would do under those circumstances—I lied. So, this is—
Dennis: You said you didn’t steal the chains.
Crawford: I told them I didn’t steal the chains—and this is a true story, I tell you—open my dresser drawer, right there, underneath my undershorts were those chains.
Dennis: Your dad made you do that.
Dennis: Was he standing over your shoulder?
Crawford: He was standing right there, he and my mother.
Bob: Is this while the police are still there?
Crawford: The police are there—
Bob: Oh, man!
Crawford: —and I’m caught red-handed. My father said nothing. He said, “We will come with you,” but my dad said this to the police officer. He said, “I don’t want those boys driving in that police car. Can you let me take them?” He went downstairs, got those boys out of that police car. They came from homes that didn’t have fathers, and he knew them. They lived around the block.
Dennis: Now, why did he do that?
Crawford: Because of the shame associated with it. He didn’t want them riding in a police car down the streets. He said, “I’ll take them. Would you let me take my son and his two friends to the factory?” See, the foreman wanted to see us. We got there, and—
Dennis: Did you take the chains with you as you drove to the factory?
Crawford: I don’t know what happened to those chains! My father probably scooped them up or—I don’t know what happened to them, but we went down there. The foreman, or the manager of the place, or whoever it was scared us royally. My father said that I would do whatever was necessary to pay for what I had taken. He said, “These boys will, too.”
Dennis: Was the police officer there?
Crawford: Yes, he was there. The manager forgave us of it and didn’t press charges. My father took them home first—those two boys home first—and made them tell their mothers what had happened down at the place. My father said, in front of those boys’ mothers, about how important it is not for them to initiate a lifestyle like that. He said, “And I hope you discipline them because they can’t do this.”
Then, we came home—and I’ll never forget this—my dad had never—I’d never seen my father cry up until that point, except for at the death of his sister and brother. He said this to me, with the tears streaming down his face. He said to me, “Boy, if you wanted something, why didn’t you ask me? You don’t ever have to steal anything.” Then, he said these words that tore me up. He said, “Boy, you hurt my heart. You hurt my heart.” Then, he went ahead and disciplined me. He spanked me and took away some of my privileges for quite awhile and other things like that.
You know the thing I remember more than anything else? Whenever I was tempted to take something that didn’t belong to me, what I saw was my dad’s face and the tear trickling down his cheek. That shame became a good thing. It was contrition, and I understood later in life what biblical contrition—Every time I read Psalm 51, verse 17, I remember that experience. It says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and a contrite heart, Oh God, Thou wilt not despise.”
It’s good for our children—and I know this runs against the grain of what some people are saying these days, but it’s good for our children to feel shame. Shame is not a bad thing. There are some things we ought to be ashamed of! We ought to be ashamed of hurting and violating the trust of other people in us. Shame drives us to repentance. We ought to feel guilt when we are guilty, and we ought to embrace that guilt. That’s the pathway to growth and development. It’s deeply biblical.
I’m afraid, Dennis, that as we listen to a lot of—some of the modern-day parenting theorems that are being propagated, even in some of our Christian circles. You know I believe in building our kids up. I believe in supporting them and esteeming them. That’s all very biblical. There is a proper, biblical self-esteem. I believe in all of that, but we’re sinful. We ought to be afraid of sin. We ought to realize the pain that sin causes. We ought to be scared of it. There is a holy fear that should grip us. There is a sense of dread that we ought to have concerning it. The violation of trust—in that sense— “Godly sorrow,” as Paul says, “drives us to repentance.” That’s what shame is about.
My father could have done a number of things. He could have spanked me out of pure anger. He could have ignored it because, in the scheme of things, it was not really a big deal. He could have said, “Hey, don’t do this anymore. We know better that you know better than this,” but he opened up his heart. I don’t think he processed it this way—my dad was no Bible scholar or anything like that, but he opened up his heart. He said, “You know, I’ve given you my heart, boy. I’ve given you who I am, and you turn around and do this?”
Contrition is the active remembrance of the pain that our sin caused. It’s not the guilt, but don’t ever—I think it’s a mistake when you tell people, “Oh, forget about your sin and forget about what you did. You’ve been forgiven.” Don’t tell them that! That’s not biblical. You remember that. Rejoice that the guilt has been taken but remember the pain because in that pain is your redemption. It’s your protection and sanctification. It’s a holy handicap that keeps you growing in godliness.
Bob: Do you have any idea what happened to those other two young men?
Crawford: We moved from Newark at the end of the month of—at the end of June of 1962. That took place earlier, but they were walking down a path that spelled, “No Outlet.” Part of the reason why we were able to move then—the community was—there was some bad influences taking place—Pop just sort of felt like, “Now is time to make a change.”
I wanted to quickly say this, though, on the other hand. There are those who can’t afford to leave their communities. I don’t think the answer is always leaving your community. I don’t mean to suggest that; but those fellows, they—because of the absence of other kinds of influences in their lives, probably went down a road that was fairly destructive.
Bob: I was intrigued by something that your dad did. Again, he may not have even done it consciously. Although, I think, in the back of his mind, it was a powerful idea. He made sure that you and those other two young men didn’t ride in a police car. I think part of what he was thinking, at that point, was, “I don’t want, in the back of their minds, to have their identity labeled as ‘criminals’.”
Crawford: Yes, but I know my dad, too. I could almost guarantee you another thing that was racing across his mind— was, “This is my house, and this is my son. I will correct it. Let me have the first shot at correcting his behavior. If this doesn’t correct it, then, I’ll turn him over to you.” I think that that was probably racing—knowing him, he used to say that, “This is my house.”
The shame-thing with these other boys—my father, yes, he taught me about caring for other people—high value of his. He—there were a lot of kids in our neighborhood that didn’t have dads in the home, and Pop would take them—make sure they got registered for ball, up at the Boys’ Club. He would just kind of be around there. There were even a few of the parents that would allow him to discipline their children. Back in those days—
Crawford: —as a male role model. Yes. I remember one kid, down the street. My father got permission to discipline him. He was just out of control. The people in the community loved my dad. They really, really did; and he cared for these boys. He had just a special, warm spot for some of these other boys. He tried to do the best that he could with them, as well. That was part of it that was motivating him.
Dennis: Crawford, all week we’ve talked about lessons you’ve learned from your father. We’ve also seen how you have passed on those principles and those lessons to your kids. Can you think of a moment, a situation, a circumstance, with one of your kids, where you allowed this principle of shame to ultimately create a contrite and a broken heart in one of your children?
Crawford: Yes, I can think of a number of occasions. One of them has to do with our oldest son, Bryan, which is very—this is very unusual for him. Bryan has always been very well-behaved in school and what have you, but when he was a senior—and I tell this in the book—so, I’ve got his permission to share this—but when he was a senior in high school, he got kicked out of class, which was unusual!
In the providence of God—I’m very seldom at home in the middle of the day—but I had to come by the house to get something. I don’t remember what it was. As soon as I walked in the house, the phone rang. It was his teacher, his English teacher that said—asked, “Is Bryan Loritts there?” I said, “No, he’s supposed to be in school.” I said, “What’s the problem?” She said, “Well, Mr. Loritts, I had to ask Bryan to leave the class.” I said, “Bryan Loritts, you had to ask him to leave the class?!”
Dennis: This is your first-born.
Crawford: Yes. So—
Dennis: Straight as an arrow.
Crawford: Yes, straight as an arrow. So, I said, “Son!” I said, “What is going on?” She said, “Well, he was very disrespectful to me;” and something had happened. “Well,” I said, “I’ll be right there.” The school wasn’t too far. Bryan was supposed to be in the attendance office. That’s where you go when things like that happen. He wasn’t there. So, I go in the gym; and there he was shooting hoops, in the middle of the day, in the gym.
I said to him—I said, “You want to help me understand what’s going on here? [Laughter] Somebody needs to fill in some gaps here.” The bottom-line was that there was a little bit of a misunderstanding, but Bryan was still disrespectful. He was foolish. He just did something that was out of character, and I had to remind him—at first, he wanted to play it off. I said, “Son, I take this to be very serious; and you need to be ashamed of your behavior. This is not right.”
I made him look the teacher in the eye—apologize to the teacher for not doing for what he needed to do. Then, we had a couple of other corrective measures—let him know that being grown doesn’t mean that you do what you want to do. I’ve had to embrace shame. It works both ways. As a parent, I’ve had to do whatever is necessary to repent of my wrongdoing.
When I wrote the book, I was teaching Bryndan how to drive, which was an interesting—as most parents, listening to me. For whatever reason, I made him drive my car, which is bigger than his mother’s car. He likes driving his mother’s car. This one morning, I don’t know what got into me. It was a power thing, and I made a mistake of getting down on his level. I made him drive the car. He didn’t want to drive the car. I don’t know why I made him do it, to this very day; but I made him drive the car.
He was really steaming and upset about it. He drove it, and I was ticked at him because of his attitude and this kind of thing. After I dropped him off at school, I started going back to the office. It was as if the Spirit of God said to me, “Attitude? Look at you! Who are you? He’s a good kid. Why did you make him do this? Because you just had a selfish side of you—you wanted to prove how powerful you are. Why did you play this game?”
I turned the car around, got back to school, and called him out of class. He came down the hallway. I put my arm around him and said, “Bryndan, I was just really silly and stupid; and I was wrong. You didn’t have to drive this car. I don’t know why I put the hammer down on you like this. Will you please forgive me?” He said, “Man, you came all the way back here for that?” I said, “Yes.” He put his arm around me and said, “I forgive you, Dad. Just have a good day,” and he walked on down—
We blow it, too, as parents. I think the embracing of shame needs to be modeled on both sides.
Bob: Crawford, you talked about our kids’ self-esteem and about their self-concept. Is there a concern that we ought to have about this issue of shame and whether it will mark our kids’ identity for life?
Crawford: Well, I think there is a tender balance we have to have. God does not reject our personhood. He affirms all that we are. We are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. Yet, we also have to embrace the fact that the Savior of the world had to die and shed His blood because of our sin. So, there’s a stereo that we have to keep listening to that, “Yes, the bottom-line is that God loves us in such a great way that He sacrificed the very best He had and we’re worth something to God.”
On the other hand, we also have to be touch with the reality that in us lies no good thing—in us, in us—not us but in us lies no good thing. I think it’s a big mistake to raise our kids with them thinking that they don’t have the propensity or the ability to be awful, to be horrible. It ought—we ought to point out the traits. I think we ought to affirm them in the great things and always love them, but point out the traits that can be tendencies in their lives that will destroy them. Let them get an emotional attachment to that—that fear—that being afraid. It’s a difficult thing to answer.
Dennis: Crawford, as you’ve talked today, several principles have emerged here, just for us, as parents. I want to just summarize them quickly. First of all, we’ve got to understand shame and how God wants to use it in our lives and in our children’s lives to bring about repentance so that we experience the cost of sin, the pain of sin—so that the next time we face it, we turn away from evil and do good. Theologically speaking, we begin to understand that true repentance comes from a sorrowful heart.
The second thing we need to know is that, as parents, we need to actively allow that shame to settle in and, then, guide our children through the process of forgiveness, and of discipline, and of character-building that can only occur through having a relationship with them. Your dad had a relationship with you. You said it over and over again today. He loved you. You knew he was for you; but at the same time, he wasn’t going to let you get away with it.
Dennis: Thirdly, dealing with this shame and guiding our children through this means giving them a vision for their lives, which means we separate the sin from the sinner and help them realize that, although they are deeply fallen, deeply depraved, they are highly-loved and that God has a purpose for their lives to—and a higher call that means you can’t live in sin. You’ve got to live on a higher plan, around a spiritual calling, and a spiritual purpose for God.
Your dad—although I never met him, never knew him—your dad was a wise father. He was a wise man. He gave us an illustration here through your life that equips us as, parents, I think, to raise another generation of kids who are called away from evil to do good and to do what’s right.
Bob: Well, we’ve got to be aware of that, as dads. We have to recognize that we have a responsibility to live with integrity before our children and, then, to call them to step up and to be men of integrity. In fact, I’ve been interested. There have been some dads who have contacted us about the National Men’s Simulcast that we’re hosting on Saturday. Crawford’s going to be speaking there. Dennis, you’re going to be speaking there—James MacDonald, Robert Lewis. They’ve said, “Do you think it is okay for us to bring our sons to this event?” We said, “Yes, absolutely!” You know, if you’ve got a young man who is 15-, 16-, 17-, 18-years-old or older, bring them out with you and let them get a picture of what biblical manhood ought to look like.
Come to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about the National Men’s Simulcast that we are hosting this Saturday, 9:00 to 1:00, Eastern time; 8:00 to noon, Central time. It’s originating in Chicago and being hosted in churches all around the country. You can find out more about the simulcast, again, when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
There’s also information on our website about the upcoming video resources that FamilyLife is releasing. The Stepping Up™ men’s series and the Stepping Up video event—those are going to be out later this fall, but you can get more information about what’s coming up when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. We’re excited about the stepping up message—what you’re going to hear on Saturday, what you’ll hear in these video resources, the book that Dennis has written on this theme.
In fact, we’ve got a CD of you challenging men, Dennis, to step up. We’re making that CD available this week, along with a CD from your wife Barbara talking to wives about what a wife can do to help her husband step up. Those two CD’s are our thank-you gift, this week, for listeners who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation. Your donations are what make it possible for us to produce and syndicate this radio program, to keep it on this local station and around the world on the internet. We appreciate your financial support for the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
If you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and click the button that says, “I CARE”, make an online donation—we’ll automatically send you the two CDs—one of Dennis, one of Barbara Rainey talking about stepping up and helping your husband step up. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make your donation over the phone. If you do that, just ask for the CDs on Stepping Up; and we’re happy to get them out to you. We do appreciate your partnership with us, here, in the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
We want to encourage you to be back with us again tomorrow. Dr. Crawford Loritts is joining us again. We’re going to talk about the importance of courage—the need for men to be courageous. That comes up tomorrow. Hope you can join 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 will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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