FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Obtaining Wisdom

with Mark DeMoss | June 13, 2007
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Do you want wisdom? If so, do you know where to find it? On today's broadcast, Mark DeMoss, founder of The DeMoss Group, tells Dennis Rainey about his first job as a salesman and what he's found to be the key to building a successful life.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Do you want wisdom? If so, do you know where to find it? On today's broadcast, Mark DeMoss, founder of The DeMoss Group, tells Dennis Rainey about his first job as a salesman and what he's found to be the key to building a successful life.

  • 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.

Do you want wisdom?

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Obtaining Wisdom

With Mark DeMoss
June 13, 2007
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Mark: It's not impossible for any of us to stumble, but I wanted to make it more difficult, and one way to make it more difficult to stumble with another woman is to not be alone with one, and so I set up this standard in my office, and practiced it myself, and sometimes it's inconvenient, but it's sure worth it.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, June 13th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  The Bible says there are things that are lawful that aren't necessarily profitable.  We'll talk about some of those things today.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  You know, we have spent time this week kind of digging down and going deep on some of the big themes that are in a little red book.

Dennis: Well, actually, Bob, I want to correct you on that.  You know, we've been going deep on something that's talked about in a – you know, this is a big burgundy book, this is my big Bible, but Proverbs, chapter 1, speaks of wisdom, shouting in the street; Proverbs 2 talks about treasuring these words and pursuing and digging deep.  Wisdom was never put on the lower shelf in the Book of Proverbs.  It was spoken of as something you had to go after that any person could achieve, but they had to really, really want it, and that's what our guest has been doing this week, and he has written a book called "The Little Red Book," and it's about wisdom.

 Mark DeMoss joins us again on FamilyLife Today.  Mark, welcome back.

Mark: Thank you, this has been fun.

Dennis: Mark is the founder and president of The DeMoss Group, in Atlanta, Georgia, a public relations firm that works with nonprofit Christian organizations, and, Mark, this little red book that we've been talking about here, you believe, is all about wisdom, and it's about wisdom not for the elite but for everyone.

Mark: Yeah, there's something about the subject of wisdom that I think too many people think that it's reserved for the best educated, the highest paid, the most powerful, so you tend to think of wisdom associated with people that went to the best schools that make the most money, the presidents of companies, the presidents of countries, secretaries of state, and those kinds of people, and yet I believe wisdom is for everybody.  It's for the student, it's for the employee as well as the employer, it's for the average salaried person as well as the high-salaried person.  It's for the mother, it's for the father, and nobody has a corner on wisdom.

Bob: You think of a wise person as being somebody who would have a high IQ, and yet there are people who may not be all that great at book learning, as we like to say, but folks who understand life.  And most of what you've captured in your book, these are not things you learned in the university, these are things you learn living life, right?

Mark: That's right.

Bob: I'm wondering if – as I said, we've kind of gone deep on some of these themes, but I'm wondering if we could just skip over some of them, because your chapter titles are intriguing, and I just think it would be fun to take one – for example, you've got a chapter here that says, "Tackle One Thing That's So Difficult You'll Never Want to do it Again."

 What are you talking about?  What do you mean by that?

Mark: For me, that was the summer before my senior year of high school.  I went selling books door-to-door.  I was a door-to-door salesman as a 16-year-old.

Bob: Now, you did this on purpose?

Mark: I did it on purpose, somebody recruited me to go.  You were actually supposed to be a college student to do this.  I went a little bit younger than that, and it was, to this day, the most difficult thing I've ever done.  I learned great lessons from it.

Dennis: I went to seminary with a bunch of guys who did this, and they would all say the same thing.

Mark: Well, it was really far out of my comfort zone, and it was something I didn't have to do, either, because my parents were going to pay for my college education, so I didn't have to go sell books so I could go to college, and …

Dennis: Did your dad encourage you to do it, because he knew it would develop you as a young man?

Mark: He did encourage me, and I think he knew how tough it would be, too.  And if he had told me how tough it would have been, I wouldn't have done it.

Bob: So why are you glad you did it, and what life lesson, what wisdom, have you learned from it?

Mark: I learned so much about – I learned about hard work.  We worked Monday through Friday from 8 in the morning until 9 at night, that's 13 hours, and we worked Saturdays from, I think 9 to 6.  So I learned that, that was hard work.  I learned how to handle a lot of rejection, which is probably the biggest thing people that have done this would tell you they learn.

 We are knocking, typically, or ringing doorbells on 80 doors every day, trying to make 30 presentations.  That was sort of the formula, and to knock on 80 doors and only make 30 presentations, or some days make 10 or 12, means a lot of people were shutting the door on your or turning around or saying, "I'm not interested," and that's tough to take until you learn how to overcome it.

 And I learned – it was interesting, the point in the summer where things sort of clicked, you went from being discouraged or offended to actual being glad – if somebody wasn't interested, you'd rather them shut the door on you than invite you in for 10, 15 minutes and then say, "I'm not interested."

 So it was a great thing, you know, I stuck it out.  A lot of people quit, and I could have done that.  It was a great lesson.  So the chapter is really about, at some point, I don't think you have to live outside your comfort zone, but I think you need to get out of it somewhere.

Dennis: Trying something difficult that you've never tried before.

Bob: In this case you're talking about work ethic and perseverance, and then you go on to write a chapter about "Work Less Think More."  So explain how those two fit together for me.

Mark: I've been struck by how busy we've all become.  Our work culture is so production-oriented, and so everybody is busy doing, and we're producing, and we're writing, and we're mailing, and we're broadcasting, and we're publishing, and everybody's got deadlines and calendars, and so much of it, it seems, is being done and produced apart from good thinking that might actually alter our doing.

 And probably the impetus for that chapter was a book I read a number of years ago that was called "Thinking for a Living," and this was written by a marketing genius, and I read this book.  He said if you – I'd like to hear from you if you enjoyed the book.  So I wrote him a letter and asked if he'd come speak to our staff.  And we brought him in for a luncheon, and he invited us to come by anytime, he said, "But I'll go ahead and warn you, when you come to our office, you'll probably see a lot of people with their feet up on the desk, and they're thinking."

 And this sounded almost like a joke, and yet I learned since then that companies were paying this fellow a half a million dollars, literally, for a big idea.  And I just become a fanatic about …

Bob: Any openings at that company that you know of?


Mark: So I try to – something I preach a lot in our firm, but you have to work at it, you can't just preach thinking.  Thinking is hard work, and I've often said, you know, if it weren't hard, we'd do it more, and more people would do it.  So I want all of our work to be guided by good thinking.  I'd rather be known for our thinking than for our output or production, and that's what that chapter is about.

Bob: Dennis, I wonder how many families there are today that are so busy doing that they haven't really pulled back and done a whole lot of thinking about what really is important?

Dennis: I believe the lost art of thinking is one of the biggest sins of our generation.  In fact, I think rediscovering the lost art of the Sabbath, of just taking a day of rest to unplug from media, music, to find a contemplative island.

 Now, we're not going to go do that.  We're such an activistic culture and so busy with our entertainment and our recreation, but I do wonder sometimes that if we hadn't lost that art – you spoke of your dad as he started every day, he'd take an hour every day not merely to think but to think and pray and connect with God before he connected with anyone else.  Talk about the model of what he left, because this is really where you got some of this model.

Mark: Yeah, I call that the wisdom of firsts, and he had actually written a little booklet called "God's Secret of Success," which was built around giving God the first hour or part of each day, the first day of each week, and the first dime of every dollar.

Dennis: Now, wait a second, I just want to make sure that didn't go by too quickly here.  Your dad believed he needed to give God the first hour of each day, the first day of each week, and the first dime of each dollar.  And he called that success in living.

Mark: Yes, God's secret of success.

Bob: You know, some folks are going to hear you talk about this, and some of the other things in your book, for example, you've got a chapter in here about drinking.  They're going to hear this – and in that chapter, by the way, you advocate that wisdom is probably found in abstinence?  That's been a personal conviction, personal standard for you?

Mark: It has, and I think I approached this chapter differently than a lot of people may have seen this topic approached, and I almost didn't put it in the book, actually. 

 Yeah, it's called "Here to Not Drinking At All," and my approach to this subject, because I know it's a sensitive subject for a lot of people is, look, whether it's your personal standard or not, I'm only suggesting that given statistics and physics and how our bodies work, and a whole lot of data, it might be wise to choose not to drink.  And I think that's a hard point to argue with, but it's – I think it's an interesting chapter and an interesting approach.

Bob: Well, I brought it up because as we talk about giving God the first hour of the day, the first dime of the dollar, not drinking, pretty soon somebody's going to go, "This guy sounds a little legalistic to me, you know what I mean?  He's got all these convictions and standards that – it could sound – we're under grace, you know?"

Dennis: Certainly this generation is more …

Bob: You've heard stuff.  You know what I'm talking about, right?

Dennis: … is – you know, certainly runs to that, I think, personally, the need for convictions today and a rationale for those convictions is needed as never before.  And I like the way you handled this subject because you made it real clear in this chapter you weren't trying to establish a moral baseline for other people because most of your friends, you said, drink.

 And so you were just saying, you know, "For me, this is the better part of wisdom to avoid becoming a statistic."

Mark: Yeah, I'd go a step further even and say this –  if there were no Bible, and I'd never heard any moral or biblical or spiritual case made against drinking, throw all that out for a minute – I still think wisdom would say, "All things considered, it's safer not to drink."  And I don't know how you can argue that point.

Bob: So your friends who do drink, you would say what they're doing is unwise?

Mark: I would say I think it's wiser not to drink because, look, there's so much data on this, I don't know if it takes one drink or 10 drinks or 1,000 drinks for me to be an alcoholic or to be inclined that way.  So why would I test it?  I don't know, but I do know one thing – every known case of drunkenness in human history started with a drink.  That's the only way you can get drunk.

Bob: Say it another way – every person who has ever lived a life of abstinence has never been drunk.

Mark: That's right.

Bob: Right?

Mark: And I'll tell you this, too, though.  I've been struck more and more that so many of these issues – you can hardly pick up a newspaper today without seeing some confirmation of some of this wisdom.  I live in Atlanta near the University of Georgia, an hour away, and that campus has really been riddled with this problem of alcohol, and it's consuming a lot of the university president's time addressing it and figuring out how to deal with it on that campus, and it's in the newspapers all the time.  And so it's not a religious debate, it's a real challenge.

Dennis: Let's talk about one that is a religious debate and one that is a desperately moral issue.  You're calling it the best defense is a good defense – not being alone with the opposite sex. 

Mark: Yeah, I've – and that's an increasingly foreign concept, I think.  You know, men and women work together and go on assignments together and travel together and eat together and all of that, and …

Dennis: So you write in this chapter, "Why I won't ride alone with another woman."

Mark: I just made a decision a long time ago – it's not impossible for any of us to stumble, but I wanted to make it more difficult, and one way to make it more difficult to stumble sexually or physically or even emotionally with another woman is to not be alone with one, and so I set up this standard in my office and applied to it to our staff, practiced it myself, and sometimes it's inconvenient, but it's sure worth it.

 And it does two things – it literally and physically protects me.  It also sends a message to the rest of my staff that it's going to be difficult for them or for me to get tangled up.  It sends a message to them that April is more important to me than they are, and if I'm ever wrongly accused – let's say I hired a woman, and she works with me for four or five months and then quits, or we have to let her go, and she goes and starts a story that I was alone with her and acted inappropriately.

 I wanted to set up a system where I would immediately have a chorus of defenders who would come out and say, "That's a lie, because I've worked with him for 10 years or 12 years, and he's never alone with somebody."  I want that protection.  I want some defenders, and I don't want people to say, "Well, I don't know what they did back there, because the door was shut, and he works with her a lot," and so, to me, these were just practical steps to protect myself, to protect my wife and children, and even the people that work for me, I think their spouses can take some comfort in knowing that they're working at a place that practices this.

Bob: And, you know, once again, there are some folks who are listening and thinking, "Boy, it sounds kind of boxy, kind of legalistic," and you'd hear a comment like that, Dennis, and you'd say, "Let's consider the alternatives, and maybe it's time for some convictions even if they are restrictive, right?"

Dennis: Well, when I write e-mails to women, I try to copy Barbara, and even when it's a business matter.  I just don't want to be misconstrued even if I give someone a compliment about a job well done or something they did well, I want them to know that my wife knows I gave a compliment, she's seeing everything, she knows what's going on.

 I have the same rule.  I can tell you, actually, the last two times I was in a car with a woman alone, and both times I thought, "Why am I here?  How did I end up in this situation?"  And both times it was circumstances that occurred that were harmless but, I'm with you, Mark, the wisdom associated with a few fences in your life, some protections.

 I just heard of a good friend who has had some struggles in his life, and I think it's been as a result of not having a few of these boundaries and these fences in his life.

Bob: And you can imagine that some folks would come to a book like this, Mark, and they would read some of it and go, "Boy, that seems boxy, that seems narrow," and the reality is, if you stop and think, "Okay, if somebody applied all the things you're talking about here, would their life look like a mess, or would their life look like it had some order and some wisdom to it," and that's really the point.

 The folks who say, "I want freedom," may find that in that freedom there is danger, and you're just saying, given the option between the danger and the self-imposed restriction here, I'll go for the safety of the fence.

Mark: Yeah, I would only ask readers one question about any chapter in this book.  Whether you like it or not, whether you're comfortable with it or not, whether you agree with it or not, would you concede that there is wisdom in the argument?

 I'll give you an example for me – one of my sisters was recently telling me I really should give up drinking Diet Coke.  I don't drink coffee, I don't drink tea, you know now I don't drink alcohol.

Dennis: So they really nailed you on the one area you were vulnerable – Diet Coke.

Mark: I drink a lot of Diet Coke, and there's stuff in Diet Coke, I suppose, that's not good for us.

Bob: I'm sorry, we're run out of time again on today's program …

Dennis: Bob has his tankard full of it here.  His Quick Trip tankard that has at least a quart and a half.

Mark: I do know, though, that it would be wise to not have even that stuff in my body – just drink water, you know? So, to me, that wasn't – it's not a legalistic thing, she's not narrow-minded, and that's sort of my approach on this book, is, look, would you consider the wisdom of this path?  You may not take the path, but consider is it wise?

Bob: There's water in Diet Coke, by the way, I just thought I'd tell you.

Dennis: I know, Bob, that's how you get your water.

Mark: Bob, I haven't given it up. 


Bob: Right here with me.

Dennis: I think some of our listeners breathed a sigh of relief to hear you hadn't given up Diet Coke, because they're saying, "Wait a second here."

 You know, I do appreciate you, Mark, and I appreciate what you've shared here all this week, because you've been pointing us to wisdom, and there is a passage that talks about wisdom building a house, and if there has ever been a time when families, marriages, and children ought to be raised according to wisdom it's today. 

 It's Proverbs, chapter 24, verse 3 and 4 – "By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established."  You know, there's some security there.  "And by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches."  We're not talking about physical riches, we're talking about peace and harmony and people who get along and relationships that matter.

 And I think if there has ever been a time in our nation's history when families needed to pursue that, it's today, and I just appreciate you and hope that many will pick up this "Little Red Book" and make it a part of their lives.

Mark: Thank you.

Bob: And I don't know that you necessarily had my kids in mind when you were writing this book, but as we've been talking about it, I've been thinking about my kids.  In fact, my son, David, has been sitting listening to part of this interview, and you know, David, how you and Mr. Jensen and Gordon and I have been going through a book together, I'm thinking maybe this ought to be the next book we go through together, "The Little Red Book of Wisdom."

 We have copies of the book in our family – what do you mean?  David's kind of going – he's not so sure he wants to go through it.  We have copies of the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center Center.  If you'd like to get a copy, go to our website at, whether David wants you to or not.  Go to our website,, click the little red button that says "Go" in the middle of the screen, and that will take you right to the area of the site where you can get more information about Mark DeMoss's "Little Red Book of Wisdom," along with other resources we have available to help you impart wisdom to your children and your family.

 Again, our website is, and you click the red button that says "Go" right in the middle of the screen.  That will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about these resources that are available, or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY.  That's 1-800-358-6329, and we'll have someone available who can answer any questions you might have about these resources or make arrangements to have them sent to you.

 And then, again, I want to encourage you, if you are able to help us this month with a donation of any amount, we would appreciate your generosity, and this month we'd like to send you a thank you gift for your support of the ministry.  It's a DVD that features a message given by our host, Dennis Rainey, at a recent Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.  This marriage was given to a group of dads about being a dad, what our core responsibilities are as fathers, and we'd like to make the DVD available as a thank you gift when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount this week.

 You can donate online at  If you do that, when you come to the keycode box on the donation form, type in the word "dads," and we'll know to send you a copy of this DVD or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  Make your donation over the phone, and just mention that you'd like the DVD with Dennis Rainey, and we'll send it out to you.  Again, it's our way of saying thank you for your financial support of the ministry.  We do appreciate your partnership with us.

 Well, tomorrow we hope you can be back as we are joined by former NFL linebacker, Ed McGlasson.  We're going to talk about the important role a dad plays in the life of his children, and I 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, and my son, David, I'm Bob Lepine.  I want to say thanks for tuning in.  We'll see you tomorrow 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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