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The Power of Honor

with John Guest, Susan LeCornu, V...more | April 14, 2008

On the broadcast today, pastor John Guest, Women’s Ministry Director Susan LeCornu, and Women’s Leadership Council member Vickie Case, all members of Christ Church at Grove Farm, talk about what they’ve witnessed in their personal lives and in their congregation when mothers and fathers are honored by their children.

On the broadcast today, pastor John Guest, Women’s Ministry Director Susan LeCornu, and Women’s Leadership Council member Vickie Case, all members of Christ Church at Grove Farm, talk about what they’ve witnessed in their personal lives and in their congregation when mothers and fathers are honored by their children.

The Power of Honor

With John Guest, Susan LeCornu, V...more
|
April 14, 2008
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: Sometime back, Vickie Case decided to rally her siblings together and to encourage each one to write a tribute to their father.  They presented those tributes for a special occasion, and Vickie was a little anxious – apprehensive about how her father would respond.

Vickie: My father is not an emotional man, but what he did was, he came up after it was all over, and he said to me in a way I didn't know how to take this – "I understand you were responsible for this," and I thought, "Oh, I'm in trouble now," and then he said, "It's the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for me in my life."  So I knew the power of tribute.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, April 14th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll hear today how one church encouraged its members to speak words of honor to fathers and mothers.  Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.  Can I tell a story that goes way, way, way back?  Is that okay?  This goes back to …

Dennis: Why are you asking my permission?

Bob: Because sometimes I'll get off on a story, and you're just kind of looking at me, like, "Why are you telling that story?"

Dennis: Well, just all the fun we've had before we started the broadcast here, I'm wondering how this is going to connect, but I trust you that it will.

Bob: How the story relates?  Well, back when – actually, back before I came to FamilyLife and before we started FamilyLife Today, somebody gave me a set of audiocassettes – you remember cassettes back in the old days, how we used to listen to things?

Dennis: Can't quite remember them, excuse me.

Bob: Somebody gave me a set of tapes of you and Barbara talking about your book, "Building Your Mate's Self Esteem," and I was listening to each of the messages from that book, and I remember – I don't remember if it was tape number 3 or tape number 5, but I remember putting it in and listening to it and on this tape you were talking about the fifth commandment, about honoring your parents. 

And I remember where I was, driving from Colorado Springs to Denver listening to this message, and I was going, "This is something people need to hear.  This is powerful."  And so when I got here to FamilyLife and when we started FamilyLife Today, I pulled out that tape on one of the first programs we aired …

Dennis: We did.

Bob: … was that message because it was – it really is a life message for you, isn't it?

Dennis: It is, and people might be wondering why that would be in a series of messages about building your mate's self-esteem.  If you look at the fifth commandment, it's the first commandment that contains a promise, and if you honor your parents, the promise of Scripture, promise of God is it will go well with you.  You'll live long in the land that the Lord your God gives you.

As we practiced that and sought to share with others practical ways they could do that, over the years, I've received a lot of letters and a lot of tributes from people who have honored their mother and father in a private ceremony, maybe over a dinner party at Christmas, a holiday, an anniversary, a birthday, and they've sent me copies of their tributes.

But about a year ago, I received a packet of information from Vickie Case, and Vickie wrote me, and I just want to read what she wrote me.  She said, "Dear Dennis, My name is Vickie Case.  I'm a member of Christ Church at Grove Farm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  John Guest is our minister.  I believe Mr. Rainey has interviewed Rev. Guest on his show."  Sorry, John, I don't remember that happening but, you know …

John: It didn't happen.

Dennis: I'm glad you're here today, okay?  "We have a membership of approximately 2,000 people, and we're wondering if you've ever prompted others to do tributes on a churchwide basis?  The reason I ask is this" – and the e-mail goes on to share what Vickie and Susan, her guest here, and what John all gave leadership to at the Christ Church in Grove Farm, and so we decided we'd invite them down for a little Southern hospitality …

Bob: That's right.

Dennis: And allow them to tell their story.  So let me introduce John Guest, who is from Oxford, England.

John: Once upon a time.

Dennis: No doubt about it.  Used to be in a rock band, one of the first evangelical rock bands …

John: Once upon a time.

Dennis: … here in America.  Did you say you came from Liverpool where the Beatles …

John: The last place I worked in England was Liverpool.

Bob: And you can do the Liverpool sound?

John: I learned to talk like the fellows up there, you know, like John and Paul and Ringo.

Dennis: All the Beatles.

Bob: And your band was called The Excursions?

John: Yes, one band was John Guest and the Excursions, and the other, which really made some notoriety in its day was Jonathan and Charles. 

Bob: Yeah, and you still have CDs available on your website?

John: Well, they are available, they are available.

Dennis: I just want to warn our listeners, at any moment both Bob and John could break out – in fact, I think we've witnessed – don't you ladies think we've probably witnessed a new band here, started between Bob and …

Vickie: Oh, my, it's staggering.

Susan Lecornu: It is staggering.

Dennis: We may have them do some of the '60s songs here before we're done here on FamilyLife Today.  Also joining us is the author of the letter that she wrote me, Vickie Case.  Vickie, welcome to FamilyLife Today.  And her cohort in this tribute Sunday for churches, Susan Lecornu.  And Susan heads up the Women's Ministry at Christ Church, right?

Susan: Yes, I do.

Dennis: And together you hosted a Tribute Sunday.  All right, how did this – let's just go back to the beginning.  How did this start, Vickie?

Vickie: From the very beginning, Dennis?

Bob: Yeah, whose idea – who raised their hand and said, "You know what we ought to do?"

Dennis: Well, you actually did it for your mom, didn't you?

Vickie: Yes, and, actually, this was – this came after listening to you for years talk about tributes, and I thought one day I'm going to do a tribute to my mom and dad.  And it was her 70th birthday was coming, and she wanted a family and friends dinner at one of her favorite restaurants, and I thought, "Oh, this is going to be the time to do that tribute that Dennis talks about."

So I contacted the invitees and asked them to either say something funny, do a tribute, or do something.  I knew I was going to do a tribute, but I didn't want to demand that of them.  And we had the dinner party, and I read my tribute, and I looked up at each member of the party, and there were tears coming down everyone's faces, including my own, and then I knew the power.  I told Susan, "Then I knew the power of a tribute."

And I thought, "Oh, my goodness, this is exactly what Dennis says that it is."

Dennis: Before you go any further, how did it affect your relationship with your mom?

Vickie: Oh, well, it was wonderful, because we honored her, of course, but my mom had had a tough life, and she had never been famous like Bob and you and John.  But she was a good mother, and she put it in a book, showed people whenever they would come in, and it was good, it was a good thing.

So my parents were divorced, and I saw what happened with my mom, and so I thought, "Oh, gosh, when could we do one to my dad?"  Of course, you want to repeat a good experience.  So Christmas Eve I found out that my father was inviting his brother down from Ohio, and all of his family, all of his children and his wife, and they are never together, I mean, all the family is never together.

And I thought, "Uh-oh, this is a good opportunity."  So I called my brother, my sisters, called the children of my uncle and told them what I had in mind, and we would spring it on the brothers on Christmas Eve.  You know, take them in around 10:00 into the living area, and do tributes to them.

Dennis: So all the kids of your dad would do …

Vickie: And my uncle would do tributes.  And he didn't know anything about it, and I looked around, it was so quiet, Dennis, a pin could have dropped, and there were loads of people there.  There were about 50 people there, family and friends.

Dennis: So you just stood up in front of your father and began to read to him these tributes?

Vickie: No, we kind of scooted everybody into the family room and placed the two brothers by the fireplace, and they didn't know what was going on, and we gathered ourselves together, decided who would go first and all that, and then we began.

And it was so quiet, and we all read the tributes and let me back up and say because of the divorce, my father and I had had a little bit of a rocky road, but we're back together again, and things were good.  So it was especially meaningful for me.

Dennis: Let me just ask you because we're kind of making an assumption here – were these just letters that you read to him, or were they presented in some form as a gift, like a framed tribute?

Vickie: Well, most of them, they were in a nice form.  They weren't framed yet.  Ultimately, what we did for both parents is we put them in a scrapbook, but when we start into the church when talking about that, there are many who have framed their tributes.  So they have theirs in a scrapbook, and it's in their living areas, or it was in my mother's.

Dennis: Susan, do you remember the first time that Vickie came and talked to you about her idea of the power of the tribute and how it might relate to a local church?

Susan: I do, Dennis, and her enthusiasm for the project was so contagious that it captured our leadership team's imagination, and we were willing, as women's ministry, to take it on and apply it churchwide, and encourage our members, both the women and the men, to get involved in writing tributes, and we received a response that we'd hoped for, but we couldn't have predicted it to be as excellent as it was.

Bob: Now, when you said you agreed to take it on, what did that mean?  As you talked about encouraging people to write tributes, did that mean you're going to put a notice in the bulletin, did that mean you were going to send e-mails to people?  What did you do?

Susan: Well, there were some practical steps to putting forth a program in any church, and in our church with the size that it is, we first go to our senior leadership, and we present the idea and talk pros and cons, and we talk the timeline, and we wanted to make certain that this would be presented and launched for Mother's Day and Father's Day, fit into the church calendar, and we started writing promotional pieces for it and placing those in the Sunday bulletin and setting up a table so that before, between, and after our services, people could hang out at the table and be encouraged and ask questions.

So practical stuff had to be planned and made underway for …

Bob: How did you communicate the whole concept to people in the first place?  How did they get the idea?

Susan: Well, Vick, why don't you describe that?

Vickie: Well, first, we needed approval by the Women's Council.

Susan: We did.

Vickie: So we took the idea to them because we really needed to get them to buy into it so that we could get them to volunteer for it.

[laughter]

Dennis: You know, before you share kind of how all that happened, I want to ask John, as the pastor of this church, he's just got a big grin on his face.

Bob: Like a member of the senior leadership team, you had to sign off on this, you know.

Dennis: Exactly.  Here is what I want to say – first of all, I want to congratulate you as being a church that wants to engage the passions and vision of your laymen and women in your church so that there can be greater ministry occur.  Because what you did was you unleashed Vickie's dream through your church to impact a lot of families.  Is that a part of what your church is all about on an everyday basis?

John: I'd say so.  The name of the game in the church is to turn your people loose, and if somebody comes to me with an idea, if they're willing to take it on, and that's a big step because most people come to a minister to tell him he needs to go find somebody and make this happen.  But when you get a Vickie and Susan come to you, and they're like fired up and emoting and climbing, not literally, physically all over you but coming at you, and you can see that they could come at you with …

Vickie: Hey, hey, hey.

Susan: Hey, hey, hey.

John: With a lot of aggression, a lot of happiness – yes, it is. 

Dennis: As in be very unhappy with you if you said no.

John: Well, as in how could you ever say no?

Susan: Very good, John.

[laughter]

Vickie: Oh, a nice recovery. 

John: And so they come at you, and they lay it out there, and so I said, "Well, if you're willing to put this together, we'll do it, we'll go for it."

Bob: And you were thinking about Mother's Day and Father's Day and how this fits into the schedule.

John: That's what they were talking about, yes.

Bob: And did you think, "Well, I have other plans for what I'd like to talk about or what I'd like to do," or "I've got a message that I'd really prefer to share that day."  I mean, did it interrupt where you were going as a pastor.

John: No, we make the most of Father's Day and Mother's Day as an evangelistic tool.  So what they were talking about in no way got in the way but rather highlighted an honored the occasion.

Dennis: So looking back on it, as a pastor, the risk, however small that may have been because you had two women coming at you.

Bob: Fired up.

John: Well, if it's these two women, Vickie and Susan, you know it's going to work, and if they've already said they've talked to their women, and their team is on board, it's going to work.  So it wasn't a question of we'll ask people to pay tributes, and there won't be any, and it will be a miserable flop, and everybody will be disappointed and what a downer for Mother's Day or Father's Day.  It wasn't going to happen, so that's good.

Dennis: That's cool.  All right, Vickie, back to you to tell the rest of the story then.  You got him on your side.  I mean, what else do you need?

Vickie: I know, I'm loving this.

Susan: Boy, what's our next project going to be?

John: I have to tell you, that is the truth.  That is the truth.  You know, we have a such a fantastic church, that when Daddy speaks – that's me …

Dennis: You're pointing at yourself.

John: Yeah, when Daddy speaks, they listen.  So their great desire is to get me to speak and be positively minded and, you know, promote what they're into.

Dennis: Are you saying you were a puppet?

John: Yes, right.

[laughter]

Now, you've got a song for that somewhere, Bob.

Bob: [singing] I'm your puppet.

Susan: Oh, yeah.

Bob: I'm your puppet.  I remember that, yeah.

Vickie, let me – let me go back, you've got the women's committee that's involved, you've got the women's leadership that's involved.  Now the pastor is involved.  So you're looking at Mother's Day and what's your dream, what's your vision for what Mother's Day is going to look like?

Dennis: We're talking about a year ago now.

Vickie: Right, right.  Really, what I wanted our church, and it's a fairly good-sized church, to be – I wanted the walls covered with tributes.  That was the ultimate.  But I knew we needed to because this was the first time we did this.  I knew we needed to get started right away, and first we needed the approval by the council, and they were good and on board with it, and we started writing announcements that were to go into the bulletin.  We also had printed material that we handed out to people on Sunday morning, grabbed people whenever we could.  We had a table set up in the atrium.

We had tribute coaches for those journalistically challenged.  We wanted to give them every opportunity to honor their parent, and then we asked them to get those into us – this was the Mother's Day – at least a week beforehand so we could mount them.

Dennis: As you began to roll this out, what was people's response?

Vickie: Oh, I think it took their breath away for some of them.  They said, "Really?" And that's what we wanted.  We wanted the wheels to start turning.  We also, Dennis, kept your book at our table, referred them in our specification sheet, we had a spec sheet.  We wanted them to go to your website because on your website you have all the material you really need to write a tribute.

Dennis: Right.

Vickie: And to go through the motions of kind of stirring those memories, especially the good ones, and we just tried to give them every tool that they needed when we would be there.

Bob: Did you find that – well, first of all, how far in advance of Mother's Day and Father's Day were you promoting this idea?

Vickie: We did it at least, what, two and a half months – we started it early because, again, first time out, we wanted people to start thinking about this tribute.

Bob: Okay.  And did you find there were folks who came to you and said, "I cannot do this given my background?"  Susan, tell us.

Susan: This is my favorite story.  This is a gal who is a wonderful leader, Pat Kaney (sp), and she's a wonderful leader, and she's been part of our women's leadership, and she's tough, and she's organized, and she's practical, and she's methodical and …

Vickie: … wonderful.

Susan: Wonderful.

John: You don't mean that she's mean-spirited, she's a strong woman.

Susan: No, a strong woman.

Vickie: She gets things done.  You want her on your team.

Susan: Absolutely, for anything that needs to be done.  But, at the same time, she didn't want to go near the heart issues of the relationship she had with her mom because her mom had died when she was 12 – lost her, it was very sad, left five children to fend for themselves until the dad then remarried and brought on a stepmom.

So we asked Pat to be a part of this team, she said she would – great trepidation.

Vickie: Very reluctantly.

Susan: She went ahead and started to write the tribute and cried for two hours as she wrote her tribute to her mother who had died when she was 12.  That was so cleansing and so important for her, and the memories came bubbling up, and she was so thankful that she then turned the effort to the stepmother and wrote a tribute for her stepmom, and it brought about so much healing because she looked back and remembered all that the stepmother had walked into, five children who were very bereft of a mom who had died tragically, and all that the stepmother had to contend with, it brought about amazing healing in their family and now, as we say, Pat's the golden child in her family because she's written these tributes, and they were so appreciated, but it transformed the relationship she has with this stepmother, who is still alive – very important.

Vickie: And she did present it to the stepmother on Mother's Day.

Dennis: You know, the principle of honor that is spoken of in the Fifth Commandment is just a powerful principle of Scripture that, really, the human heart, if you're a parent, whether a stepparent or a parent, a single parent, the heart yearns to know you did something right, and as you get older in life, you reflect back on those things that didn't go well and where you wished you'd done more and perhaps the shame of mistakes made.  And unless your children come back and tell you what you did do right, I think there's enough old tapes playing that are the negative that I think a lot of people are really thirsting for honor, thirsting for the honor that their children, only their children, can give them.

Vickie: Exactly.

Dennis: Because they're the ones that dealt with a divorce, like you did, Vickie.

Bob: Well, and the parents aren't the only ones who have this longing, but without us knowing it, adult children have a need to express honor.  It really does go both ways, doesn't it?

Dennis: It does, and I know when I wrote the tribute to my mom, who was still living, and I wrote a tribute to my dad after he died, it was very healthy for me to simply replay what my dad did right.  And instead of maybe focusing on something that he didn't do right or where he maybe was absent in my life around a key event or something – and there wasn't that much for my father.  I had a very good upbringing as a young lad, but I've talked to far too many people who just the visiting of the positive memories in concert with the negative and then choosing to sort through that which is worthy of honor and take honor home, I think, is one of the most important assignments in life.

Bob: And certainly it's something that you can do as an individual, but when a group of individuals come together and do it in community, in a congregation, that sends a powerful message to the community, to everyone who is there to hear it.

You guys found that out as you did it at your church, and we want to encourage other churches – it may be too late for some churches to try to put something like this together for this Mother's Day, although there is still time, I think, for Father's Day, and some churches may be able to do it in time for Mother's Day.

There is a link on our website at FamilyLife.com to a website that you ladies have put together that will help our listeners understand how you did this at your church, and if other churches wanted to do the same thing, they can go to FamilyLife.com.  On the right side of the home page, they'll see a box that says "Today's Broadcast," and if they click where it says "Learn more," that will take them to an area of the site where there is more information about writing a tribute, there is information on how you can get a copy of the book that you've written, Dennis, called "The Best Gift You can Ever Give Your Parents," that's all about writing a tribute, and then there's a link to the website that has information on how churches can coordinate one of these tribute services for Mother's Day or for Father's Day.

Again, our website is FamilyLife.com, click the box on the right side of the screen that says "Today's Broadcast," and that will get you where you need to go.  Or if it's easier to call 1-800-FLTODAY, you can simply pick up the phone and dial 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, someone on our team will make arrangements to have the resources you need sent out to you.

You know, one of the most helpful books on the subject of marriage that has been written over the last several years has been a book by Dr. Emerson Eggerich called "Love and Respect."  Many of our listeners are familiar with that book or may have seen it in bookstores, and we had an opportunity a while back to sit down with Dr. Eggerich and talk with him about the importance of love and respect in a marriage relationship.

This week we want to invite our listeners to contact us and request copies of the two-CD set that includes that conversation with Dr. Emerson Eggerich on his book, "Love and Respect," and we're sending it out to you this week at no cost and no obligation.  You simply call to request it at 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.  We think this is a very helpful resource, and we'd like to get a set of these CDs in your hands so you can listen to them, and then we hope you'll pass them on to someone else who might benefit from hearing the CDs as well.

So, again, if you'd like a set of the CDs of our conversation with Dr. Emerson Eggerich, the author of the book, "Love and Respect," just call 1-800-FLTODAY and request it, and we're happy to send it out to you, and we hope you find it helpful and encouraging in your marriage.

Now, tomorrow we're going to continue to hear about what happened last Mother's Day and Father's Day at Christ Church at Grove Farm with our guests, Vickie Case, Susan Lecornu, and Pastor John Guest.  I hope you can be back with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today and hope for tomorrow.  

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