FamilyLife Today®

The Power of One

with Gary Smalley | February 16, 2005
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On today's broadcast, talented author and Christian counselor, Dr. Gary Smalley, explains "the power of one."

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  • On today's broadcast, talented author and Christian counselor, Dr. Gary Smalley, explains "the power of one."

Dr. Gary Smalley, explains “the power of one.”

The Power of One

With Gary Smalley
February 16, 2005
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Bob: How do you respond when your spouse offers some constructive criticism?  Dr. Gary Smalley says he has trained himself to think immediately of Ephesians 4:29.

Gary: I want the words that proceed out of my mouth to be honoring, loving.  I don't want to have unwholesome words proceeding out of my mouth.  So James 1:19 – "Be quick to listen, slow to speak."  So when she corrects me now, it doesn't even take me seconds to say, "Thanks, hon."

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, February 16th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Do you need some help in responding more positively when your spouse offers constructive criticism? 

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  I think we …

Dennis: Bob, I have a unique assignment for you.

Bob: Yes?

Dennis: I think you might have done this one other time, but it may have not been exactly like I'm going to ask you to do it today.

Bob: All right, I'm ready.

Dennis: We always introduce our guests.  I generally have the privilege of doing that here on FamilyLife Today, but I want you to imitate our guest and introduce our guest using your best imitation of him.  Now, I want you to think through how you would introduce yourself to our – as our guest to our listening audience.  Do you have it, Bob?

Bob: He made me do this.  I just need to explain to our guests, he made me do this with Chuck Colson, too.  There are only a few imitations I do.  Chuck Colson is one.  Do you want hear my Chuck Colson imitation?

 [mimicking Chuck Colson] "This is Breakpoint.  I'm Chuck Colson.  Thank you."  With kind of a choppy Boston accent.  That's my – okay.

Dennis: That's very good.  Our guest is really going to like – he's going to like the way he introduces himself.

Bob: [mimicking Gary Smalley] Well, here's the point I want to get to today on our program – we – here's what – the research that I've been looking at for the – and this is the revolutionary thing about this research – how am I doing with it.  Am I doing okay with it?

Dennis: Not hit the one thing.

Bob: Here's the one thing – the one thing, because you do come back to the one thing, don't you?

Dennis: There's always been one thing.

Bob: It's revolutionary.

Gary: That's right, it will change your life.

Bob: It will change your life.  So I'm going to introduce to us today, the person who has got the revolutionary one thing.  Did I get there okay?  Did I do all right?  Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Gary Smalley – Gary, welcome to the Gary Smalley show.

Gary: That's very good.

Bob: Thank you.

Dennis: What do you think?

Gary: That's very good.

Dennis: Should we take it on the road to Branson?

Gary: I'm up to six things now.

Bob: I actually had to watch a lot of videotapes to get that down, but there are a lot of them.

Dennis: There are a lot of them.  Gary has written a new book, though, called "The DNA of Relationships."  He has not written a book about himself.  He has shared a few of his failures in here, and he and his wife Norma have been married for more than 40 years.  They have three children, eight grandchildren, and live in Branson, Missouri, which is just about 30 miles south of Ozark, Missouri.  Everybody knows where Branson is after I tell them where Ozark is.

Gary: Exactly, which is where the water filters down to Branson from Ozark.

Bob: The relationship DNA water.

Gary: Exactly.

Bob: One of the great things about this book is you don't have to just tell stories about yourself anymore.  You now can tell stories about your sons.

Gary: My sons and my friends and so on.

Dennis: In fact, I want to ask you to tell a story about how Greg moved some furniture around, and as a result needed to have his own marriage saved there for a few moments.

Gary: Exactly – his wife is a nurse, so she worked all night many times, and so he was already asleep, but before he went to bed he rearranged their entire bedroom, because he's kind of an interior decorator – loves that aspect of life and decorates every room that she'll let him decorate.  Anyway, she came home after he had moved the bed and furniture and everything and didn't want to wake him up, so she runs in and hurts her shins to the coffee table.

Bob: Because it's dark and everything is in a different place.

Gary: She falls and hits the wall, and the skis fall and hit the little – what do you call this little …

Dennis: Cabinet.

Gary: Yes, cabinet, but it's those little Hummel kind of …

Dennis: Precious Moments.

Gary: Exactly, and they fall, crash, and, of course, Greg wakes up hearing all this, and they turn the light on, and she's really hopping upset with him because he did this without saying anything to her, and, of course, he becomes very defensive and tries to minimize and "Don't you understand that I was just improving this room," and so on and so forth.  They get into a major battle, argument, over his irresponsibility of changing the bedroom.

 Actually, where that story comes from is that he finally figured out in their research that the one thing – one of the key things is that they push each other's core fear and did it for years and escalated it out of control.  No matter what they argued about, it didn't matter what the issue was, she had the ability to push his core fear, and his core fear is failure.  So anytime she indicates that he's failing as a husband or a father or life or whatever, boy, he just can't handle that.  And then he usually shoots back and tries to change her to get her to stop that because that's really upsetting to him.

Bob: And that's one of the things that you're just now beginning to discover is this whole issue of safety in relationships, and the issue of all of us having core fears sabotages our oneness in relationships.

Gary: Absolutely, because the real problem with not knowing that you have a core fear, like most women's core fear has something to do with disconnection in a relationship – rejection or whatever.  Most men, their core fear has something to do with feeling controlled or feeling powerless, which is the opposite of that.  If you're not in control, you're powerless.  And so when Greg feels like a failure, he feels like he's powerless, he feels like this is just – it's painful to him, because that's his core fear.

 My core fear is being belittled and controlled at the same time, and the natural response is, "It's your fault that I feel this way so therefore you are the solution so I'm going to point my finger at you and say you need to change," and as soon as I do that, it usually always pushes their core fear, and then the dance begins.  Because they up the ante by trying to get you to change, and then you up the ante by trying to get them to change, and this intensive program of what Greg has taught me – stop the dance.  Anyone can stop it.  Pull that pointing finger back in, four fingers pointing at you, one to God.  Do you know what bugged me for – we've been married for 40 years – what bugged me for 38 years – how many people listening today have a wife that corrects her husband's driving?  Does your wife ever correct your driving?

Dennis: She just screams.

Bob: Right before the wreck.

Gary: It's like some people have said to me – one guy said to me, "My wife does all the driving, she just lets me hold the steering wheel."  And so that's the kind of thing I had, because my wife had a major accident when she was in high school and lost a couple of girlfriends to death and so she's nervous about driving.  It used to irritate me.  So James 1:19 – "Be quick to listen, slow to speak."  So when she corrects me now, it doesn't even take me seconds to say, "Thanks, hon."

Bob: Well, now, it bothered you for 38 years and now it doesn't bother you.

Gary: Because of 2 Corinthians 10:5 – "We can take all of our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ."  And my thoughts are what control my emotions, not what she does or says.  It's what I think about her that controls my emotions and what I think about the situation. 

Bob: But when she says to you, "Could you slow down a little bit?"  Don't those emotions still well up in you and don't you …

Gary: They do, but I don't say anything now.  And then I thank her – was – I think about it for a minute, because, see, what I usually think about is I'm living with this controlled person, and it's negative in my mind.  So all I have to do is spend seconds realizing who I'm married to – and this awesome person.  I'm the dreamer; she's the dreammaker.  She asks me every year, "What are you dreaming?  Let's make it happen."  She organizes it.  She is so great in so many things.  My home is – flowers are everywhere.  I mean, she adds life to me, and so why do I spend seconds thinking that I'm married to this control person. 

 So in other words, now I can think for a few seconds before I speak and thank her for stuff.

Dennis: And that's why you married her, because she is different.

Gary: Exactly.

Dennis: And yet after we get married, we stop respecting the differences and instead try to change the differences.  Romans, chapter 12, verse 10 says, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Give preference to one another in honor."  That's what you're really doing.

Gary: And that can only happen if we're filled with the power of the Holy Spirit – the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit.

Dennis: That's exactly right.  In fact, I want to just – I want to camp on that just for a moment.  I think many Christians live poverty-stricken Christian lives because they are not tapping into the Holy Spirit and the power – the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.  The promise of Scripture is when you place your faith in the Savior Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins, and you make him Lord of your life, at the moment you have placed your faith in Him, He gives you the promise of eternal life and He gives you the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit comes to indwell you. 

 Now, you may not feel Him, you certainly won't see Him, but you can experience Him.  And what you've just called Christians to do just now, is something I don't want them to miss.  As you have conflicts, as you have disagreements, never forget that the Holy Spirit is there to give you power over your anger, over your sharp tongue, over your wrong response.  But the issue is you must yield, you must allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in your heart, and what you're describing, Gary, is you're describing areas of your life where you are giving the Holy Spirit control.  Instead of being defensive about your driving, you are now listening to your wife about your driving.

Gary: Exactly, because I'm very aware that my emotions, my words, and my actions are the result of what I think.  So that's why I go to Philippians 4:8 and 9 – I call them the "Big Eight."  I go through those eight words, because Paul said, "Think on these things."  Well, I want to think on those things because I am what I think, as Proverbs 23:7, and I sow – whatever I sow, whatever thoughts I sow, that's what I'm going to reap.  So I'm really aware that I want to control my thoughts.  Well, I have unlimited power, and you said that it's resurrection power.  I have resurrection power inside of me.  I have healing power inside of me.  I have the loving power inside of me.  I have fulfilling power.  That's all in Ephesians 3:16 through 20.  I have life inside of me – light – the living water inside of me.  I have such power I can hardly wait to see more and more of it revealed the rest of my life, and so I have that power to control my thoughts so I don't have to think negative things about her if I don't want to, and I have in the past.  Those are fewer and fewer and fewer and fewer because that's how my life has changed so much, is to know that I'm filled with the Holy Spirit.  I can control my thoughts.  My thoughts determine who I am.  I want Ephesians 4:8 and 9 to be the guide.

 And then listen to this one – James 3:2 – if I control my thoughts, I control my feelings and my words.  Well, James 3:2 says if I control my words, I control every part of my body.  I love that.  So I just wake up every morning feeling so empowered I can hardly wait to see how I'm going to respond during the day.

Bob: One of the things you're telling people about now is the need we all have to recruit assistance to help us do the kinds of things we really want to do.  What do you mean by that?

Gary: I can recruit my wife now and say, "Hon, I want the log out of my own eye.  I don't want to be noticing the toothpick in yours; I want the log out of my own eye.  So would you help me, pray for me, encourage me in the area of working on myself?  If I ever point my finger at you again and say, 'I want you to change so I'll be happier,' I don't want to do that anymore.  So just remind me."

 Now, the way to really put teeth to it, which I haven't done yet, but I will if through the years if it becomes harder and harder, I will say something like this – "If I ever point my finger to you and blame you for how I'm feeling, because how I'm feeling is how I'm thinking about what you just did – if I ever point my finger and say I want you to change because you're making me miserable" – making me?  That's a lie right out of the pit – "And so if I ever do that, I want to give you – what would it take" …

Dennis: Your fishing pole.

Gary: Fishing pole, okay.

Dennis: You would rather fish practically than almost anybody.

Gary: That's not enough, because you and I can go to Wal-Mart and …

Dennis: Don't you have a really nice one?

Gary: I have a nice one, but that wouldn't bother me -- for her, probably, money.  So if I said, "What if I start saving money right now, put it in an account, and I do this again, I just write you a check for $1,000."

Bob: You'd build that kind of accountability because it's worth it to you to break …

Gary: Oh, I do not want to ever again – this is what's so thrilling today.  I never want to blame anybody, anything, any environmental thing, any circumstance – none of those things.

Dennis: You know, I really like this, Gary.  I want to interrupt you here, because I just talked to a couple who were just at each other, and he's cursing her out, and she's on his case, and she's really needing him to respect her, to love her, and to speak kindly in not only the words but in the tone of voice.  So what would be a great assignment for him would be to put some kind of bounty on the behavior.  Where if I start using my words to criticize, cut you down, curse you out, whatever the habit may be -- $1,000 – hello.

Gary: Right – or I'll spend the whole day, I'll take a day off and clean and fix anything you want around this house.  I'll just be your servant all day.  Whatever it takes.  But that would just slow him down.  He needs to realize that his wife has really nothing to do with his own happiness.  The Holy Spirit living inside of him is all he needs, but he has to become aware of that, and then he has to recognize that he's got a lot of logs in his own eye, and that his thinking is what determines his – can I give an example on this?

Dennis: Sure.

Gary: Recently, somebody stole out of the church my carry-on case.  I was ready to go from Kansas City to Chicago.  I finished the last session, went to get my bag, it was gone.  They have on surveillance this tall kid with a striped shirt pulling my bag out of the church, okay, because they don't know who it is, and the priest doesn't know who it is, and they never found it.  In that bag was my computer, all my life, all my notes, my hard copies of my upcoming seminar that I needed to have, I was going to review it on this trip, and two ruby – one a ring, and a necklace because ours was the 40th wedding anniversary, so this is just recent, and that was very expensive.  My brand-new Nike Cantera tennis shoes, which they don't make anymore, and I finally found a pair, brand-new, and the only kind I really love, and they're gone and all my other stuff that I had, it was gone – everything.

 So I get in my car to go to the airport in Kansas City, and on the way there I'm saying, "Oh, oh, my computer.  Oooh, somebody could put this stuff in "The National Enquirer.  My shoes – oh, the gifts!"  I just went through the list, and I had all these thoughts that this was bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.  And so my stomach got sick really fast, I was overwhelmed with grief thinking, "Oh, why didn't I listen to my son who told me don't leave it, Dad," and he moved his up front.  Anyway, I'm thinking I was bad, I should have listened to him, dadadadah.  I had myself talked into feeling miserable in 20 minutes.

 After about 20 minutes of thinking all these negative thoughts, I started thinking, "Wait a minute, the Scripture is really clear.  Romans 5:3 through 5 says I can boast in my trials because my trials, God is building more character and love in my heart.  2 Corinthians 12:9 and 10 says I can boast in my weaknesses, and I have a poor memory, so I can boast in my weaknesses because the Holy Spirit is enlarged within me, grows within me.  I started praising God, boasting, exalting, glorifying God, glorifying the actual trial.  I'm telling you, in eight hours I was right back to peace.  In the middle of my grief, I was right back to peace.  I never thought about it again.

Dennis: I like your approach, Gary, because you're taking us back to the Scripture, which realigns our thinking with the heart of God and shows us how to live.  In fact, I want to read the verse you've alluded to several times on today's programs – Philippians, chapter 4, verse 8.  Now, this is how we're to think.  Now, listen to these eight qualities that Gary is speaking about here – "Finally, brethren, whatever is true" – so think about those things that are true – "whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure" –

Bob: Can I stop you in the middle of this list?

Dennis: Sure.

Bob: When you said "Whatever is true," I just imagined for a minute a wife thinking to herself, "I can tell you some things that are true about my husband, you know, I can tell you some things.  And then the very next word – "Whatever is honorable" – woops.  Because some of the things she was thinking about that were true weren't honorable.  So now, all of a sudden, the filter is getting a little tighter.  You've got to think not just about what's true but what's honorable.  And then what was the third thing?

Dennis: Well, the third thing is "Whatever is right," and that convicts you because it's never right to attack the other person even when they're attacking you.  "Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute.  If there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise" – you're back to praise again – "let your mind dwell."  And that word "dwell" I think means to make its home – let your mind make its home around these things.

Gary: Eight things.

Dennis: Yes.  Eight things that will change the way you think and therefore the way you behave.

Gary: At 64 years of age, those things have changed my life. 

Dennis: I really like this emphasis, and I'm really going to take this away from my own personal life, Gary, to memorize these eight things from Philippians 4:8.  In fact, here is the assignment.

Bob: Yes, sir?

Dennis: We haven't been to the classroom for some time on FamilyLife Today.  Here is the assignment from Dr. Gary Smalley, all right?  Gary, give them the assignment.

Gary: The assignment is to memorize Philippians 4:8 and 9 and those eight things and let your mind dwell on those things but take your thoughts through those eight things and watch how they change your thoughts.

Dennis: And it will work.

Gary: Oh! It's been working – only because I have the power of the Holy Spirit.  But it says in Romans 8, don't even think about doing this unless you have the power of the Holy Spirit.

Dennis: Yes, and because also the Word of God is alive.

Gary: Exactly.

Dennis: God uses the Holy Spirit and the living Scripture to change the way we think and the way we behave.

Bob: Well, and can I add to that assignment?  Get a copy of Gary's book, "The DNA of Relationships," and that will help you align your thinking as well.  It will kind of explain …

Gary: That's Chapter 4 and 6.

Bob: It explains the whole principle, it helps you understand how you bring your thoughts captive, how you make them obedient to the mind of Christ.

Dennis: And I just want to say thanks to Gary Smalley for joining us on FamilyLife Today and, Gary, I'm glad you're doing well – you look good, your health is great.

Gary: I feel 40.

Dennis: Huh?

Gary: I feel 40.

Dennis: You feel 40?  You don't look a day over 60. 


 But you sound like you're 40.  I'm kidding, Gary.  You really do look great, and I'm thrilled you're back to vigorous health, and I pray God's favor on you so He gives you another 40 years.

Gary: I look forward to that.

Bob: Let me give folks information on how they can get a copy of Gary's book.  Again, it's called "The DNA of Relationships."  We have it in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  In fact, we're encouraging folks to get the one-two punch – Gary's book and the book you and Barbara wrote called "Rekindling the Romance."  Both of those books together will give husbands and wives some fresh approaches to how we can make our marriage relationship all that God intends for it to be.  Anybody who wants to get both books together, we'll send at no additional cost either the CD audio or the cassette of our conversation with Dr. Gary Smalley.  And if you want more information about all of those resources, go to our website,  At the bottom of the screen click on the "Go" button that says, "Today's Resources" around it, and it will take you right to the page where you can review the resources and order online, if you'd like.  Or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and tell whoever answers the phone that you're interested in the books we talked about today, and they'll get you all set up.

 Now, before we wrap things up today, I've got a question for you, and that is, do you think of yourself as a giving person?  You know, that's a spiritual attribute that is characteristic is God.  God is a giver, and He wants us to be a giving person, and when it comes to giving – and I'm thinking of financial giving now – your top priority needs to be giving to your local church.  I hope that every one of our listeners is actively involved in a local church, and I hope that when the plate gets passed on Sunday, you're putting something in and not just a token, but something substantive.  Something that is what you prayed about and what God has said you ought to be doing, all right?

 Now, beyond that, if you are able to help other ministries with financial resources, we want to ask you to consider making a contribution to FamilyLife Today.  We are listener-supported, we depend on the generosity of folks like you who are faithful and giving in their local church but who also see value in this daily radio outreach and who help support it either on a monthly basis or with gifts from time to time.  And if you'd like to make a donation to FamilyLife Today, I want to invite you to do that by going to our website at or calling us toll-free at 1-800-FLTODAY, and we appreciate being able to partner with many of you in ministry.  We appreciate your generosity, and I hope to hear from more of our listeners, Dennis, who team up with us to make this daily radio program possible.

 Well, tomorrow we are going to talk about what we can do to be active in reconciling relationships and particularly we want to look at the issue of racial reconciliation.  We're going to hear a powerful message from a young pastor who has some fresh thinking for us on what we can do to bring healing where there has been too much discord.  I hope you can be 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 back 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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Episodes in this Series

Growing In Your Faith Day 1
Building Safety in Your Relationships
with Gary Smalley February 15, 2005
Dr. Gary Smalley explains that "life is about relationships, the rest is just details."
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