FamilyLife Today® Podcast

The Risk of Serving Others

with Tim Kimmel | September 28, 2006
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Today on the broadcast, father of four and Executive Director of Family Matters, Tim Kimmel, compares the world's standard of success and real greatness to God's standard and illustrates how we pass on those standards to our children.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Today on the broadcast, father of four and Executive Director of Family Matters, Tim Kimmel, compares the world's standard of success and real greatness to God's standard and illustrates how we pass on those standards to our children.

  • 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.

Tim Kimmel compares the world’s standard of success and real greatness to God’s standard.

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The Risk of Serving Others

With Tim Kimmel
September 28, 2006
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Bob: Jesus said if we want to be truly great in God's kingdom, we must learn to be the servant to all.  That means we've got to help our children cultivate a humble heart.  Here is Dr. Tim Kimmel.

Tim: I remember when we would come to pick our kids up at the nursery in Sunday school -- after Sunday school -- and they were not allowed to leave the room until they helped put away all the toys and hug the teacher and thank them for the lesson.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, September 28th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Are there things we can do as parents to help raise humble-hearted children?  We'll talk about that today.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition.  I'm trying to decide whether I should do this or not -- should I go back to last year's Christmas letter and just rewrite it?  Re-edit the whole thing?


Dennis: You know, some of our listeners may have not listened earlier in the week.  Would you mind explaining to them why you're having this remorse?

Bob: We have Tim Kimmel joining us as a guest on FamilyLife Today.  Welcome back to the program.

Tim: Thank you.

Bob: Tim has written a book called "Raising Kids for True Greatness," and we've been talking this week about the difference between the world's standard of success and what real biblical greatness looks like, and you made the point that we send out our Christmas letters, and they're kind of the annual report on the family, and …

Dennis: With all these great stories.

Bob: We talk about our accomplishments.

Dennis: Achievements.

Bob: Yeah, "Our kids have done this, and they" …

Dennis: And Bob's kids are so gifted, Tim, that his Christmas letter is front and back.

Tim: I know.

Bob: All parents do the same thing -- we talk about the piano competitions, the sports competition …

Tim: … and they won this and …

Bob: … and I'm just thinking should I go back and tell the stories about my kids where they were humble or generous or …

Tim: No, because, see, I think that is also missing the point, because you're not trying to talk about how, you know, so much that they have these great qualities.  You're just saying, "Look, in this year, I just want to tell you that God has been teaching us so much through some of the things, the adventures we've been on, and we were able to do this, we met these people, here is where we've been struggling, but I'm just so grateful for another year of" …

Bob: Okay, you talked me out of it.  I'm not going to go …

Tim: Okay, good.

Bob: But next year's letter …

Tim: Why don't you let me write your …

Bob: I'll send it to you, that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Tim: I'll edit it.  By the way, I'll edit it down to what I think is my favorite one, and that's one that's about a half page, large font, maybe 20 point, four or five sentences, and we're done with it, because it takes a lot to get through those.

Dennis: Tim, I don't think you've written about it in a Christmas letter, but throughout your book, "Raising Kids for True Greatness," you continually contrast the world's definition of greatness and success and achievement with the biblical views.  And you tell a story about Caris [sp], and how she really models what it means to be truly great.

Tim: Well, she was put in a situation where when we sent her off to kindergarten, we told her, obviously, you're going here to get and education, and we want you to work hard and be respectful and all, but you're also going to be interacting with people, and so as you go in there, you want to be a friend, and you want to be a friend to all the kids not just the elite group, and you especially want to look out for those kids that struggle and maybe don't have many friends.

 And there was on particular girl there, a sweet little girl, who happened to be, at that time, coming from a home where her parents' marriage was imploding.  They were under great stress.  And this girl had, you know, this real fiery exciting hair, but it needed kind of managed, and when you're a little girl going off to school, you need a mother to help get your hair ready and many times her mother was preoccupied or some -- you know, this is a time when she needs help from mother to pick out a nice outfit.  Well, once again, she would pick it out, sometimes mismatch, even mismatch shoes sometimes.

 And so this girl -- Caris didn't realize how quickly kids as well as the parents start to create a strata inside the school system in the classroom.

Dennis: Oh, quickly.

Tim: These are the elites, these are the popular ones, these are the wealthy ones, these are the pretty ones, these are the smart ones, and then you want your kid to be in that elite group.  Well, we wanted our daughter to just go be an authentic kid and care for others and, by the way, she found herself in that group.  She was bright, and she was pretty, and all that stuff, but that wasn't what she was there for nor she was trying it.

 Anyway, she befriended this girl but because of her friendship with her, she found herself sometimes on the outs looking into some of the other groups.  For instance, say, we'd go to recess and some friends would say, "Hey, come and play with us at recess."  She'd show up with this girl, suddenly the invitation is taken away.  Or they're going to go to a sleepover.  "Well, yeah, did you invite so-and-so?"  "No."  "Well, I really wish you would."  "No."  And the next thing you know she's not invited.  You know, this is kindergarten.

 Well, anyway, they were great friends and, by the way, this was not an easy friendship because when there's problems at home, then this girl many times would become possessive, she was insecure, and she would put pressures on Caris that were tough and, on top of that, because the girl wasn't really being led well at home, Caris was exposed to a lot of things from that home that were contrary to the value systems of ours.  And yet our big thing is, "Hey, you serve others."

 Well, they went up through third grade.  In between third and fourth grade, Caris invited her to Vacation Bible School at our church, and they went, and she had a great time, but it was by Christmas of her fourth grade year that the marriage was coming apart, and the girl was going to move away with her mother after the divorce.  And so Caris said goodbye to her and figured she'd never see her again.

 Well, now let's add a decade and a half onto the clock.  The girl comes back to the valley.  She is now married, a beautiful young lady with a nice husband and a couple of kids, but there's something missing in their life.  They don't have a spiritual dimension in their life.  She says, "Well, I went to this church one time when I was a little girl.  Let's go try it out."

 So they went to our church and went to the information booth, and they said, "You know, you ought to get into a Sunday school class with kids your age.  They go to Sunday school -- and there's Caris, and they reconnect after all these years, and it was just so much fun.  And so they had a lot of fun visiting and all, and Caris could tell that they're looking for answers to spiritual things, and she says, "You know, there's this class our church offers that kind of takes you through the basic fundamentals of faith and the Bible, and the girl says, "I don't know about that."  And she says, "Well, how about if my husband and I go with you, with you and your husband?"  So they agree to that.

 So the two couples are going to go.  And this girl called Caris up before the first meeting, several times that week, every day, in fact.  They were just visiting about different things, and she mentioned a couple of times, "You know, I have this Bible.  Should I bring that Bible?"  "Sure, bring your Bible."  She mentioned it again a couple of times, "Bring this Bible."  She says, "Yeah, I've had it for a long time.  I was going to throw it out, but I was afraid God would resign me to hell."  She says, "Bring your Bible."  So she brought the Bible.  It turns out this Bible is -- it's kind of a simple Bible, but it was baked shut from all the heat from it being in storage all these years, but she had it, and so they were sitting next to each other, and Caris was trying to help her find the passages, and it fell open to the front, and there it said, "To my friend," named her name, "on the occasion of hiding God's Word in your heart, Caris" -- in her little scrawling third-grade handwriting.  And Caris didn't even remember giving it to her, but she had given her -- this is a going-away gift.  And here it was, coming full circle, and it was just amazing to see.

 And, by the way, both that girl and her husband gave their hearts to Christ in that time.  Well, had we bought into the success illusion as parents, realize that this girl is more of the liability side of the class; no, this girl is not from a good home; no, she's seen stuff on cable you don't want to be exposed to; no, you can do better than this, like so many Christian parents do.

Dennis: Or, it's costing our daughter being in the elite crowd, the in-crowd to hang out with this child.

Tim: Yeah, you're losing invitations to the best parties here, and you're on the outside looking in.  Had we played that game which, by the way, crossed our minds several times because we're human beings, look how much our daughter would have missed seeing God's mighty handwork through her.  It was simple things of -- a simple going away gift of a cheap Bible she got with her -- the little bit of money she had, for her friend.

Dennis: You know, Tim, what you're really describing is a life of faith.

Tim: Yes.

Dennis: And if you're going to achieve true greatness with your children, you have to teach them to walk with Jesus Christ by faith.  That's how we meet Him and come to know Him as our Lord and Savior, but then He calls us, I think it's in Colossians, chapter 2 -- "Just as you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk in Him," and you receive Christ by faith, and you walk with Him daily by faith, and that's what we, as parents, are training our children to do.  It's tough work, though.

Tim: It's tough work because everything around us in our Western culture is saying, "Measure this differently."

Dennis: Measure it by sight.

Tim: By the things you can quantify -- the money, the looks, the prestige and all that.  For instance, how many women, when they go out and meet some guy at college, and they're falling in love, and says "What do you want to do?"  He says, "I want to teach third grade.  I just love that -- I just feel like I want to go out and pour my life into third graders."  Right away, she's calculating, her mother is, her grandmother is.  There's not going to be any marble countertops in your home.  Forget going to Maui on vacation, it's just not going to be there.

 And so many people back away from a fabulous person.  "Well, we're not going to have the kind of creature comforts that we think are there."  And I'm thinking, "You've forgotten that this thing on earth -- this isn't our home.  This is a big KOA.  We're just camping here.  Our home is in heaven, and we live here for what God put us here for to make the greatest impact."  And if God puts a man here to teach third grade, that's what he should do, and we should be delighted in that and proud of it as parents. 

 And so you have one that's a third grade teacher and one is this gigantic entrepreneur that, you know, carries money around in flatbed trucks -- be proud of both, if they're doing what God put them there to do.

Bob: I remember coming home from college at one point during the four years I was there, and I was starting to wake up spiritually in college, and I remember saying to my parents, "You know, I've been thinking recently about the possibility of going into the ministry."  And I'll never forget both of them kind of looking at each other, and the first response back was, "You know, son, ministers don't make a whole lot of money."

Tim: That's exactly right.

Bob: And the message was real clear -- "Oh, don't go down that road.  That would be a mistake to go down that road, because you wouldn't achieve what you want to achieve."  And I'd, frankly, never even thought about how much money ministers might make or not make, I was just kind of sensing that this might be something that God would have me do.

Dennis: Wanting to be obedient.

Bob: That's right.  And yet that was my parents' first reaction.  Now, my parents were churchgoers, but they were also children of the depression, and I think one of the things that had influenced their thinking was what they'd grown up in, and so they were predisposed to point me toward money as the measure of success.

Dennis: Not wanting to see you end up …

Bob: … what they'd gone through.

Dennis: Experiencing -- exactly, and I think sometimes that's what parents are operating out of is a value system that may not be the right one.

Bob: But you've been trying to coach us all this week to point our children toward humility and gratefulness and generosity and servanthood.  Give me some practical stuff -- what can I do, how can I know if I'm pointing my kids in the right direction?  How can I tell if they're getting it?  How can I know whether this stuff is really starting to take root in their hearts?

Tim: Well, when we start with Jesus' view on this thing, that it's about others, it's about Him and others, then this becomes more of an easy default mode, but I think true greatness starts with humility, and what does humility look like in children's daily life?  Well, they don't play to the crowd or the camera when they score the winning run or plunge over the goal line the decisive touchdown.  They don't have to be the first in line, insist on their way or automatically be in charge regardless of their leadership capabilities.  They don't brag about their possessions or the privileges that accompany their parents' wealth. 

 In fact, I think a lot of kids today, because of the middle class and upper middle class upbringing, they're born on third base, but they're under the impression they hit a triple.  And they didn't.  They have no clue.  And we harm them in that.

Dennis: You know, this is the natural bent of a child's heart.  He's watched it on TV.  He's going to cross the goal line, and then he's going to spike the ball. 

Tim: Yeah, the hot dog.

Dennis: He's going to play to the crowd, and he is going to brag about, "My dad's car is bigger than your car," but we have to train them.  That's our assignment as parents.

Tim: Yes, and one of the things we taught our kids -- you win humbly, and you lose with your head held high.  It's not the end of the world that you lost; it's not the beginning of the world that you won.  It's an event.  Let's enjoy it if we win, let's mourn it if we lose but don't define ourselves by it.

Bob: So if you're watching a game with your son and somebody scores a touchdown, and he stands up and does the waddle in the end zone and is pointing at himself, and you kind of look at that and go, "It's too bad he ruined the touchdown with that."

Tim: That's a great opportunity -- that's a great teaching moment.  You just say, "Do you see the mistake he made there?  Did you see the 10 other guys covered with the mud and the blood?  Do you see those other team members that gave him a chance to even get the ball?  Do you see those coaches that worked so hard to get him there?  Do you understand that there were parents that took him to practice when he was a kid?"  He did not score that thing alone, but he's taking all the credit for it.

Bob: And, by the same token, if you're watching somebody lose, and they're losing with the bad attitude, you can reflect that humility doesn't just show up when you win, you have to show humility when you lose, don't you?

Tim: Yes, absolutely.

Dennis: Let's talk about this other quality -- gratefulness, and how we can tell whether or not we're -- well, whether our training is beginning to take hold.  As Barbara and I were raising our kids, this was one that was elusive.

Tim: Well, it's tough because of the inner bent of a child is territorial and selfish by nature.

Dennis: Gripe.

Tim: You know, and the gripe and …

Dennis: Complain.

Tim: Yeah, right.  Well, here are some of the things that I list in the book.  They don't whine about what they don't have to complain about what they do have.  They take good care of what has been provided for them.  They verbally express their appreciation to the people who sacrificed to help them, like teachers, coaches, food servers, you know, housekeepers, Sunday school teachers, youth workers, and so on.

Dennis: But, Tim, for them to get this kind of attitude, that's over and over again that parents are modeling and training and sending them back in.  Please go say thanks to your Little League coach.

Bob: And you're making a great point -- they're modeling and training.  Both of those have got to be going on, and with regard to this one, I just have to say my wife's done a great job of trying to press this into the hearts of our children.  When I was growing up, every Sunday when we'd come out of church, we'd go to the cafeteria, okay?  And after the cafeteria, we'd drive home.  I don't think I ever, in all the years I was growing up, after eating at the cafeteria said, "Thanks for taking us out, Dad."  I don't think I ever said that, right, because …

Dennis: It wouldn't cross your mind.  Why would it?

Bob: No, that's just what we did, you know, and to thank dad for taking me out -- that's what Dads are supposed to do.  Well, my wife modeled and instructed our children when we go out to eat, she would always say, "Honey, thank you for taking us out," and then she taught the kids, "When Daddy takes us out, we should say thank you."  So now, anytime we go out, we drive through McDonald's, and David will say, "Thanks for taking us to McDonald's, Dad."

Dennis: That's a small thing, Bob, but it's a big thing.

Tim: But, see, when it becomes faithful in the small things, it will show up in the big things.  And the Bible talks about that.  You know, I said before that Darcy believes you teach these things to your kids as soon as they can breathe, and I remember when we would come to pick our kids up at the nursery in Sunday school -- after Sunday school -- and they were not allowed to leave the room until they helped put away all the toys and hug the teacher and thank them for the lesson.  They were not allowed -- I mean, that just became standard from the beginning.

Bob: And I'm getting the picture -- you raised great kids because you married Darcy, right?

Tim: Exactly.

Bob: This is all coming clear to me now.

Tim: In fact, that's one of the points I make in the book.

Bob: Where did he get this information?

Tim: Trust me …

Dennis: Ghost writer.

Tim: Trust me, this had everything to do with a decision I made on my wedding day.  There is an old saying that says you're either doubled or halved on your wedding day.  I was quadrippled, and it save my …

Dennis: Quadrippled?

Tim: Yeah, is that right?

Bob: As opposed to "drupled."  He was "drippled."

Tim: Yeah, I'm a drippled.

Dennis: Let's move to this next one -- generosity.  How can a parent know if he's beginning to connect on that one?

Tim: Well, your kids view everything they have as belonging to God and see that should come from us.  Everything we have belongs to God, therefore, we should use it wisely, including our time and our ideas and these children that He has entrusted to us.  They set aside a portion of their allowance, gifts, or income to give back to God and to invest in others.  It's second nature for them to offer the biggest piece of the pie or the last cookie to somebody else.

 These are just some examples and throughout the book I have list upon list of, like, 10 ways to teach your kids to be a great member of a team or a great member of a classroom or a youth group or a family member.  But we also talk about a servant spirit, and that's another quality I want to build into their truly great hearts.  You know when it's starting to stick when they don't grumble or complain when they're asked to do their chores.

Bob: And they're about 30 when that happens, right?

Tim: Yeah, it can actually happen earlier but, by the way, so much of this has to do with whether your family, your whole home is formatted in grace.  We've talked about that before -- when grace is in place in a home, this comes a lot easier and faster, and they look for ways to help people who need a hand up in life.  They realize that serving others isn't always personally appreciated or publicly recognized, and they don't take it personally.  Before they leave a gathering, they do everything they can to help the host put everything back in order and so forth.  And instead of expecting to be waited on at home, they assume responsibility for themselves and offer to help their parents and siblings.

Dennis: You know, as I listen to you talk about all this, it really does make me wish I could go back and maybe do a little better job of implementing some of these character qualities into our children.  We did some of them, but …

Tim: Oh, you did, I know your kids.

Dennis: But you know what?  Being exhorted by Tim, I don't know, it just energizes you, Bob, as a parent, it gives hope that you know what?  You can help them achieve the right standard -- that of true greatness.

Bob: I was talking with my daughter, Amy, recently, and I said, "You know, one of the things I hate about being on FamilyLife Today is that we talk about all this stuff, and I go, "Man, I wish I get some do-overs with my kids, you know, I wish I could get some do-overs in my relationship with Mary Ann," and Amy said, "Dad, forget regret," she said, "Quit trying to be perfect."  And I said, "Well, okay, I hear you," but I can't wait until she's got kids.

Dennis: It is the nature of parenting to, I think, end up with some regrets, because you are aware of what you shoulda, coulda, woulda, and yet that's where a book like this really becomes extremely valuable, because it lays out practically how you can guide your children toward the right standard.

Bob: And that's why, ideally, a book like this would get into the hands of young parents.  I know you've been taking young parents through this at your church, but as one who as already launched a couple and still has a few at home, I still think this is an important book for any parent at any point in raising your children.  The book is called "Raising Kids for True Greatness."  It's just a good alignment for our thinking.  We've got it in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  You can go to our website,  When you get there, on the home page there is a red button in the middle of the screen that says "Go."  If you just look for that button and click, it will take you right to a page where there's information about Tim's book, other resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife, including another book you've written called "Fifty Ways to Really Love Your Kids."

 In fact, any of our listeners who would like to get both of those books, we'll be happy to send along at no additional cost, the two-CD audio of our conversation this week on this subject.  You can get the information about that again on our website,, click the red "Go" button.  If it's easier, you can call 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can answer any questions that you might have about the resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife where they can take your order and get these materials sent out to you.

 My wife does not get the opportunity to hear FamilyLife Today every day on the radio, and so often I wind up bringing CDs like this week's series home so that she can hear it as she's out driving in the minivan, and one of the CD series that I took home to her right after we had produced the programs was the interviews we did with Shaunti Feldhahn on the book, "For Women Only."  Your wife Barbara was in on those interviews with us.  We had a great conversation about how a wife can better understand what her husband thinks, how he feels, what is going on inside his mind and inside his heart.  And I remember her saying that she found herself several times during that series going, "Is that for real?  Is that really how a man thinks?"  Because, again, it's foreign to her, and she has taken those CDs and passed them on to others.  She found those beneficial, and she wanted others to benefit from them as well.

 This month we're making that two-CD series with Shaunti Feldhahn available to any of our listeners who can make a donation of any amount to the ministry of FamilyLife Today this month.  Your donations make up more than 60 percent of the funding that's necessary for this ministry to continue on this station and on stations all across the country.  So we really are listener-supported and dependent on those contributions, and we want to say thanks to those of you who have helped support the ministry in the past.

 Again, if you can help with a donation this month, you can request the two-CD series with Shaunti Feldhahn called "For Women Only."  If you're making a donation online, when you get to the keycode box, type in the word "women," and we'll know that you want those CDs sent out to you, or if it's easier, just call to make a donation at 1-800-FLTODAY, mention that you'd like the CD series called "For Women Only," and, again, we are happy to send it out.  We want to say thanks for your financial support of this ministry, and we appreciate your partnership with us.

 Well, tomorrow we're going to be back with our guest, Dr. Tim Kimmel, as we continue to talk about how we raise kids for true greatness.  I hope you can be with us as we continue the conversation tomorrow.

 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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.