Dr. James Dobson’s Resignation an Example for Leaders

Dr. James Dobson announced last week that he is stepping down as chairman of the board at Focus on the Family. He will continue to do his daily radio program.  You can hear him talk about it in today’s broadcast available at the site. It will be interesting how they will replace Dr. Dobson. For some of my thoughts in that area of leadership check out this previous post.

Recently I posted a criticism of some of the direction Focus on the Family has taken in recent years. You can read that post HERE, but basically I encouraged the organization to return to its roots of helping families and leave politics aside.

Today I need to compliment Dr. Dobson for his example to all of us to do what he feels is right for the ministry at this stage in its life. Many times leaders, especially founders, hang on too long to the reins of power and the succession of leadership becomes much more difficult.  I have had similar questions about leadership and when it’s time to leave in this post.

Dr. Dobson, I look forward to your continued investment in my family through your radio program.

Being Honest About My Marriage

YouTube has several versions of this song, but when I hear it I’m reminded of the commitment I have made as a husband.  I suggest you watch/listen to one of them before reading this post.

Clint Black/Lisa Hartman \”When I Said I Do\”

Can I be completely honest with you about my marriage?

Cheryl and I both are in our second marriage. Most people in our church know this, because I have shared it numerous times. If you don’t know, listen to the podcasts. I certainly don’t share it every week. If it bothers you for me to be a pastor there’s not much I can do about it now and I will not try to convince you I should be one. I know my calling.  I also know that my story is my story and I can’t change it. The purpose of this post is not to defend my qualifications. I know what happened in my situation and where I stand with God. His grace has been more than sufficient in my life and I wouldn’t be who I am today apart from the experiences of my life, good and bad.

All that said, one of the greatest miracles I have known is how God brought Cheryl into my life. Each of us having been deeply wounded by our past, probably never expected life to be so good again. As a single man, so many people attempted to “hook me up” with females, and while I was fully interested, (I know a pretty girl when I see one) I never sensed God allowing me to date. At one point I began praying that God would bring someone into my life again. An aunt of mine had called about 6 months earlier with Cheryl’s name. I wrote it down at the time, laid it on my desk with the other “suggestions” and waited for God to release me. After a season of asking God daily, one day I sensed Him saying, “It’s time”.

Top on my “stack” of suggestions, and the one I had prayed about most frequently, was Cheryl. After a little private background search (seriously) I called Cheryl and asked her to lunch that week. That weekend we went to a movie and dinner. (I asked her if I could kiss her goodnight.) I never dated anyone else. After a year and half dating, we married.

I never imagined how well God could complete me, especially in my ministry role. Cheryl is the perfect pastor’s wife. She is sweet, kind, intelligent, giving, and loyal. She’s my best friend. Her unconditional respect for me (Which is all men’s greatest need by the way) astounds me, knowing the person I am sometimes.

Lately life has been full of stress for both of us. The church is growing faster than we could have imagined. I am always doing more than I should. Sometimes it seems I never have enough time in my day. I work at least 6 days a week, many weeks 7 days. Cheryl is equally busy. She is a professional accountant. She is a conscientious employee and goes beyond the call of duty in her work. In addition, the demands as a pastor’s wife are overwhelming at times. On top of all that, we, of course, want and need family time with each other and our two boys. Frankly, a lot of people expect us to be everywhere. (I took some time over the past week to plan some getaways for this year, including this next weekend, because we need it!) Our relationship gets stretched as with every married couple.

Every week I watch marriages fall apart. I understand, more than most pastors, the pain of divorce. When God says, “I hate divorce”, I believe I know His heart. I am so thankful for a wife as committed to us as a couple as Cheryl is. I want you to know Cheryl, that whatever it takes, I’m in this for the long haul.

I love you sweetheart. When I said I do, I meant I will. Forever.

Can’t wait for this weekend together!

If I Had A Daughter…


Most people who know me well know I would have loved having a daughter. I have two of the greatest sons any father could ask for and I wouldn’t trade them for anyone, but there’s a part of me that envies the dads of daughters I know. As much as I think it would scare me to have one (I think I’d probably make them cry daily not meaning to), I often wish I did. It makes me really hope that someday I will have two special daughter-in-laws (I have my eye on one already. No pressure!) and granddaughters. I plan to spoil them greatly!

If I did have daughters, along with teaching them the Scriptures, I think I would have them listen to Kellie Pickler’s song “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful” and read Angela Thomas’ book, “Do You Think I’m Beautiful”, as they were old enough to understand. My goal would be to show them their own self worth, that they are beautiful not only for their outer appearance, but for the person God had created them to be.

I would strive to let them see that no man can completely fill the deep need of their heart for love. As wonderful as a man may try to be, he can never emotionally complete the heart of a woman. Only Christ’s love can meet that need fully, completely, and continually.

I would, however, try to convince them that their dad unconditionally loved them.

And I would keep my shotgun loaded!

My Sobering Experience Today

I had a sobering experience today. I haven’t been able to let go of it.

This morning I accompanied my teenage son to court. He got his first traffic ticket for failing to yield for a yellow light. After the judge stated his fine, we were taken with 2 other teenagers and their parents to pay.

One of the other teenage boys, a nice, clean cut young man, had apparently carried too many children in his car at one time. (The limit for his age is one passenger. He had three.) Here’s the sobering part for me. When the boy’s single mom went to pay, she asked the court permission to work out payments on the fine. The total was $82. She needed three months to pay the bill. (Frankly there were times growing up that this could have been my family.)

I stood there looking at my nicely dressed son and realized he has never known his parents to struggle in that way. Thankfully, we have always been able to pay for the things he needs and even when we might have been stretched for cash, he never really knew it. We discussed it as we left and both of us felt humbled.

We have traveled as a family on the mission field to some of the poorest parts of the world. We have witnessed firsthand those who truly have nothing. Today, right in our own community, we were reminded how blessed we are as a family and not to take what God has allowed us to have for granted.

Thank you God for sobering moments.

One Piece of Advice for Parents

If I had to give one piece of advice to parents, especially dads, it would be that you live an honest life in front of your children.  I have witnessed too many parents, dads especially, who try to impress their children with their skills or their strength.  They try to convince their children they are never afraid or have all the answers.  They hide past mistakes and present themselves as having figured out life’s struggles. 

The problem with that is obvious.  First, children are smarter than that and they recognize the lie being portrayed in front of them. Second, they miss the opportunity to learn from the struggles of their parents.  Third, they are prone to repeat this pattern with their children.

Children need and are seeking authentic parenting.  Live honestly in front of your kids!  Give them something to aim for, live a life in front of them worth aspiring to someday, but don’t be afraid to let them see you aren’t perfect and don’t hide from them your past.  

The Parenting Line Between Freedom and Discipline

In my parenting I have never forgotten the story of one of my closest friend’s experience with his son.  He swore his son would never wear an earring.  When his son turned 15 years old he requested to wear one.  My friend refused, holding onto his long-held position.  Over the course of a few weeks though, my friend noticed the once close relationship he had with his son slipping away from him.  They didn’t talk as much.  The son didn’t come to him as much for advice.  Something had changed.  My friend realized that it was his refusal of the earring that had caused the interruption in the relationship with his son.   He went back to his son, apologized, and the relationship got back on track.  (Interestingly, the son didn’t wear the earring for very long.)   

I am in similar days with my son Nate.  No, he hasn’t asked for an earring, but it is his senior year in high school.  He is fiercely independent, far more so than our oldest son.  Most likely he will attend college far away and very soon be leaving home.  I’m trying to learn the balance as his father between providing him the discipline and instruction I’m supposed to give as a father and the freedom and independence he needs, as he becomes a young man. 

The line between extending freedom and controlling the actions of your child is unclear at times.  I know many parents who have crossed that line too far either way, either controlling so much that the child rebels or giving so much freedom that the child runs wild.  Frankly, I’m still learning.  Recently I posted on my need for others to invest in me.  This is one area in which I continue to need wisdom.   

I know the right answer to give to parents.  It’s to never cross the line so much that you lose the devotion of your child’s heart.  Sometimes you may have to break their will, but you never want to lose access to influence over their heart.  I just don’t always know how to use that answer when I have to apply it to everyday life. 

What advice do you have?  Do you struggle in this area of parenting?  

Fear In Our Youth

I spent last Wednesday with an awesome group of young leaders from our community. The program called Youth Leadership Clarksville is a school year long, once a month look at the community for high school juniors and seniors.  These are top in their class students, usually from good, supportive homes, so one would think this group was self-confident and certain of their future.  I almost expected an arrogance of sorts or an idealistic approach to the years before them.  At some point in the day, however, I asked them to tell me their greatest fear.  Almost unanimously, the group of over thirty young people said fear of failure or fear of making a lifetime mistake is their greatest fear and something they struggle with, especially as they think about leaving high school. 

My son Nate, who went through the leadership program last year, had a recent blog post where he described some of his fears.  Read that post HERE.  (Titled: Reflections with the Fray) 

In reflection, I am honestly asking myself some questions, such as:

1.     What have we as parents and a society done to encourage or promote this type of fear in our youth?  Have we, for example, by giving our children everything they desire in life, kept them from realizing their own potential for success in some way?  Have we not allowed them enough opportunities to experience failure so that now fear of failure is the same as fear of the unknown to them?  

2.     Will these fears haunt our youth into adulthood or is this something they will outgrow? 

3.     Should we try to help youth overcome their fear of failure, so they will be willing to take big risks and dream bigger dreams or is this fear a natural part of their discovery? 

4.     Is this a cultural phenomenon and so do adults share the same fears right now? 

5.     Is the current state of the economy contributing to these fears?

I don’t have answers necessarily, just questions. 

What do you think?  

Adoption Video (Be Aware-Graphic Video)

My friend Michael Robison and his wife have a desire to adopt from Africa.  In this post and this video he shares why.  This honestly made me sick to my stomach to watch, so don’t unless you think you can handle it.  I admire the devotion and grace the Robison’s hope to extend. We have many friends who have a heart for adoption and rescuing children to give them a safe-haven is often part of their reasoning.  This is true “pure and undefiled religion”.  (James 1:27)

Building Right Foundation for Children

The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. (Genesis 8:21 Emphasis mine)  

This is another one of those posts that can make a lot of parents mad, but when raising children it is important to remember this verse.  The intent of person’s heart is evil from childhood.  We don’t have to teach our children to be selfish.  We need to model generous living, because selfishness will come naturally.  We don’t have to teach our children to covet what others have.  We need to model contentment for them, because greed will come easily on its own. 

As parents, we should recognize this fundamental truth about our children. As sweet as we think they are, and they can be sweet, they are born with a natural propensity towards sin.   As parents, we are to disciple them so that their bent towards evil is one day redeemed by grace.  Our job is to plant within them the desire for God and His righteousness so that they will have a changed, saved nature, with a desire to overcome evil with good.

Recently I heard a quote on a movie (don’t remember which one).  “Two things we give our children. One is roots. The other is wings.” I think that quote captures the essence of parenting.  We must give children deep enough roots so when their wings carry them away they are ready to face the world.  

Here’s a tough but great question for evaluation:  Is your parenting intentional to build the right foundation for your children so they will be prepared for life or are you simply feeding their “natural” tendencies?  In other words, are you more concerned about giving them what they want or leading them with what they need? 

(I told you…tough question. Someone needs to ask it.)