Modeling Honor Toward Your Parents
About the Guest
Do you honor your mother and father? Have you considered that how you honor or dishonor your parents will be noticed and absorbed by the next generation? Dennis Rainey talks about modeling love, respect, and honor of parents to your sons and daughters.
Dennis RaineyDennis Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Since the organization began in 1976 through 2017, Dennis’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries around the world helping families discover the joy God intended for their relationships with God, spouse, and kids. Dennis has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples and Staying Close and has received two Golden Medallion...more
Do you honor your mother and father?
Modeling Honor Toward Your Parents
Bob: You want your life to matter for eternity, right? You want your legacy to be a legacy that honors God. Dennis Rainey says if that’s the case then you need to keep the 5th commandment to honor your father and your mother.
Dennis: We are talking about the first commandment that has a promise associated with it. We are talking about a commandment on the level of having no other God before you, of not committing adultery, of not lying that God chiseled into stone a command for us generationally to honor our parents.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, October 7. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We are going to see today what connection is between honoring our parents and leaving a legacy that has an eternal impact.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today thanks for joining us.
Dennis: Can you hold off on the broadcast just for a second?
Bob: No, we’re on the air. I am sorry Mr. Rainey we are on the air.
Dennis: I want to ask our listeners a question. Have you ever felt like there are books of the Bible that have disappeared on you, where you just couldn’t find them?
Bob: Where is Nahum, right?
Dennis: Well, that one but just now it was Exodus.
Bob: Well, Exodus.
Dennis: I know Bob. Just chill.
Bob: If you are talking Obadiah I understand what you are talking about. But you get to Exodus, it’s right up there.
Dennis: I know. There are a lot of pages in there but it had disappeared on me.
Bob: What are you looking for?
Dennis: Well, I am looking for Exodus 20:12 but we are talking today about leaving a legacy and what kind of legacy you were left as a person and what kind of legacy you are going to leave. What we were trying to do is give you some components of how to leave a godly legacy to the next generation.
I want to start today with little quiz for you Bob. I want you to just describe the legacy of the following names. Alright you ready?
Dennis: Describe the legacy of these men and women: Darwin.
Bob: A legacy of confusion.
Dennis: Okay, Muhammad Ali.
Bob: Oh it's a legacy of greatness. He is the greatest. I mean that’s what you think of when you think of.
Dennis: Float like a butterfly.
Bob: Sing like a bee, champion.
Dennis: Ready for the next one? Your mom?
Bob: Wow that’s a switch right there from Darwin to Ali to my mom. A legacy of generosity that’s what she has left. If you were to go to her children and grandchildren it would be her generosity that would stand out.
Dennis: Okay next one Howard Stern.
Bob: Oh that’s a legacy of depravity. I mean I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s a vulgar depravity.
Dennis: Yes, okay. One last one, your dad?
Bob: My dad’s legacy is a legacy of provision and protection. My dad was a World War II veteran. He grew up in the depression. The focus of his life was to protect and provide for his family and he did it that’s his legacy.
Dennis: This exercise is just meant to pull us back to the big picture and realize everybody is in the process of leaving a track record. We are leaving a trail and the question is what kind of trail is it going to be? What kind of trail do you want to leave to the next generation? We have been talking about components of your legacy. So far we have talked about three components.
The first one is I think your concept of God. Do you fear God and do you live your life in the presence of God. The second one is who is your master? Who is the authority of your life? Is it Jesus Christ or is it you? The third one is getting the loves of your life in order, just talking about who you love.
This fourth one that I want to talk about I think for some of our listeners they are going to turn their heads and say what, that’s a part of your legacy? It's found in Exodus that book that hid itself from me a while ago. Exodus 20:12—I call this the Forgotten Commandment. Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. Other translations talk about that it may be well within. And it is really to talk about I think a satisfying life.
I think this fourth component of living a godly legacy is our relationship with our parents. Do we honor them or do we dishonor them? Here is really the issue in why our relationship with our parents is a part, a key part of our legacy. How you honor or dishonor your parents will be noticed and absorbed by the next generation.
People are watching. Your children are like radar units locked on you. I am grateful I had a mom and dad who didn’t model this perfectly but they modelled it. We lived in a small town in South West Missouri and after dinner dad would push back from the table and he said I will see it about an hour. I remember in the summer time he just walked out the house and he will go see his mom. His mom lived to be over 100 years of age.
And then I remember how my mom treated her parents. Her mom died of a stroke. When she was in her 80s they have been married for over 50 years. Bertha was her name and my grandfather’s name was OT—Oliver Theodore, so what a great pair OT and Bertha. OT was a white haired strong, stout, sturdy man 6’3” or so. Bertha was just a little spit of a woman. She was just spindly and small but when she died my mom took my grandfather, OT, into our home and we became his family and he didn’t live long without his life’s mate.
There are studies done on this and point out that when the elderly lose a lifelong spouse it is like their heart breaks and they want to go where they are. OT didn’t live long but my mom provided a home in caring for him.
And Bob, I think the strength of that generationally to look at my mom and my dad and watch them care for their parents and demonstrate to me as a boy. I am telling you I picked up on it the attitudes. They were not a burden taking care of them. It was a privilege. They honored them with their lives.
Bob: Now you know many of our listeners hear you talk about OT and Bertha and having the whole family over and they think well if that was my heritage, if I looked back at my parents or grandparents and saw a faithful grandma that would be one thing.
But that’s not the heritage I have that’s not the track record. So to think of honoring my parents given all of the junk that is back there seems hypocritical to me. And yet you are saying that what I do with that is one of the key components of the legacy I leave to my children and the future generations.
Dennis: If you don’t honor them somehow and don’t find a way to express that from your heart that bitterness will overtake you. Those closest to you will know that you are imprisoned in a self-imposed prison of anger and resentment over what was never there, what never occurred, may be the evil that did occur.
I know there are those listening to our broadcast right now who had evil parents. I realize for some of them they are thinking I am sending them back off into the evil. I am not talking about you being abused again by your parents in anyway whatsoever.
But I am talking about searching your heart and saying how can I as an adult demonstrate to the next generation that I honor my parents? The fifth commandment in the Ten Commandments is the first commandment that has a promise associated with it. We are talking about a commandment on the level of having no other God before you of not committing adultery, of not lying that God chiseled into stone a command for us generationally to honor our parents.
There is something bigger here Bob than just how we feel. I think what happens as people move toward honor is they finally are able in many cases not all, but in many cases they are able to forgive. And finally able to see their parents for who they are. Broken people with their own set of needs and perhaps realize that maybe their parents were abused or had some evil things happen to them as they grew up. But what they determined they are going to do by the grace of God they have received and the forgiveness of Jesus Christ that you have experienced. You are going to return good and not evil.
Bob: Talk to the person who would say you know I have kind of walled off the past and my parents and the background. My own children we don’t talk much about it. They don’t know the dark stories from all of that. They just know that we don’t go see grandma and grandpa very often at all.
Dennis: Or when we do it’s tense or it's distant. There is no real relationship occurring.
Bob: So my kids have asked from time to time you know about why we don’t go see grandma more, I just kind of kept that walled off and tried to protect them from it. Are you saying that they are picking up more about that relationship than I am letting on?
Dennis: I am telling you, you are modelling something. The question is are you modeling in how you are treating your parents how you want your kids to treat you when you are that age?
I was talking with a friend a few months ago who was about to go home to see her mom. I don’t know all of the background of this and frankly that really isn’t relevant here. But I could tell there was some tension. Some sense of not wanting to go but they were getting ready to have to go spend a lot of time because it was cold where that particular mom lived.
I said is there a way I can federal express you my book, The Greatest Gift You Will Ever Give Your Parents. She said there really isn’t but I have a friend who has the book. I am going to go over to her house and get it. She did. After the trip was over I got an e-mail from my friend said thank you for pressing me into the situation. She said it was really hard for me to write that tribute. It was even harder to read it to her.
Bob: Now this was a tribute that she had written to her mom that’s one of the key assignments you have in the book you talked about.
Dennis: Yes and you and I laughed about this all the time. I have always said, yes you got to print it, and mat it, and frame it. Put it in a frame and make something formal out of it so it’s not just a letter that can be folded up and put in a drawer. I want a statement that is going to be hung somewhere.
She read this tribute to her mom, and she said it blew our family away. It was incredibly powerful, and she said incredibly healing first in me. I would say Bob and you have read some of the letters because I have passed them onto you. The most often repeated phrase is I thought I was letting my parents out of a prison. But when I find a way to honor them by writing a tribute to them I realized that I was the one who was imprisoned. I was the one as I wrote that tribute and expressed that sense of honor that was getting out and that’s basically what she said.
The question is will it take some courage? Yes, but I think it’s powerful. I think if you can do it, take your kids with you, and let your kids watch. I’ve had some great stories of kids being in a semi-circle around a pair of elderly parents and the son or daughter, reading a tribute are several sons, several daughters reading tributes as adults to their parents.
I just think it’s one of life’s most important lessons if God went to the trouble to put it in the Ten Commandments and said to us this is the first commandment that begins with a promise. If you want to live a good long life keep this commandment. I think we better pay attention.
Bob: We have listeners who have drawn a line in the sand and have said our family is going to be different going forward than the family I grew up in. So as they think about leaving a legacy to their children, they think about whether that line in the sand starts.
We don’t look past that, we don’t look back. We are just looking at that line and saying we are going to be different from here. As they hear you talk about how you honor your parents and the legacy that they are going to leave. They are thinking well I am basing my legacy not on what happened back in the past, it’s based on the direction I am leading things and so can I just let the past, be the past.
Dennis: I am saying if the past isn’t dealt with in some appropriate, healthy, spiritual, emotional and I think yes, intellectual way, because God has made us with many dimensions. If we don’t deal with the past, the past is going to deal with us. That’s not just a cute saying, it’s a reality.
I have got a letter in my hands that I have received about five years ago from a listener, her name is Debby. She just wrote me a letter to tell me what great joy it brought her to finally sit down and write her dad a tribute. She said the big day came to present her dad with the tribute and she had not only the written tribute but also some pictures of her and her dad, when she was a baby, a young girl and then on her wedding day when he was taking her down the aisle and then she read that tribute to him.
I want to read what she said here. She said when I was finished my dad said that was the best gift anyone has ever given me. She said I gave my dad lots of hugs and kisses that day telling him how much I loved him. I never had any idea that that would be the last time I would ever see my dad this side of heaven. My dad died off an aneurysm the very next day.
Now the issue Bob is I think one of regrets here of not having any regrets of having said what needs to be said while your parents or your mom or your dad is still alive. I think it may be a part of why God is keeping them alive so that you can mend some fences and perhaps say some things that need to be said now when they are alive and not wait till they are gone to say them.
Bob: What you are saying here is that our lives are marked by the influence of our parents. We need to acknowledge that they have made a mark and then we need to look back and find a way to express honor, even in those dark situations is there a way to honor the past?
I think of Josh McDowell being in our program and his dad was an alcoholic. Josh said I came to the point where I thanked God before my dad and for the influence he had on my life because it made me the man I am today, and I like the man I am today.
Dennis: You know what I think Bob? I think of an opportunity we had here on FamilyLife Today, to surprise arguably one of the most influential Christian leaders of our day by having his son share a tribute to him.
Bob: We were getting ready to do an interview with the Dr. James Dobson
Dennis: Who, by the way, didn’t get surprised very many times.
Bob: We were talking about our work together, our organizations and how they worked together in caring for the plight of the orphan. Dr. Dobson and his wife, Shirley, are adopted parents. Their son Ryan was adopted. Unbeknownst to Dr. Dobson we called Ryan and said, would you reflect a little bit on your mom and dad and then would you give them a verbal tribute. So when we sat down with Dr. Dobson we said we have something we want to play for you. He didn’t know what was coming, did he?
Dennis: He didn’t. It was really fun to surprise him. But you know what was really fun was to see the look on his face, because he was quite emotional by the time the tribute was over. Even Dr. James Dobson needs to know that his life has imprinted his own children.
Ryan: Growing up in the household I am who I am because of you. I am a Dobson and to be raised in a household and to see daily someone stand up for the word of God and to follow God even when it seems like its not making sense that changes people.
I have the greatest situation because I have parents that not only modeled a faith in God unlike any other place I could get it, but they modeled a healthy, loving relationship. You have been married for over 40 years and I hope to have that some day. I appreciate it and I love you guys. I know you are going to be great, great, great grandparents.
Bob: That’s what a legacy is all about, isn’t it?
Dennis: It really is and it’s just interesting to watch what happened in that studio that day Bob, because although we had taped Ryan’s tribute to his mom and dad earlier, he was in the studio.
Bob: He showed up, yes.
Dennis: With his dad as that was played. It’s just right to go back to the previous generation and return honor, and good words, and esteem them, and value them.
God knew what he was doing when he put that in the Ten Commandments. As if we didn’t need to know that it just goes powerful. To hear Dr. Dobson, obviously respond to his son and with his words of affirmation. That’s how it’s intended to occur, even in the midst of all the imperfections of the Dobson family, or the Lepine family, or Rainey family. God’s word was meant to be applied and lived out.
Bob: You referenced earlier the book that you wrote called The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents where you talk about this concept of honoring your parents with the formal tribute and I know some of our listeners have heard you talk about that subject before. There are a couple of months to go between now and Christmas and there maybe listeners who would say this is the year I have to do that as a Christmas gift for my mom, or my dad, or for both of my parents.
You can go to our website www.familylifetoday.com and there is more information about the book available there. Again our website is www.familylifetoday.com and I should also mention that all this week we have had listening into this series a major motion picture star, Larry the Cucumber has been tuned in. Larry welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Larry the Cucumber: Hey Bob thanks, thanks for having me back.
Bob: What it took to be known as a major motion picture star?
Larry the Cucumber: I would have never guessed you know the most I had ever aspired to before was maybe a side dish.
Bob: A nice cobb salad perhaps, right?
Larry the Cucumber: Yes that’s right maybe a little salt and vinegar sprinkled on.
Bob: Well the legacy and this is what we have been talking about on the series, talking about having a meaningful life. That theme is at the heart of the new DVD called It’s a Meaningful Life that you star in, and it’s just now out in stores and of course we have got it here on our FamilyLife Today Resource Center, but this is a story about really the realignment of life priorities. In the very beginning the thing that mattered most to you in this story was winning the football game, right.
Larry the Cucumber: Yes winning the football game and what that was going to do with the rest of my life and it turns out Morty Bumble played by Mr. Lunt. I am sure you are familiar with Mr. Lunt.
Bob: Of course I know Mr. Lunt, yes we are good friends.
Larry the Cucumber: Oh yes he is a good friend in real life but you know he sort of steals my past and steals my thunder while he is at it. He goes on to have a kind of a life of being famous and getting what he wants and you know I stay in Rockwell, that’s our little hometown there and live my life there.
I am not as happy with it because I see everything that Morty is going through and what he is getting in and you know I get a little down on myself and wonder wow would could I have done different and could my life had been better? I go on a little train ride and I learned that God has a plan for my life and I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
Bob: That’s a key message. Again it’s faithfulness in the place that God has put you and I think too often folks look at their life and they think I didn’t make the big splash I thought I might make. But The Bible teaches us that it’s not about making splashes, it’s about faithfulness in the place God puts you.
Larry the Cucumber: That’s right Bob, that’s exactly right.
Bob: Well, and again I hope our listeners will get a copy of the brand new Veggietales DVD called It’s a Meaningful Life.
In fact this week we are making it available to any listener who can help support the Ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount. We are listener-supported so those donations are what keep us going here at FamilyLife, and we are asking you to go online or call 1800-FL-TODAY, make whatever donation you can make and feel free to request a copy of the brand new DVD called It’s a Meaningful Life from our friends at Veggietales.
If you make your donation online at www.familylifetoday.com you will need to type the word “MEANING” into the key code box on the online donation form. If you call 1800-FL-TODAY and make your donation over the phone, you can ask for the new It’s a Meaningful Life DVD when you make the donation and we are happy to send it out to you. We very much appreciate your financial support. As I said, without you this program would not exist and so thanks for partnering with us and making this program possible.
We hope you will be back with us tomorrow as we are going to continue to look at the legacy we will leave to a generation we will not see. 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 will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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