Passing On a Legacy
About the Guest
Besides material "stuff," what are you really passing on to your kids? If it isn't the Word of God and His character, then you haven't left them much. Today Pastor Crawford Loritts honors the greatest man he ever knew--his father, and talks about the power of leaving a godly legacy.
Besides material “stuff,” what are you really passing on to your kids?
Passing On a Legacy
Bob: Will your sons be better men because they had you as a father? Crawford Loritts thinks all of us, as dads, have an assignment.
Crawford: Part of the ambivalence that we’re seeing in men today is because we’re wimping out on giving them a sense of direction—no, not controlling their lives; but calling them to say that there are, “Certain things are right and wrong, Buddy. Yes, I like you. I want to be your friend,” but the patriarchs stood for purpose. They stood for direction. There was a mission that God had etched on their souls.
Now, whether or not their succeeding generations want to follow it, that was up to them; but there was an, “As for me and my house, we’re going to serve the Lord.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, August 1st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk today about the important assignment God has given to every man who is a husband and a father—the assignment of leading his family. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. Tell you what—I’m really looking forward to Saturday when you and I are going to be together in Chicago with James MacDonald, and with Robert Lewis, and with our guest today, Crawford Loritts, for the National Men’s Simulcast, that’s being hosted in Chicago and then, simulcast in churches and other locations, all around the country.
I thought it would be fun for our listeners to hear how you and our guest today, Dr. Crawford Loritts, who is pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, in Roswell, Georgia. Thought it would be fun to hear how the two of you met. I asked you about it, and you don’t remember.
Dennis: I don’t. I do not remember.
Bob: But Crawford, you remember—
Crawford: I do definitely remember.
Bob: —meeting Dennis Rainey.
Crawford: I do.
Bob: Now, you actually kind of saw him from a distance before you met him?
Crawford: From a distance, yes. We joined staff at Campus Crusade®—Karen and I did—in 1978. Part of what the responsibilities were, back then, is that you had to go to the Institute of Biblical Studies. Well, we went to that institute; and because I had a degree in Bible, I could be sort of selective in what I took.
I took this course on marriage and family and this kind of thing. Dennis Rainey taught the course. It was one of the most popular courses at CSU, Colorado State University, where Crusade holds its training. So, I met him. He doesn’t remember me. I was just a little flake in the back of the room. [Laughter]
Dennis: My most profound recollection of Crawford was a fishing trip that we went on, and I hired these scuba divers—
Crawford: Oh, no!
Dennis: —I hired these scuba divers, and Crawford caught 25—as I recall that day—and I only caught three or four.
Crawford: Bob, we really do need to do a program on repentance—[Laughter]
Bob: —and honesty.
Dennis: Bob, this was one of the shrewdest investments I’ve ever made in anything because that scuba diver—helping Crawford think that he was a fisherman—I mean, he showed up with one of these metal poles with black thread.
Crawford: Yes, that’s right.
Dennis: You know—the black line that they used to use? Fish—you’d scare any self- respecting fish out of the water.
Crawford: I want to go on record with the listening audience, right now, that Dennis Rainey has state-of-the-art fishing equipment. I went and got my little Zebco® action catfish fishing pole, and I skunked him! [Laughter]
Dennis: That diver did his job, but the result of that—I’m just telling you—this was a great investment—the result of that was that Crawford joined the FamilyLife marriage conference speaker team and began speaking all around the country—doing a great job and has had a great impact on families across the United States. Truthfully, that friendship, that goes all the way back to that boat, has endured. I’ve had to forgive him for out-fishing me on that particular day, but we are going to have a lot of fun today. I think the real issue, Bob, is who’s going to get the microphone because Crawford stimulates me to no end.
He’s written a book called Never Walk Away. There are lessons on integrity from his father. Crawford’s father had a profound impact on Crawford’s life. In fact, I want to read just a paragraph from Crawford’s book. This paragraph summarizes what the book is about and really lays it on the bottom shelf.
Dennis: “I believe the greatest relational longing that a man has is the need for a heart connection with his father. When that connection is gone, whether it has been severed or was never established, it launches him into a passionate search for the love, approval, and affirmation of a dad. Men sometimes end up searching in the wrong place to fill that gap: gangs, ambivalent feelings about their manhood, sexual conquests, anger, insecurity and uncertainty, the inability to establish wholesome relationships, and a host of other challenges batter their minds and threaten the emotional security of their lives, without the heart connection with a father.”
Why do you believe that’s so important?
Crawford: Well, because men know how to be men when their father or another important male role model confers on them the blessing. The man only knows he’s a man when another significant male role model or his dad tells him so—that, “You’re approved,” “You’re okay, and you’re going somewhere.”
Dennis: You are talking about Malachi, Chapter 4, verse 6—
Dennis: —which is how the Old Testament ends. It’s the last verse before 400 years of silence, and Jesus Christ steps onto the scene. It reads, “And He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.”
This heart connection is a spiritual connection—
Crawford: Yes, it is.
Dennis: —of the most profound proportions. A lot of times, that connection—the way God cements two people’s hearts together—is through adversity, through struggle. You learned a great deal from your dad as he made choices in the midst of adverse situations; didn’t you?
Crawford: Yes, I did. I learned from my dad the words, “Obligation and responsibility are not profane words,” —that you operated, in life, based upon commitments and not based upon how you felt. I watched him every day of his life.
One of the most profound conversations that I ever heard between my mother and father took place when I was about four or five years old. I don’t know all the details, but I remember this statement as if I heard it yesterday. They were talking about him having to work—I don’t know whether it was Thanksgiving or around the Christmas holidays—you know, he was a warehouse worker; and he could have gotten paid triple time. God knows we needed the money.
I remember—and my dad worked nights—and I remember my father saying to my mother, “Sylvia, if I worked triple time, if I worked over this holiday—that would be blood money because I’ve been away from these kids too much.” For whatever reason, that grabbed me. I felt valued. I didn’t understand all the implications of that at that age or what all that meant, but the expression “blood money”—and Pop always demonstrated—he was willing to sacrifice the right thing.
My dad never did a whole lot of outside stuff, socially, apart from his family. He knew that he worked nights. He knew that time was limited, and Pop never hung out with the boys. If I wasn’t included or my sisters weren’t included, he just simply didn’t do it. He set a priority on his family. He worked. He gave himself to us. We didn’t have a lot of stuff. We were working-class people.
Dennis: You lived in Newark?
Crawford: Oh, yes. We lived in the central part of Newark. I lived at 83 Wilson Street, in a third-floor apartment, there—five rooms in that apartment, small rooms.
Dennis: I think dads today are trying to give their kids stuff. We don’t know how to make this heart connection, Crawford. We don’t know how to cement our souls to our sons and our daughters. The easiest thing to do is to write a check and give a gift, or to take them some place, and not find that heart being connected as Malachi was talking about.
Crawford: Yes, we keep doing penance with our children rather than giving them a positive direction. I grew up in an environment where Dad just was there, and he loved us. Even though he worked—here’s the key. He wasn’t there a lot; but we knew we had access to him because when he was there, he was all there. We had access to his heart. He couldn’t give us a lot of stuff—not back then.
When I was about 11 and 12, there was a major financial shift. He was able to do a lot more. By the time I went to college, he could write the check then; but it was those formative years of just hanging out with Pop—just riding around in the car with him, just walking down the street with him and saying, “What do you want to do?—him grabbing me and putting me on his lap.
We’d go to the—he was an avid baseball fan. Every Saturday when the Yankees® were in town, we’d go over, in a Hudson tube, to New York, catch the subway up to the Bronx. My memories are not so much about the ball games but just being with him. I can remember falling asleep on his lap on the train, coming back and the smell of Old Spice® deodorant and his arm draped over me. It is—that’s the kind of thing. It’s the blood-money statement. It’s those memories. It’s taking me to Uncle Milty’s Amusement Park. I don’t remember all the details there, but I remember being with my dad.
Dennis: I’ll tell you something. You resonate with me on this one, Crawford, and you know that. We’ve talked a great deal about this. I think the need today is for young men to set their goal to become a godly patriarch.
Dennis: The whole idea of a patriarch, of a spiritual leader who is a servant, a self-denying leader who gives up his life on behalf of the flock—we’re not talking about a Hitler, a Gestapo leader who is demanding his rights—but a man who is serving his family by getting involved in these issues and guiding the ship—
Crawford: That’s right.
Dennis: —setting a direction, giving it a vision, calling out the harbor that we’re headed for, and then, nursing it back when it gets off course. You know?
Crawford: You see—I believe men rise to challenge. Part of the ambivalence that we’re seeing in men today is because we’re wimping out on giving them a sense of direction—no not controlling their lives—but calling them to say that there are, “Certain things are right and wrong, Buddy. Yes, I like you. I want to be your friend,” but the patriarchs stood for purpose. They stood for direction. There was a mission that God had etched on their souls.
Now, whether or not their succeeding generations want to follow it, that was up to them; but there was an, “As for me and my house, we’re going to serve the Lord.” Now, you can make some decisions about that. We’re losing these generations because we’re scared of them. We’re scared of our kids. We’re afraid that they won’t like us.
Dennis: Well, we’re afraid we’re going to make a mistake, too. “I’m not going to be the perfect dad. I’m not going to do it like Crawford Loritts does it, or Bob Lepine, or Jim Dobson. We’re not going to do it perfectly; so, we’re not going to try.” The easiest thing to do is do nothing—I say that to my kids all the time. The reason I love them and step into their lives is because I do want to provide that guidance.
I think today, Crawford, there is a rumbling in the souls of men. You can see it in their faces. They want to be called out to become these patriarchs.
Crawford: Yes, and they want somebody to have the courage to help them to get there.
My dad had something—he had a lot of faults, and I mean I could be here all day. If you say that, I mean—he had a short fuse. He was impatient. There were a number of—there were some mega downsides to him; but one of the things he had, which was unusual for his generation—my father would apologize. As tough as he was on one hand, if he blew it with us or if he blew it with me, he would look me square in the eye and say, “Boy, I was wrong. I’m sorry.” That kept me near his heart.
All of us—my two older sisters, my mom—because he had a tender heart and even though he was strong, if he blew it, he’d come back and apologize; but you were always clear about where this ship was going.
Bob: You talk about being a strong leader, and I think we are concerned about not wanting to be controllers of our children. I think we’re also concerned about not wanting them to rebel. When kids hit adolescence and they start to push back, I think parents are a little worried, “Am I sowing seeds of rebellion in the heart of a child? Am I doing something that is going to cause my child to kind of shut himself off or shut herself off? Am I going to lose the relationship?” That’s when parents get that chill that runs down their spine, and they start to soften a little.
Crawford: Let me tell you a little story—a true story about—my dad and I almost lost our relationship when I was 19 years old. What happened was that my father played baseball. My dad never had a lot of expectations on me—never had a lot of them in terms of what I wanted to be. He was pretty laid back about that. He just—in terms of the moral side and character—is where he was coming from.
However, there was this subtle tendency—my dad lost an eye in a coal mining accident, which ended his baseball career. My mom says from the time I was—before I was potty-trained, I had a ball glove on. I played the game. I was pretty good at it, but I gave my life to Christ as a teenager. As anyone who has every played sports—it’s more than talent to take you to the next level. It’s a passion and a fire that you have to have.
Well, in my later teens, I lost that fire. I had an increasing desire to serve Christ and to serve the Lord. I went off to a Bible college. Now, get the picture here. My dad knew that I was playing—I had talent. I stopped playing ball. I’m going to this Bible college—that he didn’t know anything about—not that he was against me going into ministry, but he wasn’t certain, and they didn’t even have a good baseball team.
Then, I grew this afro—huge afro. This—we’re talking the late 60’s here. You’ve got to understand, my dad was a little slow on that curve there. He was more of a conservative kind of dude. So, I had this huge head of hair. I wish our listeners could look at Dennis Rainey in the studio right now because I don’t have that hair.
Dennis: And where you’re—[Laughter]—and where you’re holding your hands about how huge the afro was. I’m just kind of trying to picture that; okay?
Crawford: But I’ve seen some old pictures of you, too, Dennis! [Laughter]
So, my father—and I felt this tension. I’d go back and forth. Here I am—you get the picture. I’m at a Bible college, and I’m not playing baseball. Here I am, looking like some radical leader of some fringe-group here. I came home for a visit one weekend, and Pop was cool toward me that whole weekend. He was just really cool toward me, and I could just sort of feel the tension.
I asked him to take me back to the train station so I can get a ride back—this is Sunday afternoon. He simply said to me, “I’m not taking you anywhere with your hair looking like that.” I knew it wasn’t about the hair, and he knew it wasn’t about the hair. I did something that I had never done before. I just stopped and looked him, square in the eye. I said, “This is not about my hair,” and I raised my voice—no, I screamed at him. I told him I was going to be whatever I wanted to be.
I’d been feeling this pressure about baseball and all his expectations, and I wasn’t going to do it. I was going to do what God told me to do. Here I am, talking about God, but my whole—I’m screaming at my father—get this picture.
Bob: Yes, really.
Crawford: My sisters were standing there with their mouths open. I guess they were waiting for me to get up off the floor or something because he—
Bob: After he knocked you down?
Crawford: Yes, but he looked at me and never said a word! I stormed out of the house, slammed the door—how’s that for a spiritual response? Still didn’t have a ride to the train station, by the way. [Laughter] I said I was never coming home.
Let me just fast forward the story here. A couple of weeks after that—
Dennis: So, you left without any apology?
Crawford: None. No, I was ticked.
Dennis: The air was still—
Crawford: It was thick. I was—and he was in shock because I guess he thought I’d gone crazy or something. [Laughter] Well—
Dennis: The reason I make that point is because I think, as a parent, when you’re the one left in the house and you’ve watched the kid storm out of the house, you’re left wondering, “Have I lost them? What’s going on?”
Crawford: Yes, yes. Two weeks went by. My mother—and the combination of a tearful phone call from my mother and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I decided to come home and make things right with Pop. He didn’t say anything to me. He never said a word to me during that period of time.
I came back home, and there wasn’t a tearful apology. There wasn’t any embrace. When I walked in the house, he put his arm on my shoulder and looked me in the eye. He said, “Boy, you can be whatever you want to be, and you have my blessing,” and that was all. I saw fear in his eyes and I heard fear in his voice. I felt it, myself—that we were on the verge of losing something that had been built into us. That was a very important rite of passage. From that moment on, he treated me more as a peer than as his little boy. I learned a valuable lesson in that and how I try to respond to my boys and to watch my expectations.
Dennis, we talk about this in conferences and all this other kind of stuff; but there are subtle expectations we have for our kids. We have to watch that! We’ve got to watch that and continue to release them to be what God wants them to be so that we don’t sever those relationships.
Dennis: I don’t think we can overdo it. If you let them know they are loved for who they are as your child and you are well pleased—at that point, if that comes through in words, in attitude, in physical affirmation, in kisses and hugs and embraces, maybe a letter, a phone call. Everybody goes through self-doubt, and I believe God uses our fathers.
Crawford, I want you to just take a moment right now and speak to that man who hasn’t had that father, who hasn’t had that authority figure in his life to approve of them. What would you say to that man?
Crawford: I would say three things. Number one: You’ve got the greatest father in the world, God. If you have a vital relationship with Him, by repenting of your sin and embracing Christ as your Savior and Lord, He will father you. David said, “When my mother and father forsake me, then, the Lord will take me up.” God has given you those tender words in the Scriptures that you’re fearfully and wonderfully made. So, I would run to embrace that.
Secondly, I would fall on my knees before God, and say—and cry out to Him and tell Him, “I haven’t had a father. I haven’t had someone to affirm me. In fact, I’m angry with my earthly father for walking out on me. I’m angry because of the abuse. Would You touch my heart, and would You bring people into my life?”
Then, thirdly, become aggressive initiators. Go find somebody! Don’t just sit around and sulk and sour. Go find an older man in your church and say, “I’ve got some gaps in my life, and I need you to help me work through some areas of my life. Let me just share my story. Would you pray for me? Would you meet with me and hold me accountable?”
Bob: Yes, I don’t know how many of our listeners have got a group of guys like that, that they get with on a regular basis; but every man ought to have that small group. I’m not talking about a formal small group. I’m talking about the guys who you’re going to do life with, who you’re going to sharpen iron with.
I got to think that on Saturday, when we’re together in Chicago for the National Men’s Simulcast that we’re hosting—Crawford, you’re going to be speaking. Dennis, you’re going to speak—Robert Lewis, James MacDonald. I’ve got to think that the guys who are showing up there in Chicago and the guys who are showing up in churches all around the country for this event—a lot of them are going to be there with their brothers, the guys that they are walking with; but there may be some guys who show up and they don’t have that group of guys—that they’re locked arms and locked shoulders with. You need that. We all need that, as guys.
In fact, some of the material we are putting together—the video series and the video event that are all based on material from Dennis’ book, Stepping Up. Crawford, you are a part of that video event and that video series. This is all designed to help men understand what God’s Word has to say about being men and, then, help them connect with other guys to walk the journey with.
Go to our website at FamilyLifeToday.com if you’d like more information about Dennis’ book, about some of the video resources that we are developing now that are going to be out later this fall, or about this Saturday’s event—the National Men’s Simulcast, with Crawford Loritts, Dennis Rainey, James MacDonald, and Robert Lewis.
If you’d like to attend the event, there may be a church in your area that is hosting, where you could get a group of guys and go together and be a part of this National Men’s Simulcast. Again, it’s this Saturday morning 9 to 1 Eastern time, 8 to noon Central time. Again, more information about all the time zones and how all that’s working can be found online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or if you have any questions, give us a call at 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
Let me also mention—this week, we’re making available to the folks who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, with a donation, a copy of a CD message from Dennis about stepping up to manhood and a message from your wife Barbara about what a wife can do to help her husband step up and be the man that God has called him to be. Those CDs are our way of saying, “Thank you,” to those of you, who not only listen to FamilyLife Today, but who make this program possible.
When you make an occasional donation or those of you who are Legacy Partners—make a monthly donation to help support us—you help cover the cost of producing and syndicating this program on this station and around the world, on the internet. We appreciate that partnership. Again, we’d love to send you this thank-you gift when you make a donation this week to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the orange button that says, “I CARE”. Make your online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make a donation over the phone. If you make your donation over the phone, be sure to ask for the CDs from Dennis and Barbara. We’ll be happy to get those out to you.
We want to encourage you to be back with us tomorrow when we’re going to continue our conversation with Crawford Loritts about the power of a dad—the power of a man in the life of his son. Hope you can join 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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