The Huge Job of Fathering
About the Guest
Does your son know how to treat a woman, or how to choose a mate? Steve Farrar, author of Anchor Man and founder of Men's Leadership Ministries, shares more coaching tips for dads.
Steve FarrarSteve Farrar is the founder and chairman of Men's Leadership Ministries. A graduate of California State University, Fullerton, with a Master's degree from Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, he also has an earned a doctorate from Dallas Theological Seminary. Steve authored the best-selling book, Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family and has since written fifteen other books. He is a frequent speaker at conferences, for Promise Keepers and at many other events nationwide. Steve and his wife,...more
Steve Farrar, founder of Men’s Leadership Ministries, shares more coaching tips for dads.
The Huge Job of Fathering
Bob: Well, ladies and gentlemen, what an unbelievable finish to an unbelievable game. After being completely dominated by their children in the first half of this game, the parents, under the superb tutelage of Coach Steve Farrar fought their way back and on the last play of the game tied up the score with their children, sending this game into overtime. That means that each team will leave the field for a few minutes for additional coaching tips, and let's go down right now to our man on the field, that would be Dennis Rainey. Dennis, are you there?
Dennis: I'm there, Bob. It's been an exciting game, you know, we were really down at half-time. Those listeners who were with us yesterday know that the children, they had us mugged. They had the dads …
Bob: … that's right, Dennis. We're going back in the locker room …
Dennis: … we're going to go back to the locker room with Coach Farrar. We had so many dads call yesterday saying, "Hey, man, you only gave us a dozen or so of those coaching tips."
Bob: But those coaching tips turned the game around.
Bob: We want our listeners to know it's sudden death. We don't settle for a tie here. We need a victory.
Dennis: We need a victory. It's sudden death, and the dads have got to lead the family team to victory. So it's back to the locker room with Coach Vince Lombardi – I mean – Coach Steve Farrar, author of "Point Man" and also a new book that Steve has written called "Anchor Man" – how a father can anchor his family in Christ for the next 100 years. You know, that's a good book to take into the locker room, Bob, to talk about how you can pull out an overtime victory.
Bob: Well, Coach, you've got us to the point where we tied it up in regulation. We're back on your playbook at page 62, and we're going through the coaching tips. Have you got some more for us today?
Dennis: Well, there's 50 here, Bob. He's got plenty more, I promise you.
Steve: We'll be here for three weeks.
Dennis: This will be a triple overtime game.
Steve: You know, another tip for kids, and you've got to start early with this, because it takes them a long time, is coach them to do a job right the first time. If you're taking out the trash, take it out right. If you're picking up your room, pick it up right. I just went through this before I came up here, with my 17-year-old. He got it 97 percent done, but 3 percent – and I'm thinking, "How long is this going to take." But, you know, he'll get it, he'll get it. But teach him to do the job right the very first time around.
Coach them to share their victories, their joys, their sorrows, their defeats, their hurts with you. And the way you do that is by listening. You know, David said, "I love the Lord because He hears my voice."
Bob: And we tend to be, as dads, lecturers. We tend to think our job is to fix it and give you the answer and move on, rather than to hear what you're going through.
Steve: Yeah, and there's a part where they need some fixing, they need some coaching, but they need an open heart. They need to know they can get inside. I've said to guys at our conferences – your kids, when they hit adolescence, are either going to go to their peers and together, with their peers, critique you and your wife. Or when your kids hit adolescence, they're going to go to you and your wife and, together with their parents, they're going to critique their peers.
Now, what we want to have happen is for our kids to come to us and critique the peers. How do you ensure that will happen? By listening to them when they're young, by having an open-door policy.
Dennis: And the way you end up listening to them is you pursue them. It's a mistake if a parent thinks a teenager is really going to pursue them during the most self-centered time of their entire lives. A teenager is very self-absorbed, and so a father has got to realize that if you're going to listen, you've not only got to be there, which means we've got to be careful about the number of hours we work. We talked about that on yesterday's broadcast. But we've got to be all there, and you've got to be pursuing them around the issues they're facing and, as you ask questions and you get an answer, you don't just take the answer for face value. Dads are the worst at this. I mean, we're notorious for the two-minute answer. We don't give the Technicolor, full report of what took place. We'd rather boil it down to its essence, and that bites us when it comes to a teenager.
What's another coaching tip?
Steve: You know, before I give one, Dennis, I have to tell you something that's very interesting. I wrote this book a year and a half ago, and as I was flying up here this morning to meet with you guys and be on the broadcast, I was rereading this book that I had written, and I was going through these coaching tips, and I have to tell you, this morning I was convicted about several areas out of my own book, where in the last three to four months I've dropped the ball. And just as you were sitting here talking about listening and talking about pursuing, I've been finishing another book. And so my evenings have been tight. You know what? I haven't, over the last couple of months, spent the time with my boys in the evening that I should have.
So it's kind of ironic. I'm sitting here, you know, offering coaching tips to people.
Dennis: It happens all the time, Steve, when you're behind the microphone.
Steve: It happens – listen –
Dennis: Whether it's your stuff or somebody else's stuff, you get a reminder. I mean …
Steve: … it's weird, though, to read your own stuff and be convicted. You know what I'm saying? Gee, who is this guy? Well, I'm …
Dennis: … that's exactly right.
Steve: But this is just real life and you know what? I need to be reminded of these things, because fathering is a huge job. It's like learning to ride a bike. How do you do – you find balance by losing it. So you go too far to the left, then you go to the right, and then somewhere you're going to find the balance.
Dennis: And just be encouraged – if there's a dad listening right now who is feeling like I'm really out of balance here – just be encouraged that all of us get out of balance, and the key is, get back up again. There aren't any perfect fathers. Nobody's done it right. There's only one who has a capital "F" whose name is Father who is perfect from the start all the way to eternity.
Bob: Well, the example we've always heard is that the guys who hit the most homeruns are the guys who strike out the most. If you want to hit the homeruns, you've got to take your at-bats, and you've got to swing and get a lot of strikes along the way.
Dennis: I tell you, we're all pontificating here. The game – the overtime is about to …
Bob: … the clock is ticking …
Dennis: … it is ticking, Steve.
Steve: Here is a big one for all of us – coach them to do what's right when no one else is around, because Jesus is always around. And Jesus will reward them because they have character. There's a great Proverb – Proverb 15, verse 3 says, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place watching the evil and the good." Someone asked my youngest boy, Josh, a few months ago about character. I just happened to be there, and, I have to tell you, it was one of those moments where I was very grateful to the Lord. They asked me about character and what it was, and Josh said to them, he said, "Well, there's a difference between character and reputation. Reputation is what people think you are. Character is what you are when no one else is around." And I thought, "Thank you, Lord, that he picked that up."
Dennis: You know, Steve, and it's good that you put this in terms of a coach, because we can't control our children to do what's right always. You know, as they grow up, they have to make it their own choice. But we can be a coach, and what's a coach doing? When the running back has got the ball and running down the sidelines toward the end zone, he's yelling his fool head off – "Keep going, keep going, I'm for you, I'm cheering you on." And that's what dads need to do with their kids.
In fact, I was reminded this weekend in a meeting we had with two other parents. This dad, his gift is encouragement and, you know, I'm looking at a set of circumstances with my child through my eyes. This dad is looking at it through his eyes. My eyes may be to think about the standards and calling young people to high standards. This dad's strength and spiritual gift he has is encouragement and cheering that child on. And you know what? I think we both left that meeting a set of two parents there, both raising standards and also raising encouragement, and a coach is an encourager. He's cheering that child on when he makes a right choice, because it's tough to be a teenager today, and they need to know you're for them, you recognize their right choice, and you're thrilled that they're growing up.
Steve: I remember the FamilyLife conference and the section on Dad. There was a phrase in there, "Praise them for their character. When you see those character choices being made." I mean, we get excited when our kids learn to hit a curve ball, but when they hit a moral curve ball, we need to jump up and just go crazy.
Dennis: You're exactly right.
Steve: Here's another one – coach them not to lie before they get into the habit. And the other thing about lying is – make the consequences for lying severe. Lying will destroy your lives. Lying is a corrosive. What does lying do? It destroys trust.
Bob: You know, I heard someone say once, and I thought this was interesting – they said if it's hard for someone to lie, it's hard for them to do any kind of sin. If it's easy for them to lie, then they can sin and think, "I can cover that up." But if it's hard to lie, there's that natural checkpoint that if I'm caught, I have to tell the truth, and that's one of those restrainers that keeps us from sin.
Dennis: The core of lying is deceit, and wrapped all around deceit is hiding. It's hiding the truth or hiding from the truth or denying the truth, and if we don't teach our children to embrace the truth, we're training them, in my opinion, to grow up to be maybe successful basketball players, football players, baseball players, businessmen, maybe businesswomen but, you know, you've got to train, at the very core, that character issue. And, you know, there's a couple of times in a child's life when this is really important. We've found that children go through a lying phase somewhere around four or five and then again 9, 10, 11 – just around some major change points, and it's very important that you work hard, just as you've coached us here, Coach Farrar, to really nip that lying in the bud before – before it becomes a habit.
Steve: And, Dennis, I think there is one other phase that can come about, and that's around the 16-year-old phase, because when they get their driver's license, and they want the freedom, sometimes – we've had this happen in our home – we find out there's hedging on the truth because they think if they tell the whole truth they're not going to be able to do what they want to do. So all the facts aren't given. That's what we've run into here recently that we're working on a little bit.
Bob: And, again, if the punishment for lying is severe, they understand that if I tell the truth, I'll get in trouble, if I cover it, I'll get in a lot of trouble. They'll take their medicine, often, at that point.
Steve: And, you know, the other thing we've got to let our kids know is, your sin will find you out. You cannot cover it. It will come out better for you – whenever we tell the truth, whenever we admit sin, whenever we quit covering up, we outflank the enemy. He doesn't have anything on me anymore when I tell the truth.
Bob: All right, Coach, back to the playbook here.
Steve: Coach them that some things are more important than sports – although sports are important, coach them some things are more important, like Sunday worship. It's amazing to me how many parents are caving on this issue. You know, hey, football is important, basketball – but let me tell you something – there are some things that are absolute priorities, and Dad needs to set the pace.
Bob: When you live in a major league town, and I know you live near a major league town, there are lots of folks who have made Sunday the day you go to the home games, and if church has to be sacrificed, well, you know, this is only a few times a year, right?
Steve: Well, and I just think we have to watch this, and you don't want to get hard-nosed and legalistic about it, but I think the thing that has to come across to our kids, there are certain things in life that are a priority, and we don't cave on those things.
Bob: Dennis, as a part of trying to put some Sabbath guidelines in place around our house, we've made Sunday a no-TV day – also a no-computer day. And it's hard when the big game is on on Sunday afternoon or on Sunday evening, to explain to a dad or to a son why you're not going to turn on the TV and watch the game, and it can begin to feel a little like legalism to him at that point, but you're really talking about what you value, aren't you?
Dennis: That's right. You're talking about an island of clarity in the midst of a week of busy-ness and hurriedness, and I think part of the reason why we're so exhausted all the time, and so frantic, is we don't have that island. We don't ever unplug all of our electronic gadgetry and allow our souls to catch up with our bodies. We're so busy, and what you're talking about, Bob, is defining a conviction around one of God's commandments. And people can easily throw stones at you for your conviction. My question would be – what's your conviction then? How is it different for you? What are you going to do at your house on Sunday that's any different than the guy next door who doesn't proclaim to be a follower of Jesus Christ?
Bob: You don't have to decide what Dennis has decided or what Bob's decided or what Steve's decided – but decide something, right?
Steve: Well, and that's what the Book of Romans talks about. You know, one man can eat meat offered to idols, another guy can't. One guy regards one day above another. So Dennis has a conviction for his day, I have a conviction. I don't put my conviction on Dennis; he doesn't put—but, as Dennis said, you've got to have a conviction, and you live it out. In areas where the Scripture isn't black and white, we've got to come up with these things.
Bob: All right, back to sports here.
Dennis: You know, I'm looking at the clock and, Coach Farrar, I need five of the best coaching tips left on this list, because we're about to go out on the field, and it's sudden death. I mean, whoever scores first is going to win the big game.
Steve: All right, here's a biggie – coach them to say no to movies that their friends, even their Christian friends, are going to. That's tough. And I think it's – we fight this all the time – "Hey, Dad, can I go see – all the kids from the Christian school are going." Well, you know what? I read something called "Preview" that we get. It comes in the mail, it tells me what the content is of these different movies. We don't go to movies without reading "Preview." That's just our standard.
We've gotten to a point, I've had to say to my boys at certain times – "Listen, I can't help it if your Christian friends have lousy fathers, excuse me. Just because a guy can write a check to a Christian school doesn't mean he's doing his job. If he's not aware of what's – listen, I'd love for you to go see that movie, but I know what's in that movie, and I know that movie is going to do damage. Now, when you're 18, and you're out of here, you're going to make your own choices." But I think this is something where we can't allow other people to call the shots in our family. We've got to call the shots.
Dennis: And, you know, I want to find out who is doing the survey that these teenagers all tap into that says, "Everybody – everybody is going to see this." Because, in reality, no such survey exists, and there are a whole lot of Christian parents that aren't bowing their knee to all these different movies.
Bob: Okay, quick, quick, more tips, more tips.
Steve: Coach your son to be a gentleman. Coach him how to handle a relationship with a young lady. And, conversely, coach your daughter to be a lady. I remember Dennis would use the illustration about taking his daughter out on a date and going through the whole nine yards. He'd knock on the door, open the door, take her in the car. See, that's coaching. That's showing social graces.
Let me give you another one. Coach them that when you say no, you mean no. Here is this line – "If I have to tell you one more time." Well, why would you tell them one more time? You've said it.
Bob: What did the first time mean?
Steve: What did the first time mean? And, again, it's a matter of drawing lines, drawing parameters, and when you're consistent, they'll get the message.
Dennis: You know, there's a couple more, Steve, I've got to get you to cover here. It's coaching tip 40 and 41.
Steve: Forty is coach them to know what to look for in a husband. I think our daughters – here's what happens – when they hit 15, 16, these young men will start circling your house, and I use that term very carefully – like buzzards. These young men are going to want to come into your daughter's life and build relationships. Here is what happens. I think our daughters take the grid of their father's life, and the grid of their father's example, and every young man that comes through that grid – if he – if the guy comes into her life, and he is disrespectful to her, he's going to bounce off of the grid of your example.
One more, Bob, I think – I saw you coming – I saw you blindsiding me.
Dennis: He just put on his coach's hat there, he couldn't resist it.
Steve: That's right. I saw him coming after me, Dennis. If a guy takes them out and starts to take advances physically, he's going to bounce off the grid of the example of your life, and you'll probably put a contract out on the guy's life because you're a protector, but then when a young man comes in who knows Jesus Christ, respects her, he loves the Lord, he comes from a godly family – he's going to fit the grid, he's going to fit the model of what she should be looking for because she's lived with it for 18, 19, 20 years.
Bob: The other day I said to my oldest daughter, "Honey, when the time comes that you start looking at a young man as a prospective husband," I said, "What qualities that you've seen in me will you want him to have?" And she started listing a few, and I wasn't asking for personal affirmation, I was coaching here. And then I said, "What qualities have you seen in me that you'll hope he doesn't have?" And it sparked a great conversation around what we look for, what we do, and helped her thinking about what will be one of the most significant choices she'll ever make in her life.
Dennis: Okay, what about the young men – what should they look for in a wife?
Steve: Well, and I think we really need to talk to our guys about this. I remember being – Josh and I went to Chick-fil-A. We were grabbing a sandwich, and I said, just out of the blue, you know, I said, "So Josh, hey, you're 12. In 10 years you're going to be 22. You might find some gal when you're 22, it might be 24. What are you going to look for? What's your list? What are the things that are important to you?" And we just started talking. He said, "Well, you know, well, Dad, it's got to be somebody like Mom." I said, "Okay, well, tell me about Mom. What's most important about Mom?" He said, "Well, I mean, Mom really loves the Lord." I said, "That's right. That's got to be number one, then. What's another thing?" "Well, there's really got to be integrity there." "Yeah, all right, what's that?"
We just started going down the list. And then I think we can help them and say, "Let me tell you a trap. Some guys, all they can see is the outside beauty."
Dennis: Yeah, the packaging.
Steve: You know, "Oh, man, look, wah, wah – and let me tell you something, that lasts about three days, and then you're in this for 50 years." You've got to look on the inside, and you've got to find a gal that is committed to Jesus Christ, and you've got to find a gal that loves him with all her heart, because you're going to get in situations that there's going to be nobody else in the world you can turn to except her.
Dennis: I hear the bands playing out there. You've got to give them 47 quick, Coach. You've only got 30 seconds to give it to them. We've got to rush onto the field.
Steve: Coach them that Daddy will never, ever, ever leave Mommy, ever. If you give your kids that, you've given them 95 percent. You can forget most of the rest of these. You give them that, your kids are going to be more secure, more emotionally well adjusted than their peers, because they live in an environment of consistency and security. Give them that, guys. Don't go anywhere.
Bob: Let me ask you, just before we go back out on the field – you're looking at the game all across the country, you're talking to dads. Do we have a chance to win this game?
Steve: Yes, we have a chance. But you know what? We've always been in the minority, and we need to understand that. The majority has never been moral. There's always been a remnant. When they went into the Promised Land, they were surrounded by pagan cultures against God. They were called to build godly homes in the midst of that. That's what we're called to do and you know what? There is always hope. I can't go change the nation by myself. I'd change it in my family, I'd change it by relationships, I'd change it by following Christ, and God is doing this – there are millions of homes that are doing this. I take care of my family, God is looking at the big picture. There's all kinds of hope.
Dennis: I think what Steve is saying is this is not a home game. This game is on the road, and we're playing in front of a hostile crowd but you know what? You can win on the road if you've got a good game plan, and that's what men need to have in Steve's book, "Anchor Man."
Bob: We've got copies of the book available in our FamilyLife Resource Center. We also have copies of a book that you wrote, Coach, called "Growing a Spiritually Strong Family," and we're encouraging listeners this week to call in and get both books, and when you do we'll add, at no additional cost, either the CD audio or the cassette audio of this week's conversation with Coach Farrar and Coach Rainey. Ask for the free CDs or the free cassettes when you order Steve Farrar's book, "Anchor Man," and the book, "Growing a Spiritually Strong Family" by Dennis Rainey.
The number to call to place your order is 1-800-FLTODAY or go online at FamilyLife.com. There's information available on our website about the resources, and you can order online, if you'd like. Again, it's FamilyLife.com or if you're calling, it's toll-free at 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
Well, I don't know what you and your family have planned for the summer; whether you're making plans for a vacation, whether you're playing softball, or what you've got lined up this summer, but I am going to ask you to remember one thing in the midst of the summer schedule, and that is ministries like ours depend on donations from folks like you to keep going in the summer the same way we do the rest of the year. And, oftentimes, for programs like ours or "Focus on the Family" or for any of the programs you hear on this station, donations are down in the summer months. So if you can help us with a donation to keep FamilyLife Today strong during the summer, we would appreciate it. You can donate online at FamilyLife.com, you can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation, or you can write out a check and mail it to us, and I'll give you the mailing address, all right? It's FamilyLife Today, Box 7111, Little Rock, Arkansas, the zip is 72223. Again, it's FamilyLife Today at Post Office Box 7111, Little Rock, Arkansas, and the zip is 72223. Got it? All right.
Well, tomorrow we're going to continue to talk about things dads can do to make sure their families remain anchored in Christ, and we'll find out, Steve, what your dad did this morning to continue to anchor your family in Christ. I hope our listeners 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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