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As parents, our job is to make sure our children grow into responsible adults. Dru Joyce II and Ron Deal share different character traits to instill in your children and some helpful ways to teach them.
Michelle: When you are faced with a difficult decision/a leap of faith, do you let your kids in on the details? Ron Deal says that’s one of the best things that a parent can do.
Ron: That is a huge testimony to how faith connects to life in a very real way. Then, everybody is on board that there are risks involved; everybody is on board that there is a trust in God that’s involved in this and that we’re figuring it out as we go: “There is no map; we just know the next step in front of us, and we’re walking with God.” That leaves an impression.
Michelle: Transparent parenting—that’s tough—so is leading your family spiritually. We’re going to talk about being a role model to your kids on this edition of FamilyLife This Week.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. We’ve been talking a lot about parenting this last month. We’ve been talking about how to form character in our kids, how to nurture identity, helping them through tough transitions; and last week, we even talked about the significance of singing with our kids. Parents have a lot of influence in their kids’ lives. Sometimes, it’s not just the: “Do this,” and “Don’t do that”; but it’s the leading by example that speaks volumes.
My friend and colleague, Ron Deal, joins me today. Ron is the director of our stepfamily ministry here called FamilyLife Blended®. He also has over 25 years in family counseling. Ron and his wife Nan have three boys.
Ron, it is always a treat to have you on the weekend show; so thanks for joining me.
Ron: Well, thank you, Michelle. I enjoy working with you.
Michelle: I usually have you on around the topic of stepfamily, and we’ll touch on that a little bit later on today; but I wanted to talk about how parents influence their kids in several key areas.
Do you follow basketball at all?
Michelle: So you know the name LeBron James.
Ron: Yes, I do. [Laughter] Anybody who knows basketball knows that name.
Michelle: And probably anybody who doesn’t know basketball—
Michelle: —knows that name. [Laughter]
Michelle: Well, there was a man, who was his very first basketball coach by the name of Dru Joyce. Dru had considerable influence in LeBron’s life and, actually, in the lives of many other young men; he was a role model. He built his basketball program around seven key values. He just breathed life into the young men that he worked with.
I mentioned to you I wanted to play an audio clip of an interview that Dru Joyce had with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine; then we’re going to talk about it.
Michelle: So here’s Dru.
[Previous FamilyLife Today® Broadcast]
Dru: Let me say it this way—when I became the head coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary, I was reading to try to become the best coach I could be. I was reading a basketball publication—I can’t even remember the name of it—it was a Christian man, who’d written an article. He’s from a small college in the Northwest—I don’t even remember the name—but what he said in that article really resonated with me.
He had seven principles that he founded his program on: they were unity, discipline, thankfulness, servant-hood, integrity, passion, and the seventh is humility. He talked about those seven principles. I said, “Wow, he’s talking to me!” That’s what I wanted to found my program around. If I can get a young man, who comes in the door as a freshman, to become those seven characteristics/come to accept those values, then I feel like I’ve made an impact:
—that they can understand that they are part of something bigger than themselves,
—that they have humility to recognize that their talents are God-given and the fame is man-given. As Coach John Wooden would say, “Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
—that they need to have discipline.
—they need to be thankful for all the things they’ve been given. Sometimes, the kids today/they have an attitude of entitlement, especially young men, who feel like they’re great at something. I want them to understand: “You need to be thankful just that you have the opportunity to play this game, let alone to be good at it,”
—that they need to serve one another. They say, “How do you serve?” I tell my guys, as they’re going out onto the court, “Anyone can be great; all you have to do is serve.” I tell them, before they go out: “Be great today; serve your teammates.”
—they have some integrity about themselves—not only that they talk the talk, but they walk the walk.
—and that they have passion. I think that so many things in life we just go through passionless; there’s no fire about it. You need to have some fire about whatever it is you’re doing.
I’m hoping, in three years—if I can have a young man understand and inherit those characteristics—then maybe, just maybe, we have done something right.
Michelle: That’s Dru Joyce talking about the seven key principles that he founded his basketball program on and how he mentored many young men. Do you remember them, Ron? I’m giving you a quiz here.
Ron: Yes; let me see what I get: passion, have discipline, humility, serve—yes, I lost the other ones.
Michelle: Integrity, thankfulness. Is there one of those seven key elements that sort of rise to the top?
Ron: Wow! You know, I think in my role, as a dad, I want to do all of those and more; right? I don’t know that necessarily that one rises to the top over the others in terms of its importance. I think to create well-rounded kids or that become well-rounded adults, we want to try to put as many of those in them as we can. I’m attracted to the one about humility.
Michelle: That’s a hard one.
Ron: It is. By the way, it’s kind of paradoxical—as a parent, or leader, or mentor/whatever your role is with a child—it’s to display humility; because I think we get caught up, as parents, in that idea of being the authority as if being the authority means we have the final say: “We talk; you listen.”
Ron: Somehow, that means we can’t come off the high authority throne and come down and be real with our children. I think being humble about who we are, and real, and vulnerable with our children teaches them so much; because what it does is—it says: “I need God,” “I need His presence in my life,” “I have more to learn,” I make mistakes; I can own my mistakes,”—what that says is we are all in process, and we all need God, [and] we all need forgiveness. That shows our children how to do the same thing in their lives—how to admit their faults—and not feel like: “Oh, I made a mistake; therefore, I’m bad.”
See, when I say, “I made a mistake; I’m learning,” I’m demonstrating to my children that I don’t have to be ashamed of every mistake that I make/that, somehow, who I am is not a result of what I do.
Michelle: I also want to clarify; because I’m sitting here, going, “This isn’t something that you’re just living in front of your kids. You’re/this is your life.”
Ron: Oh, yes; it better be real. If it’s not genuine—it’s not: “I’m just doing this for show so my kids will pick up on it, and I’ll hope they’ll learn a lesson from it,”—no, no, no—it’s: “I just need to live this way genuinely before the Lord and in life.” Then they will witness that; and that is what will help it stick, I think, for them.
Michelle: One other point that Dru had made was the discipline. I have watched a lot of people—I don’t have kids; I’m not married; don’t have kids—but I have watched a lot of people just discipline their kids the behavior modification route. When you bring discipline in, are we talking about punishment; or are we talking about something else?
Michelle: How big/is there a broader scope of discipline?
Ron: Yes, we have problems with this word, “discipline”; it means so many things. Dru might have been referring to discipline as in a work ethic on the basketball court: “You work hard,” “You learn your craft,” “You apply yourself toward the skill of basketball,”—right?—“gaining discipline/have discipline as you play the game.”
That is something we want to teach our kids: “ Have discipline in how you do your schoolwork,” and “…how you go about the activities you are involved in,” and “…applying yourself toward college,”—whatever.
But then there are the other meanings of the word, “discipline.” We often say “discipline” when we mean “punishment,”—like, the verb, discipline—“We’re going to discipline our children.” Really, what we mean there is: “Apply a consequence, some sort of punishment, some sort of—
Ron: —sting; because we’re trying to shape their behavior and their character.
I think the broad word, “discipline,” comes from “disciple,” from a biblical standpoint.
Ron: It’s really about growing as a follower of Jesus Christ. The big picture in parenting is: “Yes, we’re trying to shape our children to be more like Jesus: to embrace who He was, and adopt His way of life, and believe and trust on Him.” Sometimes, we have to get out the verb, discipline/punishment, in order to shape their behavior—right?—
Ron: —and try to modify that a little bit. We’re not just going, Michelle, for behavior modification; we’re going for heart modification. We should always be aware that: “Yes, we are changing the outside, but we are also trying to change the inside,”—right?—“not just the outside.” Sometimes, parents just clamp down on external behavior—
Ron: —and don’t ever shape the internal. If we’re doing both external and internal shaping, we are doing discipleship.
Michelle: That’s true.
Now, in disciplining, where is it that parents usually blow it?
Ron: Oh, wow! Good question. I think for some, it is a focus on the external behavior/just the externals. For example, one of the big conversations we have around corporeal punishment and spanking—I am quick to say, “We spanked our kids,”—but we did it very little. We saved it for when we needed it; because I’m well aware that spanking changes external behavior quickly, but doesn’t do anything, necessarily, to change the heart; right?
That’s/if you’re just focused on changing the externals, you can get that done: you can be angry and get that done; you can be overbearing and get that done—and all you will do is alienate your children from your heart, and from your belief system, from your values—because, soon, they are like: “I don’t want anything that matters to you; because if that’s who you are because of that, I don’t want any part of it.” We can undo ourselves by focusing too much on the externals.
At the same time, I think another thing that people do is: the other extreme is getting passive as parents—often, it’s/we feel sorry for our kids; or we want to be their best friend; we don’t ever want to be, you know, somebody that they view as against them—as if, somehow, punishment is against your child; it’s for your child—
Ron: —it’s [not] either being too strict or being too soft.
Michelle: How do we move from being too soft? I mean, what are some of those steps from being passive to being more of an active, really, role model in influencing our kids for the better?
Ron: You know what I find, with a lot of people, who are passive?—is they do know better. They can even articulate: “Yes, I know; I went soft on that,” “Yes, I know I said you were grounded for three days, and I let him out in an hour,” “Yes, I know I should have said something about that, but I just/I thought I’d let it go.” They know better than they do.
What they have to do is ask themselves: “Why don’t I follow through? What keeps me from doing what I know?” Often, it’s some sort of anxiety or fear: “I have a concern; I don’t want to alienate my child. I don’t want to be like my dad, who went over the top; and he got angry. I was always afraid of him. I don’t want to be that guy, and I do nothing,” “I don’t know what it is.”
It can be as different as many of individuals that practice that; but they need to ask themselves: “What holds me back?” “What do I do now with that fear?”—“I have to walk through it; otherwise, I will continue to be paralyzed and passive. That’s not serving my child well.”
Michelle: Great points, Ron. We’re going to actually hear more from you and, also, from Dru Joyce when we come back from the break. To start off our break, actually, is Ron Deal’s FamilyLife Blended. [Laughter]
Ron: Great; let’s hear it.
[Radio Station Break]
Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. I am here in the studio with Ron Deal. Welcome back, Ron.
Ron: Thank you.
Michelle: Thanks for joining me. You are—what?—a new author again?!
Ron: Yes; book number six, Daily Encouragement for the Smart Stepfamily.
Michelle: Very cool. What sets this apart from The Smart Stepfamily, which is one of your books?
Ron: That’s right. This is a devotional book for couples, 365-devotionals that take a minute or less. If you don’t have a minute,—
Michelle: —a minute or less—
Ron: —you are way too busy—one minute or less. Couples can read this, close with a little prayer, and just get centered on what will move their family forward over time.
Michelle: That’s very cool.
Ron: Yes, we’re excited.
Ron: Thank you.
Michelle: We’ve been talking about parenting and about being role models. We heard a clip earlier from Dru Joyce. Well, we have another clip from Dru Joyce, and it’s about a significant time in his life when he had to lead his family and listen to where God was really taking him. He had to make a significant choice; it took a big step of faith.
Here’s Dru answering Dennis Rainey’s most famous question; and that is, “What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?”
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Dru: The most courageous thing that I’ve done—and I say I; but it’s really we, my wife and I—is after that championship year. I had been in corporate America for 25 years. My company tolerated—they didn’t like the fact that I was a high school basketball coach—because I was doing it after hours; I wasn’t missing work.
Dennis: So you coached the national championship, part time?
Dru: Yes; yes. So after that, they kind of put me out to pasture. I was calling on a major account in the Midwest—$15 million account—they were going to move me to an account in New York that had been in bankruptcy twice. I kind of got the message that: “You need to focus on something else.”
At that time, my youngest son was just about to enter high school. When they offered me to take the job to go into New York—drive up to Syracuse, New York, from Akron once a week—I said, “Yes.” I left that meeting, and I called my wife; I said, “My mouth said, ‘Yes’; but my heart’s saying, ‘No.’” I went home, and we talked about it. Honestly, we cried about it and decided that—[emotional] excuse me—that my heart wasn’t in it anymore.
At the end of my day, I’d always ask myself from that sales job—and I was very appreciative of what it had afforded my family—but I had to ask myself, “What have I done that really mattered?” But when I got to that basketball court and that gym with those guys, I just knew that was where I was supposed to be. As I said, we cried about it. I woke up the next morning and I said, “I’m going to leave.”
We’re Christians. We always say we believe in God, but it was kind of easy to believe in God—I had a paycheck every other week and a secure job, and I’m living a very nice existence—but I said that I wanted to do this, so we started our faith walk. We walked away from a job in corporate America. I had no clue what I was going to do. We still had a house note; we had a young son, who was just a freshman in high school; my son, Dru, was a freshman, just finishing his freshman year in college.
I don’t think there’s enough time to share; but God really impacted that decision, and He honored it. We recognize now—my wife and I—what savings are about. I did get a buy-out from the company; I was very thankful for that; it helped us through nine months. We lost some money, trying to do different things that first year, and trying to figure out where to go, and what I was going to do.
Over time, though, the Lord gave me an opportunity to build the business that I’ve now built around basketball. He’s blessed it beyond my wildest dreams. Like this year, there will be over 600 teams that we’re bringing to Akron for a travel team tournament. This will generate something like $4 million for the Akron/greater Akron community over the weekend. It affords my wife and me our livelihood for a year. I’m able to coach and do what I believe God has purposed me to do.
Michelle: Dru Joyce answering the question/Dennis Rainey’s favorite question; that is, “What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?”
As we’re talking about mentoring and parenting by example, I can’t help but wonder what Dru’s freshman son thought of his dad taking this humongous, big leap of faith. Obviously—just as you and I have talked about today, Ron—is that our kids are watching us; they are watching us and what we do. They are modeling our behavior. Taking a big leap of faith like that, it’s got to have some risks involved to our kids.
Ron: Yes, it does; but they are watching, and they are seeing faith in action. In FamilyLife’s®Art of Parenting® video curriculum, I make the comment that part of our job, as parents, is to connect faith to life. We make a big mistake when we live our faith, but don’t make obvious connections in front of our kids about how that impacts how we live; because otherwise, faith is something you do on Sunday morning, and then you leave it there, and you go home.
But for him—and I don’t know if Dru did this or not—but for him to talk out loud in his home, not only with his wife as they are trying to make decisions; but once they have made those decisions, in front of his kids—“Now, kids, this is what we’re going to do. We’re trusting the Lord, and this is what it is—here is what we thought through about—and here is why we decided to do what we’re doing. Here’s the faith we’re putting in God about this choice.” That is a huge testimony to how faith connects to life in a very real way.
Then everybody is on board that there are risks involved; everybody is on board that there is a trust in God that’s involved in this, and that we’re figuring it out as we go; and there is no map. I mean, that’s what trust is: “There is no map; we just know the next step in front of us, and we’re walking with God.” That leads an impression; right? I mean, that sort of thing, over time, witnessed by children has to show them that: “Not only is faith a real thing, but it’s real to my parents. That helps me know what I am choosing if I decide to make it real to me.”
Michelle: Well, and it feels a lot like what we talked about before the break, and that was humility—living out humility—because that’s what you are doing: is you are living out that humility in faith and in trust.
Ron: Yes, and I would say we’re picking up some of those other qualities: passion/he’s showing that he has passion for the Lord, and the trust that he has in that, and passion for what he wants to do and the dreams that he has for this new career; right? He showing discipline in how they are going about it. He is demonstrating how they’ve counted the cost in the steps that they are taking.
I mean, a number of those character qualities are imbedded in this whole journey that the family gets to do together; and the kids get to be eye-witnesses to it. That’s what is so powerful.
Michelle: What is something courageous that you’ve done that your kids have learned from?
Ron: Oh! First of all, I would say being a parent, just in general, is one of the most courageous things I think any of us could do. The idea that this little soul is depending on me ought to frighten every one of us; alright?
Ron: Living that life courageously is sobering, but it’s also a privilege. I think one specific thing that I’ve done is walk through some painful, challenging times in our family’s life, and tried to live it in a very real and genuine way in front of my children, and invite them into that journey with me. I think times of pain, and heartache, and discouragement when you question God—
Ron: —to live that out in front of your children in a way that shows how you are; and at the same time, pursuing God, even in your doubts—that takes a lot of courage; because there is this little fear in the back of your mind that says, “What if they pick up more on my doubt than they do on my faith?”
Michelle: I hear “transparency.”
Michelle: A big—
Michelle: —portion of parenting is being transparent.
Ron: You’ve got to put your ego aside. You’ve got to say, “Nope! This is real. I’m not perfect, and I don’t want my kids thinking I’m perfect. I better show them I’m imperfect: ‘I have doubt,’ and ‘I struggle in temptation and sin and make mistakes,’ and ‘I learn. I fall on the grace of God, just like you are ten-year-old.’” [Laughter]
You know, I mean, that’s the cycle of life; right? I mean, we,—
Michelle: Yes, it is.
Ron: —as parents, we are living that out with our God and with each other. Then our kids are rippling that right back with us. In some strange way, we are representing God to them. If we’re not real about ourselves in that capacity, then we become somebody impossible for our children to relate to.
Ron: We don’t want that.
Michelle: Well, Ron, I hate to say this; but we have come to the end of our time/our allotted time today, but I have so enjoyed having you on and talking about parenting and helping us through just how to be a role model to our kids and how important that is and significant that is.
I’ll have you on very soon to talk about your latest book, The Daily Encouragement for the Smart Stepfamily; and of course, people can go to your website, FamilyLifeBlended.com. Hey, also, you can go to our website, FamilyLifeThisWeek.com, for more information on the Art of Parenting, which is FamilyLife’s latest resource for parents on how to help you parent. It’s actually one of the biggest initiatives that FamilyLife has had in quite a while. If you’re struggling in parenting, or you have parenting down, it’s going to be a great resource. Check it out: FamilyLifeThisWeek.com.
Hey, next week, we’re going to talk about working moms. I’m going to pick the brain of my good friend, Tracy Lane. I hope you can join us for that. Thanks to Dru Joyce. Thanks also to our president, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country. A big “Thank you!” today to our engineer, Keith Lynch; and thanks to our producers, Phil Krause and Marques Holt. Justin Adams is our mastering engineer, and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.
Our program is a production of FamilyLife Today, and our mission is to effectively develop godly families who change the world one home at a time.
I’m Michelle Hill, inviting you to join us again next time for another edition of FamilyLife This Week.
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