Legacy Minded Man
About the Guest
May 26, 1995 is a reset date for Joe Pellegrino. On that day at a Promise Keepers conference he committed himself to the Lord. He shares what he’s learned about following God’s better blueprint.
Legacy Minded Man
Bob: Joe Pellegrino says the impact of every person’s life is measured by the legacy that person leaves. No matter where you are today, your legacy can be reshaped.
Joe: I don’t care what your legacy is right now; I don’t care what’s been written today. It doesn’t mean that the same legacy cannot be changed dramatically and be transformed tomorrow into something that is absolutely powerful. I’ve seen it; I know it works—I’ve seen it in my own life!
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, October 22nd. Our host is Dennis Rainey; I'm Bob Lepine. What does it take to transform a legacy? We’ll talk today with Joe Pellegrino about that. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. [Speaking with a Jersey accent] So how you doing?
Dennis: You’ve already got the accent.
Bob: [With accent] I feel like I need to do a little of this for the show today.
Dennis: We’ve got a guy—
Bob: —[[With accent] from Jersey. We’ve got a guy from Jersey on the show, so I thought I would do my best Jersey. How am I doing?
Dennis: How’s he doing, Joe?
Joe: Oh man! Why do I have to put up with this? [Laughter]
Dennis: Because it’s FamilyLife Today! [Laughter]
Joe: That’s right.
Bob: [With accent] So how you doing?—how you doing?
Joe: I’m doing very well; very well.
Dennis: Okay; good.
Joe: Yous guys okay? [Laughter]
Dennis: That voice from Jersey is Joe Pellegrino, who is the founder of Legacy Minded Men. He’s written a book called Transformed: 7 Pillars of a Legacy Minded Man. He’s got a heart for helping men become all that God made them to be.
Joe, we were talking, before we came into the studio, just about how Promise Keepers was used in your life, back in the spring of 1995. Take us to that stadium and what was taking place in your life.
Joe: We were going on May 26-27, 1995, to RFK Stadium in Washington DC. I brought my brother-in-law and my business partners so that they could get saved.
Dennis: You brought them to get saved?
Joe: I brought them to get saved. What happened was—I got saved that day.
Bob: Well, now, take us back; because you’d been on a faith journey for a while.
Joe: Oh yes; you could say that; but like so many men, I was living a lie. I was not being transparent/authentic. I was involved in great sin—doing a lot of things wrong and justifying a lot in the name of Jesus—wrong!
I wanted to have my brother-in-law and my best friend go to get to find out who the Lord was. It was unbelievable how He broke me down; and from that day forward, Christ has transformed my life.
Bob: Did you grow up in a household where faith was any part of it?
Joe: I grew up in the Catholic church.
Joe: So every Sunday, we would go there. I’d feel good for an hour; I’d leave, and I didn’t [feel good any more].
Bob: You had some spiritual awareness, though, during your teen years and your young adult years.
Joe: I did not know who Jesus was.
Joe: I did not know that He was the Savior of the world—I did not know any of that. To be quite frank with you, Jesus was a curse word to me.
Dennis: Take us back to your life in your teenage years—what were they like?
Joe: I was very good in sports, but I was exceptionally good in baseball. I was the kid who never practiced, because I had the natural ability; so I was always better than the kids when I was young. But then, when you get in high school, you find out that: “You know what? Some of these other kids are good too.” Except the difference is—they practiced, and they passed me. It was my fault; I recognized all the lost opportunities I had. I really believe I could have been a ball player—you know, on a stage and playing centerfield for the Yankees, which was my dream.
Bob: In fact, you got a tryout with the Yankees.
Joe: I did. In 1984, I did try out for the New York Yankees—which was absolutely awesome—at the old Yankee stadium. It was fun—I’ll never forget my father’s face / how it all came about—but wow! It was an awesome day.
But lies were my native language. You see, when I was a kid, I wanted to be somebody; and I wanted to be accepted. Now, I had a good man for a father—he was a very good man—he just wasn’t a great teaching father. He used reverse psychology on me quite a bit. I needed to be affirmed when I was younger. When I wasn’t affirmed, I just affirmed myself—
—I affirmed myself by making up stories.
Dennis: You told that many lies?
Joe: Yes, sir.
Dennis: How did your father handle that?
Joe: You know what? It was like a hands-off kind of thing. I mean, I never was really disciplined as a child. It was like we had two different families—my three older sisters were eight years older, twelve years older, and fifteen years older. They were apparently raised differently than I was—at least, that’s what they tell me.
Dennis: So take us to that stadium at Promise Keepers—what hit you that day as you were sitting there?
Joe: I believe it was Joe Garlington—Pastor Joe Garlington from Pittsburgh. He was saying something and then he sang a song, Knowing You, Jesus. I remember just laying flat out on the field at RFK and just saying, “Lord, I can’t do this anymore.” I came back a changed man.
The fun part about that is Joe Garlington spoke for our ministry about four years ago. I had told him about it, and he ended the conference by singing me that song—
Dennis: Oh wow.
Joe: —which was really powerful.
Bob: What did your brother and your business associate think as they saw you laid out flat at RFK?
Joe: I honestly couldn’t—it was my brother-in-law—but honestly, I couldn’t tell you; because I was so just blown away at what God had done in my life. All the things that God gave me as gifts, that I had used against Him, I was now flipping the switch and using them for Him. That’s the way I wanted to go forward.
I recognized that changes needed to be made in my life. The most important change was who I surrounded myself with—the inner circle. You know, 1 Corinthians 15:33 says: “Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character.” If that’s true, then the opposite is also true—good company promotes good character—so I started surrounding myself with men that were going to lift me up.
Bob: And that was a pivotal point in your life; but it also changed how you think about manhood, and about purpose, and what we’re here for.
Joe: Yes; that all came years later. This was just about being a believer now and understanding that. I remember coming back from Promise Keepers and going to my home church.
We got in this big circle. It was the first time I was going to be involved with corporate prayer. The guys were praying as we were going around, and my mind is just everywhere else except [prayer].
When it was over, I raised my hand and said, “Guys, I need to apologize.” “What do you need to apologize for?” “Well guys, as you’re talking, I’m thinking about everything else.” They said, “Do you think you’re unique?” That was the first time I recognized: “You know what? I’m not unique.” These are struggles that people have—men and women.
I think the challenge, specifically for men that I know, now—some 25 years later—is recognizing that we all are struggling with things. And so much of us have the same vein running through us, but we’re so ashamed to admit it. If we simply would share it—that’s why we believe in our conferences and do break-out sessions—because, at a break-out session, you get a bold man, who tells about the rocks on his table and the challenges that he’s facing. When he does, you can see another man in the group—their shoulders actually drop and they’re like: “It is safe here. Hey guys, this is what I’m going through.”
Bob: Joe, I don’t hear guys use the word, “poser,” much anymore.
Bob: But men are almost, instinctively, naturally posers.
Joe: Oh my goodness; absolutely—because how many times do you hear people say to a young man: “Be a man! Be a man!”? The problem is—we never tell them what a man is—a real man. They get a look at their father, or they get a look at Playboy, or they get a look at whatever; and that’s where they’re determining what a real man is. We’re not telling that: “It’s powerful to be a man,” / “It’s great to be a man”; but there is a lot of responsibility that goes with it.
So, therefore—you know, a poser? Yes; because we’re trying to go through life, and we’re trying to figure this out: “Is this what I’m supposed to be?” But no; authenticity and transparency are essential to being a real man of God—a legacy-minded man.
Dennis: And if a man’s going to be that kind of a man on a mission,—
Dennis: —he needs to know what his purpose is—
Joe: Yes; he does.
Dennis: —and where he’s headed.
Joe: Yes; he does.
Dennis: Speak to that if you would.
Joe: Well, I think before we get to purpose, I think we need to talk about identity.
I think identity is far more important at this point than purpose because identity is going to point us to purpose. So in the book, Transformed: 7 Pillars of a Legacy Minded Man, we outline—myself and my coauthor, Jack Redmond—outline seven pillars that I’ve learned, over the course of my life, that are—I believe they’re bedrock.
But in order for them to work—and this is very important—we need to build them on a proper foundation, because we know pillars are heavy. If they’re built on the sand, they’re going to fall. We need to make sure that the foundation that we put these pillars on is strong and stable; and therefore, that foundation is the foundation of Jesus Christ. If we’re not building on that, we’re building on sand. I don’t care how successful anybody is in life—that is building on sand—so therefore, we build on the rock-solid foundation.
When we get to the seven pillars, pillar number one is essential—it’s prayer. We recognize that prayer provides us with the ability to communicate with the Creator—the Creator of us! That’s unbelievable! It’s vertical, but it’s a two-way vertical. It’s not one-way that most people think; it’s a two-way—
—He opens the door to say: “Hey, communicate with Me; share with Me; talk with Me; and then, sit and listen for My voice.”
Dennis: You mention, in the book, that prayer scares a lot of men.
Joe: Yes, sir. As a matter of fact, I believe we put a big caution stamp on that chapter and said: “Hey, listen, gentlemen, if you get here, and you look at the word, ‘prayer,’ please don’t stop here,” because we know it scares people. Prayer is not about speaking words to an invisible creature—no! It is understanding that, if we recognize the power of prayer, it enables us to understand that prayer taps into a God who loves us / who wants to share His blessing with us.
Bob: Joe, you said the first time you were in a prayer circle with guys, praying out loud, your mind was going all kinds of places. Have you figured out how to engage in prayer at a different level? Can you coach a guy, who is saying: “I’ve tried to pray. I’m not good at it; it is intimidating”?
Joe: Yes; when we’re in a group—is that what you’re talking about?
Bob: Yes; what do we do?
Joe: So what I do is—I open my eyes. When I close my eyes, I’ll generally do the head shake—where something/a thought is coming into my mind and somebody is praying, and I shake it away like—in other words, “Change the channel here.” But when I open my eyes, I find I’m much more focused. Listen, let’s be real—the devil doesn’t want us to pray; he doesn’t want us to communicate—so opening my eyes always helps.
Bob: It’s interesting that you’d say that—and obviously, kind of counter-intuitive—because we’ve all been brought up, saying, “Bow your head; close your eyes…” But I think there’s something to the focus that can come with looking at the other guy, who’s praying, and paying attention, and nodding.
Dennis: I think one of the reasons why it’s so difficult to pray—and Joe points this out in his book—is prayer actually says, “There is a God, and He’s not me.” And this thing called prayer demands humility. It demands that we empty ourselves of ourselves and say: “I can’t fix it.
Joe: That’s right.
Dennis: “I don’t have the solution.
“I need help.” Because prayer, at its essence—Hebrews 11:6 talks about the person who comes to God must come to Him in faith, believing that He is, and that He is the one who rewards those who seek Him with faith.
Joe: Amen. Jeremiah 33:3—it says, “Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah was looking for answers; and God was saying, “Come to Me.” Are we any different than him? We need to go to Him, and that unlocks the power of who we are.
Bob: So when we start with a firm foundation—our life is anchored in Christ—
Bob: —we learn how to pray, how to walk with Him, how to communicate with Him—you’re saying it’s on that basis that we can now understand our identity.
Joe: Persona is discovering, through our relationship with a living God, who we really are; because that communication—which again / I’ll say again—is a two-way communication. It’s not one way; it is two-way, and it’s powerful. One of the greatest problems that I find, as I go around the country, is—men don’t know who they are.
We’re living in an identity crisis time. There’s an identity thief out there, and it’s not somebody trying to steal your—
Bob: —your credit cards.
Joe: It’s the devil, and he’s trying to steal who you are—
Joe: —and who you were created to be.
Bob: Talk about your own journey here—from the lying/cheating persona that you embraced, as a teenager, to the transformation that God did in your life. How have you come to understand who you are and understand your persona?
Joe: Well, the only way to understand who you are, again, is through a connection with God. He connects with us, also, through His Word; so, as you read the Word of God, it screams at you. I mean, I’m sure you guys are the same way—you could read a verse a hundred times; but on the one hundred-first time, it jumps off the page at you and slaps you in the face and says, “I’m here!” It teaches us who we are supposed to be.
So you want to study what it means to be a legacy-minded man. And for me, the legacy-minded verse is 1 Corinthians 16, verses13 and 14, which says: “Be alert. Stand firm in the faith.
“Be men of courage. Be strong. Do everything in love.”
And it’s the second part of that verse—that really, I like to focus on—which says, “Stand firm in the faith.” Here’s the problem with that statement—in order to stand firm in something, you need to absolutely know what you believe. Now, I know one thing as I go around—I ask the question “What do you believe?” Everybody can tell me what they believe; everybody has no problem telling me what they believe.
But when I do the follow-up question: “Why?”—that’s where the problem comes. I could tell you this—everybody listening to this show right now—your back is going to be up against the wall at one time or another. When you are squeezed, what’s going to come out of you is what’s really inside you. Don’t you want to know, in advance, what’s going to come out of you in those difficult times?
Know what you believe; know why you believe it—because we most likely are the creation of somebody else’s dreams or somebody else’s belief system—whether we’re children and we’re believing on what our parents believed, or if you’re a university student and you’re believing now on what your professors are telling you.
You need to understand who you are and what you believe. God will reveal to you exactly who He is to you through your communication with Him and through the Word of God, and He’ll reveal to you who you are in Him.
Dennis: You say in your book that character, along with attitude, are the keys to your persona. Explain what you mean by that.
Joe: Attitude is one of two divine words, I believe, in the English language; the other one is joy. The reason why attitude is a divine word is because—if you take the word, “attitude,”—spell it out on a piece of paper, and spread out the letters, and then you associate the numeric value for each letter, and you add it up—so for example, “A” is 1; “T” is 20—you add it up; it equals 100. To me, that’s a divine purpose; because you see, when we say, “I’m going to give 110 percent,”—that’s impossible! You cannot give
110 percent; you can give a maximum of 100 percent. However, you can give only 50 percent; you can give 70 percent.
So I believe that what we need to do is have an attitude that is focused on understanding that God has crafted us for a specific purpose and that we’re going to go and do the best we possibly can in our character, which means—when nobody’s looking, I’m going to be the man I am even in front of an audience. As I speak before people, I recognize that I have to be the same person when I’m home that I am right here; otherwise, there’s disconnect, and I am opening up the door for Satan to put his foot in and kick it wide open. I refuse to do that—I’ve screwed up enough in my life; I don’t want to do that again. I’m here because I want to leave a powerful and lasting legacy for generations to come. I want to be able to help men—point them to the exact same thing—to leave a powerful legacy.
And by the way, on that subject real quick—I don’t care what your legacy is right now; I don’t care what’s been written today. It doesn’t mean that the same legacy cannot be changed dramatically and be transformed tomorrow into something that is absolutely powerful.
I’ve seen it; I know it works—I’ve seen it in my own life!
Dennis: Describe your legacy and what it would have been before you placed your faith in Christ. Then, I want you to contrast it with what you think your legacy will be, based upon the past 23 years that you have invested in men and calling men to be legacy-minded men.
Joe: You know, Dennis, you’re asking a very difficult thing of me; because I absolutely hate thinking about the past. I just shudder at what would have happened if in some of the instances, where I could have passed away / I could have died, and what would have happened. Number one: I would have spent an eternity apart from God; but number two: what kind of legacy would I have left behind?
About three years ago, guys, it was a beautiful November day. I said: “You know what? I’ll go up in the attic.” I go up in the attic, and there was a bunch of junk. I kept every textbook from college. I don’t know why—I never studied when I was in school—but I kept these textbooks.
I had all my baseball magazines and everything. I said: “You know what? Rather than go through them up here, on my knees, I’m going to bring everything down.” I spread it out over the drive because, like I said, it was a beautiful day. And you know, it was kind of fun going through the past and looking through all my baseball stuff.
But then, in the midst of going through it, my joy turned to anger; because I found some things that I thought were long gone. I was determining what to keep and what not; and once I saw those, the decision was easy. I backed my car up—I threw everything into the back of that car. I went right down to the recycling and got rid of it. Now, you know what I’m talking about when I tell you some of the things I found. Some of the things I found I recognized, as I was driving back from the dump: “What would have happened if I died and as my boys”—who loved baseball—“would have been going through all this gold—would have found these things?” Now, I’ve shared with them about who I was—not everything—but I’ve shared with them who I was, so I don’t think it would have been a shock; but you know something?—when you actually see it, it makes it real.
I realized there was legacy in the attic. I started thinking about the power of the legacy in the attic and what we need to do is to recognize that: “Our attic could be a cell phone; it could be a computer; it could be what’s in the closet.” There are things that, when we leave, are going to speak boldly to our legacy. I know one thing—when I die, I don’t want anything about the old Joe; I want everything to be dead, because I died and now I’m risen again in Christ. That’s all I care about. I’m an imperfect man—an average Joe, if you will—but the reality is—I’m a man who recognizes the power/the sheer power of legacy and what it can do; because we, gentlemen, have gone from Father Knows Best in one generation to “Father knows nothing,” in the next. We have to change that.
Dennis: As you were talking, I just was thinking how your life is now really reflected in
1 Corinthians 16, verses 13 and 14.
I just want to restate it for a man—who is listening right now—or maybe that man’s wife or girlfriend.
Joe: Yes; yes.
Dennis: 1 Corinthians 16:13 and 14: “Be watchful,”—a man, who’s leaving a godly legacy, is on the alert. “Stand firm in the faith,”—it means he has one, and he does know what he believes.
Dennis: It says, “Act like men,”—not like boys—“Be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
There’s a lot of men who think that being a man means lording it over a woman—not truly caring for her soul / for her as a woman—may be abusive in speech/physically. We’re talking to men today who have some past that needs to be repented of, and they need to turn away from it and turn to Christ. What would you say to that man, right now, who’s listening?
Joe: Amen. I would say: “Do it now! Don’t wait!
“It is absolutely easy to transform your life by simply opening up your hands, and releasing it to the Lord, and letting Him take over. And as difficult as it is, gentlemen, to take your hands off the wheel, let me tell you something—it is freeing; because it allows you to take the seat over, relax a little bit, and recognize: ‘Lord, You’re in control. I don’t have to have this incredible burden on my life. You’re giving me the Guide Book / the Playbook to go through this life. Lord, would You do me one more favor?’ Ask Him to surround you with godly men, who are going to raise you up, lift you up, and hold you accountable; because too many men are not being held accountable for their actions today—that’s why we fall. Therefore, surround yourself with godly men, who are going to be there for you. It’s awesome!
Dennis: Get in the Book—and we’re speaking of the Bible—
Dennis: —and I’d encourage you to get a copy of Joe’s book, Transformed: 7 Pillars of a Legacy Minded Man.
Bob: There’s a lot of overlap—don’t you think?—between what Joe has written and what you wrote in your book, Stepping Up—what’s in the Stepping Up® video series. I mean—
Dennis: —it calls men up.
Dennis: It calls men to look forward and not look at the past and be captured by their past.
Bob: If our listeners have been through the Stepping Up video series, this would be a great follow-up for them to go through on their own, or with their sons, or with a men’s small group. If you’ve not yet been through Dennis’s book or the video series—the Stepping Up series—we’ve got information about that content and about Joe’s book, Transformed. All of it is available at our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. I think the overarching message of what you’ve heard today is: “Don’t be passive; but call one another, as men, to go deeper and to go farther in their relationship with Christ; and then, put some shoe leather to that.”
Again, find out more about the book, Transformed: 7 Pillars of a Legacy Minded Man, when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. There’s also information on the book, Stepping Up and the video series, Stepping Up.
If you want to see a trailer for the series, that’s available there. The website, again: FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can order any of these resources when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, often, when we get to conversations like these, we will hear back from guys who will tell us that this kind of dialogue was a wake-up call. God used it in their life to stir them from complacency to spiritual activity. That’s our goal with these kinds of conversations—whether we’re talking about men being transformed, or moms and dads investing in the next generation, husbands and wives resolving conflict and making their marriage all that God wants it to be—
—whatever it is we’re addressing, our goal is that you would, not just listen, but that you would apply what you hear and that God would bring about transformation in your home. FamilyLife Today exists to effectively develop godly marriages and families.
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And I hope you can be back with us tomorrow when we’re going to talk about how a man can be engaged in passing on a legacy of spiritual vitality to the next generation. Joe Pellegrino will be back with us, again, tomorrow. I hope you can be here as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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