Modeling the Attributes of God
About the Guest
What kind of legacy do you want to leave your children? Jim Daly, whose own father deserted him when he was young, reminds parents that if they want their children to walk with the Lord, then they need to live in such a way that their children see their heavenly Father in them.
Jim DalyJim Daly's personal journey from orphan to head of an international Christian organization dedicated to helping families thrive is a powerful story. Abandoned by his alcoholic father at age 5, Daly lost his mother to cancer four years later - a wound deepened when his grieving stepfather emptied the family home and took off with almost everything while Daly, the youngest of five children, and his siblings were at their mother's funeral. Several tough years in foster care followed, before Daly...more
What kind of legacy do you want to leave your children?
Modeling the Attributes of God
Bob: I guess not!
Dennis: You’ve talked about how a father needs to model the love of God to his kids and be kind. You’ve talked about how we need to fulfill our promises. Is there a third takeaway that you would give a dad—who really resonates with the title of your book, The Good Dad—and really wants to be one but just needs another hook / another handle to grab hold of with his sons and daughters?
Jim: Well, I think that idea of commitments and certainly love—those are the core—that is the foundation. We still need to be dads. I think a lot of people listening might think this is a really soft book—almost an effeminate book. I’m not saying that, as a father. You also need to bring reality to your children. You need to teach them right from wrong. I would only add that element to it—to what we’ve talked about already.
A dad needs to be there and to teach his children those things that only a dad can teach. I think of it this way—you look at a mom. This is the 80/20 rule—so if you’re a mom that doesn’t fit this, don’t be offended by what I’m about to say. Generally, moms know that they are the nurturers; right? And the kids know that they are the nurturers. A child skins his or her knee—mom’s going to clean it—you know—pat it / put a Band-Aid® on it, “How are you doing?”
Jim: Dad’s the wild card. You don’t know how Dad’s going to respond. For example, my fathers—if I could use the plural—would either say, “Don’t touch it,” or, “Men don’t cry. Boys shouldn’t cry.” You’ve got a lot of mixed messages from dad. So, when you look at it, fathers have such a great influence. Moms are predictable, by and large. Your mother’s love is predictable. Dad’s love is not.
When you look at that—that’s why dads wield such influence in their children because you don’t know how your dad is going to go: “Does he really love me?” You’re always asking that question in your heart: “Does dad really love me?” We’ve got to make sure that kids leave home, at 18/19, knowing, “I am loved by my dad.” That will make all the difference in the world.
Dennis: What we’re talking about here is found in the book of Proverbs, too, where a father looks at his son and says, “Listen, my son, for I give you sound teaching.”
Dennis: And then he’s warning him about some of the true traps of life. At the Daly household—for your two boys—you’re getting ready to embark on the most dangerous era that, I think, any human being engages in—the adolescent years.
Dennis: What are some of the boundaries that you and Jean have for your boys—that you have set—you have helped set and helped shape—for your sons?
Jim: I think one of the most important is to be able to apologize to my boys.
I can remember a time when I had done something / acted inappropriately with Trent, my oldest son. I had just gotten angry about something. It wasn’t right! I had to be brave enough, as dad, to go into his bedroom where he was sobbing because I had overreacted to something. I had wounded him. I had to walk in there and say: “Trent, you know what? Nobody’s perfect. Sometimes I think you think I want you to act perfectly. But you have to know, I realize you’re not perfect. But you know what? Dad’s not perfect either. I hurt you tonight, and I’m sorry.”
His face lit up. I couldn’t believe it! I thought I had just given him chocolate. He just smiled at me and said, “Thank you, Dad. I love you.” It sets the tone for the relationship.
So, when you talk about launching into the teen years, what do you need to do? You need to have a good relationship with that teenager. How do you do it?—by being real, by being vulnerable, and by being connected emotionally—we dads have a hard time connecting, emotionally, to our kids. We’re awkward with them. We don’t know how to deal with them. They always go to mom: “Mom, I’ve got a problem.” We’ve got to be there too. We should see them coming to us saying, “Can you help me, Dad?” If those things are happening, I think you’re in a good place.
Bob: Tell our listeners about the father/son trip that you took with your boys. [Laughter]
Jim: Well, there were two—I mean, the one I took with Trent with Adventures in Fatherhood. Focus on the Family has been doing that for 25/30 years, where we go out near Yosemite. It’s rough—I mean, it’s four days of rough. You don’t have tents—you sleep out under the stars. If it rains, find a tree. And then you do rock rappelling.
One of the rocks is called the Prowl—it is 180 feet, which is about a 15-story building / 16-story building.
I just remember, you know, seeing Trent, who has lacked confidence at times. He’s a big kid, but he doesn’t have great confidence sometimes. He got in that environment and was just doing great. He was like Spiderman—he was going down the rock. The guide said—now, of the kids, there were probably six of us in this one group—parents and kids—and the guide is saying, “On a scale of one to ten, who wants to go down this Prowl?” One kid says, [Hesitantly] “One.”
Jim: And then another—a little girl—said, [Hesitantly] “Seven.” Trent says: [Confidently] “Ten! I’m ready to go!” “Man, that’s Trent! That’s great!” So we got down. That night, we were sitting around the campfire. The boys and girls shared things about their fathers. Man, I’m telling you, it was amazing. Trent just said: “Dad, you make my life worth living for. I love you.” This was my 12-year-old!
We got back to the little campsite because we all slept in separate areas—father and son or father and daughter. We got back there, and he was just beaming. He said, “Dad, I’m just so proud to be your son!”
Those are moments—and I think one of the key things, as fathers, is that we have to create moments. Dennis, you talk about this. It’s kind of that standing stone. That was a moment for our relationship—me apologizing to Trent, although hard, was a moment that will stand in his heart. He will remember that the rest of his life and it will help shape his character. That’s what we have to do, as fathers.
Dennis: There’s one thing you modeled in that story that I want to make sure every dad gets—that he doesn’t miss this at all. You modeled humility—humility that’s teachable, humility that admits mistakes, humility that asks for forgiveness—gets real, gets down on a knee and looks a child, face to face / eye to eye, and connects with them, heart to heart. I think that’s why your son described you the way he did.
Dennis: That’s why you gave him meaning, and purpose, and definition to his life. You couldn’t have given a better illustration for dads, who are listening today, to take away and go back and think, “How am I modeling this with my son, with my daughters, and, also, with my wife?”
Dennis: Because that is the essence, in my opinion, of spiritual growth and how we become like Jesus Christ.
Jim, you are a great comrade and warrior in the battle for the family. We appreciate you. We appreciate the team at Focus on the Family—love what you guys are doing. Hope you’ll come back and join us again and next time—that you won’t wait two years to get back here.
Jim: Well, you come our way so we’ll have you at Focus on the Family. It’s always great to have both you and Bob there.
Bob: Well, I hope listeners will get a copy of your book as well. The book is called The Good Dad. It’s a book that we have in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. It’s easy to order, online, if you’d like. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link in the upper left-hand corner that says, “Go Deeper.” You can order Jim Daly’s book, The Good Dad. We’ve also got some other books for dad for Father’s Day that are available if you’d like to check those out. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link that says, “Go Deeper.” Or 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.” Ask about Jim Daly’s book, The Good Dad, when you get in touch with us.
I want to also encourage our listeners to consider a little summertime challenge we’ve got going on, here at FamilyLife. Our team has put together a video series called Stepping Up®: A Call to Courageous Manhood.
It’s a ten-week series for guys to look carefully at: “What does it mean to be a godly man? What are the kinds of character qualities that accompany godliness for men?” Our hope is that, this summer, there might be a number of our listeners who would get motivated to take a group of guys through this video series—go through it with them. Just watch a video every week and then answer some of the questions that are in the workbooks that come with it.
If you order the DVD set from us this week, we’re going to send you—at no additional cost—five workbooks so that you’ve got those to hand out to the guys you’re going to take through the study with you. Get the details when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner that says, “Go Deeper.” Look for the link for the Stepping Up video series. All the information you need is available there. You can order, online, if you’d like or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. We can send the DVD kit and the five free workbooks out to you when you get in touch with us this week.
Well, summertime is now kind of officially here, now that we’re past Memorial Day and we’re into the month of June. One of the things that it means for us, here, at FamilyLife, is that we can expect to see a little bit of a drop in financial support for the ministry. That’s been a pattern that we’ve seen over the years. We actually had some friends of the ministry come to us, not long ago, and they said, “We’d like to help you guys get ready for that anticipated drop.” So here’s what they did—they agreed that they would match every donation that we receive, here at FamilyLife, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to a total of $410,000.
Would you consider making a donation today? Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click in the upper right-hand corner that says, “I Care,” and make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—make your donation over the phone. Or you can write a check and mail it to FamilyLife Today at P O Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
We just want to say, “Thanks,” in advance, for whatever you’re able to do in support of this ministry.
And we hope you can join us back again tomorrow. Roland Warren is going to join us. We’re going to talk about bad dads of the Bible—some of the mistakes that dads can avoid as we look back at the biblical record of some of the mistakes that dads in the Bible made. I hope you can tune in 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 tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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