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We plan for the most important things in life. Have you considered making a plan to nourish your children’s faith? Terence Chatmon champions parents to lead by example spiritually and mentor and train their children in the faith.
Dave: When we sit down with a lot of parents, with little kids or even teenagers, we always ask them a question. Most parents have never even thought of this question, and they don’t know how to answer it. Do you know where I’m going?
Ann: I think you are going to say, “What’s your plan?” or “What are you trying to raise?” That’s what I heard you saying.
Dave: In other words, so many parents—we talk about this in our No Perfect Parents book—have never even asked the question: “What is my goal?”
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
Dave: “If I could envision my son or daughter as a man or woman in their 20s, or 30s, or 40s, what kind of man or woman are they?” I think one of the most important things we can do at FamilyLife Today and FamilyLife is help parents, number one, know what a worthy goal is to shoot for and then have a plan to do it.
Ann: Equip them.
Dave: I’m not kidding; we couldn’t have a better person in the studio today to help us do that. Terence Chatmon is back with us, again, to talk about spiritual formation in your family. Terence, welcome back.
Terence: Thanks! Good to be back!
Dave: We’re glad to have you here in Orlando. We’ve already talked with you; I said previously, “You are a man with a plan,” [Laughter] because what you’ve done with your family. I just want to review—I mean, the fact that your wife challenges you, to say, “How are we going to develop disciples of our kids?”—you, not only take that challenge,—
Ann: Wait, Dave. She said, “You better have a plan in two weeks,”—like—“What’s our plan? How will they defend their faith as high schoolers and even college students when they are put into this world of everything is going against our faith?” She’s basically saying, “Terence, what is your plan?”
Dave: Did she help you after that? I mean, in those 14 days, did she come back, day two, and say, “Do you need some help?” Or were you on your own to sort of develop this?
Terence: Dave, all she did was cook some great meals and took me back to those Sunday dinners to say, “Buddy, you are on your own; I’m praying for you.” [Laughter] I would say the way she helped me was to pray for me, which I need a lot of.
Ann: You guys have been married almost 40 years.
Terence: Oh man!—almost 40 years, yes.
Ann: You have three kids; six grandchildren?
Terence: It will be six grandkids when our youngest daughter delivers those twins.
Dave: We talked previously about—“Okay, you developed a goal, mission, values, vision.” Again, you’ve done that with Coca-Cola®, Johnson & Johnson®—different in your corporate life—but now, the stakes are higher, I think; aren’t they?
Terence: They are.
Dave: Now, these are disciples in my own home. You said previously the first thing you did was get on your knees and pray. Take us back there. Then you get off your knees, and what? How did you develop this plan that now a hundred thousand families have been trained to go through?
Ann: —with a ministry that’s called?
Terence: Do Your Children Believe?
So think about this; right? All through the 66 books of the Bible, what is God trying to get us to do? One, He is introducing His Son to us; He is introducing His plan. From the very beginning, He says, “You are now at enmity with Me because of the fall”; right?
Terence: “So I am going to be coming; I’m going to bring this whole thing back together, where there is”—what?—“we have unity again.” What’s the answer to that?—Christ Jesus. He tells us the plan, from the very beginning, that it is all about Christ.
As I thought about this, coming off of my knees, the vision that I saw was who this Christ was on the cross. I saw on the cross—what?
- His pain;
- I saw His sacrifice;
- His surrender;
- His will;
- but you know what?—His great love for His creation.
I thought, “What else would be more the sweeter than to see my kids fall madly in love with this Christ Jesus?”
Ann: That is what we all long for as parents,—
Terence: Isn’t it?
Ann: —because we know that’s their hope.
Terence: Our children can’t believe without that image. As I thought about it, as I rose off my knees and said, “Lord, I don’t know how to do this. I want to know how to do this. I think I know how to do this.”
I tell you—if you don’t have a plan for your children, someone else will—so if we are not intentional with a plan—and by the way, we are people of planners; we plan. Can you ever imagine going on a vacation without planning?—just hop in the car: “I’m heading out to wherever, and I’ll see you when I get there”; we never do that. So why do we try to raise kids in spiritual formation/unity in the Spirit without a plan?
Dave: Yet, I think so many of us get afraid at that moment; it’s like: “I don’t know where to start,” “I don’t know what a plan would look like.” Obviously,—
Ann: “I don’t know if my kids are interested,” “Am I equipped to do this?”
Dave: And you’ve said, “Start on your knees.” So then, you get a vision of the cross. Did you spend/just sit down and say, “Okay, I’m going to write some ideas/some curriculum; what are we going to go through?” Walk us through that.
Terence: Dave and Ann, I’m sitting there; I’m like, “Okay, Lord, here I am. Use me in a mighty way.” I’m saying, “God, I want to see this happen.”
There are four words that still stick with me today as I’ve developed that plan. Those four words are this:
- I need a you that is willing to sacrifice your will for My will.
- I need a you that is willing to surrender.
- I need a you that is going to be dependent on Me and not you.
- Finally, I need a you that is humble: “For those that humble themselves and seek His face.”
That is what I need to do. It’s not about what I can create, what I can develop, what I can write down based on 20 years of experience in the corporate world. It was really about surrendering, sacrifice, great humility, and dependency on Him. I didn’t like those words. [Laughter]
Ann: Well, it’s so funny, too, because that is our natural state of like: “Okay, what am I going to do?” God is saying, “No, that’s the wrong question.” The question is: “What am I going to do through you?” That’s what you are saying; it’s a state of surrender.
Terence: That’s exactly it. Here is a freeing thing; I want all parents to understand this, see. Regardless of whether you have a strong spiritual legacy, or maybe a first generation—it doesn’t matter—I want you to understand this for total freedom. You can’t go back and change the beginnings; but what you can do is you can start where you are and change the ending.
I had the ending in mind. It’s this vision that one day we will all unite in the heavens. That became the motto: “Unity in the Spirit is our aim.” Now, we would walk here, glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever; but that forever is not only this life but eternity. That’s the purpose of life that we all long for.
In order to do that, it’s about a relationship. I wanted them to understand what this relationship was all about. It’s not religion; it’s not about what I do. See, I grew up under theology of hell, fire, and brimstone. I thought it was about what I did, so I tried to do the right thing; but guess what? You know how that turned out—not too well; right? I wanted to do the right thing; I just didn’t know how sometimes. But here I am; I’m marching through what I call performance theology. It’s about what I did to earn God’s favor; that’s religion.
I didn’t want to teach my kids religion; I wanted to teach them the relationship with theology—the done theology—so God is sovereign; He is sovereign—the Lord of lords, the King of kings, the love and the grace. I wanted to teach them that—that He is sovereign—so that is where we started.
Ann: —which is so great, too, because earlier, we had talked about you started out with sharing your story and your wife’s story of you surrendering your lives to Jesus and what that looked like.
Ann: Then you said your kids shared their stories or maybe their lack of knowing Jesus at that point. I think that is a good way to start. So then what happened as you started discipling them?
Terence: Yes, we went back—and I really began to kind of say, “Let me put this pen to paper and this vision,”—I cast a vision there after my story and heard her story. I cast a vision.
Ann: What did that sound like?
Terence: Unity in the Spirit—that whole thing.
Ann: Oh, this is your unity; yes.
Terence: So now I had a plan in terms of framework: “Twice a month, we’re going to sit down, around the dinner table, and we’re just going to have a conversation.” I wanted to build it around those three themes.
The first year is connection. So we started at the basics: “What do we believe?” “Why do we believe that?” “How are we going to incorporate that in our life?”—because there is a difference between belief, and behavior, and a commitment. I wanted them to get to conviction—so not just commitment—but: “What does conviction look like?”; right?—“We’re living this out every day, and we love it”; okay?
I didn’t want to force any of this on my kids, because they would walk away. It had to be what I call a mutual trust and a mutual vision: a mutual journey together. I began to just lay out: “What do I believe?” “Why do I believe it?” “What do I really believe that is really real that I really say I want to live through?” I just remember The Truth Project with Dr. Del Tackett and some other people: “Do you really believe what you say you believe is really real?”
“Well, what do I really believe?”
- I believe He is sovereign.
- I believe that He loves us.
- I believe His grace is sufficient.
“How do I teach that?” I just began to look at verse after verse that He talks about His love, and His grace, and His mercy, and that it endures forever.
We just began to get our first four/five years; we said, “Listen, every year, we want to be in God’s Word.” We started with the Old Testament actually. We started working through Genesis all the way to Revelation.
Ann: You read it as a family?
Terence: We read it as a family, and we used a Daily Bible; so each day we had readings. It was short readings—typically three to four pages. We started reading God’s Word.
Ann: —at the dinner table?
Terence: —at the dinner table together. As we talked about it, we talked about: “What did you hear?” “What does it mean to you?” “How do you apply it to your life?” “How do we live this out as a family?” “How are we doing today? What can we do better?”
These kids just bought into it; right?
Ann: They were in high school. How old do you think they were around then?
Terence: Yes, middle school to high school.
Ann: It says a lot about you, Terence, and your wife Wanda that they’re open to it; they are interested. It says a lot about their trust in you and their respect in you—that you had built a relationship with them—that they’ve probably already been watching and seeing that in your marriage and your life that this is for real.
Terence: You know, it’s so interesting that you say that; because one of the challenges we had—which some will consider this a good thing—but basically, we were an idol to our kids.
Terence: I say that humbly—but we had just/I mean, we have a terrific marriage, and our kids saw that. They say the way that we loved each other; they saw the way we were available all the time for them, and we support them in anything—but we were becoming an idol as we later discovered—it’s good on one side, but it is not what we wanted to accomplish.
Ann: What would you say to the family, or the mom or dad, who feels like: “I have not been doing anything. Our marriage has been struggling. Am I disqualified to be able to have this kind of discipleship with my kids at this point?”
Terence: You know, I always say we are always disqualified, but He qualifies us. I want to take those handcuffs off parents who feel inadequate; I want to take the handcuffs off the parents who say, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know what the right thing is.”
Do you know what the right thing is?—you call upon Him, and you say, “Lord, I am not qualified, but You are. Equip me where I am short.” Guys, He makes up for the locust years. All of a sudden, those years—that you think you haven’t had very much fruit and maybe you haven’t been as intentional in this process—don’t get trapped there; because He has in front of you years of just blessings.
Dave: What would you say to the spouse, who maybe is listening right now and going, “I’m in; I want to do this”; but their spouse is like not interested?
Terence: Oh man, we get that all the time; right?
Terence: Weekends—right?—we have those trainings. Wives are very/man, they are smart—they bring the husbands; they don’t even know why they are coming half the time—[Laughter]—“Hey, come out; we’re coming out to a weekend thing.” “Okay, where are we going?” They end up in the workshop: “Oh, I didn’t know I was going to be in a workshop.” But we find it is typically motivated [by women]; but at the end of the day, what we find in our workshops are men just weeping. They are weeping because they know they have not been available or responsible.
Again, we want parents to realize that they are responsible, and they need to be equipped; and He will equip you. Create that home environment that is conducive to kids learning; and every moment is a teachable moment. Look for that moment; right? Create that environment of love. Love your children well and let them know that their home is an environment of love. It is often said that: “If they see how much you care,”—right?—
Terence: —“they don’t want to know how much you know.” So what?—how much you care.
Dave: Here is another one. I asked you: “What if your spouse isn’t on board?”
“What if your kids aren’t? What if you are a dad, and you haven’t done this—or a mom—and you say, ‘Let’s start this,’—and I know you’ve seen this thousands of times because you train these families—and your kids are like, ‘I’m not interested; I don’t want to be a part of this’? What do you say?”
Terence: Give them a thirst of love. It’s almost like I wanted my kids to get involved in sports; because I played sports, coming up; and that was just the way I bonded with my father and so forth. He had us out in the field playing something. Baseball—I loved baseball and all that good stuff—Dad was always available regardless; right? He gave me a thirst to love the game of baseball. He talked to me about history; we were third generation “White Sox” fans. I mean, there is a lot of pain in the Chicago sports—[Laughter]
Dave: Oh, we know in Detroit.
Terence: Well, you know; you have a little of that pain with us; you know? But remember, we had a 100-some years with the Cubs—you know, the Sox, a little bit better—but he gave us a thirst to love whatever he introduced to us—right?—in this case, baseball.
We wanted to give our kids a thirst to love God’s Word. We looked at every moment as that teachable moment so that they could see His love and His grace. We started—it’s never too early to start—we started a little later in our life. We had been talking to them about—obviously, they were following the Lord—doing all the disciplines, church and so forth; but in terms of that intimacy, we wanted to start by showing the greatest intimacy of all, which is the love of the Father.
Dave: Answer this: “How important is it for the children to see mom, or dad, or mom and dad living out what they are teaching?”
Terence: Oh, it’s a critical step. I’m sitting there—right?—I doing all this—teaching Bible study—all this stuff; I’m thinking, “Hey, I’m killing it,”—right?—“I’m landing it.”
You know the things that they talked about, years later, in terms of: “Dad, I knew you were serious…”; I said, “Yes, what is it?” “We saw you worshipping in church. You never worship in church out loud; you just stand there like the frozen chosen at some point. Then we saw you worshipping in church, and we knew you were serious.”
I just think about those days. We think it’s something really sophisticated or some brilliant idea; and the kids are just looking for that basic thing: “Man, that’s real. He’s living it out, and it must be important to him; because now he is being vulnerable.” I’m not one who used to be vulnerable. I used to try to keep things close to vest; you know? Back when I grew up, dads said, “Hey, whatever happens in the family stays in the family.” We weren’t open. Plus, men, it takes us a year to say our name anyway; we’re not as transparent. [Laughter]
Dave: Well, obviously, you’ve trained, you said, over a 100,000 families?
Terence: Over 100,000 families.
Dave: What’s your goal? I know you have a goal.
Terence: You know, we’ve got to have a goal; but I’ve tried to stay away from the numbers there. We do have a 9.2 million goal by 2030; but—
Dave: Wait; wait; wait. “We do have a…”—you gave me a number.
Terence: —9.2 million.
Dave: That’s really a goal?
Terence: No, it really is; we’re in a position—the Lord has opened doors, despite us, into places we never thought we would be—we just launched into Pakistan,—
Terence: —which is the fifth most persecuted country in the world. What 2020 has done/COVID-19 has done, it has just taken us into highways, and bi-ways, and apartment buildings that we could have never even thought about or, certainly, couldn’t visit. I think the bigger picture is the Lord is at work.
Blackaby always said—I’m a Blackaby fan—he says, “Listen, you find out where the Lord is working, and you join Him there”; right? That’s our prayer—we don’t try to sail our way into some scenario—we simply say, “Lord, where are You working around the family? Invite us into that.” Guess what? I’m finding the Lord is working everywhere,—
Terence: —even to the end of the days.
Ann: These people around the world are longing to disciple their kids as well.
Terence: Oh, they are thirsty. You know, what I am finding is parents/they are just afraid. If we fear failure, we do nothing,—
Terence: —especially men.
Terence: If we fear failure, we will do nothing; because we want to—see, everyone wants to be affirmed, regardless of who you are—they want their life to matter. They want to—you need to breathe in affirmation into kids’ lives—that’s what we wanted to do was breathe in affirmation into kids’ lives through the gospel message.
In order, I believe, for transformation to take place, you must get them into God’s Word. You must get them into the discipline of prayer; that’s a conversation. You have to get them into worship—not just one Sunday—you go 45 minutes. “Let’s talk about that worship service,”—that the pastor spent 20 to 30 hours preparing; right?—and you go to IHOP somewhere and never mention it again to the family. What we want to do is engage our kids at every teachable moment.
Dave: We know—we’re all grandparents sitting in this studio—that the window to impact your kids in your home is closing quickly.
Terence: It’s closing quickly.
Dave: It’s gone before you know it.
Terence: Yes; real quick, I want to mention something around that; because those years are critical—between the age of 3 and 13 years of age—Barna has said, “Hey, between those ages of 3 and 13, kids are shaping their biblical worldview.”
With that being said, we really wanted to plant the seed during those formable years. Right now, we are still doing our workshops, every other week, 8 to 9. We’re diving into the year: “Commission.” We are training parents around the world. They can go to VictoriousFamily.org, start with our 7-Day Prayer Guide. Our process is: “Keep it simple,—
Terence: —“repetitive, and consistent.” We keep it simple; we don’t have to create this long thing—but simple, but powerful,—
Terence: —impactful, and transformational. We’re trying to build a transformational, sustainable generational movement, not a program.
Dave: All I would add to what you said is: “Start today.
Terence: “Start today.”
Dave: “Don’t wait until tomorrow. You can change the future right now; and I’m telling you: today is the day. Do not wait.”
Terence: “Today is the day.”
Dave: Thanks, Terence.
Ann: Thanks for being with us and for all you are doing.
Terence: Well, thank you.
Bob: On our website, at FamilyLifeToday.com, we’ve got a link to Terence Chatmon’s website, VictoriousFamily.com, where you can find the resources he was just mentioning. I think the point is clear: “What is a step you can take today—a simple step—in the right direction?” Maybe, it is as easy as opening the Bible at the next family meal and saying, “I just want to read a few verses and just let us think about these,” and starting to make that a practice at meal time. Maybe, it’s something in relation to bedtime or at the start of the day; but these simple repeatable practices are powerful in our children’s lives and in shaping our families.
Terence has written a book called Do Your Children Believe? It’s a book we’ve got in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to find out more, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY if you’d like to order a copy. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also call 1-800-358-6329 to get a copy of Terence Chatmon’s book, Do Your Children Believe? Call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, it’s hard to think, but we will be on the edge of the new year in just two weeks. Christmas is next week; New Year’s coming up quickly. We have just a couple of weeks, here at FamilyLife, that are going to be determinative for what happens in 2022. Our mission at FamilyLife is to do all we can do to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We believe godly marriages and families can change the world, one home at a time. We know that many of you resonate with that mission. You support that mission, because we hear from you throughout the year, and particularly here at yearend.
I just have to tell you the donations we receive between now and the New Year will be very significant in shaping what this ministry is able to be and do in the months ahead. So we are asking every FamilyLife Today listener: “If God has used this ministry in your life this year/if you believe in the mission of FamilyLife Today, would you go online or call and make a donation/a yearend donation?” Two good things will happen. First of all, your donation will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $1.5 million. We’ve had some friends of the ministry put together a matching-gift fund. They’ve agreed to match every donation that comes in; so if you give $100, we get $100, from the matching-gift fund.
In addition to your donation being matched, dollar for dollar, we’re going to send you a thank-you gift. It’s a new book from Dane Ortlund, a devotional from the book of Psalms, 150 devotions to help you start the new year with your heart and mind focused on God’s Word. The book is called In the Lord I Take Refuge. It’s our thank-you gift when you make a yearend donation, and you can do that today. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. We look forward to hearing from you; and we hope you’ll pray for us that we are able to take full advantage of this matching gift, here in the next two weeks. Thank you for that.
We hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and we hope you can join us on Monday when we want you to meet Melissa Ohden. She has a powerful story of growing up, knowing that her mom wanted to abort her. We’ll hear from her how that knowledge marked her life, her identity, and about God’s work in her own heart. I hope you can tune in for all of that.
On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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