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John Bradshaw - A Father's Love


John Bradshaw - A Father's Love
John Bradshaw - A Father's Love
TOPICS: Father's Day, Fatherhood, Fathers

This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me. Father's Day rolls around once every year. It's a time when we celebrate our dads, or our grandfathers, too, for that matter. And it's an opportunity to reflect on the blessing that fathers can be and are in our lives. It's also an opportunity for fathers to reflect upon their role as fathers and what sort of father they are being as God's man here on this earth. I have several guests with me today, including my associate speaker at It Is Written, Pastor Eric Flickinger; Pastor Yves Monnier from It Is Written; and Dr. Ron Smith, who has a doctor of ministry in counseling and a PhD in psychology. Gentlemen, thanks very much for joining me today. Dr. Smith, we're going to start with you. Take a moment to talk about the special role that is the role of a father. What is it that fathers bring to a family or to a relationship to the life of a child that's unique?

Dr. Ron Smith: I think it's important to note from the outset that there is a female as well as a male dimension of who God is compositely. But fathers have the opportunity to showcase before our children in a very real way the image of God from the masculine side. And that side is pregnant with so many implications of positive thinking, assuming responsibility.

John Bradshaw: Now, when you stop and when you put it in those terms, that a father demonstrates to the child the characteristics of God, that places pretty heavy responsibility on dads, doesn't it?

Dr. Ron Smith: Absolutely. And on parents. But in this particular case, on fathers, absolutely.

John Bradshaw: Now, when we speak about fatherhood, I think it's key to realize that as we speak about the role of a father, the role of a father and the role of a mother overlaps an awful lot. It's not always easy to draw a clean line between the two. But let's begin, we've got to do our best to speak to fathers and fatherhood today. Let me ask this question: What does it take to be a good father? Who wants to have a run at that first? I should point out that I'm the father of two children. Eric, you're the father of two children. Yves, you're the father of two children. Dr. Smith, you don't break the mold at all.

Dr. Ron Smith: I'm the father of two children.

John Bradshaw: Two children. All right. So eight kids between us. I'm sure we have our share of successes, and, I'm positive, more than our fair share of failures. What does it take to be a good dad? Who wants to take a run at that?

Eric Flickinger: One of the things that you absolutely have to have is, if you want to be a good father, is time to spend with your children. You know, good relationships are built on time, whether it's between us and our children or us and our God. Just like Dr. Smith mentioned a moment ago, they get a pretty good idea who God is from us. And if we don't spend time with them, they're going to get an idea that maybe God doesn't want to spend time with them either.

John Bradshaw: All right. You're a pastor and an evangelist. You're a pastor and a departmental director. I'm a pastor and an evangelist and I lead a ministry. Dr. Smith, you're a church administrator with enormous responsibilities, but you're a pastor and an evangelist and a writer and, and, and, and, and... So you're talking about spending time with children. It is every parent's battle, or many parents' battle. How in the world do you find enough time for your kids, especially when you're a very busy person? And then let's talk about this, this thing about quality time and quantity time. First, how do you find the time?

Yves Monnier: Well, John, what I've discovered is that uh, quality time comes with quantity. There's no way on earth that you can get to the point of quality with your children if you have not invested that quantity time. You asked the question, how do you take that time? Well, you make a choice. I had a wise elder who came to me. My children were young. He put his arm around me, and he said, "Listen to me very carefully. One day when you're old, if the Lord doesn't return before then, one day when you're old, you're not going to wish, oh, if only I had gone to one more board meeting. If only I had gone to one more school board meeting. If only I had done one more visit". He said, "Those will not be the if-onlys in your life". That opened my eyes, and I determined, this is my priority, my family.

John Bradshaw: So you've, you've just got to make that time. What happens when you don't make that time? Have you seen anything? Dr. Smith, you've, you've, as a mentor to many, as a church leader, you've seen undoubtedly what happens when fathers don't take enough time for their kids. So there's a dad now, he's listening to us talk, he's watching us, and he's thinking, mmm, time. But he's saying to himself, man I'm busy, and I've got this great career, and that sucks up a lot of my time. What will he learn one day because he didn't take enough time for his kids?

Dr. Ron Smith: I think when we understand the importance of building our children into our routine, whatever that is, whether it's a heavy responsibility or a lighter responsibility, it could be very lonely to have a parental obligation and responsibility, and our children aren't engaged with us, and we aren't engaged with them. By joining each other, the journey can be a fun one and a sweet one.

John Bradshaw: As a father, what have you learned from your father? Might be all good, might be all bad, might be a little of each. What lessons did you learn from your dad? Yves?

Yves Monnier: Well, two things I learned from my dad. Number one, my dad never had any worries. At least that's what I believed. Because the moment he would walk inside the threshold of the home he was with us and he focused on us, and never thought that he had any concerns, any burdens in his life. Now, later on, of course, as I became older and became a pastor, I realized, oh, my dad had a lot of worries. But he never let on. And that was, that was very gracious on his part. Number two, my dad traveled a lot, and I missed him. And so I determined, you know, I'm not going to do this with my children. He, uh, he had a calling, and I respected that calling and respect that calling. But uh, I determined that I'm not going to be so often an absentee father. So that's why I made a, a, a conscious decision for the time that my children are at home, living under the same roof, this will be the time that I will give to them.

John Bradshaw: I look at my dad's life. My dad was an uncomplicated sort of a man, uh, from an uncomplicated background. And I, I doubt that I could say my father was the perfect father or the perfect person. But I learned a lot of what I learned about parenting from my dad, reflecting on my dad's role as a father in our family. And you know what I found? Some of the most helpful things I've learned from my father I've learned from the mistakes he made. I don't mean cataclysmic mistakes. I mean maybe some of those smaller mistakes. Rather than be embittered by the things my dad didn't get right, I've simply taken those on board and said, okay, I see what didn't work. And I'm determining to, you know, not to perpetuate that, whatever that might have been. I don't mean there's anything really dark. But I believe that you can learn, if your eyes are open, you can learn a lot from the mistakes of the people that you've, that you've seen and that you've observed up close. Um, what I did learn from my father was religious commitment, commitment to God. Now, my dad was of a faith that I am now not. Uh, nevertheless, his life was a picture of devotion to God, and he modeled for me how important it is to be faithful to God and have God at the very center of your life. Dr. Smith, what'd you learn from your father?

Dr. Ron Smith: First and foremost, he advised me to factor God in. He says, "If you really want to be cool, I sense you want to be cool, son, factor God into your life". Then he cited, "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path". Secondly, he said, you know, "Practice being accountable. Work hard. Work hard". And, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard," the proverbial statement...

John Bradshaw: Sure.

Dr. Ron Smith: "...consider her ways and be wise". And the third one that sticks with me, he says, "Dream big. There's nothing you can, that you can't do". Um, without a vision, "the people perish," that third proverbial statement. So, in that three-prong approach to life, he sustained me. And some of our moments in Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, eating ice cream, he would share that, that, those principles with me.

John Bradshaw: One of the things I've, I've been careful to instill in my children, and they have yet to make their mark in the world, so we're going to see how well this sticks: Think big. You can be whatever you want to be. I've made it very clear to my kids, if you choose to fail, then you'll probably be pretty good at that. But if you reach for the stars, if you, if you throw yourself into life and you purpose to get, to do the very best that you can be, and I don't mean because I aspire for my children to live in a mansion and drive a Rolls Royce. The better my kids do, the better they excel in their chosen field, the more use they're going to be to God, because they've got more talent and gifts to, uh, to put into serving God in whatever field that is. But I've found, and it's so far been a help, believe in your kids. Tell them you believe they can. There is no limit to what you can do. Think big. Work hard. Strive. Uh, if they take hold of just a little bit of how, how well I've told them they can do in this life, they'll end up doing pretty well. Eric, we'll get to you in just a moment. Fatherhood, from a biblical perspective. We'll open up the Bible in a moment and look at a couple of Bible passages, and fathers from the Bible. We'll be right back.

John Bradshaw: Thanks for joining me today on It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. With me, Pastor Yves Monnier from It Is Written, Dr. Ron Smith, and Pastor Eric Flickinger, my associate speaker at It Is Written. We're talking about fatherhood. It's that Father's Day time of year. What does it mean to be a father, and how can a dad be a successful dad? So Dr. Smith, let me ask you about the importance of, of a father bonding with his kids. How important is that?

Dr. Ron Smith: It's very important. And through our bonding I learned that my dad was very much about relationship, relationships. I grew up with two siblings, two sisters, and he emphasized the importance of caring for my sisters, but more importantly, uh, doing to others what I want done to me.

John Bradshaw: So I want to ask this question: how do you bond with your children? How do you form that strong relationship with your kids? Yves?

Yves Monnier: Well, I have a 26-year-old son who's very busy in his career, but we find time very often to talk to each other on the phone. And on a recent phone call, I said, "Daniel, so, why are we pretty close? because I think we are". And he said, "Dad, it's because you spent a lot of time with me. You went to all of my club activities. When we had trips, you were there. Uh, when I had a basketball game, a football game, you were present. You made sure that that time with me was a priority. And, Dad, those times with me have made a huge difference". And, uh, and he said, "That's why we are as close as we are to this day".

John Bradshaw: It seems like it keeps coming back to this question of time with the kids. Here's what I've found as, as a way. How do I bond with my kids? However I have to, however I can. I remember when my son decided he wanted to learn to fish or be a fisherman. I don't know where he got that. Now, look, I don't want to upset the fisherfolk, but, man, I hate fishing. What a perfectly good way to ruin an otherwise great day, sitting around, waiting for a fish to bite. Color me odd, but I just, I don't get it. I never have. Now, if you fish, I respect you, and that's okay. But it's just never been my thing. My son says, "Dad, I want to fish. I want to go fishing". You know what? Suddenly I was a fisherman. We were getting the right kind of fishing poles and the right gear, and all the lures. And I bought my son a tackle box, and we filled it with the right stuff. And we went fishing. We even caught some fish. But it's in moments like, if he, if he wanted to ride a unicycle, I would have been right there riding a unicycle with him. Uh, for me it was about doing whatever was there to do, whatever you needed to do. And, going back to what you said, Dr. Smith, including my son in my life. He would go with me. We'd travel together. He'd be present for this and for that. I would be present in his moments, but I wanted to make sure that he was also present in mine. There wasn't a time where it came to the place where I said, "Hey, son, I don't need you with me". How about you? Bonding with the children, how did you pull it off?

Dr. Ron Smith: My wife shared something with me that brought tears to my eyes. When my son was a younger boy, he's a pastor now; he considers himself a spiritual giant, but he was a young boy then, and she brought tears to my eyes when she shared with me what he said to her one day. Uh, he said, "Mommy, I don't just love Daddy. I like Daddy".

John Bradshaw: Oh, amen.

Dr. Ron Smith: And basically, I just placed a premium on being friends. Let's just be pals; let's be friends. But not, not friends to the, to the point where we blur uh, the guidelines of order and accountability. But let's enjoy one another. And that happens through spending time and doing things together.

John Bradshaw: You know, you have this thing where there are parents who want to be their children's buddy, but they don't want to be Dad or Mom. And that, when those lines blur, that's, that's destructive. But when you can be a friend as well as a parent, now you've got a warm relationship there, haven't you? I want to ask you about fathers in the Bible. Point to a father in the Bible who impresses you, either for good or for bad, and something we can learn from that biblical father. Dr. Smith, you first.

Dr. Ron Smith: I think of, uh, Jairus in the Bible. Um, in Mark, in the book of Mark, we have a clear showcasing of a man who was accustomed to being in charge. Not just at the church, but he was in charge of some very important things in culture. And he was accustomed to fixing things. People came to him for solutions when they needed solutions. And he was the guy that pretty much resolved people's problems. Uh, he encountered a problem of his own one day that he couldn't fix. In his encounter with Jesus, he wanted to tell Jesus what to do. "Come to my house. Put your hands on her like this. And if you follow my instructions, if you take your hands out of your pocket and do what I ask you to do, she'll be healed". And she, and, and, you know, Jesus is a gentleman. Eventually He did that. But He frustrated Jairus along the way by making him wait. It was a long, it was a very short distance to the house where the daughter was sick, but Jesus took His time, and He moved slowly. And He got there, and basically we learn from, from the story of Jairus that there are a lot of things in culture that we can fix, fix, but there are some things we cannot fix. What a wonderful lesson to convey to our boys and our girls.

John Bradshaw: Amen.

Dr. Ron Smith: Only God can fix all problems. We can't fix everything.

John Bradshaw: Amen. That's so true. Eric, a father from the Bible.

Eric Flickinger: I think of Jacob. You know, Jacob had, he came from a household where there was favoritism. He was the less-favored son. But when it came to his own household, he showed favoritism as well. You know, he showed favoritism to his son Joseph, and that caused a great deal of problems within that family. So we have a tendency, if we're not careful, to, to bring things down from our own fathers, whether good or bad. So we have to look at each of those things and say, "Is this a characteristic that I want to bring down from my father, or is this a characteristic that I hope my child takes from me"? Because they do tend to pass from generation to generation, if we're not careful.

John Bradshaw: You know, I think of David in the Bible. David who had massive problems among his kids. He had problems in his household. And it seems to me that when Absalom went off the rails, that may have been headed off if, when there was a problem in the family, David had A) handled it, we had, we had a terrible thing going on in David's family, and it appears he just sort of let it go. And then when he realized that Absalom was, was in rebellion mode, he had a hands-off policy rather than a hands-on policy. There was a problem in his family with one of his kids, and instead of going to the kid and saying, hey, how about we go fishing? Or let's just take a long drive together. Grab your glove. I've got the ball. Let's spend some time, and bonding with that child, bringing a problem out to the open and discussing it, David, it seems, ignored what was going on, and it just about cost him his kingdom, and it jeopardized the future of Israel. Yves, I'll come back to you in a moment, and we'll ask you about a dad from the Bible. Then we'll discuss a little bit more this very important thing called fatherhood. Back with more in a moment.

John Bradshaw: Thanks for joining me today on It Is Written. Fatherhood: It must be one of the most important jobs ever committed to any human being. Yves Monnier, a father from the Bible who impresses you, for good or for bad.

Yves Monnier: Well, this one impresses me for good. This is the father from the story, the parable, of the prodigal son. We have the father here, prominent in the story. This father, of course, represents God. And one must assume that in this home, it was a good home, and the father was perfect. Well, even in a perfect home, in a good home, in a good Christian home, sad things can happen. The son, as we know, wandered, and it probably broke the father's heart for sure. Lesson number one, bad things can happen even in good homes. But don't lose heart. And that's lesson number two: The father never stopped believing that his son would return. And the story, of course, has a wonderful ending.

John Bradshaw: And when the son did return, the father did not read him the riot act. He welcomed him with love. You know, you mention that because, undoubtedly, there are fathers who are hanging their heads and saying, "I wish I'd done it this way or that way". And while that may be the case, uh, we remember that our heavenly Father lost a third of His children in a perfect place where there's never been any sin. And a third of them just said, "We're outta here". Dr. Smith, how can we as fathers invest in our sons and daughters so that they grow up to love God?

Dr. Ron Smith: I think those three principles really, really matter. But Micah 6:8, as I emphasize, you know, doing justly, love mercy, and walking humbly with God. But also those three principles of factoring God into your journey, dreaming big, and working hard.

John Bradshaw: Yves, you've raised a couple of kids to adulthood. They both love God. They're still faithful in the church. This does not happen by accident. What did you do to deliberately invest in your children so that they, so that they were Christians after they'd left your home?

Yves Monnier: I think sometimes the problem with, uh, certain children, they see their father saying one thing, and they see then their father doing something else. So in my life I did my very best. And, to be honest, I don't think that I was successful all the time, but, I believe, a lot of the time, and that is to make sure that my words and my actions were in harmony. And I believe that has had a profound impact upon them. My children still, thank God, to this day love and walk with Jesus.

John Bradshaw: It's been important to me, raising my two kids, to, uh, to try to give them a picture of what God is really like. I think, I think, I might say I know, but I think many kids are put off Christianity by the picture of God that is taught them or portrayed to them. We mustn't teach our children that God is angry with them or he's a hard taskmaster. The Bible says that God is love. Um, and I think it's crucial to transmit values to our kids that teach them that God loves them no matter what. Okay, let's be quick now. We have little time. What not to do as a father.

Eric Flickinger: Don't belittle your children. You know, even if you are frustrated with them, if you get angry, but if you belittle, belittle them, it takes a lot of wind out of their sails. Now, it's important to, to correct, but, but not to speak down to. There's a big difference.

John Bradshaw: You know, I wish fathers would think about the impact of their actions and their words. What is saying this or doing this actually going to do to my kid? And when you belittle your children, you put a wall between you and your child. They don't trust you. They don't think that you have their best interests in mind. Dr. Smith, what are the do-nots?

Dr. Ron Smith: Do not leave discouragement unmanaged.

John Bradshaw: Explain.

Dr. Ron Smith: One of the most detrimental things that can happen is to try to be a parent while discouraged and not managing it. We manage discouragement by praying and teaching our children to pray, dealing with our anger. Anger can go so many different ways, but dealing with it responsibly helps us. And there are a battery of principles, um, dealing with dependency needs. Stop playing God, which simply means if God forgives you, you have to forgive yourself so that you can forgive others as well.

John Bradshaw: Yves, what are the do-nots?

Yves Monnier: Do not affirm your children only when they do something good, "Oh, I'm so proud of you; you got an A"! "Oh, I'm so proud of you because you played so well your musical instrument"!, because then they will equate that with, "Well, he only affirms me, he only loves me, because of things that I do". So I made sure that I affirmed them, even when they did not do as well: "I love you; I'm proud of you; keep at it; you will do better next time".

John Bradshaw: I would say, do not yell at your kids. Do not. That doesn't mean you, there are, you better yell if they're standing on the railroad track and a train is coming. Do yell. But the child dropped food on the floor or left a sock on the staircase. Come on, man. Don't yell. I think it's really, really important that a father, who is the clearest picture of God many children have growing up, you understand what I mean by that? You spoke about it earlier. It's, it's important, uh, that we control our emotions, and that we, that we, uh, don't just blow up or lose it around our kids. Uh, it's just destructive. From my point of view, it's destructive. Man, there's more we could say, but I'm grateful that you've been here. Eric, thanks so much. Yves Monnier, appreciate it very much. Dr. Smith, thank you for taking your time with us today. Deeply appreciate it.

John Bradshaw: I'm glad you joined me today. Let's take a moment to pray together right now:

Our Father in heaven, we thank You today for Jesus, Your Son, our Savior. We thank You for You, our heavenly Father, our perfect, unfailing, always patient, always wise Father who knows what is best for us in every situation. I pray for every father, that You would bless the dads and the grandpas and the great-grandpas to model faith in God, to be patient and kind, and to share Jesus and model Jesus as wisely as possible. Lord, bless the fathers. Even when we fail, we need Your help then. And give us grace that we can point our children to You and encourage in them faith in You. Bless us now, we pray, and we thank You, in Jesus' name, amen.


Thank you so much for joining us today. I'm looking forward to seeing you again next time. Until then, remember: "It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"
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