About the Guest
Don and Sue Myers had a heroic strategy for parenting--combine a healthy dose of real-life missionary heroes and heroines with plenty of quality time with their five children. Mix well over a number of years and pray for God to give the increase of a righteous legacy. Today, hear Don and Sue share the results of their strategy.
Don and Sue Myers had a heroic strategy for parenting–combine a healthy dose of real-life missionary heroes and heroines with plenty of quality time with their five children.
Don Myers: We went out of our way to bring God’s people into our home and if our church had a missionary scheduled we would make sure that we maneuvered that person into our home for a dinner. Days ahead we would start to build it up by telling our children about this VIP in God’s kingdom who was going to come. By the time he got there our kids would be so excited they couldn’t wait to see this hero and they hung on every word and watched his every movement. I know that had an impact on the lives of our children.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, July 15th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey and I’m Bob Lepine. When was the last time you introduced any of your children to a Holy Hero? We are going to talk about that today. Stay tuned.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today thanks for joining us on the Wednesday addition. I think one of the first times I realized that our kids learn more from observing us than they do from anything we try to tell them came when our son, Jimmy, was 18 months old.
We were driving along and as we were approaching an intersection there was a car coming out on the right and I could not tell if the car that was approaching saw us or not because it looked like they were just going to pull out in front of us. So I just tapped the horn a couple of times and as soon as I did that Jimmy who was sitting in the car seat in the minivan in the back seat said, “Jerk.” I turned and I looked at my son and he doesn’t have a clue what he has just said. He’s smiling and having a great time. He’s 18 months old.
Then I look over at my wife who is in the passenger seat and she’s got her head down and her head is in her hands and I said, “Honey,” and she said, “I only said it once.” And I said, “I guess that’s all it takes.” So now whenever Jimmy hears to horn honk the first thing that pops into his mind is what a jerk. I learned that day we better pay careful attention to what we model in front of our children because the stuff we don’t want them to pick up on they are going to pick up on it.
Dennis: You are exactly right. Children are like radar units. They are watching us all the time to see what we do to see if it’s right or wrong. With us in the studio today are Don and Sue Myers, a pair of veterans who have modeled biblical principles. They have raised five kids. I want to welcome you to FamilyLife Today.
You make the statement that principles are better caught than taught to our kids. What do you mean by that?
Don Myers: You can lecture your kids or you can even informally lecture or teach principles but they have to see those principles in your life. If they see them in your life they don’t have to hear them from your lips. They will catch them.
Dennis: You modeled forgiveness Sue when you forgave a little boy for blue ink on a white carpet. Can you tell us about that?
Sue Myers: Actually he wasn’t a little boy. He was about 14.
Bob: Old enough to know better right?
Sue Myers: Yes, that’s right. We were living in California at the time and I had just come home from the supermarket and as I looked up there was Bill waiting for me.
Mothers sort of have the sixth sense that when you look at your child you know that something is wrong. This particular day I knew that Bill had something to tell me that I didn’t want to hear. My philosophy of life has been what you don’t know won’t hurt you.
As I looked at Bill I knew that what he was going to tell me I didn’t want to hear so just at that particular time I had been looking at a scripture 1 Corinthians 10:13 which is the one about the fact that God is faithful and no temptation has taken you such as common to man and he will provide you with a way out. So at that very moment in time I hadn’t even heard anything from Bill’s lips yet I prayed and asked the Lord to take control of my life.
As I got out of the car Bill proceeded to tell me that he had been painting a model airplane which is fine. The only problem was he’d been doing it in the guest room and the carpet in the room was white.
Don Myers: If you measured the room to find the exact center that’s where the blue spot was.
Sue Myers: And then he told me he not only had spilled paint but he had tried to rub it up. That paint was firmly set in that carpet. As we walked in the house and walked up the stairs it was as if there were three of us. There was Bill, there was myself, and there was…
Don Myers: The executioner, right?
Sue Myers: There was this other person looking on in amazement. Bill thought that I was going to start yelling and ranting and raving but I didn’t. I realized that he had suffered so much already just dreading what I was going to do.
Dennis: Good for you, mother. Good for you.
Sue Myers: Then as we discussed what to do in order not to have this happen again. We would never paint models in the guest room again. The thought went through my mind carpets come and carpets go but I only have one son named Bill. He’s much more important to me than any carpet. I want him to know God in the same way I do.
Bob: You had come to Christ later in life. You already had the five kids when you came to Christ.
Don Myers: That’s right.
Bob: There must have been some undoing that had to take place. Modeling patterns that had to be erased and replaced with new memories.
Don Myers: Oh, yes.
Bob: I’m just thinking that there are listeners who look back on their failures not on their successes. Not like you had Sue, but on those moments when they didn’t control their anger or their tongue. They are wracked with guilt about that. Don, God is faithful in those times as well isn’t He?
Don Myers: He is. In fact this change in their parents’ lives is an integral part of the testimony today of our three oldest children. My son says in his testimony that he knew God was real when he saw God change his father.
I had a spirit of anger in my life that was very unattractive. I used to throw adult temper tantrums. I used to throw things against the wall. Even Sue noticed when fewer things were hitting the wall. I had a vocabulary problem and said the wrong kind of words for a father and a husband and a supposed church member which I was at that time. I was chairman of the lay board of my church when I became a Christian. God displaced those things.
I had tried to cure that vocabulary problem. I had made a number of New Year’s resolutions about that with no result. After the Lord moved into my life He moved a few things out and that was one of the first things. My general attitude towards my role as a father was totally different and those kids couldn’t and didn’t miss that.
Dennis: That’s a good message for our listeners to hear because I think sometimes we sell God’s grace short. He can make up for our errors no matter how grave or disastrous they may have been. In 1 Corinthians 15 verse 10 Paul says I am who I am by the grace of God. God’s grace really manifested itself in you as a couple didn’t it?
Don Myers: It did. There’s also that promise that God will restore the years the locust has eaten. He does that. The locust had eaten a number of years. In fact if God had not entered our marriage our marriage would have ended because it was headed that direction. There was a lot of grace. We have so much to be grateful for in our marriage and our lives.
Bob: One of the things that you realized as your kids were in their teens years was that they needed exposure not just to mom and dad struggling to live the Christian life but they needed exposure to what you described as holy heroes. Don, was this a conscious effort on your part to get in front of your kids people who you knew were living the Christian life faithfully?
Don Myers: Yes, it definitely was. It was one of the things we did very deliberately. It came very quickly after our conversion that we knew our children were being influenced. We wanted the right influences. I suppose we were fortunate in that we became associated with a Christian movement which had a lot of heroes in it.
But I didn’t really realize the power of this until one evening I was in the living room reading my newspaper and my son came in. This was about 10 o’clock at night. He came in from his weekly high school action group which was led by one of these holy heroes who was a staff member by the name of Chris. Bill was just vibrant. It was like he had electric energy in him. I knew something was different and so I asked him what was going on.
He said, “Dad you’ll never guess what happened tonight.” I said, “Tell me about it.”
He said, “Well, we all got there for the meeting and Chris wasn’t there. He’s always the first one there and we didn’t know what to do so we were sitting around and then he walked in. Dad, he didn’t even take off his jacket. He looked at all of us and took out of his pocket a big wad of Four Spiritual Laws and he began tossing those booklets to us and we were catching them.”
Bill was imitating this gesture. And then he said, “Men, we’re going out.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “We went out to the mall witnessing, Dad.”
That night I thanked the Lord that He had put in my son’s life a Holy Hero. I’d never seen it quite like that before but when I saw my son imitating every mannerism and gesture of Chris I knew that he had a holy hero.
Dennis: You purposed early in your marriage to invite guests to your church missionary heroes that were visiting the community and to practice hospitality to those of the household of faith. Let our listeners in on that because I think that’s a real unique application of this holy hero idea that can expose our kids to some great people.
Don Myers: When your children are young they will perceive who your heroes are so we went out of our way to bring God’s people into our home and if our church had a missionary scheduled we would make sure that we maneuvered that person into our home for a dinner. Days ahead we would start to build it up by telling our children about this VIP in God’s kingdom who was going to come.
Dennis: So you weren’t just inviting in a missionary so to speak you were bringing someone in there that was a decorated war veteran.
Don Myers: Absolutely. A battle scarred veteran. By the time he got there our kids would be so excited they couldn’t wait to see this hero and they hung on every word and watched his every movement. I know that had an impact on the lives of our children.
Dennis: Who would you say was the most popular hero you ever invited into your home?
Don Myers: Well, there wasn’t just one. There were many but the ones that impressed our children the most were the young ones that they could identify with most easily. These were usually young staff members with Campus Crusade for Christ.
Dennis: You both didn’t just rely on your life to do the talking for you. You really applied Deuteronomy 6 where it talks about formal instruction. You used some of Campus Crusade’s most basic discipleship materials to teach your kids about the fundamentals of the faith.
Don Myers: That’s true Dennis. We used one of the most basic and one of the earliest developed tools by Campus Crusade for Christ called The Ten Steps to Christian Maturity. We would usually sit on the carpet in the living room doing this together.
I’ll never forget the night we were working in one of the Ten Step booklets and the booklet had put us in Luke chapter 8 verses 22-25 on the storm on the lake that Jesus stilled. We read those verses together and then the booklet said, “What do you think the disciples thought about Jesus after that experience? Then there were about three lines to write your answer.
I asked everybody to take a minute and think about that based upon what we’ve read here and write down what you think. I happened to be sitting where I was looking over the shoulder of our youngest son, John who was six years old. As I watched what he wrote I got excited so I saved him for last because our pattern was that each of the children would share what they had written.
We started around the circle. Kathy was the oldest and I asked her what her answer was. She said, “Well, they said He sure must be the Son of God.” The other answers were very similar to that. Sue shared her answer. Then I asked John what he wrote. He said, “They said that Jesus was a storm stopper.”
After we laughed a bit like we did now we started talking about the storms in our lives and in our family that Jesus had stopped. We had a discussion about the faithfulness of God and how we could trust Him. There would be storms in our lives down the years but Jesus was there to stop them.
Bob: Dennis, you and I have talked about this before. Our kids need models outside of our home. We need to be good models for them as parents but they need a youth director at church or someone that they can look to and say I want to be like that person. Your kids have had those people in their lives haven’t they?
Dennis: It’s happened around sporting events and fishing trips but it always has to happen purposefully because mom and dad set aside time for that child to be able to connect with someone outside the family.
I think of our daughter Ashley. We have worked hard to find people that she would connect with and they would help her as she has matured. There are young moms here at FamilyLife that started out as Ashley babysitting for their family. Those young moms have become good friends with Ashley and they stayed connected with her and written her while she’s been away at college.
Our sons when they played little league baseball one of the guys here in the office befriended them and went out and gave them some coaching tips and helped me in the coaching of my sons. They needed this desperately because the head coach, that’s me, was pretty unskilled at his position of head coach.
What they are doing is more than just building a relationship. It has a purpose with an idea of building character into these young people’s lives so that when they go through adolescents they’re going to be stable and have relationships outside the family that connect them to people who can be their listening ear especially when they think mom and dad have taken dumb pills.
Bob: That’s why it’s so important for us as parents to keep our eyes opened and to be on the alert because we don’t know if the coach at the school basketball team is going to be modeling the kind of character we want instilled into our son. We don’t know if the gal who is leading the pom pom squad at school is going to be showing our daughters how they can be godly young women. Mom and dad have to be right in there keeping their antennas up and nudging our kids toward the right models.
Dennis: Bob, you are exactly right. Sometimes our heroes in the faith come from generations in the past don’t they, Don?
Don Myers: In fact the book Jungle Pilot about Nate Saint the martyred missionary in Ecuador was the book that decided our son on aviation as a career. He’s now working with the airline and he’s there as a Christian. I think it’s a tragedy that missionary biographies are becoming scarce in bookstores today.
Dennis: You’ve mentioned these biographies of Saints of times past. Could you give us a strong list of some excellent biographies and books that parents could have their kids read?
Don Myers: All we can do is give you some titles of the ones we’ve had in our home and that I think are timeless. Through Gates of Splendor which is the story of Jim Elliott told by his wife Elisabeth Elliott. Jungle Pilot which is the story of Nate Saint and written by his sister Rachel Saint. Or the classic The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom about her life. A book that had great influence on my wife was called The Man Called Peter which was about Peter Marshall written by Catherine Marshall. I suppose the list could go on and on. We had a number of books about Isobel Kuhn and the Lisu tribe of southwest China. She authored books that were true adventures of her experiences as a missionary.
Bob: Dennis, if you go into a Christian bookstore today there are not a whole row of these kinds of biographies. It’s unfortunate but we were at the library and we found the section in the library that had biographies of famous people and there on the shelf was a biography of Martin Luther. I pulled it out and I said, Katie come here. I’m going to check this out and if you’ll read it and give a report to the family on what you read in this book I’ll take you to Baskin Robbins and buy you anything you want.
Well, there was significant incentive for Katie to plow through what she might not have otherwise have chosen to read. It was a great night to gather in the living room as Katie stood in front of all of us and did a book report on the life of Martin Luther. How one man in Germany 500 years ago had changed the course of Christianity.
Dennis: How badly did she hurt you at Baskin Robbins?
Bob: Well, actually I ordered a little for myself so I got a win on that deal too.
Dennis: What we are talking about here is communicating biblical timeless truth through people to our kids. Whether that comes through you as a parent or a holy hero or your youth pastor or your pastor or some significant person who has been out in the battle earning their stripes for the kingdom the point is to expose our kids to character and values that are eternal. When it comes time for them to live for a cause you want them to be surrounded with the memories of these people and the values their lives represent.
Don and Sue, your lives represent those values and speak loudly to all of us as parents. Thank you for being successful and for letting us know that it can be done. I pray your grandkids do the same. Thanks for being with us.
Don Myers: Thank you Dennis.
Bob: I think what we’ve heard today is probably going to motivate and inspire a lot of parents to want to open their home when there is a missionary who is going to be in town and to have a meal with that family or with that individual and let them tell some stories. In fact I think about some opportunities that we have to do something like that this summer.
I think there are also a lot of parents who want to expose their children to the stories of missionaries. We’ve come across a book called The Adventures of Missionary Heroism. This is a hardback story book that includes a number of compelling accounts. These are great stories of men and women who risked it all to bring the good news of Jesus to other people. This would be a great book for parents to read aloud to younger children or you could assign this book to your older readers and have them read a chapter or a different story each week. This would be great summer time reading or great for family worship.
You can find out more information on the book on our web site FamilyLife Today.com. Again the title is The Adventures of Missionary Heroism by John Lambert. Again you can order from us online if you’d like at FamilyLife Today.com. Or you can also call us toll-free at 1-800-FL-Today. 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800, F as in family, L as in life, and the word Today. Ask for the book The Adventures of Missionary Heroism and we’ll make arrangements to have the ones you need sent to you.
We’ve talked a lot about heroes today. The men and women who have risked it all to take the gospel all around the world. I have to be honest with you I think those of you who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today I think of you as heroes as well.
You are partnering with us to help effectively develop godly families. These are the kinds of families who change the world one home at a time. We appreciate your financial partnership because it’s what keeps us on the air in this city and other cities all across the country.
This month if you’re able to help with a donation of any amount we would like to say thank you by sending you a CD that features a conversation we had several months ago with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She is an author and speaker and the host for the daily radio program Revive Our Heart. She has written a book called Choosing Forgiveness. We spent some time with her talking about what the Bible has to say about the subject of forgiveness. It’s vital for healthy marriage and family relationships.
If you’re able to help with a donation of any amount this month to help support FamilyLife Today you can request a copy of this CD. If you are making your donation online at FamilyLife Today.com when you come to the key code box on the online donation form just type the word “forgive” into the box and we’ll know to send you a copy of this CD.
Or you can call 1-800-FL-Today. That’s 1-800, F as in family, L as in life, and the word Today. Make a donation over the phone and mention that you would like the CD on forgiveness with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. We are happy to send it to you and again let me say thanks for partnering with us in this ministry and for being a hero. We appreciate you.
Now tomorrow we’re going to talk to a mom and dad who hit a pretty big bump in the road as they were raising their oldest daughter. When she got into the teen years things got out of control. We’ll hear their story and we’ll find out how they got help tomorrow. I hope you can join us 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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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