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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Discovering What It Means to Be a Man (Part 1 of 2)

Discovering What It Means to Be a Man (Part 1 of 2)

Pastor and best-selling author Mark Batterson offers his insights on biblical masculinity and what it takes, particularly for a father, to raise a boy to become a good man. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: October 18, 2018

Preview:

Mark Batterson: A tough guy is not someone that can bloody a nose or blacken an eye. It’s someone who’s willing to hang on a cross for someone else’s sin.

End of Preview

John Fuller: That’s Pastor Mark Batterson talking about the importance of godly manhood, and he’s our guest today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Thanks for listening in. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Now, John, a man’s role is so important, but there’s so much confusion today on what it means to be a man. And, uh, as dads, we play a significant role in giving our children that identity. And one way we do that is by being a man of integrity ourselves, and then teaching this to our children. And, you know, your kids are gonna find you out probably faster than most people, (laughs) because they’re living with you. They can see, is he consistent? Is he the man he thinks he is? (laughs) And, uh, that’s always proof in the pudding.

John: Yeah.

Jim: And, uh, I need to probably write more on that, but it’ll be good. Uh, here at Focus, we want to strengthen you. That is our goal. I know there’s many, many, uh, wives that are listening, saying, “I wish my husband would hear this.” Get the download. (laughs) Make sure he does, some way. Put it on the pillow. “Hey, here’s a Focus on the Family program you may want to listen to.” Do it lovingly. (laughs)

John: Yes, yes.

Jim: Don’t do it in a way that’s, uh, that’s shaming, but that is our goal, to help, uh, you be the best parent you can be. It’s as simple as that.

John: Yeah, and so, listen in, uh, and as you do, just know that we’ve got a great book that, uh, our guest has written called Play the Man: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be. Uh, we’ve got that, and the download Jim mentioned, and other resources at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or call 1-800-A-FAMILY. And Mark is the senior pastor of National Community Church, and that’s in Washington D.C.

Jim: (laughs) Hey, Mark, welcome to the program.

Mark: Thanks so much, guys.

Jim: You know, I love that. Let’s just start there, your church there in Washington D.C. it’s not where I wanted to start originally, but you shared with me what’s happening. Tell us about the church and how excited you are.

Mark: Yeah. We started with 19 people-

Jim: (laughs)

Mark: … about two decades ago, and, uh, here we are, uh, with seven campuses, about 50% single twenty-somethings, so a lot of Hill staffers, uh, and, uh, people that live and work in Washington D.C., State Department, military, some students, and, uh, we are, uh, we’re trying to bring the gospel to bear in our nation’s capital.

Jim: You know, Mark, when you look at that, so often we can despair, you know? We don’t see God in that arena as much as we’d like to, as Christians, you know. Washington seems like a very desperate place, spiritually, but isn’t it awesome to know there’s probably many churches, but certainly, yours is one of the biggest there, and you have folks coming who are working in the government, hearing sermons on Sunday, knowing the Lord, trying to do, uh, their job well, and do it from a, a Biblical perspective, that actually is encouraging to me.

Mark: Yeah, and it, uh, it isn’t what makes the news most often.

Jim: Right.

Mark: But, uh, you know, actually, I think the good news ought to make the news, and, uh, in many ways, we are. So, I, I know that people have a perspective of what happens inside the beltway, but to be able to be there and just minister to people that are swimming in those waters, um, we need to be there, and, uh, I’ll tell you this. Uh, I believe we need revival in America, and I wouldn’t mind if it started right in the nation’s capital. And so, that’s what we’re believing for, praying for.

Jim: Tell you what, that’s just like the Lord to do that.

Mark: Yes.

Jim: We’d think it would start in the Bible Belt-

Mark: Yes.

Jim: … but he’ll go right there and say, “Let’s start here.”

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: And, uh, that’s what’s wonderful. You’ve written this great book, Play the Man. Um, I resonate with it. I so appreciate what you’re expressing there. I mention there is confusion today on what it means to be a man. What do you think defines masculinity? Let’s get right to it.

Mark: In a word, Jesus. (laughs)

Jim: (laughs) No, that’s good.

Mark: You, you know? I mean, I think the compass needle of masculinity is spinning, and things are being redefined, and there is a lot of confusion. And so, I think we’ve got to go back to the original source. What you do is you reverse engineer. Uh, I think you go back to first Adam, look at some of the mistakes that he made, and then, uh, I think in second Adam, the person of Jesus Christ, we’ve got true north. He-

Jim: Huh.

Mark: … exemplifies what it means to be a man.

Jim: Yeah, that is so good. To Play the Man, the title of the book, what are you expressing there? It’s a catchy phrase, but what is the meaning of it?

Mark: Yeah. Well, you guys know I love history, and this title comes out of a true story. Uh, Polycarp was, uh, a martyr in, uh, 155 A.D., but something really interesting happened when they brought him into the, the Colosseum at Smyrna, they told him to recant his faith, and he would not do it. He said, “86 years, uh, have I served him. H- how can I blaspheme my king now?”

Jim: Huh.

Mark: And he hears a voice from Heaven. Now, you’ll find this in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. He hears a voice from Heaven that says, “Be strong, Polycarp. Play the man.” It gives you goosebumps, doesn’t it?

Jim: Yeah.

John: Hm.

Mark: And, uh, he played the man. By the way, was personally discipled by the Apostle John.

Jim: Wow.

Mark: And so, when you read those words to the church in Smyrna in the book of Revelation, uh, Polycarp would have heard John’s voice, and, uh, it said, “Be faithful unto death,” and he was. And so, he played the man by dying for his faith, and, and I just want to flip the coin and say, “Let’s play the man by living for our faith.” And so, the title of the book kind of comes from that little piece of history.

Jim: Yeah, and it, it does grab you. That’s a wonderful story. What does God desire for us as men?

Mark: W- well, I think that’s a big question with many dimensions to it, but I might capture the issue that I think we face with just this simple example. Uh, I’m in a room with 500 guys, a year or two ago, and I ask them how many of them were discipled by their father, and three hands went up.

Jim: 3 out of 500?

Mark: 3 out of 500.

John: Oh my.

Jim: Wow.

Mark: Uh, Houston, we have a problem.

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: And so, I think what we have is men who don’t really know what it means to be a man of God and fathers who don’t really know what it means to be a spiritual father. And there’s this tremendous void, and in that void, you can hear that last verse of the Old Testament, this kind of plea that God would turn the hearts of the fathers to their children.

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: And, uh, I think that’s really the heartbeat of this book and the reason behind me writing it.

Jim: Well, and that’s why we resonate with the message. That’s certainly the mission here at Focus on the Family, for parents, but for men, for dads to really be engaged with their families. And, uh, that’s critically important to helping your children grow into the spiritual people they can be and should be. Um, y- you’re a pastor. Do you think the church is teaching us how to be godly men?

Mark: Hm.

Jim: or is this … You know, so often, now, when I’m on the road, speaking like you do, men will say, “I just, it doesn’t fit me. It, my wife loves it, but church for me is not meeting a need in me.”

Mark: Hm.

Jim: W- what are they expressing when they say that, and what are we doing perhaps wrong when it comes to men being engaged with church?

Mark: Yeah. Well, let’s be honest. Many churches are answering questions that people aren’t asking.

Jim: (laughs) Oh, man.

Mark: And so, what we have is this culture that is having lots of conversation about gender, about sexuality, and if we don’t let our voice be heard, and speak the truth in love, then, in a sense, we lose our voice. We lose our standing in culture. And so, I think what we’ve got to do is find a way to speak that message of truth, to do it in love, and, you know, the second that you bring up male and female, and here we are with, um, you know, #MeToo-

Jim: Yup.

Mark: … and everything else that’s happening in our culture, it’s almost like we’re tentative or afraid to kind of speak into this, but it’s God who said, um, “male and female, I have made them,” and it’s something that we ought to be celebrating. It’s something that we ought to be cultivating. And, uh, in many ways, if we aren’t defining what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman, uh, I think that culture steps in and begins to define it, often in ways that are at odds with what we believe based on scripture.

Jim: Yeah, and it’s really true. I was going to ask you about that before we got to the content of the book, you know, just the role of masculinity today, and, you know, there’s that term that’s been created now, toxic masculinity. It’s almost like men’s backs are up against the wall, and there certainly are bad men that have done horrific things, but I appreciate in the news media when they say, “This doesn’t apply to every man. I mean, not all men behave badly.”

Mark: Mm.

Jim: And it’s almost like there’s a cultural acceptance that if you’re a man, you’re going to be doing things you shouldn’t do, and that’s not the case.

Mark: It’s not the case, and I go right back to the gospels, and I look at Jesus, and I look at who he befriended, and who he championed, and the way that he would reach across these divides, and touch a leper, and eat with sinners, and-

Jim: Right, people that he shouldn’t have eaten with. (laughs)

Mark: Yes, and everybody’s ready to cast a stone, and he steps into the situation, and I just, I think we’ve got to go back to n- not just understanding who Jesus is, but look at the way that he interacted with the culture that he was in.

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: And, uh, I think in the person of Jesus, we have this incredible, you know, son of man, son of God, lamb of God, lion of the tribe of Judah, which one is it? Yes. It’s both.

John: Yeah, mm-hmm.

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: It’s, uh, Jesus wept, every kid’s favorite Bible verse, right, to memorize? A- and then you have-

Jim: (laughs) The shortest of all.

Mark: You know, he’s man enough to cry, but he also walks into the temple, and he turns tables over. So, which one is he? He’s both. He’s this complex personality who is the incarnation of God himself-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Mark: … and when we really look at him, what we have is that prototype of who I want to be, as a man, as a husband, as a father, and, and that’s why it says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.” And so, there it is. We have the picture.

Jim: Yeah. Unfortunately for men, I think when we hear that specific scripture, we already feel like we’re getting a D minus, you know?

Mark: (laughs)

John: Hm, who can do this?

Jim: And men don’t do well-

Mark: Yes.

Jim: We’re so performance-oriented that if, in our competitive spirit, we don’t feel like we can measure up, we just slip away.

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: And I, I wonder sometimes, you know, how do we measure up to Jesus?

Mark: Hm.

Jim: I mean, the perfect person, the sinless one.

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, that’s a ha- a tall order, and I think so many men feel like, I can’t do that. I don’t even understand how to love my wife in that way.

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: Uh, what is the Lord wanting us to do in that relationship with our wives?

Mark: Yeah. Can I just speak a word of encouragement?

Jim: Absolutely.

Mark: Because we beat ourselves up, and, you know, the enemy is the accuser of the brethren, so he’s the one who wants re- to remind us of what we’ve done wrong over, and over, and over again, and I think what we’ve got to realize is that y- yes, we’re imperfect, but here’s some good news. His grace is sufficient.

Jim: That’s right.

Mark: And, and he makes up the difference. And so, the way I think about it, let’s take parenting, for example. I am an imperfect father. You know, I wrote this book, Play the Man, and, uh, I’m about as flawed as they come.

Jim: (laughs)

Mark: And so, uh, but here’s what I believe. Whether you’re a, a single parent listening to this, or, or, you know, a husband and a wife, the reality is, uh, we’re going to fall short, but the good news is, there is a heavenly father who I believe makes up the difference. And so, where we fall short, he steps in-

Jim: That’s exactly right.

Mark: … and, and that grace is sufficient. And, by the way, parents, I want you to know, the mistakes you make are some of the greatest opportunities you have, because h- here’s my parenting philosophy in three words. Please, sorry, thanks.

Jim: (laughs) That’s good.

Mark: I- if our kids can learn please, sorry, thanks, but I’ll tell you what, the hardest is sorry.

Jim: Yes.

Mark: Well, how are kids going to learn how to say sorry unless their parents-

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: … learn to apologize for their shortcomings? So, let’s not pretend to be perfect.

Jim: Let’s get to the content of the book. You highlight seven virtues of manhood. You’ve talked about Jesus, who is one of those, uh, archetypes in the book, and one of the characters you highlight. Give us a brief overview of the characters in the book, and then we’ll dig into a handful of them.

Mark: Yeah. Well, I love history, so, I, I, uh, read a lot of biographies, and there are some men that I look up to, uh, in terms of their, uh, manliness, shall we say. People like Teddy Roosevelt, and John Muir, and John Wesley Powell, and, uh, Louis Zamperini, and so, I love sharing their stories. And then, I talk about these, uh, seven dimensions, seven-character traits of what it means to be a man of God.

Jim: Right.

Mark: Uh, all the way from tough love to moral courage, and some true grit, and willpower in between.

Jim: Well, let’s grab a couple.

Mark: Okay.

Jim: Um, tough love, uh, you, I think you went to Charles Lindbergh for that. Describe that virtue and who Charles Lindbergh is, because not everyone will remember.

Mark: Yeah, first solo trans-Atlantic flight, and, uh, you know, pretty amazing accomplishment. That’s got to be a lonely experience, uh, taking off, uh, New York State, and then making it to Paris.

John: How long did that take him, do you know, Mark?

Mark: Oh, I think, uh, I think it was, uh, maybe 33, 36 hours.

John: Wow.

Mark: So, I mean, you’re the only one at the helm-

John: Hm.

Mark: … and, uh, it was so cloudy at points that he was flying about 10 feet above the water.

John: Oh my.

Mark: By the way, my favorite moment was, uh, he was getting close to the coast of Ireland, I believe, and he sees a fisherman, and so, he circles the boat and asks him a question, and the, the poor fisherman was so dumbfounded, he doesn’t even know (laughs) what to think of a guy flying a plane around his boat. Uh-

Jim: In 1920-something?

John: … down at him

Mark: 1927, yeah.

Jim: He’s probably thinking, you’re scaring the fish away. Get out of here.

Mark: Yeah, right, so, I-

Jim: But, that’s interesting concept, but the tough love connection, give me a more concrete insight.

Mark: Yes. So, you know, I ask the question, how, how does someone have that kind of endurance to pull off that kind of accomplishment? And, uh, I point back to his grandfather, August Lindbergh, who, uh, had a little sawmill in, I think, Sauk Centre, Minnesota, and, uh, I want to be careful here, because this is not a pretty picture, but he had an accident with that sawmill, and he lost a limb. And the story is told that he didn’t, um, make a sound. (laughs)

Jim: Gee.

Mark: Did, didn’t cry, didn’t say ouch, didn’t, um, and the doctor didn’t show up for three days.

John: Oh my.

Mark: And so, my point in the book is, you know, to Charles, uh, flying across the Atlantic, no big deal compared to his grandfather. You want to talk about tough?

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: Uh, it’s someone who endured what he did. But then, I want to take that idea of tough, because here’s the key. A tough guy is not someone that can bloody a nose or blacken an eye. It’s someone who’s willing to hang on a cross for someone else’s sin.

Jim: Well, that’s the interesting point you’re making. It’s not the external use of force. It’s the internal absorption of pain.

Mark: Yes.

John: That’s a good way to put it.

Jim: There’s a big difference.

Mark: Yes, and it’s things like sacrifice.

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: And we celebrate it in movies, right? But it doesn’t seem like we celebrate it in real life.

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: W- we want success without sacrifice. We want everything to be wonderful without, you know, the hard work behind it, and I’ll tell you why I call it tough love, because it’s tough, because it’s hard, because, uh-

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: … it takes tremendous effort to make that kind of sacrifice in loving another person.

Jim: Mark, you’re, you’re a pastor, and I want, I want to elaborate on this for a minute, because one of the concerns I have in the culture today, and, and I’m in it. I go to Washington. I meet with the people that help shape policy. It’s something we’ve done at Focus for years, but there is a difference, I think, in the way Christians should approach that area, the public policy arena. And I want you to apply this kind of tough love to it. Um you can go in and play a zero-sum game. You can shake the stick. You can be the tough guy, the mean guy. And demand that they get on with whatever it is that we’re about. Um, pro-life legislation, pro-family legislation etcetera. You can be in some tough meetings. I’ve sat in some of those meetings and listened to Christian leaders make demands. It doesn’t seem to me like that is the heart of the New Testament. Where the Lord is, where Paul was at. When you’re asked to pray for those over authority, you have to come with a contriteness, a humility, the fruit of the spirit. That’s not a good mashing in Washington DC, which plays this game of power. And I think the question I want to ask you is, and I struggle with this personally, cuz I want to win, I want to be Peter in the garden. I want to strap on the sword and make sure my side comes out ahead. And there’s this whole other side of me which I think is the holy spirit in me, saying act like Stephen. Be willing to lay your life down. It’s not that kind of game. I don’t play that game. If you’re going to swing that sword, you’re going to die by the sword. Just what Jesus did in rebuking Peter in the garden. Help me. Just speak to me as a person who’s in the cultural battle. How do I maintain the character of Christ in an environment that acts so un-Christ-like?

Mark: Hm, well, I think you have to go back to the foot of the cross on a daily basis, right? You have to go back to that place where that kind of love is modeled for us. Uh, you know, Jim, I think we would rather be right than righteous, and I think there’s an issue there. Um, now, let me say this. Uh, John 1 says that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Truth means I’ll be honest with you, no matter what. Grace means I’ll love you, no matter what. I’ve found that most people kind of have a, a tendency towards one or the other, you know? That truthful person that maybe, uh, needs a little more grace, or that graceful person that needs a little bit more truth. I think what Jesus modeled is the perfect combination of these two things.

Jim: That’s right.

Mark: And the way it expressed itself was, um, and this is my definition of tough love. It’s loving people when they least expect it and least deserve it. And so, there’s such a lack of civility, um, just old-fashioned niceness.

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: And, when I read the gos- This isn’t going to sound super theological, but it’s Romans 2:10. It’s his kindness that leads us to repentance.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: That’s exactly right.

Mark: He doesn’t threaten us. He shows us kindness. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to try more kindness. Oh, if that doesn’t work, I’m going to try even more kindness. I think that’s the heart of God, and we’ve got to operate in that same kind of spirit.

Jim: I agree, but, and I think, here’s where we’re missing it, as the church, is we don’t … A, I don’t think we have a lot of teaching in that regard, and it’s like in Luke 6, where it says, “If you love those who love you, what is that? Sinners do that. I’m telling you to love those who hate you.” (laughs)

Mark: Yes.

Jim: Okay, wow, and I think I’m applying it here with what you’re saying, that tough love, it’s that man who can absorb the blows like Jesus did on the cross for the greater good that is living it, as opposed to the man who’s the bully in the arena.

Mark: Hm, yeah.

Jim: And I just, I want to be cautious that we don’t become the bully in the arena, because I don’t think that’s the attitude of God’s heart.

Mark: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: All right. Let’s keep moving.

Mark: Okay.

Jim: Um, let’s move on to willpower, and who did you choose to exemplify willpower, and why is willpower important? What does it mean to the man?

Mark: Well, there’s this, uh, w- wonderful book about Louis Zamperini, and a movie about his life, shot down in World War II, survived on the ocean in a little raft, and then things went from bad from worse. Ends up as a prisoner of war, just cruelly treated, because he was an Olympian, and when his captors found out who he was, uh, he was treated pretty poorly. Um, I forget the weight that he ended up at, but I want to say something like 70 pounds. I mean, he was skin and bones. He was a, a dead man breathing, but somehow, he survived that, and, uh, actually found a way to forgive. It was actually at a Billy Graham crusade-

Jim: Huh.

Mark: … that his life turned around. There’s this moment in the movie, and in the book, and he’s holding up this beam, and it just takes all the strength he has to just hold this beam up. And I, I think there are moments in life where willpower is going to be the thing that makes the difference.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Uh, now, two kinds of power, Dunamis, kind of this physical power, but Exousia, this willpower, the ability to do the right thing even when everybody else is doing the wrong thing. Uh, I think we need more of that in our manhood.

John: Hm.

Jim: How have you done that, as a man?

Mark: Oh. Well, you know, it’s the tough circumstances, it’s the difficult times that I think forge us. And so, I think of the near-death experience, where I spent two days on a respirator, my intestines ruptured. I should have died, but you come out the other side of something like that, and now, every day is a gift. You live your life a little differently after that. I think I probably learned some of it playing basketball in college. Um, you know, coach is going to tell you, “Hey, it’s another wind sprint.” Uh, the last thing I wanted to do, but you run that wind sprint. It’s, I think, life teaches you that you, you’ve got to rise to that challenge, and, uh, keep on keeping on.

John: Hm.

Jim: Yeah, and that’s a great example. I think all of us, hopefully, can look to a point in our lives where we had to demonstrate that kind of willpower, and I would say a lot of pastors I talk to, Mark, talk about, you know, men are missing.

Mark: Yes.

Jim: And, we talked about orthopraxy, the doing of the word. It’s a lot of the womenfolk in church who are stepping up and doing that.

Mark: Yes.

Jim: So, I guess, this isn’t a shame or a guilt thing, but I guess the compounding question is, why is that typical? And then, why are men so easily distracted from what they should be doing, which is that hard work, and those things that God calls us to, taking care of the widow and the orphan? I’m sure a lot of men would say, “Man, that’s what a woman would do.”

Mark: Yes, yup.

Jim: You know what I’m saying? I’m not trying to be degrading, but I’m saying-

Mark: Yes.

Jim: … something is not attracting us men to core things that we should do.

Mark: Yes. Do we have time for me to answer that with a story?

Jim: Sure.

Mark: Y- you know, I’m in the Galapagos Islands on a mission trip years ago, and it’s this incredible wildlife, you know? We’re swimming with sea lions, and there are pelicans that look like prehistoric pterodactyls circling our boat-

Jim: (laughs)

Mark: … and dive-bombing for fish, and then there are these iguanas, and, uh, long story short, I go home, and I go to the National Zoo a couple of weeks later. And I’m walking through the ape house, and I’m thinking to myself, one, uh, much more exciting being out in nature and experiencing kind of this wildlife in its natural habitat, and this crazy thought crosses my mind. I wonder if churches do to people what zoos do to animals.

Jim: Huh.

Mark: We cage them, and we want to tame them in the name of Christ, and we want to remove the danger, and remove the risk. And then, I juxtaposed that, again, with the gospels, and the fact that 11 out of the 12 disciples were martyred for their faith. Listen, Jesus didn’t die just to keep us safe, died to make us dangerous, and I think what happens is, when we kind of remove this element of danger, or this element of adventure, we lose the men in our midst. Listen, testosterone is a gift from God, but like anything else, it’s got to be sanctified and channeled in a way that glorifies God. And I think that happens when we begin to, in a sense, re-wild. And I talk about that a little bit in the book. We don’t have time to go into it, but I think there’s a re-wilding that God wants to do in our hearts.

Jim: Well, that’ll be good to come back next time, if you can stick with us, and we’ll talk about that, and how manhood in, in the family needs to be expressed, in your marriage, in your parenting, kind of get down to some even more practical things. But I have loved this. I’ve really enjoyed, uh, seeing kind of God through John Muir, and Lindbergh, and other characters of history that you don’t normally associate with a deep, uh, connection with Christ. So, Mark, this has been terrific. Uh, let’s do that. Let’s come back next time and continue the discussion about Play the Man, this wonderful book that you’ve written. Uh, let me turn to the listener, uh, also, and say, today’s program, uh, highlights, I think, the very reason we exist here at Focus, to help you think differently about your relationship with Christ, to help deepen your commitment to him, to help move you along that journey of spiritual development, as a man, as a woman, as a husband, father. Those are the things that we’re trying to equip you with to make you a stronger believer, and I think that’s worthy of all of our support. And, if you can help us financially, uh, I’d want to send you a copy of Mark’s great book, Play the Man, as our way of saying thank you for joining the team and touching literally hundreds of thousands of people who are looking for more, uh, in this life with Christ.

John: And, if you can make a pledge of support on a monthly basis to Focus on the Family, we would be really grateful, and, uh, we’ll say thank you by sending a copy of Mark’s book, Play the Man. If you’re not able to commit to a monthly pledge right now, we’ll still be happy to send you the book for a donation of any amount. Uh, when you’re online, donate at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or call 1-800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.  On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back next time, as we continue the conversation with Mark Batterson, and, once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Play the Man: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be

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Honoring the Fallen on Memorial Day

Focus President Jim Daly and John Fuller share listener-submitted stories of friends and family members who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms we enjoy today as Americans.

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Gaining a New Perspective on Life

Who is in control of your life? British evangelist J.John challenges believers to live up to our tremendous God-given potential by letting Jesus into the driver’s seat of our lives. With humorous stories of his many years in ministry, J.John explains that the essence of Christianity is to know Christ, and make Him known to others.

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A Legacy of Music and Trusting the Lord

Larnelle Harris shares stories about how God redeemed the dysfunctional past of his parents, the many African-American teachers who sacrificed their time and energy to give young men like himself a better future, and how his faithfulness to godly principles gave him greater opportunities and career success than anything else.

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Accepting Your Imperfect Life

Amy Carroll shares how her perfectionism led to her being discontent in her marriage for over a decade, how she learned to find value in who Christ is, not in what she does, and practical ways everyone can accept the messiness of marriage and of life.

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Avoiding Shame-Based Parenting

Psychologist Dr. Kelly Flanagan discusses the origins of shame, the search for self-worth in all the wrong places, and the importance of extending grace to ourselves. He also explains how parents can help their kids find their own sense of self-worth, belonging and purpose.