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Focus on the Family Broadcast

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Fueling Great Relationships With Others

Fueling Great Relationships With Others

Dr. John Townsend offers practical ideas on how to create incredibly meaningful relationships in every area of your life. He describes the types of people who are needed on your “life team” to help you grow – and others who need to be held at arm’s length, as you seek balance in your relationships with friends and colleagues.
Original Air Date: January 25, 2022

Sponsor ID:  The following program is sponsored by Focus on the Family and is supported by the prayers and financial gifts of wonderful friends like you.

Dr. John Townsend: Proverbs chapter four, verse 23, “Guard your heart, for from it flow the wellsprings of life.” If I don’t take care of my heart, which is my emotions and my values and my schedule and all that, then I’m not going to be able to give it to anybody else.

John Fuller: That’s Dr. John Townsend. He’s our guest today on Focus on the Family, sharing some relational tools to help us invest in others and also to allow others to speak into our lives. Thanks for joining us today. Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: You know, John, I think everyone wants to live a healthy life, uh but they don’t always know how to get there. And there’s always these attributes that they manifest that are very unhealthy, and it prevents them from living that very healthy life that they want to have, and especially healthy relationships. Our good friend, Dr. John Townsend uh has thought a lot about this and has some wonderful ideas on how to do that, how to uh strengthen yourself, get yourself in a healthy position, and then be that cup of cold water to the relationships around you, which is what Jesus is really calling us to do.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And he’s going to offer some great practical wisdom on how to do that. I think you want to kick back, get a cup of coffee, cup of tea and sit in and listen to this one.

John: Yeah, you’re gonna find balance and encouragement for your daily life from Dr. Townsend. He’s a nationally known leadership consultant, psychologist, bestselling author, and is the founder of the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling. And his book that forms the basis for our conversation today is called People Fuel: Fill your Tank for Life, Love and Leadership. And we’ve got copies of that here at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: John, welcome back to Focus.

Dr. Townsend: Glad to be here, guys.

Jim: Um the title People Fuel is great. Now Jean and I, just to give you an idea, I mean, I’m more the extrovert. She’s more the introvert. And we talk about how we either are fueled in a group or defueled, if I could say it that way.

Dr. Townsend: Yeah, some people say gains are drains.

Jim: You’re right. And that, that’s true. But you know one thing, it’s so interesting to me, I think, and maybe it’s just part of being married. And I don’t even know if this is clinically accurate. But I think over the years, I’ve adopted a bit of her need to back up a little bit. I used to in my 20s and 30s, it was all outbound, you know, I just love being in a group. And it was party time, and crazy and fun. And the more parties the better, right? And then I realized, yeah, I need time to back up because I’m really empty. Is that kind of normal?

Dr. Townsend: It’s very normal, they found out and in fact that the extrovert needs cave time, not as much as the introvert but everybody needs that cave time.

Jim: So and the idea there though, for, for her, for the introvert is you do need people time too. Is that [inaudible]?

Dr. Townsend: That God made us to need both, that sort of the reflective time to say how’s life going, get my energy back, but also need that good stuff that comes from the right relationships.

Jim: And you also say in the book, which is fantastic, People Fuel, that we have set needs, I think we, you know what I love about this? Let’s get this right out of the way, the idea of amalgamating Christianity with psychology. I think it’s a fact that as you as a Christian are identifying patterns that God has set in us as human beings, I think it’s one of the most comfortable blends of science and faith in the disciplines of science. Do you agree?

Dr. Townsend: No question. But in fact, most of what I study now, Jim is neuroscience. And that’s because every robust study that comes out about resilience, or relationship or success or career, every well-done study basically says one thing, the Bible has it all.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Townsend: That thousands of years ago, God said those things, and you can find uh Bible passages. It’s a little bit like there’s this tapestry in your, in your home that says principles of love, principles of success, principles of child rising. And then finally, because of neuroscience, the author’s name, God, is on the bottom of that tapestry. It’s a hard science now says he had it right all along.

Jim: And it shouldn’t surprise us as Christians. That’s the funny thing that we seem like wow, that’s amazing. But science should align itself with, with scripture, especially in the area of human behavior.

Dr. Townsend: Yep.

Jim: So with that understanding, you say there are two sets of needs, functional and relational.

Dr. Townsend: Mm-hmm.

Jim: But that relational needs are often not met.

Dr. Townsend: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So go ahead and describe those two and speak more about unmet relational needs.

Dr. Townsend: Yeah. So the functional needs briefly are that we all need to work. We need to do tasks, be responsible, hold our finances together, all the structure kind of scheduled things we do. But the relational needs are like what we need to know that we’re loved. We know that we’re, we’re accepted, that there’s wisdom around us, that we can get truth. And the problem is a lot of us are trained to think, “Okay, I’m supposed to give all those things to other people, but I’m, I’m supposed to only get them from three sources, just from the Lord, or my spouse, or my Labrador retriever, Max.”

Jim: That’s right.

Dr. Townsend: He licks me because he unconditionally cares about me. So I just go that way. And it’s great. We need the Lord and the Holy Spirit in the Bible, and we need our spouse, and we need Max. But the Bible says oh so much more about other people that we need grace and nutrients from. I, I got the whole concept from um, from the world of bio nutrients, you know, we’re all into getting healthy and taking supplements and eating right these days, but we kind of never do. And I started thinking, okay, there’s bio nutrients like calcium, and like, uh you know, uh iron that we need to stay healthy. I thought, there’s also relational nutrients. There’s the way that we get those, and we, we get those to each other, not from a pill or supplement, but from a conversation, uh a text, a warm lunch, or whatever, where we find out that we can get the acceptance we need from others, the wisdom, the encouragement, the truth, the challenge. So the concept of relational nutrients is, are we getting the ones we need from each other? You know, I Peter 4:10 says that we are the stewards of God’s manifold grace. God just basically said, “I’m giving my grace to people through people.” Am I getting that from people? And am I providing that for my family and my friends?

Jim: Right.

Dr. Townsend: But to say I’m struggling in my work, or my marriage, or my, my physical health, vulnerability brings those nutrients, but it’s a little scary for us. But if we can pull that off with safe people, the flow of nutrients works. And we’re already feeling like, I’m, I’m ready to take the day.

Jim: And that’s what I appreciate about the, um you know, the gentle nudging you’re giving us here to kind of get out of the comfort zone, kind of the cave as you described it and get to know the cave next door, right?

Dr. Townsend: Yes.

Jim: In that way, you have four quadrants of relational nutrients. Uh describe what those four quadrants are, and how each of them relate to us.

Dr. Townsend: Yeah, they’re all just kind of different categories of how we supply each other with the right fuel and and get supplied. The first one which is called be present, first quadrant was be present. That means basically, it means to be with somebody and, and be present emotionally and shut up. You know, in Job chapter two, it says that his friends sat with him seven days and seven nights and did not speak a word to him for they saw his grief was very great.

Jim: Mmm.

Dr. Townsend: Only good thing they did in 42 chapters, right? Um and, and, and so sometimes you just got to be with somebody and comfort em and say, “I’m here, I want to get in the well with you, I want to support you.” Number two is um provide the good. You know, we all need people to kind of be a little uh dopamine hit for each other, we encourage each other, and we believe in you and you’re struggling in your job, or your health, or your with COVID, or your finances, or your spiritual life. I believe you. I’m on your side. I respect you. And people just need that little pop of you just gave me an endorphin. And literally, that’s what the neuroscience says. We give each other endorphins, and we feel better when someone encourages us. So you’ve got to provide the positive good for people. So being present, and just providing the good.

Jim: That’s good. What are the other two?

Dr. Townsend: Um the, the third one is provide reality because sometimes we need what I call a Gandalf, you know, Lord of the Rings, Gandalf the Wizard-

Jim: (laughs)

Dr. Townsend: And he has these lot of cryptic statements, and you go, “Oh, my gosh.”, and the person that can go deeper and say, “Why is that?”, or here’s another perspective, give you honest feedback, give your insight, wisdom. You’ve got to get that from the right people. So that, that provides so much when people go, “Oh, now I see things. You gave me clarity.” It’s the wisdom aspect.

Jim: And what’s the fourth one?

Dr. Townsend: Well, the fourth one is sort of like now let’s get our butts out of the seats and do something.

Jim: (laughs)

Dr. Townsend: Is the action step is like, what’s the action you’re going to take? Because we can have all the presence we want, all the good love we want, all the wisdom we want, but you got to make behavior. And so what’s your next challenge? What’s your homework assignment? Is there a, a course you need to take? You need to have that conversation. That’s what action is. And so we’re all the time giving and receiving those four, depending on what you needed a different time to each other.

Jim: And it’s so good. And, and that’s all contained in the book People Fuel. And John’s gonna give some details about that in a minute. Let me also ask you then. This is a, this is one that again, uh I think I have often tried to figure out where’s this line? Uh people think it’s selfish to think of your own needs. Um, but you say it’s crucial to maintain health and well-being. But where is that line, especially for the Christian to be mindful of your own needs, because that feels at times selfish.

Dr. Townsend: It does.

Jim: That we would put ourselves first but sometimes you need to. Describe when that is appropriate, when it’s spiritually right and when it’s wrong.

Dr. Townsend: Yeah, uh I always go back to the Bible on that because we, we’ve missed so many verses. For example, um Proverbs chapter four, verse 23, “Guard your heart, for from it flow the wellsprings of life.” If I don’t take care of my heart, which is my emotions, and my values and my schedule and all that, then I’m not gonna be able to give it to anybody else. And then Paul says in Philippians, “Look not only to your own interest, but those of others.”, not only to your own but of others. So it’s always been in the Bible, but I think sometimes we’ve missed that instead, or any kind of self-care is selfish, and it can be, but if you’re taking care of yourself, and you’re a healthy person, you’re gonna want to give to the kingdom and to others.

Jim: Right. And I think in that context, uh again, this is just a personal example that hopefully encourages couples. Like Jean and I, I think it took us time in our marriage to figure that out that I enjoyed going for a workout or doing something. And at first, I think she felt wow, okay, well, what about time for us?

Dr. Townsend: Yeah, you’re kind of leaving us.

Jim: Yeah. And you know, of course, then kids arrive and (laughs) where are you, I need you. And we get all that, but she is in such a good place with that now, you know, for herself taking a walk and doing those things that she needs to do and doing them and not feeling guilty about it. And then, you know, letting me go work out and, and do some of those things that I need to recharge. Why does it, first of all, why does it take us time in our marriages to work that out for each other?

Dr. Townsend: Well, it does because in the early parts, you have this kind of honeymoon period what I just can’t get enough of being together with you. And-

Jim: Right.

Dr. Townsend: It’s a good thing because that glues us together to get ready for the fact that wait a minute, you’re not perfect. I’m not maybe I need some space. But then once the honeymoon is over, you got I know you and you know me, all of a sudden, we know I need some space, because space creates longing. There’s a great song that says, it’s a country song that says how can I miss you if you don’t go away?

Jim: (laughs)

Dr. Townsend: (laughs) So your walks and her walks make you go, “Hey, I missed you.”, and you get back together.

Jim: It sounds like an introvert speaking. (laughs)

Dr. Townsend: Pretty much.

John: Please go away so I can miss you.

Dr. Townsend: Yeah.

Jim: This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Our guest today, Dr. John Townsend. His book, People Fuel, is uh really a, a great treatment of this topic and we’ll encourage you to get a copy today. Call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: John, what I love about all your books, they’re so practical and you give such pithy, direct guidance on what to do. And another area in your book People Fuel, you mentioned the seven Cs. We’re not going to take time to cover all seven. Let me just two of them, coaches and comrades. Uh, uh what are you getting at with people seeking out coaches and comrades and if you want to mention another couple, that’s fine, too.

Dr. Townsend: Yeah, the whole concept of seven Cs, Jim is that we’ve got to be take responsibility for who we spend our time with. Because there’s only-

Jim: It’s so hard.

Dr. Townsend: Like we said, you know, earlier, there’s some people that they’re nice people, but God bless them, they’re drains. And there’s some people that are gains and give us rich nutrients so we can function, have great energy, great creativity and focus. Well, you got to build up those, those top groups that coaches and comrades so that you can help the others. So the coach’s category is basically someone who knows something you don’t know. It could be working out, it could be music, it could be business, it could be spiritual director. They only, not only do they know what something called a subject matter expert, SME, but they also have, they’re trained in coaching. You can have somebody who knows something, but if they don’t know how to train and teach and know how to provide for the obstacles and the, and the strategy, it’s not going to go well. So they’re trained to teach it. But the third one is my favorite. The third criteria is they have no personal need for you.

Jim: (laughs) That’s good.

Dr. Townsend: I’ll tell you why this is great. Because either they’re pro bono because they made whatever they made. And you know, they’re just doing it or that you pay them. And, and coaching pays now at about three times what you paid for it. That’s what the Harvard says.

John: Say that one more time.

Dr. Townsend: Coaching pays about three times a much, as much whatever you pay for. It pays back.

John: Okay, so the return is really significant.

Dr. Townsend: Incredible. But the reason is good that then you have no need of it, then you don’t have to spend in your little one hour Zoom with them, half the time asking them you know, how was your vacation? How are your kids? How is your you know, granny? When I, I have tons of coaches, because I have a lot of needs. So, and when I, when I call my coach, I just say hi. And he says hi. And then it’s all about me uh so it’s about 30 minutes of their life and it can be kind of healthily selfish, because it’s dedicated to your betterment. That’s the thing that makes a coach great.

Jim: Yeah, that is good. And then the comrades?

Dr. Townsend: Comrades, you know, I got that from the military, is like comrades in arms and all that. We all need what I call a life team. And a life team is anywhere between 3 and 10 people in your life. And they have several characteristics. They know everything about you, and they still love you. And they want to push you to grow, and they can be vulnerable with you. They know it all, they love you. They want to see you grow. And they want to be vulnerable with you. And so you walk through life with them. And I have a structure in the book about it where you make either in a group or individually, every you know, week, two weeks, three weeks, and you get together and you, you commit to being honest and open about how life is really going. And you care about each other. And you might be bringing a Bible passage in, or you pray for each other. But it’s a way to say I need these people in my life to give me the nutrients I need, and I want to provide them for them. It becomes my growth team.

Jim: In that context, John, you look at again, culture today. I think just personally, Jean has a couple of Bible studies she’s involved, and I would say that there is where she’s getting that.

Dr. Townsend: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Men tend to be more loner oriented, you know. It’s when you say 3 to 10 guys-

Dr. Townsend: Guys, my, my, my-

Jim: That would be that close to me, they always go well, how about two?

Jim: How about one? But you know what I mean is and I agree, it’s so important. I do have three that I feel are really close in that way, but speak to that person that is struggling, especially that man who, you know, they’re going wow, I don’t think I have anyone like that. What can they do?

Dr. Townsend: Yeah, I have a system in the book about that where basically and I did this to myself because I wanted to eat my own cooking is you go through Microsoft uh contacts. We’ve all got that, you know, Outlook, and there’s somewhere between 500 and 5,000 names in there. And you just walk through it. If you can’t think of anybody that knows you fully, loves you fully, wants to grow and be vulnerable. And sometimes situations, especially if you’re a guy, you’ll, you’ll take about an hour to walk through that and you go through okay, him maybe, maybe. Ooh, that one’s still in prison, maybe not.

Jim: (laughs)

Dr. Townsend: And then you, and then you make it done and you go, there’s like 20 names here. And you call them one at a time and say, “Hey, I want to catch up with you. How’s life going?” And you catch up and you have lunch or whatever. And here’s the magic. You take a vulnerable risk, a little one, let’s stick your toe in the water. You don’t say my life is awful. You say, “Well, we’re struggling with our teenager or my job’s not what it should be, or marriage is kind of struggling.” You take a small vulnerable step. And they will tell you if they’re the right person, about one of three kinds of uh, uh responses. Number one, they’ll, they’ll say, “You’re a Christian, what are you doing having problems?” Okay, nice person, not a comrade, because they’re judging you. Right? Number two, they’ll say, “You know, the weather around here is great, isn’t it? I just love this weather.” Well they’re saying

Jim: avoider.

Jim: (laughs)

Dr. Townsend: Avoider. I can’t go there. Okay, nice person, not a comrade. Third person will say, “Oh, you got a problem with your daughter. Okay, here’s three books to read. Now, here’s the seven Bible passages. Are you hugging your daughter? Are you having boundaries with your daughter? Do you know her friends?” And they give you all, they’re advice monsters.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Townsend: And they’re telling you, “I want to be the, the, the great, you know, wisdom person for you. But I don’t want to be open.” The fourth person, and this is the great one, will put down their fork and lean across physically and say, “I had no idea about Sandra, your daughter. I love her. Tell me more about it. How did it feel? Can I pray for you? I mean, what’s it like for you?” What they’re telling you is I can go there with you. And they’re a good candidate for your life team.

Jim: Boy, that’s good. That’s good. Oh, great. The first four of the Cs are, you know, pretty uh healthy identifiers.

Dr. Townsend: There’s a lot of identifiers, a lot of input for you.

Jim: The next three or more troubling. So go over those other three and what are the core-

Dr. Townsend: Yeah, the fourth one is care, because Jesus said the poor will always be with you and the people, we need to care for people. I mean, that’s kind of what Focus on the Family is about is how do we care nationally, internationally, people all the way from people in developing countries that have nothing to somebody who’s homeless or going through sex trafficking, or somebody, a friend who’s in need, or whatever. And we’re called to do that. And so we have responsibility to do that, to be on boards, to help, to you know, I’m, I’m always doing kind of roll your sleeves up kind of ministry. And so the cool thing about that though, is every time you finish doing a, a service project, or whatever, you end up, you’re probably like this too, and I’ll be flying home or driving them. I’ll always say to myself, “Why am I not doing that more? I feel like transcendent. I feel like I’m with God.” And that’s because God puts a little endorphin in me every time I give as a self-reinforcing system to say, “That felt good, didn’t it John? Do it again.” It’s how he keeps care going, because we feel so at one with God after we do it.

Jim: Yeah. And then the chronic side.

Dr. Townsend: Well the chronics, you know, I’m originally from the south, and we call the chronics the bless their heart folks.

John: (laughs)

Jim: Bless their heart, they’re trying.

John: Yes, it’s not a term of endearment.

Dr. Townsend: It is not, no, this is a nice way to say, oh my gosh, because the problem with them is they’re, they’re not mean people, certainly not. But they have problems that never go away, money problems, relationship problems, self-health problems, job problems. And the key to being a chronic is that they have what I call, and I’m not being, I’m being charitable here, they have what I call a flat learning curve.

Jim: Okay. (laughs)

Dr. Townsend: They experience pain and loss and all this and you and I would go, what I pick up from that, I want to do that differently and you go back and make the same mistake over again. The Proverbs in the Bible would call them a foolish person. And most of us spend way too much time trying to help a chronic change. And if you’ve ever done that, spent mentoring time with somebody and, and, and had meetings with him and didn’t go to your kid’s soccer games because they needed you so much. The key is, when they, to give them a homework assignment, I’m big on homework assignment. And they come back from the next meeting and say, “Well, did you do that thing about, you know, going to a Dave Ramsey course or did you do that thing about spiritual development or about working out?”, and they’ll go, “No, I’ve been really busy.”

Jim: (laughs)

Dr. Townsend: And you say, “That’s what I told you to get out of your pain from last week.” And they’re the ones you have to sometimes say, “I can’t spend as much time with him as I’d like to.”, because they can totally drain you.

Jim: Yeah, and that’s, that’s important. Um the last one is the most dangerous, the contaminant.

Dr. Townsend: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Describe that person.

Dr. Townsend: Contaminant’s a person who’s a bad person, you know. I believe in a personal devil from the Bible. I believe he’s a personality. And I believe that there are bad people. And um, and you see in the Bible, there are people who just like the devil, they want to seek and destroy. And a person who’s a contaminant really has a lot of envious feelings towards successful people. If you’ve got a family, they might want to tear your family apart.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Townsend: If you’ve got an organization or a church, they want to tear that down apart. Because they, they, they’re just bad people.

Jim: Give me the adjective. So the person listening could, could identify, “Oh, man, that’s Aunt Sally.”

Dr. Townsend: Yeah. Okay, several things. Um one is they tend to be predatory. They, they use and exploit other people. Second, they never look at themselves, never about them. Thirdly, they seem to have a kind of a strange joy in other people’s um pain. And they then, they get become actually kind of gossips to make that happen. I mean, they’re just bad people. And they’re not hurt people. They’re bad people. And they’re, they’re not a big percentage of the human race, but you got to watch out. And you can’t have a lot of time with these people. Because they are, they’re just not, they’re dark people until they get saved or whatever. And so what I tell people is, just make sure that you tell them the truth, because we all deserve the truth. And you make sure you’ve got the resources around them and and be confrontive. And if they change, spend more time with them. But don’t sacrifice your family, or your church or your business or your head with those people. I spend more time with chronics because God bless them. They need help.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Townsend: Contaminants, protect your life.

Jim: Yeah, and, and that’s good advice. John, I think for the last question here as we wrap up, and again, what great principles in People Fuel, uh probably the area that we have the most conflict in, it could be marriage and kids, especially adult kids. And that’s one uh of the areas that we’re, we receive a lot of feedback from, but you have a wonderful story of conflict within a family. And I think it’s a great illustration that many, many people will be able to take away. So what was the story and what did they learn? And what did you learn in that situation?

Dr. Townsend: Yeah, Jim. Um it’s the family that I’ve always been really close to, and our family traveled with their family on vacations, because everybody had the chemistry and one of the daughters came up and said, “I’m really struggling. I don’t, I’m, I’m graduating from college. I don’t have a job. I got financial issues. And my boyfriend and I broke up, and my hearts broken. And I don’t even know if I believe in the Lord, because I’m in a big college, I don’t believe so.”

Jim: Wow.

Dr. Townsend: So I said, “I’ve known you since birth, what can I do? This is awful.” She said, “You can fix my mother.” And I said-

Jim: (laughs)

Dr. Townsend: How did we get from here to there? She said, “Well, I go to her with these problems. And my mother says, ‘Look, honey, you’re smart, you’re resilient, and you’re gonna be a winner. So feel better.’” And I said, “Does that help?” She goes, “No, I just avoid her.” I said, “How about dad?” She said, “Dad and I talk all the time.” I said, “I’ll talk to mom.”, because mom is a dear friend of mine. And so I said, “Your daughter is you know, struggling and she feels like you’re not listening.” She says, “Look, you’re a psychologist. I have this wisdom and encouragement that God gave me and these great action steps. So you know, open her head up and and, and shut. You’re, you’re a shrink. Open her head up so I can put my nuggets of wisdom in and close the top. And that’s what you guys do.” And I said, “Nah, that’s kind of not what we do.”

Jim: How nice to be caught in the middle here. Yikes!

Dr. Townsend: Yeah. So she said, “What do I do?” And I said, I’ll talk to your mom.” So I talk to mom, and I said, “Look at it this way. Your daughter fell down a well, a well of no relationship, a well of being overwhelmed, no money, uh faith issues. And she’s down this well, and she’s struggling. And then you come and see her and where you are, you know, the sun is shining. And and you know, Spotify is playing a Hillsong, and everything is good there-”

Jim: (laughs)

Dr. Townsend: “And all this and you look down and say, ‘Honey, you’re strong and resilient. You’re a winner. Come on up.’, like Bob Barker, you know.” And she just blows you off, because you’re not with her. Now your husband, who’s also a dear friend of mine, he sees y’alls your daughter, and he jumps into the well 40 feet down, he lands there with and he picks up his daughter, y’alls daughter, and he holds her, and he says, “It’s dark here and it’s overwhelming, and it’s scary, and I’m with you as long as it takes, and we’ll get out together.” That’s why she listens to him and not you and the mother said, “Uh you’re telling me to, to change my ways.” I said, “Yeah, I mean, give grace before truth. Grace gives us the, the, the permission to give truth. If they don’t feel like we’re in the well of pain with us, they’re not going to listen to us. So just be with her, be present. And then you got great truth but you’re out of sequence.” I went to John chapter one, verse 14, where, where John says that Jesus came full of grace and truth. And in the syntax, the order in the Greek, it means grace and truth. It doesn’t say truth and grace. That order is important. So she said, “I’ll try it.” She tried it. I checked with them about six weeks later, the daughter said, “Mom and I talk all the time.” And the mom said, “I’ve learned it. I’ve learned how to listen before I do this.” And here’s the message for people when I’m giving this talk is most of us think right now, when they’re hearing this, I need to do that. I need to get in that well first and say, “I’m with you. Tell me more about it. How does it feel before I give my truth?” I got to be better about that. But that’s not what I tell people to think. It’s a great thought. Put that thought on the backburner. What we really need to be thinking now is seven words. And these are the hard ones. Who am I inviting to my well? Who am I inviting to my well? Because that’s hard, that’s vulnerable. But how can I give those things to others, if I’m not asking for them too. So I challenge people to get somebody in your well and say, let me tell you how I’m really doing.

Jim: Ah John, this is such good stuff, and what a great resource, People Fuel. And I hope the listeners will respond. If you’re in that spot, and you’re going, ‘I don’t have another person in my life that I can trust like that.” Man, get John’s book, because it can really help you identify how to go about finding those people in your life, who will be that great assist for you. And the idea that God is calling us to that, uh not to be isolated. We’re built for a relationship. And that’s why He created us for himself and then for each other. And uh it’s great. Let me also encourage you uh to make a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family. Become a, a monthly supporter. And we’ll send you a copy of the book as our way of saying thank you for doing ministry with us. And if you can’t afford it, it’s one of those resources that we’re going to trust others will cover the cost of doing ministry to you. And I’d like you to call us and ask for the book. If you need it, we’ll get it in your hands.

Dr. Townsend: Jim, can I say a word about that? I’ve been a donor to your ministry for many years. And I’ve never regretted it because of the great fruit that comes from it with you guys bringing Jesus to people.

Jim: Well, it’s very kind and John, it’s great to have you as part of that. I mean, you’re at the table and giving the advice and I so appreciate our partnership that way.

John: Yeah. Well, donate as you can, monthly or one time gift. And as Jim said, if you can’t afford to give right now, we understand that. Uh regardless, request your copy of People Fuel by Dr. John Townsend, when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

cover image for the book people fuel by dr. john townsend

People Fuel: Fill Your Tank for Life, Love, and Leadership

Receive Dr. Townsend's book People Fuel for your donation of any amount!

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Kim Meeder

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Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

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Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

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Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

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Pastor Kevin Thompson

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Cover image of Kevin Thompson's book "Friends, Partners & Lovers"

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Mr. Greg Koukl

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Debra Fileta

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Headshot image of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Patti Giebink

Mrs. Patti Giebink

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Cover image of the book "Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life"

Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life

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Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

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Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Thank you for committing to pray for the pre-born!

Sign up below for your free seven-day prayer guide. This daily guide will help give direction to your prayers for the pro-life movement. We will be praying with you! 

Focus on the Family

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