Dr. David Gudgel: But, really, the goal is for us to raise them in a way that they ultimately become totally dependent upon God. And so it’s not that dependence stops, it changes the direction. And if we have, uh, hopefully pointed them toward the Lord, we pray over them, and we continue to engage them in healthy conversations, we seek to be the example God wants us to be, and when we blow it, we admit it, we own up to our sinfulness and, you know, do whatever’s appropriate and right, and all of that, the desire is, is that they will one day walk with the Lord and they will grow in that relationship and it will never stop.
End of Preview
John Fuller: That’s David Gudgel and he’s our guest today on Focus on the Family with your host, Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, as a parent, one of the main goals, uh, you’re working toward is launching your child into adulthood, right?
Jim: We talked about that often here and I’m excited about this topic today, because I’m right there. Uh, Trent is launched, he’s out on his own and doing well, and Troy is launching and, uh-
John: Active process.
Jim: So, it’s kind of right where we’re living.
Jim: How about you?
John: Well, we’ve had, uh… They’re all out of the house for the moment. We had bounce backs and, uh, there’s a really interesting sense of being empty nesters sort of on and off again, as kids come and go.
John: I do enjoy my adult kids. It’s a really wonderful season. I just don’t see them as much as I’d like because they’re, well, they’re kind of independent now.
Jim: They’re doing their thing, right?
John: Exactly. It’s a good thing.
Jim: So, uh, but what a great topic. And it is the heart, I believe, of all of us as parents. We want to launch our children well into adulthood. We’re gonna cover that today. It’s one of the examples of how Focus on the Family is here for you. And we are a huge resource center, so if you’re not quite at that point yet of launching your kids, you’re still dealing with maybe five, eight, 12-year-olds, we have a lot of content for you in that space, too, so just get a hold of us. But today, it’s actually fun to kind of talk about a topic that we’re living in.
John: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And Dave Gudgel is with us to share his insights and wisdom and experiences. He, uh, successfully launched, uh, three, uh, children into adulthood and, uh, he’s gonna help you and especially your teenager-
Jim: (laughs). And us.
John: … look to the future with hope. Um, and Dave is the director of Church Health for Northern California’s Venture Church Network. He served as lead pastor for 40 years at a number of churches located in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. Uh, he and Bernice have three children and they have 11 grandkids. And Dave is the author of the book, Just One More Thing: Before You Leave Home. We have copies of that here at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or just give us a call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.
Jim: Dave, welcome back to Focus.
Dr. Gudgel: Thank you. It’s good to be back.
Jim: Good to have you and, uh… Okay. So, uh, you’re the dad, you’ve got three kids, you’re gonna launch the first one. And the night before the, the goodbye, you decide to do something. This is such a funny story. Both Jean and I were laughing when we read this.
Dr. Gudgel: Well, yeah-
Dr. Gudgel: … I had no idea that it was gonna turn out to be what it did. Otherwise, maybe we wouldn’t have had the meeting.
Jim: Well, paint the picture for everybody listening and watching. What, what was happening? What was your goal? What did you decide to do and how did it go?
Dr. Gudgel: Well, it wasn’t unusual for us as a family to have family meetings, you know? And so-
Jim: (laughs) Kids love those, by the way.
John: Oh, yes.
Dr. Gudgel: We, you know, we planned one around Brent, our oldest leaving home, and he was about ready to leave the next day. So, we’re thinking, “Let’s all get together and we can at least pray together,” and Bernice was onboard for that part of it.
Dr. Gudgel: But then I introduced the, “So, why don’t we share something that we want Brent to know that we love about him,” and, you know, things like that. And, oh, that turned into a nightmare. I mean, really…
Jim: Because why? Everybody… just tears?
Dr. Gudgel: Well… it was- it was great, I mean, hearing the stories, but good old dad was sitting there, just bawling through the whole experience. I mean, all I could think about was, “Tomorrow, it’s gonna be different. We’re gonna drop him off at college, you know, and this is all gonna change and we’re not gonna have this wonderful feeling that we have right now.”
Jim: You’re going through a moment here. Okay. And I, I love a humorous way of describing that, but we can all relate. To some degree, you do that. It’s an emotional moment, right? Maybe not so much for the child leaving. They’re kind of excited, right?
Jim: But for us as parents, our lips are quivering and we feel like it’s the end of an era and… Oh, my goodness, it’s all over. But fear not, parents, it’s not all over.
John: It will bring you close.
Jim: Your parenting will continue just in a different way. Let’s, uh, rewind the tape, though, because, uh, you know… We often draw on our own experiences about how we left the nest, so to speak. When you left your mom and dad, uh, you went to college, you kinda had some struggles. What was going on there? This is, like, every parent’s nightmare when the flat tire, so to speak, is occurring with the one you just launched. And you kind of experienced some of that as a adult young person, correct?
Dr. Gudgel: Well, I was sure that the problems I was having were directly connected to me living in the home-
Dr. Gudgel: … so I figured, as soon I left home, everything was gonna be great, you know? I didn’t have enough wisdom to know that the person that I was gonna move in with next, uh, who is a few years older than me and he had already done the apartment thing and all of that, was going to, uh, implore me to do chores as a part of living in the same home that he was living in. And so-
Jim: Sounds like dishes. (laughs)
Dr. Gudgel: Yeah, those kinds of things and toilets, too. I guess that was… You know, he figured, “If I get somebody who’s gonna live here with me, they got the toilet duty and carpets and other things.” But I had no idea, so I wasn’t thinking in that direction. All I was thinking was, “Boy, freedom. I’m gonna leave home and life is gonna be great.”
Dr. Gudgel: Uh, so, we didn’t do a lot of preparation, um, my parents and I. We, we really never sat down and talked about what life is gonna be like, and so I guess some of it just came out of that in terms of what I hope to help our children with.
Jim: The, the more serious end of this is when your children leave the nest. I mean, especially those that are going off to perhaps, like, a four-year college or something like that. There’s a, you know, there’s a lot of party environment. They may be going to great Christian universities, but guess what, mom and dad? I know, I know you know it, but, you know, those things are still gonna occur in those environments. Um, I have heard from many, many parents who have had good experience with their kids at Christian universities… Again, nothing’s perfect, but there’s at least a framework in, uh, you know, good clubs, et cetera, for kids to be plugged into, but speak to that downside. Um, that’s what we’re here to talk about when the moral dilemmas are being faced. Do I, you know, the, the drinking aspect… It could even be drugs and premarital sex and all those kind of critical decisions that could really run your life into the ditch. Ho- how do we prepare for that as parents? What do we say in that context? How do we talk with them openly so they know they can trust us and talk with us about some of the dilemmas they’re facing?
Dr. Gudgel: Yeah, we stumbled through that as well, not knowing, uh, what to talk about with our children, but we knew we needed to have some conversations that hopefully would help prepare them for what we knew they were going to face. And that’s where we began to just put together some topics that, last year or two, that they were in the home, like what you’re talking about Jim, with the matter of morality and issues that they’re gonna face with drinking or, uh, drugs or whatever it might be.
Jim: Yeah. It may not be that serious, hopefully, you know? That would be a great thing, but many parents do face kids that leave and they’ve got their freedoms and they’re making choices that really break your heart. And how do you stay connected with them in that moment? How do you, how do you navigate that as a parent, you know? And I think, Dave, I think you’d agree that you gotta keep that communication open and you gotta keep that lifeline together with them and keep encouraging them, loving them as God would love us, and, and still, you know, hopefully being able to consult with them about, you know, how important the decisions… I’m telling my boys are ready. “Man, you are gonna make the most important life decisions in your 20s.”
Dr. Gudgel: Yeah. And that’s where we began the book, actually. It’s with the whole matter of choices as you help them try to think about. Now, the choices are going to be in their lap. I mean, there’s been a transfer in some way, where it was our choice than it was our, together the choice. You know, I say our in terms of it was the parents’ choice and then it’s hopefully the child’s choice along with you, but then now you’re basically saying, “It’s up to you.”
Dr. Gudgel: And I think if we can have conversations that last year or two about those specific areas that we know they’re going to face, without lecturing them… (laughs) This is important matter right now, you know? Because as you’re suggesting, Jim, you’ve gotta build the relationship and, uh, building the relationship that last two, three years that they’re in the home is an essential part of having a continuing relationship once they do go and, uh, off to college or wherever it is.
Jim: Yeah. We joked because so often our, our repertoire has been, as they go out to be with their friends while they’re, they’ve been at home with us, you know, on a Friday night, a Saturday night, “Well, remember, be smart. Use the brain God gave you.” And (laughs) I mean, now it’s gotten to, “Don’t forget to breathe oxygen.”
Jim: I mean, you, you can go through a list of the out the door exit that gets a little humorous in itself, right? And finally you’re 17, 18-year-olds are looking at you like, “Duh.”
Dr. Gudgel: I can repeat the language for you, dad.
Jim: Yeah. Right. (laughs) But I mean, see, you’ve gotta kind of broaden that, that list, right?
Dr. Gudgel: Yeah. And so what I’ve done in the book is I’ve actually given you 30 topics, 30 just one more thing, you know, that just one more thing. Hey, I just got one more thing.
John: Yeah. Yeah.
Jim: One for every month before they leave the house for every day.
Dr. Gudgel: It turned out to be 30 an- and, and, uh, really, a couple of them were put into the book as a result of me testing this with parents, and them coming back and saying, “Hey, could you get a couple chapters in the book on such and such?” And all we’re trying to do is surface conversations. So, this could become a springboard of conversation for you-
Dr. Gudgel: … uh, however you choose to use that content.
Jim: Be nice to sprinkle it throughout their senior years. It’s not all in one sitting, like the night before they leave. Let’s go over 30 things with you.
John: Could lead you to tears.
Dr. Gudgel: That will never… Oh my (laughs).
Jim: Hey, Dave, let me ask you. You touched on this about the roommate situation and chores in that context, but you also mentioned in the book three kind of simple rules for your son or daughter to remember to maintain, um, harmony, relational harmony when they move in with a roommate. What are those three things?
Dr. Gudgel: Yeah. Well, I just talk about the importance of, first, swallowing your pride and then-
Jim: Is this a marriage book? What are we talking about here?
Dr. Gudgel: Well… (laughs).
Dr. Gudgel: In some ways, it’s preparation for marriage because you’re gonna end up doing the same kind of thing.
Dr. Gudgel: So, swallow your pride. Obviously, there are gonna be things that are gonna happen that you could repair. You could have a part in repairing and so somebody’s gotta take the initiative, humble themselves, and say, “Can we talk about this,” you know, or, “I, I really am at fault as well,” whatever that might be.
Dr. Gudgel: Secondly, valuing or roommate enough that you would actually work the problem, work with the problem, work through the problem, and, uh, have a conversation. We talk about the elephant in the room. The elephant’s there, everybody sees it, everybody’s tiptoeing around it, but you really just gotta take some time, you gotta talk about it, and obviously, in Philippians 2, it talks about considering other’s interest is more important than yourself. And that’s a key area as well. In what way can you be a part of showing that you value them by how you handle the circumstance?
Jim: Yeah. And Dave, in fact, you had a story about Sam, your roommate. I laugh because I think I had a similar experience in the dorm room. You know, dorm living in college is kind of interesting ’cause it’s like a, you know, an 8 x 12 foot space that we had and you had a bunk bed and two dressers and a small refrigerator, and that’s it. I mean…
Dr. Gudgel: That was mine.
Jim: The bathrooms, everything else are kind of, uh, you know… We were in the all-men’s dorm so there were communal down at the end of the hall. So, your room was small. And living with the guy you just shake hands with when you show up at the campus, “Hi, I’m your roommate.” Okay, how is this gonna work? How did it work for you and Sam?
Dr. Gudgel: Well, he was a pile-your-clothes kind of guy. You know what I’m talking about? Like…
Jim: Yeah, I kinda know that guy. (laughs)
Dr. Gudgel: It, uh, it always ended up in the same pile in the middle of the room-
Jim: Oh, he didn’t have more than one pile? Okay, I’m not that guy.
Dr. Gudgel: Yeah. He was a one-pile guy that just kept stinking and… It’s not him, but the pile. And I was the guy that would not confront something.
Dr. Gudgel: You know, how many of us are like that? We’re not gonna talk about it. We all see it’s a problem, but we’re not gonna talk about it.
Dr. Gudgel: And finally, I just had it. In fact, uh, instead of talking to him, I went to talk to the dean or somebody else and found a way to go live in another dorm room.
Jim: You just escaped?
Dr. Gudgel: I did.
Dr. Gudgel: I mean, that’s one way to deal with it (laughs).
Jim: Let the next guy deal with it, right?
Dr. Gudgel: But I wouldn’t say that’s the best way of handling it.
Jim: You know, Sam’s wife today is really in trouble because of you. (laughs)
Dr. Gudgel: Yeah. I don’t know.
Jim: But anyway, sorry, you were gonna say not the best way to handle it.
Dr. Gudgel: All I, all I know is that, uh, it would’ve been a great opportunity to learn how to confront conflict and work through so that maybe we could get a win-win as you suggested. I, I think that there are good things that you’re going to learn in these kind of environments that could make you the person you hope to become.
John: I just, last night, had that conversation with one of my kids. They had a conflict with a roommate situation and I said, “Well, instead of throwing, you know, barbs back and forth, why don’t you just say, ‘This really bothers me,’ and kind of approach it in an adult way and defuse the situation?” I don’t know where that’s gonna go, but-
Jim: We’ll check in next week.
John: … these, these are ongoing coaching opportunities as your kids leave the home.
Jim: Well, that’s true.
John: We’re talking to Dave Gudgel today on Focus on the Family and what great content in his book, Just One More Thing. Actually, 30 more things before you leave home. Uh, we’ve got the, the book here and so much more for you as a mom or a dad. Uh, our website is focusonthefamily.com/broadcast and you can also call us, 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.
Jim: Dave, I wanna ask you. You wrote in the book about, uh, in high school being on autopilot. I would think of every high school student is on some form of autopilot.
Dr. Gudgel: Well, I was just expressing the fact that I wasn’t there. I was just showing up, going through the motions, and not really putting my heart into the experience. So, that’s, in some ways, connected to my child upbringing and, you know, the number of moves. We move so many times and so it was hard for me to build friendships, let alone really get into the high school education experience.
Dr. Gudgel: I really missed out on what high school could’ve been for me. And it wasn’t until college that I really got involved and invested in my education.
Jim: Yeah. What do you do as a parent to help a child that is not transitioning well in that regard? You know, they, they didn’t have a great high school experience and you’re trying to put your arm around and say, “Hey, look, look forward to college and…” Or even the, the child that’s not thinking college is for them. Uh, that could be a disappointment for parents who believe, you know, a college education is the way up. There’s a lot in that statement, but what do you think of those things?
Dr. Gudgel: I’m so glad you asked that, because I had a mom who cared enough to be able to call that to my attention. And we had an experience just shortly after I started college because I was continuing at the beginning of college to do what I did in high school: just go through the motions. And one day, I came home, mom could see that. My mom, by the way, uh, she was a young 30-something. She had me when she was 16.
Jim: Wow. Okay.
Dr. Gudgel: So a young 30-something mom to sit down with her son who’s in his first year of college and, and put him on… We had a diving board in the backyard. She put me on the diving board over the ladder and she sat on the side where the cement was so I couldn’t move. I was a captive audience and she said to me, “Dave, I’m not gonna let you continue your education experience the way that you finished in high school. God has given you so much more.” And I say that to say, you know, a defining moment like that can make all the difference in the world if you’re already connected in some way to your kid. I mean, we didn’t have the perfect relationship, but we had enough of the relationship that she could be able to call me on it and say, “This really has to change.” God used that moment.
Jim: That’s awesome. The other, I think the other thing, too, is how, how do you help that young adult, your son or daughter, discover God’s purpose for their life? That’s kind of that moment-
Dr. Gudgel: It is.
Jim: … you know, God gives you gifts and your mom was calling you out on that, not to waste them. Um, speak to other examples of that, where parents do try to discern, you know, God’s gifting in their son or daughter, and how do you pull that out of them? And, and, and, really, you know, the greatest fear is, is hopefully your child is walking with the Lord. That’s tough. You know, 20 to 24 is a tough time in this culture for your child to be a committed faithful Christian person. They’re gonna take some shots for that.
Dr. Gudgel: Yeah. And I think Proverbs speaks to that, where it speaks about training up a child in the way he should go. And that’s not necessarily your way, but it’s the bent that God has given your son or daughter. Paying attention to the giftedness that have God has given them, the talents, uh, the passion that they have for certain things. My parents saw that in me with regard to sort of technical kind of thing, so, like, wood shop and metal shop and auto shop and drafting.
Jim: Yeah, that’s okay.
Dr. Gudgel: And all that, I love to those sorts of those. And so they were, they’re affirming me. They didn’t affirm me with history and chemistry and the other things that I just did not do well with, but they were there affirming me. And then as I took steps in that direction, uh, when there were deviations even in my mind of how that was gonna work out, they were still there, trying to help me sort it out.
Jim: Sure. In fact, in the book, you, you speak to, um, that spiritual, um, encouragement being of three dimensions. What are those dimensions? I think you mentioned upward, outward, inward.
Dr. Gudgel: Yeah. So, focus first, uh, of all in God and, and… What is the word saying in your life right now? How is he leading? What are the desires he’s giving you? Psalm 37:4, “He will give you the desires of your heart.” So, pay attention to that. That’s the upward focus. The outward focus is this love for other people. Growing in a relationship with others so that you’re learning to love them, like Christ loved the church. And that, obviously, means a lot of things. Sacrifice would be at the very center of that. And then, you know, there’s the focus toward yourself and understanding the person that God made you to be and willingly stepping into what might that completely be. You know, I ended up in ministry and as a pastor not because I had this early calling. I felt I was being called toward architecture, but my parents saw the changes in me. And when I brought that to their attention, they were still willing to say, “Hey, well, let’s go with it. We’ll do whatever we can to support you.”
Jim: Oh, that’s so good. Dave, you talked about something you called the sandwich of success. Now, I’m thinking-
Dr. Gudgel: Yeah.
Jim: … bacon, turkey on, on wheat.
Jim: That sounds good right now, doesn’t it?
John: It does, yeah.
Jim: But that’s not what you’re getting at. What is the sandwich of success?
Dr. Gudgel: Well, there’s time, obviously. God’s given you time. He’s given you this time in your life right now and he’s also given you talents, so two pieces of bread are time and talent, if you wanna think of it that way. You’re gifted to do certain things. Don’t fight that. Join God in the work that he’s doing, and then between the time and the talent, is God. He is the one that’s gonna bring it all together and you gotta be seeking him in what is it that he is showing you that is resonating with your heart, because it’s also something that he’s giving you for potentially the future.
Jim: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Um, also speak to success and failure. That’s something in your 20s you’re gonna hit. And I think, right now, there’s such a crippling effect about failure. You know, young people, they’re just not as resilient as I think young people used to be. It sounds like the “I walked uphill to school both ways,” right? But there is something seemingly a little more lacking today with resiliency, bouncing back after failure. Speak to the need to do that and how you do it.
Dr. Gudgel: Well, I’m so glad that God knows we’re gonna fail. He didn’t… When Jesus was with Peter, you know, say to Peter, “You know, the problem is you failed too many times. We’re done.” But he expected and worked with Peter’s failure. God works with our failure. There’s something there for us learn. Something there for us to be changed by, and so don’t look at failure as the end of whatever it is that God’s gonna do with your life. This could be the beginning of a course correction, a new direction, and God’s gonna use that to help you get to the place that he wants you to go, but you gotta, again, stay connected to the Lord in this process.
Jim: Yeah. So many business… I did a business degree and in there is fail fast and fail often so you can get to success, right? That’s not a bad thing to help your kids better understand. And I think, again, in your 20s, you’re trying probably two, three, four, five different vocational things to see where your gifts really fit. Typically, it’s very rare today that somebody starts with General Motors at 18 and ends at 65 with General Motors. Uh, Dave, when you were in graduate school, you faced a kind of tough situation. What happened and how did you, uh, overcome that problem?
Dr. Gudgel: Yeah. In, uh, graduate school, which was seminary, uh, my mother died unexpectedly.
Jim: Boy, she had to be young.
Dr. Gudgel: Yeah, she was 42.
Dr. Gudgel: She had been sick but we didn’t know she was that sick and she’d never really went to the doctor to find out, but she died of cancer. And so we went through that experience and that was a life-changing experience. And as we just talked about failure and that whole area, there’s still something even in the midst of that kind of experience for us to learn and to grow through and, and to be changed by, and it was a life-changing thing for me. Uh, I still remember a pastor came over and prayed for us, our family. And I don’t remember a whole lot of things that he said, but I remember this. He, he prayed, “Lord, help them not ask why this has happened, but what it is that you want to do in their life, and help them remember who you are now.” And I thought, “Wow, yeah, that’s what I need right now.” Because we typically ask the why question in the midst of grief or pain or suffering or whatever it is, and it’s an okay question to ask. I mean, even Job asked the question in the midst of his suffering, but hopefully that’s not where we stop. We turn to God, we ask for his help. He can come in those circumstances and meet us at our point of need. He is an ever present help in our times of trouble.
Jim: Yeah. That’s so good. I’m thinking, you know, one of the things that we need to cover with our kids before they leave is that balance of them becoming more independent from us and more dependent upon God. This is probably the right place to land. Uh, that’s so critical because we can… I, I could see me having too big a role in the lives of my boys, if I could say it that way, and I don’t wanna replace that role that God should have. And I need… It’s kind of like I need to diminish so he can increase, right? On, on their dependability, what they need. Um, speak to that balance of if you’re an engaged, loving father or mother, ho- how do you let God begin to take control of those 20-something young people and trust him for outcomes?
Dr. Gudgel: Yeah. This is such an important matter, because we tend to think the whole goal here is to raise them to be independent of us. And we totally understand that in some ways financially, you know, and other places like that, but, really, the goal is for us to raise them in a way that they ultimately become totally dependent upon God. And so it’s not that dependent stops, it changes the direction. And if we have, uh, hopefully pointed them toward the Lord and we pray over them and we continue to engage them in healthy conversations, we seek to be the example God wants us to be, and when we blow it, we admit it, we own up to our sinfulness and, you know, do whatever’s appropriate and right, and all of that, the desire is, is that they will one day walk with the Lord and they will grow in that relationship and it will never stop.
Jim: Yeah. May it be so.
Jim: I mean, that’s so true. Dave, this has been so good. And I hope, uh, folks listening and watching will… Especially if you’re at that point or if it’s coming, uh, good to read this ahead of time if your child’s in their teen years, early teen years. I’d get this now and start reading it. And start drip irrigating these concepts into your child, so that when they are leaving the house, they already know the answers to their questions. That would be awesome. I wish I had this, uh, a few years ago. Just One More Thing: Before You Leave Home, a great book by Dave and, uh, we can get this in your hands and we’d like to do ministry together. So, if you can make a gift of any month either monthly or a one-time gift, we’ll send you a copy of Dave’s book as our way of saying thank you, really, on behalf of the families you will help by obtaining the book through Focus on the Family.
John: Contact us today, ask about Dave’s book, and make a donation as you can. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459, or stop by the website. It’s focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Well, join us again tomorrow as we hear from Pastor Rico Tice. He’ll offer ways that you can share your faith in everyday life.
Rico Tice: We’re in a culture where people aren’t really trusting the pastors any longer. So, it’s the friends they trust, so just say, “Look, do you wanna have a look at the Bible? I’m no expert but I’ve got some questions here. We’ll let the Bible teach us and just see how it goes.”
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