Focus on the Family Broadcast

Remembering to Have Fun in Your Life

Remembering to Have Fun in Your Life

Jim Burns encourages you to slow down and enjoy life more, focusing on Christ, your family, and other important relationships. Jim and his wife, Cathy, have both had bouts with cancer, but they have made it a priority in their lives to maintain joy and have fun, taking time to reflect on God’s beauty and to build a lasting legacy.
Original Air Date: June 10, 2022


Jim Daly: Hi, this is Jim Daly with Focus on the Family. Thanks so much for joining us. Before we get started with the regular program today, I wanted to share, uh, with you an exciting event that’s coming that you can be a part of. It’s happening on June 24th and 25th in Dallas, Texas. We love Texas. So many good Friends of Focus in Texas, but it’s called Together ’22 and we have the man behind it all here with us, uh, Nick Hall. Uh, Nick, thanks for being with us.

End of Preview

Nick Hall: Hey Jim. Glad to be here.

Jim: Okay. So what is Together ’22?

Nick: Well, people are coming together from all 50 states. It’s the largest evangelistic training event in 50 years and it’s happening.

Jim: And what are basing this off, the 50-year thing?

Nick: So expo ’72, Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Johnny Cash, Keith Green-

Jim: (laughs) There’s a group.

Nick: … 50 years ago. They trained 70,000 students and we’re trying to see God do it again.

Jim: So this is specifically for young people.

Nick: This is really targeting Gen Z and millennials, but also, we’re inviting parents, youth pastors, even grandparents, to bring their grandkids.

Jim: Okay. So why should I attend this if I’m a 16-year-old?

Nick: Well, it’s free.

Jim: (laughs)

Nick: Uh, Lecrae’s gonna be there. Uh, designers from Nike are gonna be there.

Jim: Wow.

Nick: Chris Tomlin’s gonna be there, Crowder, KB. The lineup is insane, but the heart of this is that you would catch a vision that God wants to use you to change your school, to change your neighborhood, to share the gospel with those who need it. Now is the time.

Jim: That is awesome. I went to KC ’83 and it changed my life. I think this is gonna have the same effect on young people again. So thanks for doing it. And, uh, to find out more about Together ’22, stop by at our website, that’s

Jim Burns: Again, I’m not saying that there aren’t tough issues. There are tough issues today, and we have to face that fact, but in the midst of it, isn’t there a chance that we could just dance a little or sing a little-

Jim: Yeah.

Jim Burns: … make it better.

John Fuller: Well, that’s Jim burns offering a word of encouragement about the importance of having some fun in life to reflect that joy that you have in Christ. And we’re gonna help you slow down and improve your connection with God and others today on Focus on the Family. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller and your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly.

Jim: That’s a pretty big promise, John.

John: It is.

Jim: I’m gonna help you slow down and improve your relationship with the Lord. I’d sign up for that. (laughs)

John: Well, (laughs) well, here we are.

Jim: Hey, uh, you know, one thing is true. Sometimes we get so busy that we’re into the doing and we forget about just really living. And I think the Lord’s created this life for enjoyment too. Not just the tasks of life.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You know, we, we need to enjoy ourselves while we’re here. We get one shot at life, right? And then we’re moving on to eternity. And you know, like the Psalmist says, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” And I am so looking forward to our discussion today, ’cause I think you’re right, John, we’re gonna come away with a heart of wisdom.

John: Yeah. And I need the refreshment, Jim. Just the other, uh, weekend, it was Sunday afternoon, and I was thinking, “What a great Saturday this has been. I’m so glad we have tomorrow, Sunday together.” And we didn’t ’cause I had spent the whole weekend so busy. So I really do hope we can slow down-

Jim: (laughs) You’re right.

John: … enjoy Jim Burns. He’s the president of Homeword. He’s written a number of books, including, uh, the one that’ll form the foundation for today’s conversation, Have Serious Fun: And 12 Other Principles to Make Each Day Count. And of course you can get a copy of the book from us here. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or stop by

Jim: Jim, welcome to Focus on the Family.

Jim Burns: It is so good to be with you and it’s been a while. I, I just love being with you, and I love what Focus does so great to be with you.

Jim: I… You know, your, the title of your book, I’m thinking about that, ’cause I heard of somebody who sits on the edge of their bed every morning and says, “Okay, Lord, here I am reporting for duty.”

Jim Burns: (laughs)

Jim: And, you know, I thought, “Wow, that’s a great way to start the day.” But, you know, ending the day and thinking, “Okay, did today count for you Lord?”

Jim Burns: Mm-hmm.

Jim: What a great thing to think about, really?

Jim Burns: Well, it is a great thing to think about. And the fact is, is that sometimes at night it’s better to say, “Lord, you know, what did we do today?” And I’m always amazed sometimes at night when I say that I’m amazed at what comes up and maybe it’s a conversation, just a quick conversation or maybe it was a bit of fun that I had. And, and it’s not anything big and grandiose. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the big differences.

Jim: I would say most of the time, it’s the little things ’cause the big things come along every so often.

Jim Burns: Right.

Jim: Yeah. That’s good. Hey, listen, our children, I know you know this, have a way of causing us to do some self-examination.

John: (laughs)

Jim: Isn’t that true?

John: Yes.

Jim: And I think your daughter, Heidi, caused you to question if you were having enough fun in your life.

Jim Burns: (laughs)

Jim: I… What a great thing for your kid to ask you.

Jim Burns: Well, actually-

Jim: “Daddy, are you having enough fun in your life?”

Jim Burns: Well, she sort of said that. It was… She implied it.

Jim: Was that after you reprimanded her for something. (laughs)

Jim Burns: Oh, I was reprimanding her all the time at that age. I think she was 16.

Jim: (laughs)

Jim Burns: So, you know, that was just one big reprimand.

Jim: “Hey dad, you’re not having enough fun in your life like me.”

Jim Burns: Yeah. But you know what happened on that was Cathy and I were doing bills. I never liked doing bills. If I have money or not money, I don’t like doing bills.

Jim: (laughs)

Jim Burns: Cathy, um, and I are just looking at each other and we’re frustrated and all of a sudden, shh, Miss Heidi comes bounding in and she’s kind of bouncing. And she had just been babysitting our friend, Scott and Anita and, uh, their kids. And she said, “Scott and Anita are the best parents. They are the most fun people.”

Jim: (laughs)

Jim Burns: “Their kids are the best. Their dogs are the best, you know. They’re amazing. But they told me something that I never knew. You were their youth pastor, dad. And when you were their youth pastor, they said that you and mom were fun and funny.”

Jim: (laughs)

Jim Burns: And then she just stopped. She didn’t say what happened. It was more or less just like, “You were fun and funny.”

Jim: Yeah.

Jim Burns: [inaudible].

Jim: Are you the same people?

Jim Burns: And we, we sort of looked at each other on several levels. The next day I realized, “You know what? I need to be a person who has more fun in life.” Um, not that I wasn’t fun at times, but literally, you know, the Bible even talks about this. You know, a, a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit, it zaps your life.

Jim: Yes.

Jim Burns: And that’s a modern version, but the truth of the matter is, is, you know, too many times we focus on the negative and we focus on the pressure and the work, and we don’t stop and have fun. And sometimes we just simply need to hold back and say, “Wait, let’s play together.” When I got my PhD, I was doing my dissertation on traits of a healthy family, and one of the traits was play.

Jim: Yeah.

Jim Burns: And play builds memories. Play sometimes opens up a closed spirit in a family. And so I, I believe that yo- when you pray together, you stay together. But I also believe that when you play together and I think you have to be intentional about that, even during the tough times.

Jim: Yeah. No, I agree. I, you know, I look at you and the times… I’ve known you for 20 years and I’ve always seen you as a rather playful fun person.

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: So…

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: (laughs)

Jim Burns: But, you know, there’s at home-

Jim: Yeah. But then I have to pay the bills.

Jim Burns: Exactly. So I was-

Jim: You don’t see me paying the bills.

Jim Burns: No. And, and you know what? I am more of that person and Cathy, and I have tried to be like that, and yet at the same time, what we found was that was one of the phrases that I wanted to teach my kids later on, is have serious fun. So I think that I think there’s some phrases in my life that I wanted to start passing on. And, you know, I’m at an age now where I’m starting to think about legacy and that’s a phrase that I want to teach my children and I want others to say, “No, you have to be intentional about having fun.”

Jim: And I love that, but you know, there are serious things that happen in life. I know you received a cancer diagnosis a few years ago, you had surgery and I believe everything’s cleared up. Uh, how did facing that diagnosis change your perspective?

Jim Burns: Well, I was facing the potential of death. I mean, you can take an aspirin-

Jim: You change when that happens.

Jim Burns: Exactly. I mean, you can take an aspirin when that happens, but the doctor said, “Come this afternoon, bring your wife.” That’s never good news. And we ended up being at the City of Hope where you know well in Los Angeles, uh, you know, right near where you would’ve lived at one time.

And, uh, I was there and the night before surgery, I woke up in the middle of the night and I wrote down 13 phrases that I wanted to pass to my kids. I never thought about writing a book and I never thought about speaking on it. I just thought, “What, what are the phrases that have helped me?”

I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. I was raised in a dysfunctional family. And, uh, Cathy and I, at that point had been married 37 years. It’s now 47 years. But, uh, you know, we’d been married a long time and we were gonna make it and, but what were those phrases? And so have serious fun was kind of at the top. I wanted my kids to have serious fun, but there were other phrases that were important too. And it, it was when I was facing, you know, death. Now I don’t think I thought I was gonna die. My mother-in-law did. She said to Cathy, “You know, you and Jim have had a great life. You’ve been married for a long time-”

Jim: Plan for the future.

Jim Burns: Right.

Jim: (laughs)

Jim Burns: “So if Jim dies, you can still get married to somebody else and have a good life.” I mean, you gotta love the mother-in-law, right?

Jim: (laughs)

Jim Burns: So, but for me, I thought, no, these are important things. And so facing my mortality, I came up with some thoughts that I had kind of been living by that I wanted to at least get to my kids and grandkids. The Bible talks about generation to generation. I thought, “You know what, this is my legacy. I’m gonna hand this to them.”

Jim: What were those… I mean, you journaled them, if I read the book correctly.

Jim Burns: I did. Yeah.

Jim: So you journaled those and you talked to… Actually, you spoke to an audience, if I remember.

Jim Burns: Yeah. What happened was I had told somebody about it, and I ended up speaking to about 2,000 pastors. And when I was done with the talk, which was just me telling my story, uh, they came back on and said, you know, “We’re gonna not take the next workshop for a minute, but we’re gonna just do Q&A.”

Jim: Hmm.

Jim Burns: Because these pastors apparently identified with what I was talking about, some of these principles. And once the principles came out, um, people just wanted me to speak on it more and more and more. And so it became kind of, well, what I would call my life message-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Jim Burns: … and my life message wasn’t just have serious fun, but it was these, these phrases that have been so meaningful to me and I’ve interacted with them, and I think they’re scriptural. And I think they’ve been what’s helped me get to where I am. Not that I sure I’m, you know, the perfect one.

Jim: And we’ll uncover some of those as we go. But, um, y- you, you do self confess that you fell into that busyness trap.

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: How many people live there? I mean, I’m just coming off the road after like three weeks.

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: So I’ve been a little tired too.

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: So it applies even when you have the knowledge of making sure you have some balance, sometimes you’re just out of whack and you can’t control it that well.

Jim Burns: No.

Jim: Speak to that realization for yourself that, “Man, I am in the busy trap.”

Jim Burns: Yeah. Well, I’ve had to make course corrections all of my life. You know, you drift and once you kind of drift… I would drift toward busyness, and I would drift towards my work. And what I had to realize was family was more important than work for me. And yet I wasn’t always living that way. And there were times when I was busy that I would have to come home and I’d be thinking to myself, “Am I only giving my wife? Am I only giving my kids my emotional scraps?” Let’s be honest, when I’m at work, I’m not giving people my emotional scraps as much, but I would come home… And somebody said to me, and it was actually prophetic. It was when I graduated from seminary. So it’s been a long time, but he said, “Hey, I’ve got this phrase for you. You didn’t make it to the graduation. If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” That was prophetic for me-

Jim: Yeah.

Jim Burns: … because the devil wasn’t gonna put me in the arms of somebody, of another woman or wasn’t gonna be able to do the embezzlement things or all that. But what he was gonna do was get me so busy that I would miss the most important things. And I had to learn to say no to good things, to say yes to the most important things.

Jim: Yeah. Which is so good. I… That happened with me. I mean, I was traveling so much at one point. I remember when my boys were younger, and I did something called the dad’s report card. So every time the kids got a report card, every quarter, I did a dad’s report card. Am I spending enough time with you-

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: … was one of the seven elements that I had in my report card. I remember Troy, my youngest said, “Ah, I think you have a C for that-”

Jim Burns: (laughs)

Jim: … and I was like, “Wow.” He was probably seventh grader.

Jim Burns: Isn’t that great?

Jim: And I went, “Okay, so we need to change some things.” So I remember redoing my whole schedule for the next seven, eight years-

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: … up until this summer, you know, uh, not traveling between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Now, not everybody has that flexibility, I get that. But find a way to get that grade corrected.

Jim Burns: Oh.

Jim: First of all, challenge your kids to give You the grade.

Jim Burns: Yeah. And actually it’s amazing when… You know, the best people who can give us that grade would be our kids and our spouse.

Jim: Yeah.

Jim Burns: And when we hear that, they’re probably telling some truth, even though we may not feel it, or we want to get defensive on it. And when we do that and what you did, you made a course correction, and when you made that course correction, Jim, that’s changing the trajectory of your family and not even realizing. It was a small course correction, but it changed the trajectory of your family.

Jim: Well, and it created a value perspective for him because I remember a couple years later, I had a really busy March and I apologized to him, “Sorry, I’m I’m not home as much this month as I want to be.” He said, “Oh, that’s okay. Summer’s right around the corner.”

Jim Burns: Hmm.

Jim: So it gave him a mechanism to modulate his emotions and he was busy in school, and he knew summer was coming and that meant camping together and being together. And that, that’s a good thing. Uh, you have a special, uh, notepad, I think, that sits on your desk. I’ve never been able to do that. I don’t… Maybe it’s my ADD nature. I don’t know.

Jim Burns: (laughs)

Jim: But, uh, there alongside your desk, you have three big letters-

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: … on it. It says AWE.

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: So what, what is that?

Jim Burns: A.W.E. It’s actually yellowed now. It’s a post-it note.

Jim: (laughs) That’s showing our age.

Jim Burns: But it’s still there. Yeah. I wrote it a long time ago and it stands for Affection, Warmth and Encouragement.

Jim: Huh.

Jim Burns: And what I wanted to do, and I, I just wrote this one day. I mean, it was not some big thing, but I wrote it and I wanted to shower my wife and my kids with affection. I wanted to shower them with warmth, and I wanted to shower them with encouragement. And you know, there’s a study out of UCLA that says it takes eight to 10 meaningful touches a day for someone to thrive, thinking about affection. But then I realized, “Wait, I can do that on a different level too. I could do that with my wife. I could do that with my kids differently than I would do it at work. But I keep it on my desk for that reason that I wanna show people affection. You can do that with words. I wanna show people warmth. My mom was like that. My dad was an alcoholic. My mom was a really warm person. My friends would come by, “Is Jim here?” “No, he’s playing basketball down at the gym.” “Well, can I come in and hang out with you?

Jim: (laughs)

Jim Burns: You know, and that’s my mom.

Jim: Yeah. That’s great.

Jim Burns: And so she showed warmth. And so what I realized was that my circumstance might not change, but I could still show warmth to, uh, my family and to friends. And then encouragement, you know, it was that great theologian, Mark Twain, who said (laughs)-

Jim: (laughs)

Jim Burns: “… I can live, you know, two months on one good compliment.” And what I realized was that I need to be the top cheerleader for my wife. I need to be the top cheerleader for my kids.

Jim: How do you do that, Jim, in a way that’s sincere?

John: Hmm.

Jim: Expressions of affection and emotion-

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: … and that a boy/that a girl?

Jim Burns: Well, last week, Cathy and I were gone for a couple of days. We were in a wonderful place called Cambria and I decided I would take on just… I just wrote 50 reasons why I was thankful for her.

Jim: Wow.

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: That’s good.

Jim Burns: I know I got some points on that too. I’ll just tell you guys. I did. Um, but I wrote that, and you know what? It was at a time when I was kind of really maybe a little bugged because I wanted to stay, you know, four nights and she only wanted to stay three nights, you know, see what I’m saying? So I was-

Jim: This is a familiar conversation. (laughing)

Jim Burns: Right. And, and s-… But I wrote that, and you know what? It didn’t change the circumstance, but it changed me. And so when I gave that to Cathy, I wasn’t expecting anything in return, but I, I went, wow, this was really meaningful to her.

Jim: Yeah.

Jim Burns: And I mean, honestly, I typed it out on my computer, and I went to the place where we were staying and I said, “Can I, you know, can I print this?” And, um, and I handed it to her and as she looked at those. I could see that her face changed, and I really had a ministry to her, but you know what? It was more important… I’d already done the ministry toward me by doing that, well, it was partly thinking, “You know what? I need to practice some AWE around here. Uh, if we’re gonna be on this trip, let’s practice some AWE.” And I think, I think you do it intentionally.

John: Yeah. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and our guest today is Jim Burns. Uh, we’re talking about some of the content in his, Have Serious Fun: And 12 Other Principles to Make Each Day Count. Stop by to get your copy, or give us a call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Speak to the listener, you know, where he or she is going through a tough time and it’s difficult to laugh.

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: It’s difficult to have a light spirit-

Jim Burns: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … because there’s hard things happening.

Jim Burns: Right.

Jim: And maybe the differentiator is the person that’s always in that kind of gloomy mood definitely needs to reconsider that. But just having bad circumstances, sometimes it’s hard to just pick yourself up and-

Jim Burns: Yeah. And, and I don’t think you always just fake it until you make it type of a thing.

Jim: Right.

Jim Burns: But the truth is, and I, I mentioned this in the book where I talk about your circumstance may not change, but your attitude can change, but the way you get there. I’m gonna tell you a story. Uh, Joni Eareckson Tada, who I love, and I know you love her. And she’s an amazing woman. At 19, she became paralyzed and, you know, she’s been confined to a wheelchair. Uh, what people don’t know sometimes is she’s lived with a huge amount of pain and a lot of difficulty. One day I was on the other side of the mic, and I was interviewing her. I had a radio show. Um, you’re the pro I was like junior varsity, but I had, uh-

Jim: (laughs)

Jim Burns: I had Joni come in and she comes rolling in. I knew she’d had a particularly tough week and I just put all my notes aside. And I said, “Joni, how do you manage?”

Jim: Yeah.

Jim Burns: And she had a long pause. John, you know, in radio, this is not a good thing, right? (laughs)

Jim: (laughing) Yeah.

Jim Burns: And her pause was like 20 seconds. And we’re like, “Ah, ah.” And then she looked up and she said, “You know Jim, the Bible says, give thanks in all things and in all circumstances for this is the will of God.” And then she said, “And that’s become my reflex reaction.” And I said, “Joni, tell me about the reflex reaction as…” Honestly, I had a tear. She must have just touched my soul. I had a tear coming down my cheek. And I said, “Tell me about reflex reaction.” She says, “Well, I’ve just done it for so long that it’s become my reflex reaction.”

Jim: Yeah.

Jim Burns: And here was a woman who her circumstance didn’t change. A lot of pain, a lot of issues in life.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Jim Burns: But she had chosen joy in the midst of tough circumstances. Did this mean that she was always gonna have joy? No. No. She… There were moments when she had to be in deep pain and was just trying to get by, but it was that reflex reaction. So what I’m saying is, just like we do in work, or we do in other things, can we have reflex reactions that cause us joy in the mu- midst of tough circumstances? And I think that’s where people are successful.

Jim: And you know what’s important there is that she’s choosing that direction.

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: She’s saying, “I’m not gonna be, you know, captive to my circumstance,” although she’s a quadriplegic.

Jim Burns: Yes.

Jim: But in her heart, she’s saying, “I’m gonna choose aspirationally to love the Lord, to thank Him for what’s happened-

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: “… and then keep moving forward.”

Jim Burns: Right. Right.

Jim: And she epitomizes that.

Jim Burns: Yeah. Right.

Jim: She is an amazing person.

Jim Burns: Well, right. And you know, today, this morning I had a little time in the morning and, and I write down every morning, I do ACTS, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication, I write in my little journal. And today I wrote down 20 reasons why I was thankful. I actually mentioned both of your names. And I mentioned Focus on the Family. Um, you don’t get mentioned every day. I just want you to know that right now, but you know-

Jim: (laughing) I’m gonna buy your lunch.

Jim Burns: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Jim Burns: But I wrote those downs, and you know, my ci-… None of my circumstances changed, but it actually improved my attitude. It was practicing thank therapy. Well, that’s what people do over and over again. Do that today, repeat it tomorrow. Do it for the next 60 years. Some of your circumstances may not change, but your attitude is going to change for the better and that’s what I wanted to get across to my children, especially, you know, when I started writing down some of the phrases that were helping me.

Jim: Well, and I think we can be easily agitated in the modern culture, ’cause of-

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: Again, social media and other access to information, and we just stay agitated all the time. The person that cut you off on the road, which happened to me yesterday, I had decided, “You know, what am I gonna do? Uh, get angry?”

Jim Burns: If it was me, I’m sorry.

Jim: Yeah. (laughs) No, it wasn’t you. Listen, you have a quote by Vivian Greene. I don’t know if you know it off the top of your head, but I’ll read it and… ‘Cause I loved it. My heart really resonated with this. She said, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: Man, I so associate-

Jim Burns: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: … and affiliate with that.

Jim Burns: I look up at that poster.

Jim: Yeah.

Jim Burns: It’s a poster that I have, you know, that I, I framed. It’s a very important [inaudible].

Jim: Learn to dance in the rain.

Jim Burns: Learn to dance in the rain.

Jim: Yeah.

Jim Burns: And, again, I’m not saying that there aren’t tough issues. There are tough issues today and we have to face that fact. But in the midst of it, isn’t there a chance that we could just dance a little or sing a little?

Jim: Yeah.

Jim Burns: Make it better.

Jim: I, I think the challenge though Jim, someone’s gonna hear that, that’s in a particular spot in their life. It’s hard. It’s difficult. And they’re going, “Forget you guys, you don’t know what I’m living in.”

Jim Burns: Right.

Jim: I think we do ’cause both of us had really difficult childhoods. (laughs)

Jim Burns: Yeah. Right.

Jim: We came up from, you know, the gutter.

Jim Burns: Right, right.

Jim: And there is something you should be able to learn from those circumstances, and that is how to dance when it’s not going well.

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: I think the Lord smiles because he knows He’s got your heart when you’re able to give Him thanks and to glorify Him in the midst of something not so good.

Jim Burns: You’re right. I’m seeing that right now with my wife. My wife, Cathy. Uh, she was at City of Hope in the summer, uh, with cancer, breast cancer. And what’s so interesting about Cathy and she’s just gone through the radiation and she’s doing good. And they’re, you know, working on the medication, all that, but it drew her closer to God. So sometimes our pain and our hurt, it didn’t take away her cancer, but it really did draw her close to God. She’s such a rock, if you would. And you know, the scripture talks about building your house on the rock or on the sand. If you build your house on sand, the rain and wind are gonna come, (laughs) whether you have a rock or a sand. Now she’s, she has her house on the rock. And so it’s bending a little bit, but it’s focusing her in great ways and guess what she’s doing? She’s, she’s investing more time with the Lord. She’s investing more time with our kids.

Jim: Hmm.

Jim Burns: She’s investing more time with our grandkids. She’s investing more time with me and that’s a good thing.

Jim: Right.

John: Hm. Jim, as you’re speaking, I’m smiling because I’m, I’m thinking back to a season, uh, just reflecting on your daughter, wondering where the fun went.

Jim Burns: Yeah.

John: I think some of the fun for us went out the door with my kids.

Jim Burns: (laughing) Right.

John: Because it doesn’t rain a lot here in Colorado, but literally there were rainstorms when my kids couldn’t wait to go out and play-

Jim Burns: Right.

John: … because it was just fun. And I think I’ve lost a little bit. I think I’ve found some encouragement just from what you guys are sharing from your own lives.

Jim Burns: Yeah.

John: And from, from illustrations, like Vivian Greene’s quote.

Jim Burns: Right. And even in the empty nest phase, sometimes people say, “Well, it’s not fun.” You know, to quote Billy Crystal from City Slickers. It’s not exactly a Christian movie, but he said, you know, “When I get to this age, I’m just gonna be, you know, walking around the mall, looking for the best, you know, soft yogurt and mumbling, ‘When are the kids gonna call? When are the kids gonna call?’”

Jim: (laughs) I like that.

Jim Burns: And I laugh because in a certain stage or phase, you can do that instead of going, “Hey, let’s go have a blast. We have more freedom than we ever have as a couple or whatever. So let’s enjoy that time.”

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim Burns: Instead we sometimes fill it up with wrong stuff.

Jim: Yeah. That’s so true. You say that attitude and discipline are keys to making the most of every day. I totally agree with that. But again, how do you practice that-

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: … in such a way that you can… And make it part of your natural-

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: … attitude?

Jim Burns: Yeah. Well, one of the phrases that has helped me is it’s, you know, life has pain, so it’s either the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.

Jim: Yeah.

Jim Burns: (laughs) I was thinking you guys, neither one of you said anything when I came into the studio, but I’ve been working out with weights. So I’ve got some pain of discipline. Like I’ve got some soreness right here.

Jim: You look really good.

Jim Burns: Thank you for calling me buff.

Jim: Yeah.

John: (laughs)

Jim Burns: It’s beauty of radio, right? Um, but the pain of regret is right here. My…

Jim: (laughs)

Jim Burns: I’m holding my stomach here. And so I think that’s the natural part. We have to have the pain of discipline and that comes with our relationship with God, with our relationship, with our family, with so many things or we have the pain of regret. And I think that plays into our attitude as well. I’ve needed to understand that I just can’t write goals. I have great goals. I know I don’t accomplish my goals. I’ve wanted to lose, you know, weight for so many years. I’ve learned I had to make habits around those goals and-

Jim: (laughing) No Fritos.

Jim Burns: No, no, no. That doesn’t, that doesn’t work. Um, but the habits help me… Once I do those habits and once, they become a part of my life, then they help me with those goals and that changes and helps my attitude.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Yeah, no, that’s good. In fact, you, you have an acronym, SMART, S-M-A-R-T. What are those five elements for?

Jim Burns: Yeah. What’s setting goals and I’ve been setting these goals in my s… I’ve been in a small group for 21 years and we always have goals. And then I learned that they have to be SMART, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, uh, Relevant and Time-bound. And for the time-bound, what that means for me is that I need to have a, a time when I can really be held accountable with it. I need accountability with some of these things. And when that happens and I do those and then I make habits out of those, that’s when the goals look better and do better. And that even happened with me with weight recently, but it also helps me with my relationship with God. It helps me with my relationship with my spouse, with my kids.

Jim: Yeah, it definitely does. And I think right here at the end, that’s the big question, Jim, for the people that this may come a little more naturally, maybe they have a, you know, the gift of joyfulness.

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: Um, and then there’s others that don’t. It, it’s just part of their makeup, you know. They’re down to business, this life is hard and I’m gonna get through it and…

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: So speak to both of those people.

Jim Burns: Yeah.

Jim: One that may have a reservoir of joy, how do they not squash other people (laughing) with their overwhelming joy?

Jim Burns: Right. Right.

Jim: And then on the other side, how to develop that reservoir.

Jim Burns: Yeah. Well, joy is not happiness. And a lot of people have happiness ’cause they told a big joke, or they were outgoing or whatever. But joy, I think, comes from a relationship with Christ. I really do.

Jim: I agree.

Jim Burns: The people I know who have a relationship with Christ have a deeper sense of joy. And yes, there are people who are more optimistic. I’m an optimist, but there are also people who are, what I call… And by the way, you can look this up in the dictionary. They’re called awful-isers. Awful-isers.

Jim: (laughing) Awful-isers.

Jim Burns: Yeah. I mean, you know, my husband’s late from work again, you know, he’s probably having an affair. Our, you know, our son is gonna impregnate the entire class. He’s only in fifth grade, you know. Those kinds of people.

Jim: Right. That would be an Awful-iser.

Jim Burns: Right. And those people have to make sure that they’re not focusing just on the negative. The same way to get joy is to connect on a deeper relationship with God. And I’m not trying to sou- make that sound, you know, simplistic. I’m saying that God is the God of joy and God is the God who gives us this happiness and He wants us to have a life that is related to Him. And when we’re related to Him, then I think there is a sense of joy, and we don’t have to be negative Nancy or negative Ned. It doesn’t mean that it’s always gonna be positive, but, you know, we have to learn to have, what I like to call, positive adaptability.

Jim: Yeah.

Jim Burns: And that’s going to be something that is life changing. It sure has been for me.

Jim: Yeah. It’s about attitude. That’s what you’re really going after is attitude.

Jim Burns: Attitude is everything.

Jim: So attitude in Christ, et cetera. But again, your 13 elements, your 13 principles, have serious fun, attitudes everything. Uh, find replenishing relationships, set excellent goals and create workable habits, glorify and enjoy God while serving him forever. That, that’s just a, again, a, a few of ’em and we’ll post the 13 at the website, if you let us do that.

Jim Burns: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Jim: And man, we’d like to get you a copy of Jim’s book Have Serious Fun: And 12 Other Principles to Make Each Day Count. And uh, if you can make a gift to Focus on the Family, that would be a fun way to participate in ministry, ’cause we’re gonna turn that right into saving a marriage, helping save the life of a baby. Why not?

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So send a gift and uh, if you can do that monthly, that’s great. But a onetime gift is good as well. And we’ll send you a copy of Jim’s book as our way of saying thank you.

John: It really is a great resource. And uh, please smile when you give us a call-

Jim: (laughs)

John: … at 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. (800) 232-6459 or stop by

Jim: Jim, uh, thank you so much. This has been great. It’s kind of lightened my load a little bit today.

Jim Burns: All right, well great to be-

Jim: So thank you much.


Jim Burns: Great to be with you and thanks again for what you do.

End of Preview

John: Well, we’re so grateful that you could join us today for Focus on the Family. On behalf of Jim Daly and the rest of the team, plan to join us next time as we, once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

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Have Serious Fun: And 12 Other Principles to Make Each Day Count

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