Reflecting on 2012

by Bill Eyster, FamilyLife

As we ring in a new year, it is often a time of reflection on the past year and anticipation of the coming year. Here’s a suggestion for you and your family to build intentionality as you transition to 2013…

Happy-New-Year-2013-Facebook-CoverGather your family together (maybe even turn off the football game) and ask this question,

“How were you blessed in 2012?”

It’s a great question. The responses offer start with the most recent activities (gifts they got at Christmas or travel to see family for the holidays). But, if you keep digging and probing, you will be amazed at the very real and varied ways you and your family have been blessed.

Probe by recounting:

– Trips that each of you have taken. (family vacations, mission trips, etc)

– Major milestones reached (16th birthday, anniversaries, start of school, etc),

– Significant activities or efforts (ACT tests, sporting competitions, etc),

– Big purchases (car, home, bike, maybe something one of you has been saving up for)

– Friendships that are new or deeper,

– Key lessons learned,

– Major sicknesses or accidents.

You get the idea…

Our family has been doing this for many years. it has given us a great perspective of how God is at work in our lives and how he provides so many blessings that are often taken for granted. This perspective gives us great hope and expectancy as we look toward the coming year!

So, give it a try.

Dealing with Depression

depressed manDo you realize that many Christian leaders struggle with depression, even during the holidays? Depression is a silent distractor and disabler of many Christian leaders throughout the year. Its causes can be many including biological, genetic, stress, chemical imbalances etc.

Charles Spurgeon considered “the prince of preachers” in the 1800’s struggled with depression.  Tommy Nelson one of today’s most popular pastors, author and family leader shared his struggle with depression openly through lectures, interviews and books.

I know of numerous fathering and family leaders who sometimes silently struggle with the “demon of depression” including myself.  Depression can strike anyone, including leaders who are out front leading the battle on today’s biggest faith and family challenges.

Depression typically doesn’t just go away. It takes courage, intentionality and often seeking outside help including a medical doctor or therapist.  If you are married to a spouse dealing with depression, you can also help by familiarizing yourself with what they are struggling with and how to help them versus making it worse.

This holiday season; say a special prayer for our leaders, fathers and pastors. We need them on the front lines.

The Low Down on The Fatherhood Summit 2012

Fatherhood Leadership Summit team

Over sixty leaders and spouses came together last week at Winshape Retreat in Rome, Georgia to support the 2012 FCM Summit Vision: to train, equip, and unify local and national ministry leaders so they can strategically work together to champion the cause of Biblical fatherhood across the nation.  Practically our desire was to rejoice and laugh, grieve and pray, listen and learn, educate and encourage each other, network and fellowship, and then dream and collaborate so that we can be united in advancing God’s design and heart for strong fatherhood.  We feel these goals were met by God’s good grace. Be encouraged by reading testimonies submitted by Fathering Leaders who attended (below).

There are two prominent questions being asked stemming from the 2012 Summit:

1.      What’s next?      This is a question that we are all asking and seeking the favor of God about.  Currently here’s what  we have been shown:

  • Ongoing encouragement for Fatherhood leaders to work together in unity, laying aside ego’s and logo’s for the common good of the big K (kingdom) cause.
  • To embark on a significant Father’s Day undertaking together.  The FCM Board is convening in Dallas in January to solidify ideas and strategy.
  • To offer the Fatherhood Leaders Summit again in 2013 at Winshape.
  • Keep relationships moving forward through conference calls, web-n-r’s, social media

2.      What can I do?    Though we are still very much in the formation stage, below are specific tasks which will help FCM continue its work into 2013 and beyond:

  • Pray regularly that God will bless this movement with unprecedented guidance, protection and favor.
  • Help us spread the word about FCM by posting on our Facebook page , “like” us and post links to FCM on your social media channels.
  • Sign up for our blog and forward link to your email contacts
  • Follow FCM on twitter and re-tweet FCM tweets
  • Share “best of” resources on our FB page– help put tools in fathering champion’s “tool boxes”
  • Share what is happening through FCM with your pastor, church leaders and community leaders
  • FCM board members have committed to make a personal donation to FCM by end of month. If you believe in the direction we are heading, prayerfully consider a personal donation or ask friends, colleagues, influencers to make a year end gift to our 2013 efforts.  Details about online donations coming soon. Send donation questions or intents to:

Follow this link for a Summit slideshow. Enjoy!

Thank you again and May God bless us as we stand together and champion the noble calling of fatherhood. I am truly honored to help lead this effort into the year 2013.

Do You Have A Family Plan (and this is not about the size of your family)?

Family Plan

Plan? What Plan?  by Bill Eyster

I was recently at a men’s getaway weekend. We took a few days of time away in fellowship, recreation and considering our responsibilities as fathers, husbands and men of God.
There is something incredibly powerful when a group of christian men get together to speak into each others lives and “spur one another on”. If this practice of getting away is not a part of your spiritual development, I encourage you to seek out a group of men that you can get away with and grow together as men. Life is meant to be a team sport and we need to guard against isolating ourselves .
During the weekend, we were asked the question,
“Why do we plan in our work life better than we do in our home life?”
The answers were interesting:
– I never thought about it as needed at home
– It’s a requirement at work, accountable to my boss
– Success criteria is clear at work
– Ignorance
– I don’t have a clear view of where we are going as a family
– I am always reacting to life at home and managing the chaos
– I don’t know how
When you think about it, it’s a great question. Most everyone would agree that in our professional lives, we plan, we have strategies, goals, objectives, deliverables, timelines… you name it, we’ve got it. All so that we can be successful in our professional lives.

No one said they plan better at home than they do at work.

No Family Plan is a Plan…just not a winning one

I was struck by how problematic this is!  As men of God, none of us would say that our professional lives are more important than our families. We also know that it is a biblical mandate that we lead our families skillfully (read Psalm 78: 72 and Deuteronomy 6: 5-9).

With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.  (Psalm 78:72 ESV)


You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

(Deuteronomy 6:5-9 ESV)

The bible clearly instruct us to lead our families skillfully!
In our professional lives, we have developed our skills to be successful. Likewise, we need to skill up to successfully lead our families…

Suggestions to help you get started on your family plan

Here are a few suggestions for you to consider:
–  Spend some time praying about and considering what your family is all about from a  long term perspective. Write down the key principles you want your family to live by and the hopes and desires you have for your children and your marriage. Share this with your wife to get her input and discernment. You will be amazed by how much thought she has given to this.
–  Getaway with your wife for some time to pray and consider where you are as parents and in your marriage and what actions you need to take.
–  Find a godly man who you respect and admire in how he led his family and ask him to mentor you as the spiritual leader of your family.
–  Pray with your wife daily.
Someone said, “The easiest thing to do is nothing”. I encourage you, don’t take the easy way out. Your family is too important and the stakes are too high!

By: Bill Eyster

In addition to being on the Board of Directors for the Fatherhood CoMission, Bill is the Executive Vice President and COO of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru (formerly, Campus Crusade for Christ).  FamilyLife is a ministry that was created on the principle that the family provides the foundation for society. The ministry offers a wide range of tools to help families become stronger.

Advice Worth Taking–3 Keys To Teaching Your Teenager to Drive

teaching teen to drive

Guest post by Bill Eyster, Executive VP and COO of FamilyLife and Fatherhood CoMission Board Member

Advice (Opinions) are like noses…

If you are around people, you undoubtedly are getting all sorts of advice. Someone said, “Opinions are like noses, everyone has one”. Those opinions often show up in the form of advice in all sorts of areas…

People give stock tips – wish I had bought Apple a few years ago when a friend suggested. Another friend recommended I get in on the Facebook IPO!

Diet aids give advice on how to trim down. Those pills that cause the pounds to just fall off sound like great advice. Why go through all the pain and suffering of exercising when all you need to do is take a pill and before you know it you are a new slimmer version of yourself.

Match making companies give plenty advice on who you should date. Just plug in your parameters and expectations and bam… you find your soul mate.

Advice worth listening to…

Needless to say, there is plenty of advice out there. But at the risk of adding to an already overcrowded array of advice to choose from, I want to share some that I got from a wise friend of mine named Crawford Loritts.

A group of friends were out to dinner one night and as each of us shared what was going on in our lives, I mentioned that our daughter had just gotten her learners permit. Now any time this topic is shared in a group of people, the reactions range from hysterical laughter to looks of pain, sort of the, “better you than me” look.

3 Keys to Teaching Your Teenager to drive

After the group settled down and had their fun at my expense, Crawford spoke up. He shared that when he started teaching his kids to drive, he had three unwavering rules that his kids had to agree to without question:

1.) Do everything I tell you

2.) I am always right

3.) Don’t say, “I know”

Now understand that Crawford is a well respected pastor, author and speaker. He and Karen also have some terrific kids that are now young adults with fantastic families of their own. So, if Crawford is giving advice I am very likely to take heed.

The next day, I sat down with my daughter and outlined these three simple rules. I didn’t give Crawford appropriate attribution but I was firm and explained that a condition of her ability to drive was that she agrees with these rules. Needless to say, she agreed.

I cannot tell you how effective these rules were. I was amazed at how simple yet profound they were as we worked through the challenges of helping our daughter and then later, our son, become a safe and effective driver.

So, take some advice from me (passed down from Crawford), use these rules when you start teaching your teenager to drive. You will be glad you did.

P.S. Too bad Crawford wasn’t the one who suggested I by Apple a few years ago!

By: Bill Eyster

In addition to being on the Board of Directors for the Fatherhood CoMission, Bill is the Executive Vice President and COO of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru (formerly, Campus Crusade for Christ) and one that was created on the principle that the family provides the foundation for society. The ministry offers a wide range of tools to help families become stronger.


Dad, Are You Tempted Today to Think You Don’t Matter?

Guest post by Leon Wirth, Sitting member of the Fatherhood CoMission Board and Executive Director with Focus on the Family

It’s natural for us to struggle with this question.

Sometimes we really do wonder…we wonder as dads if what we do really makes a difference in our family’s life.  Do dads matter?  What if I wasn’t there?  Would they miss me?  Do they really need me?  Don’t they get most of what they need from their mom, the church, their teachers and coaches and friends?

The temptation comes because we feel discouraged, questioning whether or not we matter at work, at home and elsewhere.  It comes when we wonder what it would like to be “free” from our family, without the daily grind that comes with family responsibilities.  It comes when we’re tempted by the enemy to fantasize about starting a new life, a “mulligan” of sorts.

However and whenever you are tempted to think you don’t matter, whatever the reason, I challenge you to “perish the thought.”  Think about the importance of your dad, present or not, in making you who you are.  Look at the many examples in Scripture of reasons that dads are important and dads matter (and the Heavenly Father most of all).

Dads matter…an example

But if you need a practical example to encourage and inspire you, if it helps (and it sure does me), I urge you watch the following video, or find your favorite similar such video, and bookmark it to watch it from time to time.

Because few videos capture the importance of a dad in a family’s life, without any words needed, then a video that shows the homecoming of a military dad.

Wow.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not ashamed to admit these scenes bring tears to my eyes every time.

Look at the joy.  The relief.  The desire to be in each other’s arms.  Notice how the kids drop whatever they’re doing?  Do you think there is anything more important than being in their dad’s arms at that moment?  Do you think they’re thinking about sports, relationship problems, money, video games, homework, or what anyone else around them is thinking?

Dads can stir courage into their kids

The courage of the kids, in a way, is remarkable.  They seemingly could care less about anyone else.  Everything else seems to melt away as they rush to their fathers.  Do you think they care what their peers think about them?  Not a chance.

Dads can stir the courage and hearts of their kids in powerful ways.

In fact, study after study actually shows that the impact of a dad is powerful.  Dad’s positively impact a child’s social, academic, relational, emotional and spiritual health.  Some studies even show the impact of a dad is greater than the impact of a mom in certain aspects of a child’s life.  That’s not to say dads are better, but it is to say that dads certainly matter.
Yes.  It’s true.  Dads really do matter.

Maybe that’s what these kids in the videos know better than we do as dads sometimes.

Those families are not perfect any more than yours or mine are perfect.  They have problems.  The dads eventually will get crossed up with the kids over something, just like you and I do with our kids.  But at the moment of that reunion the message is simple:  Dad, I’m so glad you’re here, you’re home.

The first question this raises for me is about my relationship with God.  Do I enjoy my time with God like these kids do who are reunited with their dads?  Do I run into His arms to tell Him I love Him?  Do I accept His love in return as these kids so eagerly do?

The second question is for me as a dad in my family:  Do I do everything I can in my time with my family that they’ll look forward like that to my coming home?

Sometimes I travel for work.  And I love coming home and hearing “Daddy’s home!”  But how I leave, and how I come home…where my head and heart and attitude are…can either help or hurt that “re-entry.”

But even on regular days, wouldn’t it be great if my kids and wife were like those families in the video, wanting my presence and longing for my hugs and words of love? Again, how I leave home and how I come home either helps or hurts my return.

The bottom line is this:  I want to live in such a way that I’m missed, that my return home is exciting, that my presence is meaningful.

Yeah, when I watch those videos, I want to be THAT DAD, like one of our great military servicemen, who gets that kind of reception.


Leon C. Wirth is a Christian speaker, husband and father. He serves as Executive Director of Parenting and Youth at Focus on the Family and host of the Dad Matters podcast with Dr. Greg Smalley. He is the co-author of the book The One Year Father-Daughter Devotions. Leon lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Michelle, and their daughters.

Family Activities That Build Your Home | Stephen Kendrick – Part 2

This is the 2nd of 2 posts by guest blogger, Stephen Kendrick.  Stephen and his brother Alex have created 4 theatrically released movies including Fireproof and Courageous and have co-authored a New York Times Best Seller, The Love Dare (as seen in Fireproof).

Yesterday, Stephen shared the “Why” of the importance of fathers making time for our children.  Today, he shares the “How”.

A New Day and a New Opportunity

I want to challenge you today to throw on the brakes and start spending more “heart to heart” time with your kids. My wife and I are personally going on a journey to win, keep and mentor the hearts of our children Grant, Cohen, Karis, and John. We want to obey our Lord and desperately long for our children to hear and embrace God’s truth. But they won’t, unless we plant it in the soil of hearts that are bound to ours in a loving relationship. Will you join the adventure? You might be saying, “That sounds great. Maybe I’ll start that tomorrow.” Well as Grant, who is ten now can say, “It already is tomorrow”.  Here are some ideas for family activities that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine, indoor and outdoor activities with your children.

How to Capture Time with your Kids:


Establish Daily Interactive Habits.

Read Deuteronomy 6:7 and observe the four family activities that are in everyone’s routine. Capture those four conversation opportunities each day with your kids.

  • Morning hugs & Breakfast laughs.
  • Car catch me ups.
  • TV-less dinners.
  • Bedtime Tales. Tuck me in prayers.

They all really add up to years full of unregrettable moments.

Invite Tonto to Tag Along.

 Try to include your kids in what you are already doing.

  • My 8 year old Cohen helps me take out the trash every week.
  • Grant joins me for home improvement projects. My Home Depot runs include helpers that get M&M’s at the register.
  • Don’t leave them behind. Develop in them an appetite that longs to tag along with you.

Make Tickling Mandatory.

If laughter is the best medicine, then tickling is the wise doctor’s prescription. Take time to enjoy laughing with your children. My wife and I take turns holding down our kids while the other gets them with tummy tickles. This is an added free perk of parenting that comes with the membership card.

Declare War on the TV.

Would you like lots of extra free time every day? Duck tape down the Off button on your remote. It’s revolutionary. The average American watches 5 hours of television or internet media a day. That’s the equivalent to non-stop viewing 24 hours a day for two months straight – every year. That time is usually non-interactive for families too. So that’s where that wasted time was hiding! I dare you to turn it off and enjoy your family.  FamilyLife has challenged families to observe TV fasts for a number of years, often mentioning it on their FamilyLife Today radio program.  Maybe, you can declare the next 30 days as a TV/Media fast?


Kidnap your Kids.

Each kid needs private one on ones with each parent. Spontaneously showing up where your son or daughter is and stealing them away for lunch is a great bonding activity. Kids never forget such surprises! Talk to their teacher about schedule breaks and kidnap them from school twice a year. A day fishing with dad or shopping with mom while everyone is still in school is unbelievably cool to kids. Don’t you wish your parents had done that for you?

Go Camping.

Research shows that families that camp together closely bond together. It is one of those unpredictable family activities that breeds good healthy catastrophe and misadventures into life. Camping ironically forces families to work together and ultimately develop their own hilarious stories that they share later on. Buy a tent and find a state park. Learning how to camp is half the fun.

Give Grace Gifts.

It’s healthy to teach your kids to be good and work hard in order to earn some type of reward. But they should also learn that grace gives things that are unearned and undeserved. Buying your kids surprises occasionally for NO REASON can be a fun way to teach them about grace. “Just because I love you!” is a powerful declaration that hits them right in the heart.

So, Dad, which one of these can you do TODAY?  As James says, our life is but a mist and we don’t know if we’ll have tomorrow.  If these last two posts have made you lament the time you haven’t spent with your kids today is the day to put the stake in the ground.  Make the next right step and do something, anything that will move you closer to your children.  And, for you that have already watched your kids come and go, modify this to make a covenant today to get back in touch, stay in contact more regularly or continuing to invest your time as a dad into their lives.  You’ll never outgrow being a dad.

What Would You Do If You Only Had 3 Years To Live, Dad?

the following post was written by Bill Eyster, Chief Operating Officer of FamilyLife (a member of the Fatherhood CoMission)

I recently met a new friend.  As we were getting to know each other, I learned he was going through a very serious health crisis.  In fact, so serious that, according to doctors, he was living on borrowed time.  More than 3 years ago, he was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of brain cancer and given, “at most, 3 years to live!” As I sat listening to my new friend, I began to imagine how different life would be if given such a prognosis.  What started out as a light-hearted, get-to-know-you type conversation turned acutely somber.  I leaned forward in my chair, blocked out all the distractions, and listened intently as he explained his journey over the last 4+ years.  It was an incredible story of a courageous man depending on the Lord through unbelievable difficulties as a man, a husband, and a father!

One of the things he shared really struck home!  He said that shortly after his diagnosis, he scheduled a day with each of his 3 children (ranging from college to young adult) and soberly asked them, “What do you need from me over the next 3 years?”  Can you imagine?  I remember thinking how incredibly courageous that was of him.  What a holy moment that must have been.  It brought tears to my eyes, as I imagined myself in that situation and all that would be wrapped up in it!

What a great example as a father, an example that each of us can learn from without having to endure a life-threatening disease.

So, here is a question we need to ask ourselves as fathers:

What do my children need from me over the next 3 years?

To answer this question, we need to spend some time praying about each of our children and thinking specifically about:

  • Where are they emotionally, spiritually, and relationally?
  • What are they involved in; what they are passionate about?
  • How has God wired them and what is their gifting?
  • What transitions are they going to experience over the next few years?
  • What do they need to learn from me as their father?
  • How do I need to protect and care for them in the coming years?
  • How can I intentionally build a stronger relationship with them in the coming years?

This list could go on, but you get the idea.

For me, this is a very instructive and important process that helps me be intentional in my important role as a father.  This process has also helped strip away things in life that are less important and keeps me focused on things that really matter (Matt 6: 19-21).

By the way, dads, this process also works for your relationship with your wife (1 Peter 3:7)!