Posts tagged honor your parents

Honor Dad for who he is, not what he isn’t

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Hey dads. I want to honor you. And I want to encourage you to honor your father.  Imperfect, good or bad, we all need to honor our dads, and we all need to grow as fathers.

KempJeffJackScoreboardMy dad, Jack Kemp, was a really good dad; he had some phenomenal traits. But he had some gaps, too. The good part of my dad was that he was a great hugger and kisser, he always told us he loved us. He wrote us notes all the time, he affirmed our identity. And he gave us great vision for life and was always encouraging us.

He wasn’t so good—in fact he wasn’t good at all—when it came to talking to me about the intimate things of sex and temptation. He wasn’t that good at admitting his faults; he didn’t really apologize well, particularly to my mom. And he didn’t know how to do anything around the house, or at least he didn’t help out much around the house. But, still, I honor my dad and I got so much from him.

And you know what? I have my strong and weak points as a father, too.

I’m good at some parts of fathering but not so good at remembering things. I’m not that good in some areas of listening, because I keep interrupting my kids too much. I’m intentional, but I’m overboard sometimes. But I always want to learn to be a better dad.

Get started. Honor dad. Be an honorable dad.

Honor your dad, and be the best dad you can be. For some of you that may be hard. Maybe you feel like you failed as a father, or maybe you had a father who failed you in so many ways.

Dads, I want to thank and encourage you. Don’t beat yourself up over the past. Decide to do your best from this day forward. Try this game plan. First, realize that your imperfect dad probably did the best he could with what he had. Set yourself free and forgive Him.

Next, remember you have a perfect heavenly father, who’s love for you is so radical and unconditional that He sacrificed His perfect Son to pay the death penalty that you and I deserve. Accept that love. Now, start the healing with your dad if he’s alive. Ignore your dad’s faults and initiate an apology to him. Don’t expect any apology in return. Next, apologize to your kids for where you have fallen short or missed the mark as a their dad.

Maybe you haven’t been present or been engaged. Maybe you haven’t been transparent or honest with them. Maybe you haven’t hugged and said “I love you” much.

Maybe you haven’t given the boundaries and training and protection your sons or daughters needed. Tell them your faults. Tell them your love. Start to do your best, today. You are the best dad in the world to your child…from this day forward.

Here’s my encouragement and my challenge: Be the best dad you can be; honor your own father and forgive him in any area where he wasn’t perfect.  And let’s keep growing as dads and make this thing about fatherhood not just a one-day celebration on the third Sunday in June, but a 365-day-a-year thing.

© 2015 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading “Honor Dad for what he is… not what he isn’t” on the Stepping Up men’s blog

STEPThink - 10-point checklist“How Can You Honor Your Parents When You Feel They Don’t Deserve It?” Read this article from

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistHear how Freddie Scott II, another NFL son, chose to honor his father and become “The Dad I Wish I Had.”

STEPPass - 10-point checklistGet together with some guys, your teen or older son and go through Stepping Up, The Call to Courageous Manhood

Thank you for choosing to be my dad

Bill Eyster has been executive vice-president of FamilyLife since 2006. That Thanksgiving, he wrote this tribute to his stepfather, Dr. Alvin L. Morris, but felt it would be better to deliver it the following June to honor him on his 80th birthday.

Al Morris passed away October 10, 2013. Since then, Bill has felt led to move his family back to Kentucky so he can care for his mother, Beverly.

choosing to be my dad

Beverly and Al Morris

I know you don’t want a big deal made of your birthday and that speaks to the kind of man that you are, but this is as much for the rest of the family as it is for you. I want them to know …what I have come to know, understand, and appreciate about you.

I think it’s important that the grandchildren recognize the legacy that their grandfather passes on. They need to know the impact you have made on my life. So, Al, please humor me and allow me to tell you how much you mean to me.

Al, you are intentional about everything and when you married my mother you knew what you were stepping into.

At age 13, I had been filling the self-imposed role of “man of the house” for close to four years. When you came on the scene and began to date my mother you were able to see first hand how broken I was.

You saw my anger, my rebelliousness, and my bad choices.  You witnessed crushed tables, all night outings, and other such challenges. But, because of your love for my mother, you chose to marry her and intentionally accepted the responsibility of raising an independent 6-foot-tall, 13 year old boy that was full of anger.

The challenges with me didn’t stop there. I was running hard and a living example of a rebellious “red headed stepchild.” You experienced late nights, bad grades, disrespect, ill gotten speakers, a trashed brand-new RV, “borrowed” cars, unauthorized parties, and a continually bad attitude. It’s not lost to me that you had already raised three great children and yet you accepted the responsibility for raising me.

In the 32 years I have had the privilege of being your son …

  • I have seen what it means to be a man of integrity,
  • I have seen what it means for a man to love his wife,
  • I have seen the importance of family,
  • I have seen hard work and dedication,
  • I have seen a man who loves the Lord,
  • I have felt acceptance … I have felt loved.

As I have gotten older and closer to the age at which you made this choice, I marvel. Through it all you never treated me or made me feel like a stepchild. You set high standards and challenged me to meet them. You selflessly and intentionally accepted me, loved me, and cared for me. You were always there.

As I have grown in my faith, I realize how God put you in my life to play a major part in making me the man, the husband, and the father that I am today. I thank God each day for you and want you to know I am deeply grateful for your love, for your acceptance, and for choosing to be my dad.

— I love you.

Your Son — Bill


If you haven’t written a tribute to your parents, we’d encourage you to do it while you still can. If you need help, check out our free resource The Best Gift You Can Give Your Parents, or get Dennis Rainey’s bookThe Forgotten Commandment.  

If you’ve given your parents a tribute that you’d like to share with the readers of Stepping Up, we’d love to hear about it. Whether it’s something you’ve written or recorded on audio or video, just Contact Us here.

The Forgotten Commandment

The Forgotten CommandmentHow do you, as an adult, express honor to your parents? Even if it has been a difficult relationship — even if you’ve been estranged — what’s your responsibility to obey and to keep the fifth commandment?

“Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God has given you.”

FamilyLife has released a revised 20th anniversary edition of a book created to help you honor your parents by writing a living tribute to them. The Forgotten Commandment (previously titled The Tribute and the Promise, and The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents) will be in the warehouse this week.

Last week, FamilyLife Today® devoted two radio broadcasts to tributes guests have made to their parents. You can hear the broadcasts in their entirety by clicking on the links below, but we have included some excerpts.

Medley of Tributes, Part 1 – Featuring Bill McCartney,  Crawford Loritts, Alex Kendrick, Andrew (son of Luis) Palau, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Jani (daughter of Ray and Anne) Ortlund, and Vicky Case.

Medley of Tributes, Part 2 – Robert Lewis, Max Lucado, R.V. Brown, and Sharon Jaynes.

Filmmaker Alex Kendrick to his father, Larry:

“I don’t ever and have never wanted to be anybody else’s son. I’m proud of my dad, Larry Kendrick. You are a gift to me — for teaching me to love God— for demonstrating that yourself … I learned that from you. So, every book that we have written and every movie that we have made would not have been made had you not taught us to walk with the Lord. Thank you, Dad. I’m proud of you, and I love you.”

Former prodigal Andrew Palau, to his world evangelist father, Luis and his mother, Pat:

“Dad and Mom, I love you. I am so grateful that you never gave up on me. I just thank you for persevering through the difficult days — for having the boldness and the love for me to take me for the walk, and to plant that seed, and help me to know the truth that God did love me, and that He had a plan for me, and that He had made a sacrifice on my behalf. I thank you for writing the letters that you wrote to keep that at my attention.”

Evangelist R.V. Brown to his father, Daddy Fish:

“I want to just tell you what an awesome leader you were.  With no education, Dad, you taught me. You educated me on how to love — Dad, thank you for teaching me to farm, to take care of the people, and share whatever I have with all the people. Dad, I’m the kind of man I am today because of who you are, Dad. Thank you for loving Mama. Thank you for the leadership and authority in which you raised us. Thank you for the discipline. Most of all, Father, I want to thank you for that hug, and that kiss, and that rub on my little round head, and saying, ‘You’re going to be okay, son.’ Dad, I love you.”

Men’s Fraternity creator Robert Lewis, to his parents, Thomas and Billie:

“Thanks, Daddy, for saying, “I’m sorry,” when you wrongfully hit me in anger one day. You don’t remember the incident, I know; but I do. It’s deep inside me now, and it comes back to me every time I need to say those words to my children and my wife. Seeing that day in my mind makes that humbling process easier.

I owe you both a thousand ‘Thank Yous.’ 

I guess, if I were offered one wish, it would be for one crisp fall evening, with the smell of burning leaves, and the Bearcat game in the air. I would be outside enjoying the bliss of youthful innocence. Mom, you would be frying those oysters; and Daddy, you would be calling out for my pet dog, Toddy. So here’s to my imperfect family — one that fell short in many respects, but one whose love makes the shortcomings easy to forget. Here’s to the family that never had it all together — but one just perfect enough for me.”

If you haven’t written a tribute to your parents, we’d encourage you to do it while you still can.

If you’ve given your parents a tribute that you’d like to share with the readers of Stepping Up, we’d love to hear about it. Whether it’s something you’ve written or recorded on audio or video, just Contact Us here.

Leaving and cleaving: How to leave your parents well

During the first year of marriage and for long afterward, it’s not easy to leave your parents while also honoring them.

Leave your parents - Stepping Up | FamilyLife | Dennis Rainey

A few weeks after their wedding, a young man came home to find his wife in tears. She told him that his father had called her and said, “I cannot believe you forgot my wife’s birthday.”  In the father’s mind, it was her responsibility to keep up with occasions like these — even birthdays for her in-laws.

The young man knew what he had to do. First he got on the phone with his mother and said, “Mom, I want to apologize for not sending you a birthday card or present.  I’m really sorry about that.” Then he asked to talk with his father.

“Dad, this is the only time I want to have this conversation with you,” the young man said.  “I never want you to do that to my wife again.  My loyalty now is to her, and if you have a problem with something I have done, then you need to talk to me.”

I wonder how many young husbands would have stepped up with that type of courage in similar circumstances?   What impresses me is that he honored his mother through his apology, but he also did not hesitate to let his father know he had overstepped his boundaries. And in the process, he let his new bride know that she was the new priority in his life.

Honor … and forsake

When we marry, we face a difficult balancing act with our parents.  On one hand, the fifth of the Ten Commandments tells us to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).  No matter what your age, you should honor your parents by spending time with them, thanking them for what they’ve done well, caring for them as necessary … and, yes, remembering their birthdays!

But then we look at Genesis 2:24, part of the narrative where God creates the institution of marriage.  This verse tells us, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  The Hebrew word for “leave” means to forsake, to leave behind, to literally let go.  As difficult as it may be, when you marry, you declare to the world, “No other person on earth is more important to me than my spouse.”  Your spouse becomes a higher priority than your parents.

So how do you balance leaving your parents while also honoring them?  Here are a few suggestions:

1. When you marry, determine to set up your own home and family.

This means more than physically living apart from your parents; it also involves setting your own schedule, creating your own family traditions, and establishing your own values and priorities.

Early in marriage, one of the most common points of conflict with in-laws is holidays.  Where will you spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or other occasions?  It is difficult for many to accept the fact that those holidays will never be the same as they were.  Talk with your parents well ahead of these occasions about possibilities.  Be creative and flexible, and urge your parents to do the same.  And in the future, when you have children of your own, there may come a time when you ask your parents to begin coming to your home for these holidays.

2. Pull away from dependence upon your parents.  

One of the most common problems you will face as a newly married couple will be the temptation to allow parents to bail you out of financial difficulty.  I know of one couple that kept turning to the wife’s parents to bail them out after poor financial choices.  As a result, the husband was not forced to step up to his responsibility to provide for his family and to live with the consequences of poor choices.  It undermined his self-respect as a man, and his wife was losing her respect for him as well.

It’s also important to pull away from emotional dependence.  Some couples are so accustomed to consulting their parents, for example, that they feel uncomfortable making decisions on their own.  There’s nothing wrong with getting advice — the problem comes when they doubt their ability to make good decisions independently.  This also means being willing for you or your spouse to make bad decisions and learning from your mistakes … just like your parents did when they were young.

3. Look for opportunities to spend time with your parents.

Remember how difficult it is for them to let you go.  And for single parents, the loss can be even more wrenching. Leaving does not mean withdrawing from them; that’s abandonment, not leaving.

If you live far away from your parents, you will need to make a special effort to visit them on a regular basis during weekends, vacations, etc.  This will involve flexibility and sometimes sacrifice, but that’s part of the commitment you make when you join another family.

4. Don’t allow them to manipulate you.

This is one of the most difficult issues to address.  Your parents know you well, and they know what buttons to push so you will do what they want.  And sometimes they don’t even realize how they are being manipulative.  At times you will need to lovingly confront them to establish your independence.

5.  Protect each other.

Don’t criticize your spouse to your parents, and defend your spouse when your parents are critical.  If you are having a conflict, don’t get advice from them.

I once made the mistake of making a negative comment about Barbara to my mother. It was not a major issue, and I soon forgot it — but she didn’t.  For years she brought up that comment occasionally, and I realized I had not protected Barbara as I should have.

For many of you, the act of leaving your parents will be one of the most difficult steps of your life.  But it’s a vital step in the process of growing up and establishing your own home.

Copyright ©2013 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

The best gift for mom ever

Being a man who steps up includes being a man who honors his parents.  This must be important to God because it was one of the 10 Commandments (notice … not suggestions).  And, the reason this is the kind of thing a ‘Stepping Up’ man does is that it isn’t always easy.  Sometimes our parents didn’t or don’t ostensibly deserve our “honor.”  But it was not a mistake that God included this as one of the 10 Commandments.  There’s something that happens in us when we can find something to honor in our parents, if for nothing else than having us and giving us life.  Ultimately, when we honor our parents, we honor the Lord.

This is an excerpt from a book that Dennis Rainey wrote a few years ago, The Forgotten Commandment, and it was also excerpted for a website article on

Men Stepping Up | Stepping Up Blog | FamilyLife | Honor your parents

In his book, The Forgotten Commandment, Dennis Rainey encourages readers to write a formal tribute to their parents and present it to them during a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, holiday, etc.).  Following is an example of a tribute — one that Dennis wrote to his mother.  Click here for more information on honoring your parents and for more tribute examples. 

I decided something was needed to set these words of honor apart from all the letters I had written in the past.  With Barbara’s help, I decided to have the tribute typeset and framed, making it into a more formal document. I took the finished product and mailed it home to Mom.

The Best Gift for MOM Was ME

Here’s what I wrote:

“She’s More Than Somebody’s Mother”

When she was 35, she carried him in her womb. It wasn’t easy being pregnant in 1948. There were no dishwashers or disposable diapers, and there were only crude washing machines. After nine long months, he was finally born. Breech. A difficult, dangerous birth. She still says, “He came out feet first, hit the floor running, and he’s been running ever since.” Affectionately she calls him “The Roadrunner.”

A warm kitchen was her trademark— the most secure place in the home — a shelter in the storm. Her narrow but tidy kitchen always attracted a crowd. It was the place where food and friends were made! She was a good listener. She always seemed to have the time.

Certain smells used to drift out of that kitchen — the aroma of a juicy cheeseburger drew him like a magnet. There were green beans seasoned with hickory smoked bacon grease. Sugar cookies. Pecan pie. And the best of all, chocolate bonbons.

Oh, she wasn’t perfect. Once when, as a mischievous three-year-old, he was banging pans together, she impatiently threw a pencil at him while she was on the phone. The pencil, much to her shock, narrowly missed his eye and left a sliver of lead in his cheek … it’s still there. Another time she tied him to his bed because, when he was five years old, he tried to murder his teen-aged brother by throwing a gun at him. It narrowly missed his brother, but hit her prized antique vase instead.

She taught him forgiveness too. When he was a teenager she forgave him when he got angry and took a swing at her (and fortunately missed). The most profound thing she modeled was a love for God and people. Compassion was always her companion. She taught him about giving to others even when she didn’t feel like it.

She also taught him about accountability, truthfulness, honesty, and transparency. She modeled a tough loyalty to his dad. He always knew divorce was never an option. And she took care of her own parents when old age took its toll. She also went to church … faithfully. In fact, she led this six-year-old boy to Jesus Christ in her Sunday evening Bible study class.

Even today, her age doesn’t stop her from fishing in a cold rain, running off to get Chinese food, or “wolfing down” a cheeseburger and a dozen bonbons with her son.

She’s truly a woman to be honored. She’s more than somebody’s mother … she’s my mom. “Mom, I love you.”

I knew she would like it, but I was unprepared for the depth of her appreciation. She hung it (right above the table where she ate all her meals). There was only an old clock on another wall in that room — and that clock was no rival for my mom’s tribute.

She shared it with family, the television repairman, the plumber, and countless others who passed through her kitchen. And now I share it with you.

My only regret in regards to Mom’s tribute is that I mailed it to her instead of giving it to her in person. Years later, Barbara wrote a tribute to her parents and then read it to them. Seeing that emotionally poignant moment with her parents unfold at Christmas was unforgettable. I wish I had driven home to Ozark to read my tribute to Mom — and to cry together with her.

The results of honoring my mom with a tribute were so encouraging that I began to challenge others to write tributes of their own. “Your parents need a tangible demonstration of your love now. Why wait until after they die to express how you feel?” I asked.

I never presented this idea as a magic potion or cure-all for healing difficult relationships. Yet, as people began implementing it, I started to see that honoring parents with a tribute touches something deep in the soul.  I began to see that there really was more to this command to honor parents than I realized.

As you approach an anniversary, a birthday, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, or the Christmas holidays, consider the possibility that the best present you could give to your parents would be the gift of honor.  Below you will find examples of tributes that others have written as well as links to additional articles on writing a tribute to your parents.

Wherever you are in your relationship with your parents, I encourage you to write a tribute. It may be one of the most profound, mysterious, and incredible experiences of your entire life.

Maybe the best gift for mom this year for Mother’s Day is telling her in ink how much she means to you.

Adapted with permission from FamilyLife©

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