A successful life
Hi. I’m Joe Foster and I’m still here by God’s grace, 100 percent. So, I want to share some information about a study that was done on what makes a successful life, and the study took 75 years. A book was published on this study called “Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study”. Psychiatrists, if you can believe this, followed Harvard University students who were students of Harvard University in the late 1930’s. They basically followed these guys their entire lives to find out what makes a successful life. Would you like to know what the conclusion of the study was?
So, here’s what the lead psychiatrist, who wrote the book, had to say. He said “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships with other people. You could have career success. You could make a lot of money. You could be famous. You could even have good health, but if you did not have a few deep relationships, you did not have a successful life.” So, as believers, we’ve known this all along. God told us what the greatest gift is. I’m not in a position to give any of this advice, but I can say it doesn’t take any of us off the hook for trying to be the best dads and grandads we can be going forward.
So, we’re going to talk about “The 10 P’s of Being the Dad God has Called You To Be”.
Number one is “Personhood”, your relationship with the Lord. The most important relationship and the one thing the book missed, being a secular book, was our relationship with the Lord. The most important thing in our lives obviously is our relationship with the Lord.
In 1993, I went to lunch with a guy named Mike Downey. Mike Downey is a mighty man of God. God has used this guy in a powerful way all over the world. He started “Global Missions Fellowship”, which became “E3 Partners” and “I Am Second”. He now heads up a ministry called “Strategic Impact”. But he’s kind of a mess too, like all of us, I guess. But, he’s a mighty man of God. So, we go to lunch and right off the bat, and I was about 33 at the time, he says “Tell me about your relationship with God?” I was a believer, but I really wasn’t putting the Lord first in my life. I could’ve lied to him or told him the truth but I said, “You know, I’m a believer and all that… but I’ve just been busy and blah blah blah.” So, he challenged me, and one really huge thing that he got me doing was he got me spending time with the Lord first thing every day. So, number one is personhood and your relationship with the Lord.
Number two is “Partnership”. One thing that we get wrong sometimes, with my wife and I… one thing we were guilty of with our girls was putting our kids even ahead of our marriage. I think you’ve got to have your relationship with the Lord, your relationship with your spouse, then your relationship with your children.
“Parenthood” is number 3. As I thought about this and got ready for this, it was so helpful for me to get my own act together. I was like “Ok, what am I gonna talk about; what is the Lord gonna put on my heart?” Well parenthood, just a great example I like to use. How many of you know who Tony Evans is? Tony Evans is world renowned. How many of you know about his dad? I don’t know much about his dad, but years ago I heard Tony talk about his father, and one of the main reasons Tony Evans is who he is, is his father. He had a dad who was a great dad. The fruit of Tony Evan’s father was Tony and the legacy of that family. To me, we’re called to make disciples. Well, the obvious first place we’re supposed to start is our family. I’ve been guilty of even forgetting that sometimes. I’m thinking I’m going to go and save the world; well it’s our families before we go do that. So, “Parenthood” is number 3.
Number 4 is “Priority”, put your family ahead of your career. We have 3 girls and I would drive them to school, and before the youngest was even able to go to school the older 2 were like, 8 and 6 or something like that. So, I was taking them to school every day. So, I drop them off, I may have been on my cellphone, who knows what I was doing. I drop off our 8 and 6 year-old girls off at school and I take off. I get a call later from my wife and it was a snow day; the school had actually closed. So, I was so focused on what I was doing, I drop my kids off, I’m outta there. Don’t do that.
Put your family ahead of your career. As guys, I think it’s easy to do that, we feel like, “Ok, Lord I gotta make something happen.” The feeling we have is like, it’s the Lord who’s going to provide but we think we gotta make it happen. Put your family ahead of your career; do not put career success ahead of your family.
Ok, number 5 is “Present”. You know, be present. You gotta be there, number one you gotta be there and secondly, when you are there, you actually have to be there. So that’s something else that’s been tough for me is just, when you get home, you sometimes have to let it all go. Put your cellphone away; resist the urge to check email. It’s just so easy to be sucked back into it. Number 5 is be present.
Number 6 is “Put Others First”. Serve together. One of the pivotal moments in my life was 1998. I was 37 years old, and I went on a mission trip with Global Missions Fellowship, the organization that Mike Downey founded that I was telling you about earlier. Just seeing people… you know, when you share the Gospel over there. Number one, it’s easier than sharing the Gospel with your next door neighbor. You’re going through a translator. I think those people are more poor in spirit, and there’s places like that here in Dallas where you can do this. It blew me away when I saw people cross over from death to life right before my eyes; they genuinely trusted Christ. That completely blew me away.
Then we got our kids doing it with us. Serving with your family is a powerful thing. There’s so many good opportunities right here in Dallas; there are plenty of places you can serve with your family. You don’t have to go across the world. So, put others first, serve together.
Number 7 is “Passions”. Look for the unique gifts and passions in each of your children. Be their chief encourager, not their chief critic. Just help them to be what God has called them to be.
Number 8, “Pursue Grace and Forgiveness”. You know, every family, every one of them has got issues. We had a run with our youngest. I’m not going to go into all the details, but I’m sure everybody here can share some war stories. But, at the end of the road, we have got to pursue grace and forgiveness. In light of what we’ve been forgiven for, in light of the Gospel, how can we not forgive? So, pursue grace and forgiveness.
Number 9 is “Position Yourself with Like-minded Dads”. Surround yourself with like-minded dads. I heard something, literally a month ago, that got my attention. What the guy said, and I believe it’s true, he said “You are a direct reflection of the five people you spend the most time with.” The five people you spend the most time with, you are a direct reflection of them.
Our youngest daughter, the one who gave us a run for our money, the cool thing is she’s really a great young lady. She’s going to be a teacher and work with kids with Autism. God’s grace prevails.
Number 10. The big thing is to talk about and “Pray about the application”. Lord, we just worship you as the one alone worthy of our lives, and Lord I just thank you for this great group of men in this room who are just an army of men who have been in the battle and trained well. Lord, I can just tell every single one of them is someone who loves you, and follows you wholeheartedly. So, I pray that you would just continue to bless them and their families and that you would do everything that you can to help them to continue to be great disciples, and disciplemakers. That their kids would all come to know you or know you more deeply, and that they too would in turn have families who are Godly families that impact the world. Lord that’s your plan for the world, to impact individuals through individuals and families.
A prayer for this ministry and you
And, I pray for this ministry. I pray that you would help this ministry to impact the world. We know it’s an impossible task unless you do it. I pray that you would be the one to go before us. Thank you for Bill, for the leadership of this ministry, and for what you’ve already done. What you’re doing in places like Cuba and other parts of the world, and so Lord we just give this ministry to you. Lord I pray that you would speak to each one of us individually and tell us an area that you would encourage us in or an area that you want to help us to be even better at following you and being the dads that you have called us to be.
I pray this in your name Jesus, Amen.