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Jesse Bradley | Former Professional Soocer Goalie; Author; Motivational Speaker

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence
The Truth Network Radio
June 14, 2023 6:06 am

Jesse Bradley | Former Professional Soocer Goalie; Author; Motivational Speaker

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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June 14, 2023 6:06 am

Author, motivational speaker, and former professional soccer goalie Jesse Bradley joins the show to talk about his recent book, and the connection between Father's Day and sports.

Amy Lawrence Show
Amy Lawrence

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That's slash positive. He is a pastor. He's a motivational speaker. He's an incredible media guru.

He's everywhere these days. And he's also an author. And his brand new book is called Four Elements of Fatherhood. So he reached out and asked if he could join us on the show, not only to talk about the book, but to encourage dads in advance of Father's Day.

Cool stuff, right? So, Jesse, joining us from Seattle, I have no idea. With everything else that you do, all the other hats that you wear, plus being a dad to four kids yourself, when the heck do you have time to write a book, Jesse? Thanks, Amy.

So glad to be back with you. And right now, to be honest, writing's a stretch for me. And I hope that's an encouragement for anyone who's maybe vacillating with fear.

Just because something's difficult, it doesn't mean to stop or quit or give up. So I'm writing this really out of my heart. And fatherhood is something I'm in the middle of right now with four kids, four teenagers as well. That just happened.

We've got four. And really, I think back to my own relationship with my dads and some of the things that become clear over the years, too. So I hope that what I've written really encourages, empowers dads and gives them a fresh vision. Sometimes dads get tired, and they need kind of a picture of the fullness of fatherhood. That's why I wrote the book. There's really over 72 million dads in America.

I think that role right there is so significant. Sometimes we talk about America and some turnarounds that could happen, and I really believe it starts in the home. So let's talk to dads. Let's get real. Let's get honest.

And also some restoration if there's been a difficult road. And I'd also say that when you think about fatherhood, I think of teachers, educators, mentors, coaches, and the impact. Because the teams I played on are like families, and coaches have played and shaped my life in so many ways, played a vital role. And I think if you've been involved in sports or you follow sports and you watch the relationship between the players and the coach, you see so many truths about fatherhood emerging from those relationships. It's interesting that you say that because at every level, whether it's pro sports, college sports, certainly high school, junior high, and youth sports, you can see between some coaches and some athletes that relationship that develops that goes far beyond just coach athlete. How important do you think sports and having a coach, one who is a strong leader and a good father figure, how important can that be for kids?

Well, there's nothing more important life than relationships, and sports are about relationships and culture. And for me growing up, my parents got divorced when I was seven and my father was out of the picture. And then my mother had a boyfriend, I was close with him for a couple years, but then they were no longer together, so he was gone.

And then my stepdad came into the picture. And throughout all those changes, I had different coaches that I really bonded with. And there's a special relationship with a coach because sports are really just an opportunity to talk and teach about life. And what you learn through the sport can benefit you far beyond your playing days. And I had coaches that were wise, it was their character, of course they knew the sport, it was the way they treated me, trained me, it was going into battle together. And I learned so much from them that applied not only in the context of sports, but then in the classroom. You know, I was really struggling in school up until fourth grade.

Every year I was getting lower scores on the national tests. And I made a jump in fifth grade, and what happened there athletically and with the coaches really built into me in a way that I was able to take some steps forward in school. And I ended up going to a college, but again, the coaches were a big part of my academic success, and the discipline I developed in sports rolled over into the schoolwork as well. So there's no question when I look back at my life, the way they filled in some gaps, what they taught me, and just the life lessons that come.

So if you're listening and you are a coach and you are a mentor right now, just know that your words and your actions, how you set the example, like you're touching the generations. There's so many kids. Well, a quarter of America right now doesn't have a father in the home.

So you think about that. In any team, 25% of the kids don't have a dad. So right away, they're going to be looking to their coach for far more than sports. I mean, I've got close friendships that decades later, after I'm not playing for a coach anymore, still kind of feels like a dad.

So it's a special bond. You see it on every level. When the coach and the top player, let's say, they're on the same page, there's alignment, it's character. You know, it's a strategy and it clicks, it works, and there's respect. And that sets the tone for the whole team. Because if the standout player respects the coach and he buys into the system, everyone else is coming too. So that relationship right there, that's the championship relationship.

Jesse Bradley is a former pro soccer goalie. That's how he first connected with him. But he's also a pastor and has got a brand new book that's perfect for Father's Day. It's available online, It's called The Four Elements of Fatherhood, and he's with us here after hours on CBS Sports Radio.

All right, you set me up there with the title. What are the four elements of fatherhood, Jesse? Okay, the first one's connected because love is the most important thing in life and a dad can bring love. And that love is going to be expressed through time, listening, entering in emotionally.

One trap I've got to watch out for is that I don't work really hard and then just show up at home with just the leftovers. You know, not much to offer and not much connection. So enjoy your family. That's the first one. It's relational, connected.

The second one's invested. That's your time, talent, and treasures. And that's how you serve.

You use your gifts. You make a difference. You know, my son and I ran a half marathon recently, and it was a stretch for both of us, but it was a great cause. Clean water for kids in Africa, and we didn't just want to talk about making a difference. We wanted to do something together.

So Tacoma half marathon, we did it. And so the first two connected and invested. The third is rested, and it's important to get sleep. It's important to set limits, have boundaries, and it's good to have hobbies, to laugh, a non-anxious presence. But also, this is your inner condition. And for me, God's love changed my life. I got a security there, like an anchor for the soul. So it's that deep peace, shalom. It's greater than our circumstances, and that's part of being rested.

And the last one's tested, because you're going to have trials and storms. They're not polite. They don't knock first. They just show up. They come into your life, your home. They're unwanted a lot of times. But how do you respond?

Your kids are watching. And how you react to adversity? So you always choose your attitude.

You always choose your response. You don't have control over a lot of things, but when you act in reliability, purity, integrity, you leave a legacy. Your kids don't forget that. So those four elements, connected, invested, rested, and tested, I think they help dads break out. Because sometimes there's a stereotype that dads just bring home a paycheck. You know, dads do work on the house, and dads aren't very verbal.

They don't talk very much. But what's missing sometimes is the desire dads really have to go deeper emotionally and to go deeper spiritually. And those parts sometimes can be a risk, but I encourage dads to take that relationship risk, be vulnerable, be honest. And when you share deeply, there's a deeper bond that happens, and it's a holistic view of fatherhood. And so I want to encourage dads to kind of spread their wings, and it's okay to be a little awkward. It's okay to be a little vulnerable. And as you start to try to identify those and put words on it, your child's going to appreciate that because they probably already sense it, and then they can share about their lives.

So let's go deeper. And again, dads, I say this, there's a lot of people that can do my job at work. There's a lot of people that can play most of the roles that I do in life, but there's only one father for my kids. And if I'm the only one in the world that can play that role, that's significant because it tells me that I need to, you know, with God's help, do that role well.

And that's my heart right there. I agree with you that there is no replacement for a father, and so dads are significant. But as you point out, there are a fair number of Americans who don't have that experience, including me, Jesse. I have zero relationship with my birth father. My parents were divorced when I was one and a half. He's not a part of my life. As you have people listening who are thinking about the fact that there's a void there and that Father's Day is actually really challenging, what is your encouragement for them?

That's right. And Father's Day can bring up mixed responses because we have so many different stories. Credit to you, Amy, because to rise above that challenge early in life, I look at the statistics, and for those who don't have a dad, there's really an increase in dropout rates, teen pregnancy, crime, prison, suicide. Like, you look at the different categories, and there's a lot more at risk if there's not a dad around. So dads are significant, but you can overcome. And here's four general descriptions of dads.

The first one is abusive. This is really the most sad because the one who's supposed to protect you is actually hurting you and bringing harm. And with an abusive dad, the key is to forgive. And when you forgive, it's a gateway to the restoration process and the healing that can come. And there can be other dads or other men that fill some of that void. For me personally, my Heavenly Father was huge without a close relationship sometimes with my dad. Walk forward in that healing journey. Don't let that dad and how he treated you define you or hold you back.

And then second would be absent, which is also sad. This is what inspires me. I've seen a lot of dads who had fathers who were absent, and now they're very intentionally present. And they're there every time their kid has a game and after school, and they're always wanting to spend more time with their kids.

So you can take a negative and turn around to a positive. You can break the cycles in your family, and you can start a new legacy if the new trajectory and a new story. The third one's an average dad, and be grateful for your dad's strengths.

There might be some things disappointed, but just learn from that, right? And then the fourth one is an admired dad. Although that sounds awesome, sometimes it's tricky because some kids feel pressure, like they've got to be as good as dad, and they'll never be as good as dad. But you don't have to copy dad.

You can keep that legacy going, imitate a lot of what dad did, but still be yourself and have that freedom. So having a dad in those different arenas, there's different challenges, but I just want to say there's so much healing. And a lot of times there's no healing until there's a revealing. So it's good as a first step to be honest about your situation with your dad. I mean, I admire your courage in sharing that, and then be open to positive relationships because when you've had challenging or negative relationships, it's usually going to be positive relationships that bring the most healing. And you'll be discerning in trust, but then go deeper where it's safe and it's healthy. That would be my encouragement. Jesse Bradley is with us from Seattle getting set for Father's Day, a big deal across our nation.

It's After Hours with Amy Lawrence here on CBS Sports Radio. You now have four teenagers. You've identified that, so your youngest just got to age 13. Man alive, that's got to be challenging. So how does fatherhood change as they go from littles into teenagehood and high school and all the emotions that come along with that?

There we go. If you could picture our house, we've got Papa Shot in the living room, and we are also the hub in the neighborhood. So the kids come over all the time. The chandelier has been broken several times.

The railing is missing on the stairs in one of them. The house doesn't look as bad as I'm describing, but I'm just trying to give you a picture that it's like my wife would love to have grass in the backyard, but there's two soccer goals, and that grass doesn't last very long. So we're committed to kids. We're committed to fun, activities, sports, relationships, but it's a wild ride, and it's different every day. So I am on my knees.

It's good for my prayer life. What I would say, one thing that's consistent for dads at every age and stage is that dads are going to protect and provide. Dads are going to be honest and humble.

Dads are going to speak the truth and love, and dads are going to spend time with their kids, enter into their world. If they like Legos, I should be doing Legos. If they like Minecraft, I should be watching Minecraft. If they love pretend play, then I got to find some pretend play in me with some dolls for my daughter. It's like enter into their world, and then even things like driving in the car, use that time to ask them questions, draw them out.

They can't go anywhere, so let's talk. But as they get older, I think the challenge is that there's so many physical demands when you're young because it's like a conveyor belt of needs. Well, you got to change that next diaper.

They're not going to do that themselves, right? You lose some sleep. All those sacrifices you make physically early on. Later on, it gets a little more clever and a little more psychological, and you have to give them more freedom. What I've noticed, one thing that was hard for me is to hand the car keys over to my son. That, for whatever reason, was really difficult on the inside. I tried not to make it too obvious, but turning that into a win, we flew down to California, got my parents' really old minivan, and then did a road trip and drove it back to Seattle. We drove through the mountains in the snow.

It was just one of those memorable times, so making those memories, turning something that would be challenging into something that would turn out to be really fun. I trust my son as a driver. It's just someone that I love so much is out there with a lot of bad drivers, but my kids have to be able to spread their wings. Even though I probably wanted four soccer players, I can't force them to all play soccer, so when they said, I'm done with soccer, I've got to say, you're done with soccer, and they get to choose their own sports. They're doing wrestling, football. They're doing all these other sports, and that's great because I don't want to be a dad that is trying to force them to be who I want them to be.

I want to be giving them opportunities and support to be how they're wired and the dreams that they have. The book is called Four Elements of Fatherhood, and I saw a quote in which you were talking about the book, and you compared being a dad to being a goalie. How is that possible, Jesse?

How is that possible? You know, in soccer, you've got 10 people in front of you if you're a goalkeeper, and then you've got another 10, and you've always got to be watching the field, and you've got to see what's coming. You've got to anticipate.

You've got to be ready, and what I've found with our kids is that, well, when they all invite about three friends over, I came home yesterday, and there's like nine kids in the house, right? So it's almost a full soccer team, and there's so much you're trying to listen to one room, and then there's conflict in another room, or they're asking permission over here, and there's just a lot that's changing all the time. So you can have a game plan in any sport, but then you've just got to jump into the action. You prepare.

You get the scouting report, and then you get to know the other team and their tendencies, but after that, like, you've just got to enter in and love them, connect, serve them, set limits. Sometimes you take the hit because you might limit screen time. No teenager wants that. You might say no dating right now or, you know, whatever you're going to draw as a limit trying to look out for them. Anytime you protect them, you're going to sometimes not receive respect until later on. I think Mark Twain said, every year I grow, and every year I'm older, my parents get wiser and wiser in my own eyes. So it's a delayed appreciation, but that's okay.

I'll take that every time. All right, before I let you go, there's a lot of incredible information and encouragement too, and it's from Jesse Bradley. But I want to know for you personally, what's your favorite thing about being a dad? Yeah, my favorite thing I would say is that when they're born, it's a wonder, and it almost feels surreal. Like when they let us, first child, okay, when they let us take him home, I just thought, isn't there some more training? Like, are we really ready for this? And there's just part of that that never leaves.

It's a stretch. And my son was, you know, screaming when he was first born, and then I went over next to him, and I just started talking to him because he had been screaming, and I started talking to him, and he heard my voice, and he just calmed right down. It was like he knew my voice already from even in the womb. And when you have a child, you just realize every child is a gift, and you feel like, who am I to be this child's dad? And I think I just want them to have the best experience, whether it's academically, athletically, socially, spiritually. Like, I just want them to know that I'm always here. I'm always for them. We just keep enjoying each other, and they make my life more rich and full, and I just feel like it's an incredible honor to watch out over them and try to provide them with the very best.

And I fail. Sometimes I don't connect as well as I could, and sometimes I get too caught up in work, you know, just admitting that. But it's just one of my deepest joys, and I just think it's one of the greatest gifts in your life if you have a child. So even if your relationship's not good right now, just apologize and start to pursue your child. Bring kindness.

Be consistent. And there can be a lot of healing in that relationship. Don't take that relationship for granted. It's one of the most important parts of our lives.

It's just as rich. Little did we know that when we first connected with Jesse Bradley over the World Cup and soccer and his past as a former pro goalie that there would be so much more to come. And so it's awesome to be able to hear his encouragement. The book is called The Four Elements of Fatherhood. It is available online. Dads and Hope.

It's actually an e-book, so you can get it electronically. On Twitter, Jesse J. Bradley is making appearances all over the country. And I have to say, Jesse, as someone who has that void in my life, I appreciate that you care so much and that it matters to you so much to be a dad. So thank you again for your wisdom and for your time. Amy, you do an incredible job of weaving life and sports together. And you've been so steady and I appreciate everything you bring. And if people haven't checked it out, go to Amy's Twitter, follow her account, and then read the story that was just written about her because that'll inspire you and you'll be encouraged.

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