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The Headwind vs. the Tailwind Dad

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
September 21, 2020 2:00 am

The Headwind vs. the Tailwind Dad

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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September 21, 2020 2:00 am

Pastor Bryan Loritts, a father of three sons and author of the book, "The Dad Difference," talks with Dave and Ann Wilson about the difference between a headwind father and a tailwind father. Absent, abusive, or passive fathers are headwinds forcing their children to squander much of their adulthood undoing what their fathers did or did not do. A tailwind father, however, is a dad who is present and an active, caring participant in their child's life. He sets his child on a trajectory for success and influence for generations to come by inspiring and pushing them to their God-intended destiny.

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One of the characteristics of a good dad is that he's there for his kids.

But as Brian Laritz points out, that doesn't mean that he is their genie, their on-demand. One of the gifts that my dad gave me that I'm thankful for in hindsight is dad just didn't make me the center of his world. Dad was very clear on, hey, God's called me to do some things. He would pull out the calendar before our athletic seasons. He would go, I can make, you know, these seven or eight games. He didn't pull out the calendar and say, here's the trips I want you to go on. So as a little boy, he's taking me with him. So he was very intentional. But at the same time, dad was very clear.

Hey, I know you like those cleats, but let me tell you how you got those cleats. I work. This is Family Life Today. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. I'm Bob Lapine. You can find us online at

One of the best predictors of long-term success for young men and young women is having a dad who is purposeful, intentional, focused, and not always there. We're going to talk more about that today with Brian Laritz. Stay with us. And welcome to Family Life Today.

Thanks for joining us. I remember a conversation I had, this was many years ago, with a woman who had been a public school teacher, and this was right about the time when diagnoses of ADD were starting to mushroom. Boys were hyperactive in the classroom, and doctors were starting to prescribe medication for these boys. And this teacher said, ADD is a real thing, but she said, I think it's being overdiagnosed. And she said, I have a different acronym for it.

She said, I think ADD is not attention deficit disorder. She said, I think in a lot of cases, it's absent dad disorder. And I've never forgotten that. And I thought, I don't know that we fully appreciate how significant a father is in the life of his children, in the life of a family, for good or for ill. His presence is significant. His absence is significant. Whatever he does or doesn't do is going to leave its mark, going to leave its fingerprints. You know this firsthand. Yeah, I mean, essentially when you say that, Bob, my first thought is my dad left when I was seven, and I don't think there's a single day in my life, and I'm 62 years old now, that he doesn't influence me to this point.

I mean, he's in the grave. And even though he wasn't there in my life still, and I didn't even know until my junior year, I became a follower of Christ. And as I started reading the Bible, really for the first time as a man, I did not know there was this phrase, the sins of the father will visit down through the generation.

And so I come across that and I'm like, wow, I'm living that. And then I said to my nine-year-old son at that time, CJ, I said, hey, CJ, what do you think of this verse? And he looks right back at me, nine years old, and he says, Dad, don't sin. That's what he said.

But he caught it. At nine years old, he's like, whatever you do, it's going to affect me. And I remember feeling the weight of that.

Like, he's right. I have a huge responsibility. Well, I'll say this. As a woman and as a mom, I have been astounded by the power that a man has in the home. As I look at Dave, I remember saying to him, I am jealous of the power that you have. Like the boys, he would say something and the boys would be at rapt attention where I'm saying it. I think everybody is, Bob, when I say something.

But no, it's true. It's like men have this powerful voice in children's lives. We have got a friend who is joining us to talk about this today. Brian Loritz is with us on Family Life Today. Brian, welcome. Oh, it's great to be here, Bob and the Wilsons. In fact, the last time I saw the Wilsons, I think we were at a conference together in San Diego. Yeah, it's a treat to have you joining us.

Brian is a pastor. And it's just going to be nice. Brian is also honoring me because he beat me in golf that day.

Oh, no. I mean, both of us. Let's just say it wasn't our best day. It wasn't our best day. There are better days coming. And Brian, you are one of all of our favorites.

You are. Brian has spoken at a number of family life events. He's a pastor and an author.

Just recently became the executive pastor at the Summit Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. And Brian has written a book called The Dad Difference. And he knows a little bit about the impact of a dad because we've had his dad regularly with us on Family Life Today, his dad, Crawford.

Brian, you start the book by saying that dad is the most powerful three-letter word in the English language. When did you realize that? Did you realize that when you were growing up and your dad was exerting that influence over you?

No. I mean, honestly, I think it was Mark Twain who said that youth is a gift wasted on the young. I mean, I didn't appreciate my father at all. It wasn't until I got out of his house and just started to get older that I began to look back and I realized how much the old man has grown.

And then the combination of just getting older and smacked around by life and reverting back to these Crawford-isms, as I would call them. And then as a pastor, as I would just wade into people's lives and just walk with the sheep, the common denominator in an overwhelming majority of cases, it's really true. All roads do lead back to home and specifically the influence of a dad, so much so that how one perceives another powerful three-letter word, God, is oftentimes seen through the lens of dad. It dawned on me recently that when God reveals himself to us and chooses to use the terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, this is an accommodation to human understanding. God is explaining to us who he is and he says the best way I can explain who I am is to use this term.

And I thought he could have said it's COO, CEO, and comptroller. He could have come up with any other illustration, but he picks Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the way he explains who he is to us. Yes, and I think a part of what God's getting at with that insight, Bob, is the relational aspect of it. Father is a very relational term. In fact, in the Aramaic, when we talk about Abba, Father, I mean, that's akin to a three-year-old daughter climbing into her daddy's lap and just going, Abba. So it's a highly relational term, and that's the consistent theme throughout the Scriptures.

Even when Jesus is baptized, God says, This is my beloved Son in whom I'm well pleased. So it's a term of endearment, of relationship, and yeah, there's an intentionality as to why God chooses that imagery. And how does our view of our own Father, you mentioned it, affect our view of God?

How do those two go together? As I've sat down with people, let's say, who may struggle with a legalistic God, with a God who has a perpetual scowl on their face, oftentimes that's linked to a dad who nothing was just ever good enough. So that's the paradigm that we just attach over to this God. Or if the only time you really heard from your father was when he was coming down on you, or there was just this negative thing coming down, that's going to impact how I see God.

We can go the flip side. If you kind of had this Disneyland dad, maybe, who was maybe detached from the home and out of a sense of guilt would just kind of spoil you to death, maybe that might lead you down a prosperity road perspective that God just exists for your happiness. It's not true in every single case, but in my experience, in the majority of cases, as a dad, and I wish I would have been more attuned to this in the early days of parenting, I'm not just handing my kids kind of a roadmap to life, I'm also giving them a perception of who God is. And if you had had that perspective when your kids were babies, what would you have done differently? I think I would have been a lot quicker to apologize, because you realize real quick, I'm not deity. I think I would have been a lot more careful with how I disciplined, the things that I said to them, tone of voice. I just would have been a lot more mindful. I look back on those early years of parenting and think I could have been a whole lot more purposeful and intentional in terms of shaping the direction of our family and the direction with my kids. I could have recognized I've got a big job here in front of me as a dad, and there are things here only I can do, and I better be really focused on this. I think I was being a dad in the margins rather than being a dad in the mainstream. My kids would say, oh, Dad, you're being too hard on yourself, you were a great dad. They'd give me all of that, but I think I look back on it and go, I think there's a lot I could have done that would have been more intentional.

And I think that's the key word. When I think of great dads that I know, they were intentional. And when I think about my dad, so the book Dad Difference, let me dispel any notions. It's not about me being a dad because that story is still being written.

I got three teenage boys, 19, 17, 15. A work in progress, right? Yes. So it's really reflections on my dad and how he fathered me. And he was intentional. He was my first Old Testament professor, New Testament professor. We had a standing breakfast appointment every week when he was in town at the local Shoney's or McDonald's.

I remember him taking out napkins and, you know, he was with crew for a lot of years. So he's a big Four Spiritual Laws guy, so he's writing out, this is how you share your faith. I mean, I'm like six, seven years old. And then he would go, okay, I've explained it to you, now watch me do it with the server.

Taking me on missions trips with him, you know, having me raise support when I'm 10 years old, wanting to expand my faith. No, he's not perfect. And I make that point very clear in the book. But he was intentional.

And so, Bob, you hit the nail on the head. And yet he was gone a lot. When you talked about that, Brian, you were saying that Crawford was gone a lot of the time. And yet was it the time that he was home he was intentional?

Yes. So one of the things, and I want to dispel the notion, you know, my dad's a great dad, but he's not the fourth member of the Trinity. So I did not want to overwhelm the reader by giving them kind of this Instagram picture of my dad in which the reader would just be exasperated going, I can never be that. So I was real quick to point out the flaws in my dad. And my dad would say if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't have traveled as much as I did.

But at the time, I didn't know any different. So I think parents create the normal in the household. So even though he was gone a lot, I just thought that's how every dad was.

And one of the gifts that my dad gave me through that that I'm thankful for in hindsight is dad just didn't make me the center of his world. So dad was very clear on, hey, God's called me to do some things. He would pull out the calendar before our athletic seasons. He would go, I can make, you know, these seven or eight games. And we were so happy. He didn't pull out the calendar and say, here's the trips I want you to go on. So as a little boy, he's taking me with him. So he was very intentional. But at the same time, dad was very clear.

Hey, I know you like those cleats, but let me tell you how you got those cleats. I work and I can't show up to everything. So he didn't raise me with this happiness ethic. And the last thing I'll say on that is I have an Asian friend of mine. And he was commenting on the difference in his perception of how Americans parent and how the Asian community parent. And he said, Brian, you know, broadly speaking, in my perception, the key word for Asians, the one thing they want for their kids is we want them to be successful. He says, looking at Americans, it seems like if there's one word that describes the parents' aspirations for their kids is we want them to be happy. And because of that, we're unleashing into the world not arrows, some 127, but boomerangs, where they venture out only to come back.

And more and more, they're not resilient. That's not an indictment on them. That's more an indictment on us as parents. You and Corey made that exact point in the Art of Parenting video series when we sat down and had that conversation. You talked about happiness.

If that's your goal, you're setting your kids up for a wrong view of life and the future. That's right. That's absolutely right.

I couldn't agree with that more. So my dad, he just he demanded certain things of us. I think after my first semester in college, I vividly remember him saying, you know what? God's blessed us and I could afford to pay for all your college. I just don't think that's good for you. So I need you to come up with 25 percent of tuition.

And so, you know, I'm working hard. By the way, my sisters didn't get the same deal. But you're not bitter about that. I'm not bitter about that. But dad was constantly looking for ways to get us to step up.

Well, there's a dad driving in the car right now or sitting, listening, and obviously women as well. But they're asking this question, OK, if happiness isn't the goal with my kids, what should I be shooting for? Brian, what are you shooting for? You know, one of the things I talk about in the book is right up front, I just look at Psalm 127 and this whole idea of the imagery of children being like arrows. And when a warrior picks up that arrow, it's with great, like we just talked about, intentionality.

And that warrior is aiming it at a target. And I think what the goal should be is releasing from our home kids who hit their God-ordained targets in their generation for a time, as my dad would say, that we cannot see. And so it's helping them to understand not just what job or career they should work in, but the idea of vocation.

And Oz Guinness unpacks this in his wonderful book, The Call. And so dad was very clear on what is our unique bent, and he would have us do different activities. And I did everything from singing the choir to playing football and athletics and all sorts of things. And he would affirm those things that he said, man, when you do this, I just sense the blessing of God and let me continue to encourage that. But when I sang in the choir, I think I sang for one Sunday. He says, yeah, that's not you.

You're getting out of it. And so he very much saw his role as, it's sort of like Howard Hendricks says, the three big questions in life is who's your master, what's your mission, and who's your mate? And dad saw himself as really helping to come alongside of us and setting us up to answer those three questions well.

I think you make a great observation here. A part of our job as dads is to figure out what is the unique bent for our child. So Ephesians 2 10, what are the good works that God has prepared beforehand that our children should walk in them? There's a discovery and a learning process that we as mom and dad detectives, we've got to be digging in and saying, OK, who did God make this child to be? What are their gifts and abilities and passions and all of that?

And then how can we help aim them so they can walk in that unique path that God has mapped out for them? Absolutely. You use the phrase in the book, you talk about a tailwind dad. Can you explain what a tailwind dad is?

Yeah. So I use this metaphor, you know, I travel a lot. And, you know, when you go from coast to coast, you figure out pretty quickly when you travel from east to west, your journey is going to, for the most part, always be slower because you're fighting a headwind.

But when you're traveling from west to east, your journey typically is faster because you have a tailwind that's pushing you. And in the book, I just make the point, all dads are either a headwind or a tailwind. And no matter whether your dad was a headwind or tailwind, you can still get to your God-ordained destiny. But when you did not have an intentional dad who had this lofty vision, this transcendent vision for your life, who was really a model of the desired destination, you may spend some time just kind of undoing some things that he did to you.

You can still get there and you will still get there. In fact, some of the best dads that I know are those who themselves had headwind dads who, either by their absence or their passivity, just introduced a lot of pain into that young child. So much so, when this person becomes a dad, this person says, my child will never have to experience the pain that I felt. And they don't say these terms, but they make up their mind, I had a headwind, I'm going to be a tailwind. And honestly, I get a lot of credit for a lot of stuff, but outside the sovereignty of God, I just felt like because I had an intentional, godly dad who invested heavily in me, that just kind of fast-tracked me in life. And that's the power of an intentional dad.

A lot of us didn't have that. I certainly had a headwind dad. And Ann shared here on the program before that, on our honeymoon, I break down. Like, what, second night, third night?

Second night. Yeah, I mean, literally in tears. And as we're processing together, what is this emotional weight I'm carrying? It hit me, I can never be the husband you long for and deserve. And there's no way I'm going to be the dad that my kids will someday need because I never saw it. I'm way behind the game. I'm in negative. And remember, I just, I don't even know what I'm processing right now.

I've just been to the weekend to remember. You know, I heard the husband talk, the dad talk. Now we give that talk. But I was overwhelmed by that thinking I'll never be able to do it. And just like you said, God's grace. And again, I'm not sitting here saying I'm the perfect dad and my kids are perfect. I used to say, don't judge how you did as a parent until your kids are 30.

And now I say, until they're 40 because I've got a 34-year-old. But the truth is, as you look back over the last 34 years, God did something I could never do. And if there's a father listening right now thinking I can never do this, yeah, you're right, you can't.

And that's right where God wants you. He wants to say, I have to do it. Let me do it. Let me change you. And I'm going to change your legacy through you.

Just give me the chance to do it in you. I remember having a conversation with Vody Bachem, who grew up in a home without a dad, single-parent mom, had an uncle who got involved and helped shape him during his teen years when he was starting to spin out and go in the wrong direction. And I talked about, what do you do when you've got this deficit?

You don't have a roadmap to follow. He said, you read your Bible and you do what it says. He says, you know, this is the goodness of God who is the perfect Father, who not only gives us himself as a model, but who also gives us instructions. And he says, so yeah, there's a deficit and there are holes and maybe you didn't see it fleshed out, but God's Word does give us instruction on how we are to interact and live and raise the next generation.

The other thing is, I think for women, is we are longing for our husbands to engage to be those dads that you're talking about. And so we've tried all the tactics of, you know, like we're putting books by the table. Oh, here's Brian LaRitz's book.

I just heard him on the radio today. Or here's so-and-so's book. And, you know, and so we're trying all these tactics. What is the best way for wives to encourage their husbands to engage as fathers?

That's a fine line, right? You want to encourage, but you don't want to encourage on repeat, you know, to put it mildly. That's where I think, you know, really getting plugged into a good church, getting into a good community group, putting yourself in environments where there are other people who are trying to journey in the same direction that you are. And out of that, you'll typically find some models, some friendships, some help. Maybe there's a conference that you could go to with another couple that'll inspire you together. Maybe there's a reading group you can hop in on.

But trying to travel with other people for a sense of encouragement. You know, at one of the churches I served, we did this thing called the men's huddle. It was our men's ministry, and we would watch such things as Family Life Stepping Up or 33 the Series, and men would gather together. And there was just this sense of we are all in this together, and there's this freedom to just talk about your vulnerabilities. You know, I think it was Rick Warren who said, when men share strengths, they compete.

But when they share weaknesses, they draw close together. And that's really good. And just being in those kinds of atmospheres, I just think it's helpful. And if your husband were to happen to find that somebody had downloaded these episodes of Family Life Today onto his podcast feed on his iPhone, he might go, oh, I wonder how this got here. You don't have to reveal that you're the one who downloaded it, right? I would hope that any husband, any dad who would see Brian's book would say, I want to read this book. First of all, Brian, I just appreciate the fact that it's less than 150 pages. You knew who you were writing for, didn't you? Yeah, and I won't elaborate on that.

That was a clear directive from the publishing house. Well, here's the other thing. We haven't even talked about the subtitle, which makes us say we've got to talk further. The four most important gifts you can give your kids.

I mean, it just begs you the question, okay, what in the world are those for? Let's talk about those further. So we will unpack those this week, and for those who want to jump ahead, we're making Brian's book available to Family Life Today listeners who can help us with a donation to support the ongoing work of this ministry. Family Life Today's listeners supported the fact that you hear us each day on this local radio station or as a podcast on your Alexa device, listening online, however you connect with us. That all happens because listeners like you help make it happen by donating to support the production and syndication of this program along with the ministry initiatives of Family Life. You're helping us effectively develop godly marriages and families. That's what you're investing in when you support Family Life Today. And if you can make a donation today, we'd love to send you Brian's book, The Dad Difference. Donate at or call 1-800-358-6329.

That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. When you donate, be sure to ask for your copy of Brian LeRitt's book, The Dad Difference. And by the way, Brian and Corey LeRitt are a part of Family Life's Art of Parenting video series. If you're raising kids in the early years and the teen years, wherever you are in that journey, consider getting this series and going through it on your own or with other couples.

I know there are couples getting together now in socially distanced small groups or even online. And learn from people like Brian and Corey LeRitt, Phil Vischer, Kevin DeYoung, Dennison Barbara Rainey, Davin Ann Wilson, Alistair Begg, Elise Fitzpatrick, Jessica Thompson, others who are a part of this series. Find out more about the Art of Parenting video series online. Go to and the information you need is available there. Now tomorrow, we're going to talk about the four gifts every dad needs to give to his children. Brian LeRitt is going to join us again tomorrow. Hope you can be with us as well. I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Davin Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life of Little Rock, Arkansas, a crew ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-01 06:32:12 / 2024-03-01 06:42:59 / 11

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