What makes the role of fathers so important? Join me today as my friend Steve Demme and I discuss the role of fathers in the culture today.
Transcribed version of the podcast is below
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- 1 Peter 3:8-9
Resources Mentioned in Podcast
- MomStrong International
- Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference
- Building Faith Families
- Melt: Massage for Couples
- NW Slavic Action Summit at Smirna Christian Church
Join us at MomStrong International for our newest Bible Study and Scripture Writing!
Steve and his wife Sandra have been married since 1979. They have been blessed with four sons, three lovely daughters-in-law, and five special grandchildren. Their fourth son John has Downs Syndrome and lives with them in Lititz, PA. Steve graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the creator of Math-U-See and the founder of Building Faith Families.
This podcast was brought to you by our friends at Melt: Massage for Couples.
Hey everybody, this is Heidi St. John, welcome to the podcast. I’m so glad you guys joined me at my little corner of the Internet. Today is Friday, June 14th. This is episode number 779 and it is meet my friend Friday—and you guys know how much I love having people on the show who are going to encourage you and bless you. Today is no different. My friend Steve Demme is on the show with me today. It’s been quite awhile since he’s been here and I will introduce him in a minute, but we’re going to take on fatherhood today. Fatherhood is so important and it’s under attack in the culture right now. Steve knows a lot about fatherhood. He’s been married to his wife since 1979 and they have four sons, three daughters in law and five amazing grandkids. So we’re going to talk all things fatherhood and culture today.
Stick around. I think you’re going to be encouraged.
All right, so I want to say thanks to everybody who’s come out to join me at the Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference. I will be there today and tomorrow—so if you’re in the Denver area, come on out. You can find information—just go ahead and search for The Rocky Mountain Homeschool conference. On Tuesday, July 2nd, I will be speaking at the NW Slavic Action Summit at Smirna Christian Church. I will link back to that in the show notes today. Then from the 11th through the 13th I’ll be in Pasadena for the CHEA convention and then in Phoenix, July 19th and 20th for AFHE. This is a very busy season for me and I appreciate everybody who’s coming out and saying hello. Also, want to say a big shout out to our sponsor over at MELT. You guys remember me talking about this last week. This is an awesome opportunity. Father’s Day is this Sunday, and so there’s still time for you guys to get free access to that Melt Couples Massage Course that we’ve talked about on this show a whole lot of times now.
You can get the masterclass for 30 days for FREE when you hop on over to purchase their Almond Oil from Amazon. And honestly guys, I looked it up just to kind of see what are people saying. They have 557 customer reviews at four and a half stars. This is great stuff. It’s a purchase price of $18.95—totally worth it. Makes a great, great, great Father’s Day Gift. Your husband will thank you for it. So check it out. If you want more information, go to my website TheBusyMom.com/Melt for more information. Hurry up because this offer is going to end as soon as Father’s Day is over.
All right, I’m going to get right to my guest today because I don’t want to miss a minute of time with him. Steve and I have been friends for quite a while, hanging out on the speaking circuit with homeschooling. And he’s, you know—my kids love him and we have all kinds of funny stories that we can share. But Steve has a real heart for families. And one of the things I love talking to him about is his heart for parents in particular and for building strong families. And actually some of you are going—man, that name, it sounds so familiar. That’s because Steve is the creator of MathUSee and the founder of Building Faith Families. And so, I’m excited to let him talk to you about the projects he’s working on now, and we’re going to chat about fatherhood. Hey Steve, welcome to the podcast.
[Steve] Thanks Heidi, is lovely to be here with you and all your listeners. Thanks for having me.
[Heidi] Yeah, I’m glad that you’re here. It’s been a while. It’s really been too long. I apologize.
[Steve] This is the old journey. Start with a single step.
[Heidi] That’s exactly right. You have been out on the circuit speaking this season as well. And you also just finished writing a book, right? Finishing a book project.
[Steve] I did.
[Heidi] Right on.
[Steve] I wrote a Christian approach to personal finance with a 15 or 16 year old student in my head as I was writing. I don’t know if you do that when you write, but I’m writing to somebody—and I’m writing to a young person. And so it’s Personal Finance from a Christian Perspective, tons of Scripture, lots of math applications. In the first book I wrote on this topic was in 2008, some of the units were outdated. And so this was supposed to be the revision year. And as I started to do it, I ended up rewriting the whole program, rerecording it and filming it in front of live students and online students. And it’s awesome.
[Heidi] that is awesome
[Steve] So it’s at the printer right now and it’ll be out in a couple of weeks.
[Heidi] I am excited. So you have been doing this now for quite awhile, you know, ministering to families and you started out with MathUSee. Which anybody who’s been homeschooling for more than 10 minutes knows what that is. But you’ve got so much more on your heart than math, and so much more than personal finance. You really have a heart to see families be grounded and be strong. Where does that come from?
[Steve] It started when I was in seminary and I was wanting to find a vision for education. I had a class on Christian schools and I did something radical. I got out my Young’s concordance and I looked up every Word in the Bible I had thought had anything to do with education, teach, teacher, teaching, instructing, instruction. And I ended up writing a paper on the millennial view of education. And the idea was—what will education look like if there’s a millennium? And I just based on Scripture, mostly Deuteronomy and Proverbs, but throughout the Word of God, I said—parents should be the primary educators of their children and the curriculum should be based on God’s Word. That’s not a radical thought today, but it was 40 years ago. And then the second thing that happened, my wife and I were invited to a homeschool conference back in, I think it was 1982—one of the first homeschool conferences. And we started seeing families who had already been homeschooling and we loved the fruit.
We saw moms and dads whose best friends were still their teenagers. We saw young men that would look you in the eye and give you a firm handshake and young ladies that could have an intelligent conversation. And it just resonated with our heart. And the second thing was though—at that point I’d already been a youth group leader, and run summer camps, and I had been a high school teacher—to see that kind of family harmony and that heart connection between generations, was something I hadn’t seen in any other sphere that much. And once you’re involved in youth work for a while, you start realizing that the most important influence in a child’s life is not the youth leader. It’s a mom and a dad.
And so I started redirecting my energy—instead of working with young people, working with parents. And in particular, I think dads are a key part of the family. And I think that’s why it says at the end of Malachi—God is going to turn the hearts of the fathers to their home and going to turn the hearts of the children to their dads. And that’s what I see happening in a nutshell. When I travel around, I speak at men’s conferences, I speak at homeschool conferences, I speak at a church retreats, and I really believe that that’s what God’s doing in our culture. And I don’t give a rip what the media says. I don’t give a rip with the news paper says—God is turning the hearts of dads towards their home. And I just did a talk in Virginia this past weekend and I had a room filled with men, men standing around the edges on the sides, and in the back. And my talk, it was about how to build up your wife. And these men were taking the time to go listen to some tall, bald guy talk about how to build up their family. And I think that appetite comes from the Spirit of God. And so I am not hope-less. I am hope-filled that God is restoring our country from the heart level and He’s doing it by working in the hearts of men. And I’m really at good courage.
[Heidi] That’s so encouraging. I know it’s encouraging for me because these are the things we talk about on the podcast all the time. I spend a lot of time trying to encourage the hearts of women, and mothers in particular, toward their children and toward their husband. And I agree with you. We have also seen incredible things happening out on the road and as you and I both have. We are crisscrossing the country, we’ve kind of been like ships in the night. Like this season—I haven’t seen you at all. But I’m so encouraged by what you’re doing.
Talk to the dad right now, who feels like he has…like he’s missed an opportunity. So I get letters like all the time, there’s a dad who’s listening to this right now and he’s got—maybe his youngest is eight, but he’s got a 15 year old and a 17 year old. And he feels like he missed an opportunity to speak into the life of his kids. And now he’s just kind of putting his hands up in the air and going—why bother? Talk to that man, to that dad for just a minute.
[Steve] All right, so here’s the deal. It’s never too late number one. One of my favorite names for God is redeemer and God just works. And you know, because you read the book I wrote called Crisis to Christ and in 2012, we’d been homeschooling our kids. They’re all in their twenties and thirties now. They’re working for Demme Learning and we decided to have a family business instead of just working for me. I thought this would be really easy because I loved my kids. I thought they can handle more and more of the business, it frees me up to do more speaking and writing. But I didn’t realize—I learned some painful lessons that year, that there’s nobody that can build up my kids like me. And that can hurt him like me. You know, with the authority that God gives men—now again, who can even say that in our culture today without almost getting stoned. But it’s in Scripture, he made the husband the head.
And so that authority though, carries with it tremendous responsibility. And what I found out was, is that I’m homeschooling my kids. I’m trying to protect them, provide for them, give them something better than I didn’t receive growing up. And then to find out that I’m a source of pain in their life and that I’ve wounded them. It was almost more than I could take. But you know what—if I can just put a little parenthesis here, remember Enoch in the Bible. He had lived for decades and then it says he had his son. And it said after his son was born, Enoch walked with God. Something about having a son. It stirs a man. It makes them want to be a better man. It makes him want to leave a lasting impression. It makes him want to encourage his kids. So to that man does even wanting to be a good man—I first of all said, that’s good stuff. You’re on the right track.
So then what happened is I ended up getting therapy. I ended up getting a counselor, ended up going deep and trying to figure out where my own issues came from, taking them to the cross, letting Christ work through me. And then I was back and I was being restored to my sons. And it wasn’t like, you know, I’d thrown them off a bridge or anything like that. But I’m a dad and dad’s have tremendous influence in the life of the kids. And so I went back to my sons and I said—you know, I know that I’ve asked your forgiveness when I had done something wrong, but you know—I’m your dad. I had no idea I was doing these things. Thank you for pointing out my blind spots and whatever it takes, let’s be reconciled. And it took a couple of years. But you know what? I’m in the best place I’ve ever been with my sons and my wife, but I had to do a lot of dying. Which if I can put this in here—I believe God designed men to die. Because he told him—lay your life down for your wife. Love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave his life for her. And so I don’t know about ladies, I’m not a lady, but I’m a man—and I had to do a lot of dying in 2012 and I continue to make dying a good thing. I embrace it now in a different way instead of kicking against it, because to what Jesus said—if you lose your life, you find it. And I can’t tell you how good of a place I am and how I didn’t like the dying—but that’s what Jesus did. Jesus laid his life down and it’s because he laid his life down that we’re all alive today. And we’re going to live forever because He laid his life down. And so dying is not a bad thing. And it’s going to your children in humility and repenting, and going deep, and creating a safe place where they can approach you and point out your blind spots, and your frailties and places where perhaps you have blown it. It’s not fun, but it yields really good fruit. And God walked through with me. It wasn’t me on my own as the Holy Spirit that carried me through and help me and was my like comforter at my side. So that’s what happened.
So to that father who’s thinking he missed the opportunity, my kids were all adults—and I think we were within a whisker of them all moving to a different state. And now we all work together in the same business and I see them almost every day. And I had lunch with one of my sons just today, and I’m making plans to meet with my other boys on a regular basis. We’ve been doing this now for the last couple of years.
[Heidi] So good. It’s so important. One of the things that Jay has talked about with me out on the road, the season we’ve been talking… We’re coming up on our 30th anniversary this fall.
[Heidi] Thank you! And we’ve been talking about seven things we’ve been learning, you know, seven things we’ve learned in 30 years. Of course there’s a whole lot more than that. But somebody asked us recently about this issue of submission, you know—what is the role of submission in marriage? And I was so encouraged and blessed to say to hear Jay. He said basically exactly what you said. He said—listen, you know, we hear a lot about—wives submit your husband’s. We don’t hear very much about—husbands, love your wife like Christ loved the church. What did he do? He laid down His life for her. And Jay said—you know, I have always seen my role in our home is one of God saying: Jay St. John, you are in charge of making sure that your family flourishes, that your children flourish, that your marriage flourishes, that your wife flourishes. And then your children and your wife will respond to that loving leadership. And it was such a beautiful picture. I think of exactly what you’re saying. It’s laying down and the fruit that comes from it is amazing. And I’ve definitely seen it in your life. And I think one of the things that, you know, we talked about earlier was sort of this downplaying of fatherhood in the culture. And I guess I would argue that probably a root cause behind it is the loss of our understanding of what true fatherhood looks like.
And so we are kind of messing that up. Like we keep hearing things like “toxic masculinity”, and boys aren’t allowed to be…. Men are sort of under attack. So one of the questions that’s coming to the podcast is from a mom named Amy. And she’s saying—I don’t know even how to tell my boys how to treat women anymore because the culture’s so backwards and upside down. It’s kind of a full scale war on men. But I think the sniper attacks at fatherhood are very specific in saying that fathers are not allowed to exert leadership in their families. They don’t want to be distinguished. The culture says we don’t distinguish you from mothers in any way. But God says it’s so much differently. And so when you get asked out on the road, which I know that you do, from parents that come up to you and they’re asking questions about the role of fathers and understanding fatherhood and teaching their boys to be men and really encouraged them to be masculine—because that’s how God made them. How can we, I guess, encourage parents to encourage their boys to become men who will someday become fathers, and then flourish in that role?
[Steve] One of the big lessons I learned in my, Sandy’s and I’s relationship—by the way, we just celebrated 40.
[Steve] 10 days ago.
[Heidi] You’re 10 years ahead of me. Congratulations! That’s amazing.
[Steve] You know what though? That was my last newsletter, and I don’t know if you saw it, but I’ll have to send it to you if you haven’t. But we were sitting in dinner, we went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We have—it’s the only the second time we’d been away for a week, just the two of us since we’ve got a special needs child. And we looked across the table and I said—Sandy, you know what’s the best thing that’s called, you know, going on? And she said—this is a celebration of all the work that we have done. You know, when I say work, most of that work is internal. It’s stuff that I had to face. I had to face my weaknesses and my frailties and with God’s help, humble myself, etc. But one of the biggest lessons I learned is—that when God says—wives—just talked about this Saturday—wives submit to your husband. First of all, that little statement there, that letter was addressed to wives. It wasn’t addressed to husbands. It’s not my job to make sure that my wife is submissive or has the right attitude towards me. My job, the letter addressed to me is—lay your life down, love your wife as Christ loved the church.
You don’t read anybody else’s mail. And if Sandy wants to submit to me, great. If he doesn’t—not my department. My department is to focus on Jesus and love like Jesus loves me. Point number two—it’s really hard to be a father until you’ve been a son. And let me see if I can explain that. That verse John 15:9 to me unlocked this whole truth. And Jesus says as the father loved me, that’s how I’ve loved you. And I start thinking about that and I thought—how did the Father loves His Son?
Because if you want to be a good dad…there’s only one perfect father in Scripture, or anywhere else—and it’s the Heavenly Father. And how did He love His Son? And He loved Him and He expressed that love at His baptism in a beautiful way. He said, this is Steve’s translation—this is My Boy. I love Him to pieces, and He’s well pleasing in my site, right this minute. And when you think about it contextually as before Jesus did anything, and this is what a good dad tells his sons—I am so glad you’re my son.
I had a guy tell me the other day at a conference, he says—I tell my son on a regular basis, if there was a mile of 10 year old boys all standing head to head, I pick you every time.
[Heidi] Oh, I love that.
[Steve] That’s the kind of love that the Father was saying when He said—this is My Boy, I would pick Him every time. And then He said—and I love Him to pieces, just the way He is, and He’s well pleasing in My site. And because of what Jesus has done for us, and taken away our sin, and closed a cloaked us in His righteousness—we too, we belong, we’ve been adopted into His family, we are loved with an everlasting love and we’re well pleasing in His sight. And that irrespective of what we do or don’t do it—there is nothing we can do to make God love us more than He does and nothing we can do to make God love us any less.
And so what I’m saying is, for me in my journey, I had to learn how to be a loved son before I could be a loving father. I had to get my eyes up on my heavenly Father in a whole new way and rebuild my relationship with Him because there were flaws in it. And that’s what I discovered in 2012. And being a loved son, which is what Jesus was, prepares me to be a loving dad. And now that I’m receiving those things from my Dad, I’m able to pass them on to my sons, which is—I’m able to love my boys like I have been loved. Which is what Jesus says—now love one another just like I loved you. And I thought—okay, that’s the vision for Godly Fatherhood, is to keep your eyes on the Heavenly Father and just like He loved His Boy, and just like His Boy loved us—that’s how we’re supposed to love our boys.
So I’ll give you some examples. One of the things that we do, my wife carefully picks out a birthday card for each of my boys. Two weeks before their birthday, this card appears on my desk . And I began praying, and I began seeking God for Him to help me to see my sons like He sees them. To see their heart, and their Spirit, and not the external—but the real man. Just like He talked about David, he didn’t look on the outside. He looked on the heart.
And I start making notes and then I prayerfully write a letter to each of my boys on their birthday. And I’ve been doing this now for many, many years. And pretty much though, the essence of it is— I’m so glad you’re my boy. I’d pick you every time. I love you to pieces and you are well pleasing in my sight if you never do anything. I love you right now with all my heart. And think about that. How many people here would love to have a letter from their dad saying those things? And that’s one of the things that I try to communicate to my son’s on a regular basis. I don’t care how old they are. I don’t care if I’m 80 and they’re in their 50’s—I’m going to keep writing them letters. I’m going to keep taking them out to lunch. I’m going to keep loving them. And I want them to know that I am so glad that they’re my boy.
[Heidi] That’s so good
[Seve] But I keep my eyes on my dad. You see, because that’s the whole point. That’s how He loved His Son. So that’s how I want to love my sons. And I can keep going along that line, but that’ll get us a taste.
[Heidi] I love it. Well, and we’ve only got about a couple of minutes left, but I wanted to turn the tables just a little bit because Father’s Day is right around the corner. And we’ve been talking to dads about how they can love their sons in particular, you know, their kids in general—their sons in particular. But let’s talk for just a minute about how the rest of us can really encourage and love on our dad or our husband. What are some practical ways that we can encourage them in the role, this specific role that God has given to them? What comes to your mind, my friend?
[Steve] Well, when I read the commandment to honor your father and your mother, I’m just so focused on being honorable.
[Steve] You know what I mean?
[Steve] That’s scripted to me is a two-edged sword in the sense that I want to have the right attitude towards my parents because each of us has parents and we want to have the right attitude. Whether they’re living or not. We want to honor our parents, but we want to be honorable for our kids. I don’t want to just walk into the room and assume that they have to genuflect and start standing up and giving me honor and all that. Frankly, Father’s days are a little hard for me. Because we’re getting together Sunday as a family, and the whole family’s going to get together. And, sorry, I’m starting to cry on this end.
[Steve] Yeah. I got some great kids and they’re wonderful. And I don’t know what they’re going to do. But yeah, for a dad, I think probably when it says in John—there’s no greater joy than I have to see that my kids are walking in the truth. And that’s the greatest joy I receive—it’s just watching my sons love their wife, love their kids, love each other. You know, my boys are each others close friends and I love the way that they honor their mom. So it’s a little uncomfortable for me. I would rather…
[Heidi] I know that’s how come I told you I was going to turn the tables on you.
[Steve] Yeah, I didn’t know what to say to that one. But for me—we’ve learned each other’s love languages in our family. Which one of my sons is quality time, which one is touch, which one is gifts. Me—I’m words of affirmation. So cards means something to me, and words mean something to me. And I remember, I do remember what kids say and they go deep so.
[Heidi] Well and you’re good at that. You’re good at words of affirmation. I know Saylor just misses you. We were looking at pictures the other day and she was like—where’s the big tall man and everything. Last time you saw Saylor, she was sitting on your shoulders.
[Steve] Yeah. That poor peanut, we were doing shoulder rides. And then she broke her arm in a hundred places or whatever.
[Heidi] I know it. What in the world I am telling you what—I can’t get away from the trouble, if you know what I’m saying. Well, I love you, my friend. I’m just so thankful for your heart, for families in your heart to encourage fathers in particular to be the men that God would have them be because of how loved they are. And I think that message of how loved we are needs to be out there more often. So I appreciate it.
I’m going to link back to you in the show notes today. So everyone’s like—how do I find this guy? I’ll link back to all things Steve Demme in the show notes today. But Steve, what is it that you want people, listeners— to leave them with? Where can they find you? How would you have them search you out?
[Steve] Well, I have my own podcast. Which I’m only at number 203. I just 201 I think I interviewed Joni Eareckson Tada. So listening to the podcast would be one avenue. The second one would be—I have a newsletter, which goes out once a month. And then I have a whole bunch of free resources on my website. But if I could say one last zinger here—the reason dads are under attack is because the Devil is not stupid and he knows that they’re the key.
[Steve] And that’s why we’re under attack We are. So spiritual warfare comes into play here. I mean, this morning I was out on my prayer walk and things weren’t just….I wasn’t connecting. Right? And you know what I sensed? I just sensed opposition. And so I did a lot of—I bound the strong man in Jesus’ name. I applied the blood of Christ. I resisted the Devil, not only for myself, but for my family. And you know what? It broke. So one of the things that I do, and I’m on my prayer walk, I might not be able to write letters that are editorial, and I might be PC policed to death and all that kind of stuff—but they can’t stop me from praying.
[Heidi] That’s right.
[Steve] I can pray my heart out, and I can bind the strong man and I can pray any way that the Spirit of God directs me. And whether I even have a voice or not, I can pray in my Spirit. And that’s one of the things that we need to do as men. And the second thing men need to do is they need to have other men in their life. I saw a quote the other day—isolation is the Kryptonite of men. And once we get separated from good godly fellowship, then we get picked off pretty easily. So we need to be cogent and fighting the good fight and the Holy Spirit will help us to do it. But we also need brothers to link arms with and that’s one of the things that I’m doing a lot of—is just connecting men with other men when I speak.
[Heidi] Well, you’re doing a fantastic job. You are really do fit that title of ambassador and it really is a privilege for me to call you my friend. Thank you so much Steve for taking the time to come and bless our people.
[Steve] Back at ya Heidi.
[Heidi] Thank you so much. If you you guys who want more information about Steve Demme and his ministry to families. I will link back to Steve’s information in the show notes today.
Want to just remind you, you can get ahold of me anytime. You can write to us at a Heidi St. John c/o Firmly Planted Family 11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682. Make sure you hop on over to MomStrong International. We’re going to be coming up next week talking about peace in an age of anxiety. I know you guys are going to be encouraged. Jump into the study right now so that you can catch up with us. You can do that at MomStrongInternational.com have a great day everybody, and I’ll see you back here on Monday.
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c/o Firmly Planted Family
11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682
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