114 | The Love of a Father (Pierre du Plessis)
114 | The Love of a Father (Pierre du Plessis)
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Pierre du Plessis
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Pierre du Plessis and his family relocated in 1999 to pastor The Father’s House, a multi-cultural, multi-generational, and multi-site church located in Rochester, NY. Pierre is known for his unique ability to bring the Bible to life using vivid illustrations mixed with humor and practical life application. He is passionate about mentoring & equipping leaders, engaging all generations and encouraging people to experience God. He is married to his best friend and partner in ministry, Marlize and they have two young adult children, Chloe and Caleb.
Video of this Conversation:
Pierre du Plessis
- About 6 months ago, I met Pastor Pierre down in Dallas, Texas, and now, today we’re recording a dadAWESOME conversation. On behalf of all our guests, welcome to the show.
- Thank you so much.
- This is just a privilege to learn from you. So you’re in Rochester, New York, but originally from South Africa, is that correct?
- That’s right. Yes, we’ve been here now 20 years in Rochester.
- Two decades and you lead as the lead pastor of The Father’s House in Rochester, NY. Will you help our listeners get to know you a little bit, Pastor Pierre, and talk about your wife, your family, your kids, and a little bit of what you’re up to for leadership in ministry.
- Yes, so as you already mentioned, I come from South Africa. Born, and my family, everybody they come from a deep line of ministry. If I say ministry I think to put the context of ministry, it’s a Pentecostal, conservative Pentecostal home that deeply loved Jesus and believed in prayer. Those are the good things. So many other things that roll from it, right? But it’s all good. When I was about 33, we came to the U.S. It was not a straight narrative, there’s so much to it, and I think some of that is learning that getting to where God wants you may take some U-Turns and loops, it’s not always a straight line. We came when my kids were still small. I’ve got two kids. My daughter Chloe is the oldest. She was I think about a year and a half and my son was close to eight months when we came over, Caleb. My wife, Marlize comes from a great house too. South Africa is interesting, because you have so many cultures wrapped together in a very small land space. I come from a very very Afrikaans Dutch family. My wife, same country, she comes from an English family. So, different culture, different vibe. I like the English people, they’re just laid back. Coming to her was like coming home for me, it’s just the vibe, the culture, her as a person. Coming to Rochester, NY, I came as the creative arts and worship Pastor of a small church here in Rochester. About two years into this, we had the opportunity to start leading the church, and the rest is history. It has been a phenomenal, phenomenal ride, and we are so thankful that God pointed to us and called us over.
- That’s amazing, and I know partially from my Lead Pastor, Pastor Peter Haas, and him talking about you, and even some of the leadership you do globally, even beyond, way beyond Rochester, New York, so thank you for all the areas you’re leading in, but let’s talk about leadership at home for a second. How old are your kids now? Are they out of the house now?
- I hope they’ll never leave the house. You know, the fun thing is that my kids are, my daughter I think is 24 right now, my son, almost 22. Right about then I know some of the people are now reverse engineering their ages, I’ll go, I’m always off with ages and with stages. They are just amazing, amazing kids, because all kids do not come packaged the same, so I don’t think looking at our kids and how they’re turning out is always a reflection of how we got it right. I think, when I look at my kids, The Lord was very kind to us because these two young adults are phenomenal human beings, and I know the seed that’s been sown over the years has been consistent. They are still living at home. When it was time for them to leave, I said to my wife, “I’m not ready. I’m going to buy a house that they will never want to leave.” And I did. I did. But now my son talks about leaving, and I applaud that, because that’s what he wants to do. We are a close family, we like each other a lot, we do.
- That’s what we all pray for, that closeness and a love to be together. Now, you mentioned sowing seeds. Just sowing seeds, I think you said consistency. Can you talk about, maybe if you had to prioritize a few areas of sowing seeds, and just consistent fatherhood to us young dads listening, what are some of the areas that you’re like, “I would put extra focus there?”
- I think the tough thing is that both you and I have seen, and we see it in other people, but we ignore it in ourselves. By the time the seed comes up and you don’t like what’s on the land, you want to do a blitz of stripping it down, re-planting, and expecting a new result in about five days, otherwise I’m going to send you to a therapist. We want to change the harvest quickly, but we don’t understand that it takes a long time to get the seed in. If you don’t like what you see, it takes a long time to cultivate it, because I always say this to our team and to our church, “No human heart is mechanical, it’s organic.” You can’t take out a pair of pliers and change wires and go, there you go, I told you, this is how we can fix you. We’ve got to cultivate what we want, and I think part of us as people looking back at our lives, I think if we don’t get over ourselves early enough, then we take up all the energy to fix ourselves and we ignore to sow what we want in our children. It’s amazing when the kid starts drifting, and you no longer have the reach and control you think you have. All of a sudden, you get over yourself really quickly, and you realize what’s at hand. I would say to young dads, Just get to your issues, deal with your issues. They will always be there, but it can’t be the main thing in your life. There’s no greater joy when you see the best of you and your spouse reflected in the character of Jesus showing up in front of you, because at least you know some of that miswiring and brokenness stopped with you, you didn’t pass it on to your children.
- So you’re really saying, don’t focus on tactics externally, focus on God healing and bringing your stuff, so that it doesn’t get in the way and you don’t stay selfish. I appreciate that perspective. When you think back to, and because we named this show “dadAWESOME,” we have to talk about a not-so-awesome dad moment. Can you think of a story like that you’d be willing to share, and just an area where maybe you caused hurt or pain, or you did something you wish you could have back with your kids and maybe what you learned from that forward?
- Oh my gosh, yeah. I’ve got a tender heart. I will cry for days sitting here because the fact of the matter is, we see these things too late. Right? But thank God we can see them and be mindful that there’s more of those things that are coming. I think one of the biggest things that I love to build things, do things. I’m always busy with my hands, always busy with my mind, I’m just wired that way. It is not a willful thing, it is just the way I am. So, my daughter was doing a school project, at the end of the school year when she was graduating, and she had to do a timeline narrative with family pictures to tell the story of her life, and she was sitting in the dining room area, and all the pictures and photo albums were on the table, and I looked at the pictures, and I became extremely sad. I was trying to wipe tears, and she’d be like, “Dad! You’re too old to cry. Old people cry at the snap of a hat, what is up with that?” and I go like, “Baby, you don’t understand, every one of these pictures, I can tell you what I was building, I can tell you what I was solving, I can tell you what I was confronting. I remember the pictures, but I was not in them all. I go like, “I can’t have it over. I was not present. There were other things more important and I think the reason why this is so sad for me is because I can never sit at the beach with a five year old building sandcastles again, recapturing the time. I would excuse myself and say I’ve got to go to the restroom to go on my phone to go capture something. I think it is like they say, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I think children are wasted on prudish parents that don’t understand that there is a lifetime to build things, once your kids go into their own orbit. There is a lifetime, there comes a day where you go like, “what are we doing?” They go like, “we know what we’re doing, I don’t know what you are doing.” But while they want to be with you, be present. You can bulk your kingdom of sandcastles when they’re out. For me, the biggest regret is not being present. That is my biggest regret.
- Any coaching for us? Outside of just awareness, any coaching, whether it’s classic examples like dinners together, do you have any coaching tips for us on how to be more present?
- Yeah, I think, first of all, to know and get feedback on what you think is normal. I was raised Dutch. Dutch is very caring, but not as emotionally warm as my wife’s family. So, in my family, the strangest thing is you would get a birthday card. You would never read it, because my parents bought it for the outside picture, not for the inside words. They never wrote inside the card but, “Mom and Dad.” That’s just Dutch. That’s the Afrikaans way. My wife’s family, when I went to the first Christmas, I didn’t open the card, and she was deeply offended, because for us, we get to the gift. I know who it’s coming from because I saw you give it to me. For me it was the label of who gave the gift. Oh my goodness, for them, it was nothing on the outside, everything was written on the inside. For us, we know we were loved, but we didn’t express it in a physical way. My wife’s family, they hug you to no end. They express love to no end. I had to choose what do I want my kids to experience? And because there was a feedback, because there was a moment, becoming extremely thoughtful in expressing love and words was a result of my wife holding up the picture of, “is this what you want?” She didn’t force me, I go like, “No. That’s why I married you, and I like this side of things.” So I think to know that is important, especially when it comes to girls, because to the extent that they are loved by their father, they will not become restless to go find it somewhere else. Because it is the father’s words that invokes beauty in the wife and in the daughter, and it’s the father’s strength and the father’s kindness and connection with the son that establishes his manhood, right? And I think that if we become paralyzed as men to express what the children need, I think we don’t understand what we are. The buckets are empty, and somebody’s going to fill it.
- I know this is a deep passion of yours, and the name of your church that you lead, “The Father’s House.” The idea of the past passed down, the pass through from our Heavenly Father, out of us as fathers to our kids. Can you talk about that a little further?
- The thing that we love about God is that He is unconditional in his love and unlimited, and uncompromising in His forgiveness. When we like that about him, we don’t find it as hard to give it through ourselves. I think part of being a parent sometimes has got to do with control. We want certain outcomes, and if we don’t, we know how to manipulate with silence, manipulate with certain things, how to get it. I think the most important thing is for the children, at least in my book, for my children to always know, no matter what you decide, no matter what you say, no matter what you do, I’m always on your side, even if I don’t agree with you, my arms are always open wide, even if I don’t like you in this moment. You will always have a landing place, and if you can find me first, I will defend you even if you are wrong. And then we will fix and go apologize. There is unconditional safety and love, no matter what happens, and that is hard. But there is a scripture that says, “It’s the kindness that leads us to repentance.” Because every time I’ve gone to God and I think I’m going to get a whooping, I find a scripture on love, and then I go like, “what the heck, this hurts more.” Because I thought I’m going to read some judgement over the shepherds right now, and then it’s kindness, and I think what brings our children home again and again and again, if they know if they’re going to get kindness at home. From kindness flows counsel, from kindness flows correction, but if they doubt that kindness, I think they’ll bypass us in time.
- That resonates deep, and right now, with my three year old, it resonates deep, so I’m thankful for those words. When it comes to shiny eyes, I love to ask the question about moments of wonder, moments of, you could tell your kids were living life fully. Can you think of any stories or moments for your kids, it could be a while ago, it doesn’t have to be right now, but things that inspired shiny eyes from your kids?
- Oh, you know, the thing that is so innate with children is those shiny eyes. Oh, and we bank that those shiny eyes are going to be with us forever, and they aren’t with us forever, because we lose our shiny eyes, because life, and the reality of it all comes on us. But shiny eyes for me is a result of a carefree heart and spirit. Here’s something that is so great about my dad that I deeply love. He has lived from a place of peace as a default, not as an exception. I live from a place of peace as an exception. So if you go like, “How many times this week did you have peace?” I would go like, “Twice, for 40 minutes.” Right? It’s a gift that complete place of peace. My dad’s not like this. He believes that scripture says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but through prayer and supplication make your requests. Then the God of peace,” He says, the God of peace is when you pray and you live from this place. I cannot tell you how many times he would sit at the table and eat, and he would just be burdened, and all of a sudden, he says, “I’ve just got to go pray through this, because my peace is gone.” And for me, the default of the shiny eyes is when we can have a homestead, if I can call it that, that has the bliss of life, the unfettered, and just, If I could call it, I don’t think it’s the right word, but it’s a lust for life. If we know how to leave things on the outside that always challenge us, we don’t process the hard things on the inside, our castle is safe. In here we laugh, in here the goodness of God will carry us because I think, if we can protect that environment, I think that keeps the eyes alert. The wonder of life and spontaneity.
- I love it, and never more than right now. It’s March 18th, today while we’re recording this. I was just reflecting today with my brother, we’re both young dads. In my years of being a dad, for sure, or my entire marriage, 14 years, I haven’t walked through a week like this week, where peace is threatened. It just feels like the peace is threatened in so many ways. Now it’s my role as a husband and as a father to be a peace bringer, a peace maker. So, could you just talk straight to me, how would you coach me this week?
- So, here is the thing that is quite interesting. We live in a time where what you just said could be very offensive, because role identification is really complicated. But, you’re talking to somebody that absolutely believes that God has assigned roles to us. When I say role, it’s responsibility. How that role manifests I’m not going to get into, because that’s where it can get all sticky. But there is a responsibility, I think, of a man. In the middle of the night, there is a sound in the basement, and you know you’ve got to protect the family. This is just me. If you put the bat in your wife’s hand, you’re like, “Honey, go get ’em.” Right? If I’m your honey, I’ll whoop you in the bed, then I’ll call the police, and then, I’ll have to find another honey here, because there is a moment here where a guy just needs to step up. But I think there are more than just the protection of the family when it comes to physical danger that guys need to step up. I think all the time in our culture, the role of the man has been diminished. It’s unsure, uncertain, and I opened a door recently to a woman, and she was offended that I would think that she doesn’t know how to open a door for herself. Now, in the culture I come from, it is the highest honor for a man to stand when a woman comes in to a room. You always open a door. When they carry something, you say, “Can I help?” Not, “You’re weak.” I honor your presence because you’re a life giver to this universe. It’s a different thing, and I think for guys in this season, first of all, I would say don’t process where kids can hear. Because, they have no way to know what is processing and what is fact, what is doom, what is the end of the world. I think secondly, be careful what plays in your home. Ultimately they hear what you don’t think they hear. I would limit what comes into the home. I would create joy in the house, and every time I speak of the future, I would speak with absolute optimism that God is with us, He has got the whole world in His hand, we are sleeping in peace tonight, we’re going to be careful. As a husband and wife, especially as a husband, we lead our wives with certainty and reassurance, and we can’t fake that, because there is a firm confidence that comes from a man who’s talked to God. A firm confidence. When scripture is embedded in our souls. I say to people on Sunday, “Faith is not a product of positive thinking, Faith is a product of scripture that has been embedded in your soul. The way you do it is open the book and read it. Don’t say, “I don’t understand scripture.” But you’re fixing your car. If you can fix your car, you can read scripture. Just read it, because what it will do to you creates a firm foundation in the home that your family can lean into your strength, emotional, physical, and spiritual strength so that the house can be buoyant in the midst of what we believe could be longer than just two weeks.
- That’s helpful, and just last night, I was reading with my life this idea that trust, you don’t trust a stranger, you trust someone that you know. So if we want to grow our trust in our Heavenly Father, we’ve got to be more than ever in His word, getting to know Him, spending time with Him in prayer. So that’s driven us in that direction, this is time for game on, higher levels of trust. So let’s get closer to our Heavenly Father.
- You know Jeff, if I could interrupt, I think if there is ever a time where dads just need to tuck their kids in and lie on the bed and do shadow puppets, it is now. I think their hearts open when the lights are dim. I think the conversation will become heartfelt when you’re just lying on the bed with them and just talk, just have fun with them, but 1-on-1 because family meetings is one thing, but they will never be vulnerable unless you create that time. It’s not an interrogation time, it is proximity time. So I think if there’s ever tucking in and spending time every night in proximity, it’s now
- That’s good. If I took a road trip out to Rochester, I drive myself out there and I sit at a great coffee shop with yourself, Pastor Pierre, and a couple other young dads, and you just had a couple moments to just drop some more priorities to us as young dads. We’re sitting around that good cup of coffee, is there anything we haven’t talked about yet that you’re like, “I would want to pass this along.” Not that you’ve got it perfect, but what kind of things would you say, “These are priorities?”
- The power of your shadow is undeniable. You and I are both a product of the shadow we grew up in. Both of us. The very thing you said, I will never, you will see it in the mirror, and so will I. We don’t like it, but it’s there. The power of the shadow is very potent. A shadow is a reflection, not a projection. You can’t project a shadow. You reflect it. Who you are is what you reflect. I would say, use the power of your shadow to be life giving to your children. If your marriage is not working, nothing else matters. If your kids are drifting, and things are not well with them, nothing else matters. I would look every young dad, including myself, in the eye and say, “Get over yourself. You can’t say, ‘Fix me then.’ you shouldn’t have had kids, shouldn’t have married, if that’s what you’re thinking. We will forever be under construction. When you begin to realize that there’s no do-overs, you won’t have two and a half again, ever. What you invest in the two and a half is so critical to the harvest that’s showing up on the field. I believe that scripture says, “The children of the righteous shall be mighty on the Earth.” More than ever, we need a mighty lineage, a mighty legacy. Not to point back to us, but for the reflection of Jesus Christ on this planet. So I would say make them your highest priority.
- Well, I would love to invite you to pray over us those exact themes, and this idea that we could be dads that are truly bringing life to our families. And the prayers around peace, and our homes being places of shiny eyes. So would you pray that prayer over all of us?
- Absolutely. Father, I thank you that the eye of the Lord is on the righteous, and his ear is constantly leaning into our cry and our prayer. You are mindful of the season and the time we are in. You are mindful of the frailty of our human hearts. You are mindful of every dad. You are mindful of the concerns for the future, the weight of finance, the weight and concern of the well being and the health of our own families. And even the world that we are living in. But Father, I thank you that as the Spirit of the Living God rushed in on Sampson, as the spirit of God rushed in on your children to empower them, I pray that a surge of courage, hope, laughter, peace, will come into every heart and in every home. Father, that every father would just have a jolt of the reality that God is with us, God is for us, God will see us through, and that we can be the living expression of the invisible God to our children. Father, fill every man with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, sensitivity of heart, that they will be in touch with the promptings of Heaven over their wives and over their children and over their neighborhoods. God, I thank you, that in our weakness, you are strong. Weakness has never been a problem for you, but God, just remove the fog so that we can lean into you, see you, and be the very conduits of your presence displayed through our lives. Father, thank you, thank you that we know that you have a vested interest in every man’s heart. As they are creating this shadow in which things will grow in to magnificence or things will fade. Help us to be mindful to build life into our shadows, oh God, that whoever passes in or through it will leave from it empowered, validated, encouraged, and blessed. Thank you Father for your protection over us as people, and this nation, and this world. We will see the hand of God move many many many people in this season turn their hearts towards you, oh God. Including our homes, may we come in unity. Father, where marriages are struggling, I pray that you turn the hearts of the husbands back to their wives, and the hearts of the wives back to their husbands. That you would soften, for I declare your word says, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown.” Jesus, let the storm in the midst it of it let peace reign. In Jesus’ powerful name. Amen.