Bob Merritt [00:00:02] Those are the moments in life, Jeff, that I just pray and hope that dads don’t forfeit by doing something stupid years before that moment. Those are the moments that life is made of. Be a faithful husband, be a moral dad, be a dad that your daughter can look up to and count on and know that he is a man of God. So that when your daughter is standing there in her bedroom, age 18, with her flip flops all piled up, that you can cry together and know that no one can separate that.
Intro [00:00:45] Welcome to DadAWESOME. You’re doing a movie of intentional Christian dads who are adding life to the damn life. Thanks for taking a courageous step towards learning and growing and being mentors as you become DadAWESOME for your kids on this podcast. My dad gets the job interviews intentional dads from all around the world and he explores the path of becoming DadAWESOME.
Jeff Zaugg [00:01:15] Welcome back to DadAWESOME. This is episode one hundred and eighty six, and last week was the setup for this conversation. So this is a two part from Pastor Bob Merritt. And last week we kicked it off with actually an audio clip of his daughter Meg sharing about her dad. And today, we’re going to kick this thing off with his son, Dave, sharing some reflections on his dad, Bob Merit’s. This was originally this. This audio clip came from the last service that he pastored after twenty nine years at Eagle Brook Church. So I got permission from Pastor Bob Merritt to share this audio clip to kind of tee it up. And then we’ll go into the second half, about 25 minutes of of of the second half of my conversation with Bob Merritt. So if you missed last week, jump back to episode one hundred and eighty five. This is the second half, though. This is episode one hundred and eighty six or kicking things off with Dave. And we’re going to jump in to point two. Bob was going in to kind of these three core points for fatherhood. The first one was faithfulness. Stay faithful to your wife. If you’re married, stay faithful. And then he jumps into point two after this clip from Dave. So this is episode one hundred and eighty six of DadAWESOME.
Dave Merritt [00:02:33] God has used my dad as an imperfect but wholly dedicated servant to reach people for Christ in ways rarely seen on this planet. And he’s done that through this church, through our church. Dad you’ve been uniquely gifted by God to lead this church and I’ve grown immeasurably through your leadership and having you as my spiritual leader and pastor, what God has done through your dedication and leadership is remarkable. And I’m proud of you for that. But I’m most proud and most grateful for who you are as a man. Who you are as my dad, you’re disciplined, you’re honorable, you’re a deep lover of truth and you’re a deep lover of Jesus, you’re humble, you’re convicted, you’re loving and strong. You’ve been faithful to mom, faithful to this church, faithful to our family. You have earned my respect over and over again. I know Jesus, because of you, I’m a better man, husband and father, because you’re my dad and aside from Sarah, you’re my best friend. There’s no person on Earth who I hold in higher regard, and if my little boys grow up to be like me and view their dad the way I view you, I’ll have done my job. Thank you. I love you.
Bob Merritt [00:03:51] The second thing I’d say is stay moral as a dad, if you if the marriage ended or where you can still be a dad who is moral, honest, true, faithful, start now. Don’t shack up with another woman. Don’t start sleeping around. Don’t start, you know, doing misbehaving. I’m telling you, the reason there’s delinquent kids today is because they’ve had delinquent parents. Not always. But a lot of times, if you’ve got kids off the rails, it’s because they’re their parents. They’re living lives that are just reckless and selfish, to be honest with you, so stay faithful to your spouse, stay stay moral and pursue God. Let them see you go to church. Let them hear you pray. Let them know that God is No. One in your life. And that will never, ever change. You do those three things. Your kids are going to make it,
Jeff Zaugg [00:04:53] which are it’s not a profound answer that, you just gave.
Bob Merritt [00:04:56] know, it’s it’s
Jeff Zaugg [00:04:58] but it’s so needed it would make all the difference. So I. I want to go deeper into all three, but instead of to jump to a question you asked your son when he was 10, and I think it’s a fun question and it’s a question that you get real honesty when kids are young. But you said, Dave, where do I need to improve? And he replied, Are you serious? Let me tell you. And then he fired five glaring flaws in rapid succession, most of whom you said were about your hurtful words and your bursts of anger. So, I mean, that question of just asking our kids, like just asking them and truly listening, talk a little bit more about that moment and how we can maybe pay more attention to the answers.
Bob Merritt [00:05:42] Yeah, I think I was reading a book that prompted me to be vulnerable. And again, it takes it takes a level of strength and humility. To ask your son or your daughter, hey, where do I screw up? It takes monumental strength. To ask your spouse that. Only strong men will ask their spouse. Where do I where do I suck? Where do I where do I blow it? Yeah. Weak men will never do that, so I’ll never forget that moment and David, where does your dad fail? And literally he just laughed. He said, are you kidding me? As a 10 year old. And he just he just let it rip. And I said, well, time out. But that spoke to me. It said, you know what, I might not be… I may need some help, I may need to sharpen some things up. Yeah.
Jeff Zaugg [00:06:48] So that was a little nugget from your daughter and from your son, different different seasons for sure. But then there’s your dog and I have Boomer. So Boomer is his name sounds masculine. Boomer, he’s a male. All my daughters, you know, I’ve got all girls, my wife and me and Boomer. But he he’s a golden doodle, so he actually walks with a little bit of a stut he doesn’t look very like manly his name though. So I have to say it, Boomer right now, Blue is your dog, right. Yeah. What what have you learned about either, you know, either way here, either about fatherhood and like what have you learned about like, hey, this is a take away from my dog that I applied to to the dad life. Or what have you learned about your Heavenly Father from your dog? So this is we’re going real deep here. Dog Wisdom.
Bob Merritt [00:07:34] Blue is he’s he’s a loyal he’s a loyal friend and, you know, he is in moments of real desperation, I would take him out just myself. And the dog and he would lead me through a cat tail swamp, hunting pheasants together here just just close by. And he would look up at me when they sent or he would if we, you know, had some success, he’d come back with the bird in his mouth and drop it at my feet and he would be so happy. So and we’d celebrate together. And, you know, dogs are so loyal. They’re happy all the time. Happy to see you. And if we could, as dads be happier creatures laugh more, be joyful, not take life so seriously all the time around our family and kids, I think we’d be be a lot better off, but.
Jeff Zaugg [00:08:31] Eric Liddell jumped into my heart there when I run, I feel God’s pleasure and just the prayer that our kids, when we play, when we wrestle, when I throw my daughter off one of those floating lily pads in the lake that like, do they feel our pleasure. Right. Is just that’s a great.
Bob Merritt [00:08:45] Yeah. To laugh. And I would I would ask dads, you know, do you laugh? Do you laugh around your your family, do you laugh in the home? Is your laughter heard throughout throughout your home or has it been a year since you’ve really laughed? If it’s been a year since you really laughed in your home? Something’s wrong. Something something is deeply wrong. And so pay attention to that, get a dog to lighten the mood, a little bit
Jeff Zaugg [00:09:15] Looking at Nelly and Dave. So your son in law and your son and what they’re doing today with, you know, your six grandkids. And you can you can brag on your daughter in law and daughter as well, just parenting wisdom. But like, what do you seen them do today that you’re like, whoa, I could have learned something when I was a dad. Like, it just just spotting things that are like that is good. Like they’re really invested in the right areas when it comes to you.
Bob Merritt [00:09:37] Yeah. Both of them are much more compassionate than I was. They showed compassion. They showed tenderness. Both of them have a tender heart. Nelly was the only boy in his home and his dad bailed when he was two. And it was very to this day it is very hurtful to him and his mom that it did a decent job of raising him. But because his dad wasn’t in the picture, Nelly’s very sensitive to being present for his kids and because he knows the pain of being abandoned. And I just love that about him, so he took he took what was a painful thing and still is he’s 35 years old. It’s still a painful thing that his dad never really loved him or was there for him. He took that and made sure that he that would never happen in his family. Yeah. And when you talk about, you know, God uses pain, that’s an important thing for Nelly. And I can see that. So he’s very present. He’s very humble. You know, he’s got this demanding job as a radiologist. He’s he’s there much more than I was. David, just as a tender heart, he’s much more tender with his kids. He’s got he’s got my wife’s tenderness. So he’s got the well, I won’t say the best of both. Both of us. He’s got the best of her and he’s got a little bit of me. So, yeah.
Jeff Zaugg [00:11:03] Well, back to that idea of being average and just doing things with consistency that are very doable for all of us, but just choosing to do them with consistency. I one of my mentors, Don Graffim, who I mentioned earlier, has watched you in in your leadership for, what, 15, 17? A lot of years. A lot of years. And he’s been a mentor of mine for 19 years now. And he he watched you choose a posture of “God, I need you” versus “I’ve got this one wrapped up. I’m going to I’m going to do like I’m good as a leader, as a as a preacher.” And he he pulled this out of a conversation with you. He said, you said this, Jesus in my weakness. Show yourself strong. It’s not about me. I need you. It’s a posture of kneeling, actually, as a physical posture of saying this is not about me delivering awesome. This is about me being average in desperate need. We prayed this before we hit record about like a demonstration of your power. That’s what we want in our homes is a demonstration of God’s power. What would you encourage us challenge us to to make it less about us and more about God showing himself strong?
Bob Merritt [00:12:05] Well, full disclosure, a lot of my dependance and that prayer that you just mentioned, I’m weak, make me strong, came out of a sense of deep fear and weakness. I people don’t know this maybe. But I was there every week just terrified by taking God’s word and standing before a congregation of hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands on a weekly basis would terrify me, not to the point of not being able to function. But it just brought me it drove me right to my knees. And so, Jeff, fears are real, a real thing that I think God used in my life just to get on my knees of submission to him. I, I needed him flat out. Still do. And so I don’t know how else to say that. But I was just driven by this this absolute fear and sense of responsibility that I had to say things to a congregation that were true and helpful and relevant to their lives. And if I failed at that man, what a what a failure. And I just I couldn’t allow myself to do that.
Jeff Zaugg [00:13:23] You had an awareness of what was at stake. Yeah, I think that that fear driver in a in a submitted, you know, to our Heavenly Father, but the fear driver in parenting of look at what is at stake. Picture the eyes against your grandkids. Like for me, I’ve written a letter that actually describes what’s at stake. If I if I make these choices. Yes, this is in my neighborhood. The neighbors who I’ve lived here for 14 years. This is how they get pain. This is people who I lead my wife, my girls, my grandkids, my extended family. Like this is how I hurt people if I choose these. You talked about selfishness earlier, right? Yeah. I think the reality, the posture of look at the stakes, like we’re choosing as dads to make daily decisions with massive casualties if we choose selfishness.
Bob Merritt [00:14:13] Right and right. And we oftentimes don’t see that or make that that calculation in our head in the moment of temptation. And boy, you’ve got to know that if I if I take that step, if I cross that line, even though I’m tempted and I feel like I deserve that and I’m tired and exhausted, I’m owed that you’ve got to have enough reading and background and accountability in your life in that moment to make sure you don’t cross that line because you know and you’ve studied it and you’ve been taught and you’ve been you’ve talked to other people. You’ve watched it. You know that if you do that, you’re going to forfeit. A lot I mean, it could be your very life, you know, your relationships, the things that you love the most, your marriage, your kids, even your career, if you cross certain lines of no return, it’s going to affect you. Yeah. And I just pray to God and I still do. God, you know, don’t ever allow me keep me away from crossing a line or certain line just
Jeff Zaugg [00:15:34] and I guess to go the other direction to when our kids cross the line, you know, it’s going to happen. Our kids are going to make a decision. They’re going to cross the line, make a decision that we didn’t raise them this way. But they’re taking a step this direction. We think maybe we perceiving they’re taking a step that’s going to cause some harm to themselves or to others. There’s a story that love for you to kind of dove into around your son and and you choosing, even though you said earlier, multiple times you talked about your words and about quick in anger. It’s what I know about this story. You chose a different path of addressing your son in a situation at a college house to talk about that story.
Bob Merritt [00:16:07] Here’s a sophomore in college at Bethel University and. You know, when your son or daughter goes off to school or they become, you know, 18, 19, they’re they’re adults, they’re young adults, so parenting becomes a little different, but you never stop being a parent. I’ve learned that now there’s still thirty four or thirty three. I’m still parenting in a different way, but advising and giving counsel when asked and so forth. They’re always watching. They’re always watching what Dad is doing. I still go to church. Do I still read God’s word? I still read books to educate myself and they’re watching me. So I just began hearing about this house where six guys and my son was a part of this house and it became became known as a party house. I began hearing about this through the grapevine, hey, did you know your son? You know, whatever. And I thought, oh, OK, now I didn’t know that. And so on a Saturday morning, this was completely out of character. I mean, I’d never done this, you know, he’s at school, leave them alone and come to church, whatever. See them on the weekend, Saturday morning, that Saturday night. We do church very out of character for me to do this, but I knew I had to. So I walked and drove over to this house over in Arden Hills. And I just let myself in, walk through the open garage and there were whiskey bottles and beer cans and so forth, spilled over from the garbage can. And I knocked on the door in the garage and a roommate came to the door, said I said, Is my son David here? They said, yeah, he’s back studying in his room. I said I need to see him, so he let me in and I knocked on David’s door, seeing his dad standing in his door was, what are you doing here? I just sat down next to him, I said, David, you know, just real quickly, we’ve heard that this is a party house, et cetera, et cetera. And I said that’s the reputation that this house has. And you are a part of that. And he said, wait a minute, I have not been drinking, dad. I don’t drink. I said, I OK, I believe you. I said, but this your reputation is at stake. And I said, furthermore, your friends are underage. I said, if something bad happens, you’re liable. And I said, “For me, David, the bottom line, it’s all about influence, and I said I never wanted to be a dad who had a drinking problem with with your mom. I didn’t want to put myself at risk for you kids. I never wanted to get into a drinking habit that might lead you down a bad road. And I said, for me, it’s all about influence, you have friends and you know, you’re the caddy master at the yacht club at Whitebeard Yacht Club and you have 50 little kids looking up to you. I said it’s all about influence, man, and I said. I just hope you turn this around, and that was it. I said, you know, you’re going to live your life the way you’re going to live it. You’re not. You’re an adult. And I got up and left and I prayed for him and he said thank you and got up and left. Within a month, I heard that they had started a Bible study. They began leaning in on purity issues and drinking issues. They cleaned it up. And that was a moment, though, Jeff, I could have just said, you know what, kids are kids, college. You know, they’re going to do their thing. I could I could have done that. Just let it ride. Instead. I stood up and I’m not patting myself on the back, but I was a dad and I spoke the truth and that was a turning point in my son’s life and it could have gone either way. And I praise God for the young man he is today, and, you know, it’s just the but I tell you what, Dads, do not ignore those things, do not just pretend or think they’ll turn out, they’ll turn out all right. You know, speak up in the right way, you know, in the right timing. But you got to speak up and you got to be a dad. I hear so many parents say, you know what, I’m just gonna let my kids figure life out themselves. You know, they’re just going to find their way, even with religion or whatever. And I’m like, are you kidding me? They’ve got, you know, 24/7 Internet social media. If you watch TV today, everything has gone south in terms of morality and relationships and everything goes. If you as a parent aren’t speaking to them about God and morality and how to live and how to treat people and how to be pure. Well, they’re going to get a boatload of education from their peers, school, government, you name it. Everybody else is going to be teaching them the wrong things. And if you as a parent don’t stand up and be a parent, you’ll lose your kids in this world. Yeah, they will be lost morally, spiritually. They’ll struggle. I see it around my neighborhood, next door neighbors. You know, these are these are 28, 30 year old kids who have messed it up. Now they’re coming back, living back at home, trying to find their way. It’s unbelievable. Come on.
Jeff Zaugg [00:21:45] The concept of being a dad like versus when we’re when our a child is born, we become a dad, but then we choose daily to be the dad that they need. And this quote, I think, would help even go a little deeper into it. John Maxwell said, “There’s enormous magic in a tiny word, do. When we tell ourselves I’ll do it, we unleash tremendous power. What is the number one catalyst for change? It’s action. And if you take action, it will change your life.” Action. Some people could have even maybe a friend or adviser could have said, hey, actually, because, like, they could almost critique you stepping into that moment because you’re doing it for your reputation. Are you doing it’s like but you’re saying like we have to air on the side of action and air on the side of being the dad. I agree not to fall into passivity.
Bob Merritt [00:22:41] And we might say something wrong. Sure. I mean, has a parent growing up, Lori and I would look at each other. I think I have no idea what to do with this kid. I have no idea how to respond to my daughter who’s who’s just having a what is going on. I can’t I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say or, you know, somebody slams the door. I’ve had that happen to me at home a few times, slams the door in anger. And what do you say or what do you do? And oftentimes we look at it. We have no idea. Yeah, we have no idea. But what I’ve said over the years is we stayed in the battle and I’ll tell parents, like, you might not know what to do. You might say something’s wrong, but do not bail. Don’t walk away, don’t don’t you know, ignore the issue, you know, pay attention to the right time right away, but stay in the battle, don’t you know, don’t just pretend there’s not an issue. Don’t pretend that it’s going to fix itself again. You might have to give it time to simmer down or whatever, but. Don’t abdicate the responsibility of being a parent to the culture. You’re the parent, God puts you in that role for a reason and you might not know. The exact thing to say or do you know, read some parenting books, get get some help, but there are going to be moments, every parent, you’re not going to know what to do, but you got you got to be there. You got to be present.
Jeff Zaugg [00:24:06] Yeah, there is for me. I’ve seen my four daughters and I’m thinking about different moments of launching them. And to an extent, you a year and a half ago kind of you launched you stepped away from a church, you retired from your role handed off that you launched to another leader. In the same way, I think there’s some parallels between launching our kids, even though we’re still I’ll still get to be dad when I launch. But thinking about the moment of for your daughter going to college, a moment of and I actually don’t even know what happened to you, but I would love to hear that. Just take us into that moment of of what happened as you as you interacted with your daughter.
Bob Merritt [00:24:43] Yeah, she she used to love flip flops and she’d buy she had a whole pile boatload of flip flops and. She was known for that I was getting ready to go to church was a Saturday, Saturday morning I think Saturday noon, I was getting ready and I got myself, you know, got my clothes on or whatever. I walked past her bedroom door and there she was. Her flip flops are in a pile and she was piling them up and getting her things ready to leave home. To go to school, go to college. And I remember I had this light green shirt on and I just my heart just broke, just melted. Because for, you know, 18 years, her bedroom was right next to our bedroom and I would hear her get ready for school in the morning and. And. And she is going to be leaving that room. And I just I walked in and I. I embraced her and I started crying and she cried. And I just held her and her tears stain my green shirt before before I was going to go go to church and I just told her how much I loved her and that as a dad. I would always love her and be there for her. No matter where she was. And I think that’s that’s what God does for us, that even though we have these moments where we have to leave or we have to transition and go somewhere else or do something else. That our Heavenly Father will never leave us. And He’ll always love us, you know. And those those are the moments in life, Jeff. That I just pray and hope that dads don’t forfeit by doing something stupid years before that moment. Those are the moments that life is made of. Yeah, but be a faithful husband. Be a moral dad. Be a dad that your daughter can look up to and count on and know that he is a man of God, so that when your daughter is standing there in her bedroom age 18 with her flip flops all pile up. That you can cry together and know that nobody can separate that.
Jeff Zaugg [00:27:25] The. Beauty of a recording like this, the gift of having just shared reflections, but now I’m actually going to have you share forward to your grandkids, which you will likely have more than these six grandkids. I think that’s it. Maybe just. Well, but they’re going to they’re going to be married someday. Yeah. And I actually want you to talk to your grandkids and their and their spouses. And they’re just they found out they’re pregnant or maybe they just got home with their baby and you to share just some hopes for them as they enter this journey of being. And specifically, you know, the the boys and those little girls, their husbands like share share with these young dads and just share your heart over them that you’ve done that already. They’re going to miss the whole thing. They’re all going to listen this whole thing years from now. But anything else you’d want to say to your your your grandsons?
Bob Merritt [00:28:17] Yeah, just. You know, your parents are some of the best parents on the planet. They’re not perfect. It’s your mom and dad. Love you more than you’ll ever know, and they love Jesus. And they are trying to lead you to love Jesus as well and. Kids, if if you respect and honor your parents. And if you. Love Jesus and trust him with all your heart. He will bless you in ways that you will never have dreamed of. And. Now, Bible says, love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and it says love others as you love yourself. And so just try to love God. And try to show love to other people. And you’re going to make mistakes, and we all do. I made a lot of mistakes, more than you’ll ever know. But God will never abandon you. He will love you. And he will lead you all the way through life as long as you love him first. So I love you guys.
Jeff Zaugg [00:29:34] Hmmm, would you say a prayer over your grandson’s over over me as a young dad in over all the dads listening to SACEUR prayer of both blessing but also a prayer of challenge. That’s a would you challenges with your prayers? Yeah.
Bob Merritt [00:29:50] So, Father, thank you for the privilege of being a dad and granddad. And I thank you for my son. And his two sons, I thank you for my daughter and her little boy. And God, I pray a prayer over these grandsons, Lord, that they will love you first and foremost, that they would find you to be their lord and savior at a very early age and trust you so that you can be the center of their life and and lead them through this life to make great decisions about everything. God, I thank you for my son David and my son in law, and I’ll give them the strength and the wisdom to raise their kids and raise their boys to love you and pursue you with all their heart, soul and mind. God, thanks for. Jeff. Thank you for his obedience to you for this ministry, to dads. Anoint him. I see the smile on his face. I see the passion in his life. God, I just thank you for his obedience to you, to being a dad, to these four little girls. Unbelievable. What a gift. What a challenge. The stakes are high, so just protect him as a dad, protect these little girls, his wife, as well as you will in my family as well. Father, thank you. We love you for the gift of family. Praise you in Jesus name.
Jeff Zaugg [00:31:15] Thank you so much for joining us for Episode one hundred and eighty six with Pastor Bob Merrett. All the conversation notes, the transcripts, the action steps, the links are going to be at DadAWESOME dot org, slash one eight six so you can pick up again those kind of actionable steps there or in your podcast app. Want to invite you guys? We have the DadAWESOME nudge, a text message that is shot up about twice a week. We push this message out. We have several hundred dads that received this message to join the DadAWESOME nudge and get its prayers, its ideas to connect with your kids. It’s its tips from the podcast episodes and just other resources that will help you in this journey of becoming DadAWESOME. You just need to text this number six five one three seven zero eighty six 18. Just text the word dad to six five one three seven zero eighty six eighteen. Guys, thank you for joining us this week. Thanks for being on this journey with us. Deciding on the direction I’m headed is I want to add life to the dad life. I want to become DadAWESOME for my kids. Thanks for being on this journey, praying for you guys this week. Have an amazing week with your kids.