Episode 256 Transcript (Dr. Clarence Shuler)

Episode 256 (Dr. Clarence Shuler)

Podcast Intro: [00:00:01] Being a great father takes a massive amount of courage. Instead of being an amazing leader and a decent dad, I want to be an amazing dad and a decent leader. The oldest dad in the world gave you this assignment, which means you must be ready for it. As a dad, I get on my knees and I fight for my kids. Let us be those dads who stop the generational pass down of trauma. I want encounters with God where He teaches me what to do with my kids. I know I’m going to be an awesome dad because I’m give it my all.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:00:39] Welcome back to dadAWESOME, today, Episode 256, we have Dr. Clarence Shuler joining in. It’s been about two and a half years since he was last with us at dadAWESOME. His area of passion and decades and decades of expertise is around relationships, marriage, parenting. He taught, he coaches a lot around it. Diversity, counseling and training and equipping organizations and leaders to say, Hey, let’s be a multi generational, multicultural organization that makes forever change, that reflects heaven. I loved my time with Dr. Clarence Shuler. We we spent some time together at his house and then and then went to a spot at a local church where we sat down with the microphones and recorded this conversation. I’m so grateful you guys are listening. Quickly, I want to invite you, today, it’s the middle of December and we’re just one month away from dadAWESOME turning five years old. So in mid January we’re going to celebrate five years as a ministry. And my invitation to you guys, as we kind of finish out this calendar year, 2022 and as we head into our five year celebration, is just would you do one of three things, you could do all three if you want, but there’s three invitations for all of our dadAWESOME community. One of them is to help fund this movement as a nonprofit organization. Sometimes you’ll you’ll be prayerfully considering organizations to donate to. And that’s one invitation dadAWESOME.org/give. You can learn about the vision, mission and make a one time gift or reoccurring, kind of, monthly support type gifts, so partnering with us financially would be a huge deal. A second invitation is just let us know, let me know, how has this ministry been helpful? How has it maybe impacted you in some way in your dad life? Just sent me an email. Jeff@dadawesome.org is my email address, so just email me and let me know if there’s a specific way, include a photo of your family. I love gathering and celebrating testimonies in ways any way that this ministry has been helpful, if you wouldn’t mind sending me an email over the next month here. The third invitation is just share on social media. Instagram, Facebook, whatever platforms, LinkedIn, just simply sharing dadAWESOME.org and letting your followers, people that are keeping an eye on your social media stream, know that dadAWESOME has been helpful. We’ve doubled the impact of, as far as downloads, this past year, we’ve doubled up as a as a ministry. Those are just three invitations, give, encourage me through an email, or share on social media. Guys, let’s jump right in, today’s episode, Dr. Clarence Shuler, is episode 256, enjoy the conversation. So I think it was two and a half years ago, through a computer screen, we had a chance to have a conversation. And this is fun for me because now I’m in Colorado Springs and I’m talking today with Dr. Clarence Shuler. Welcome back to dadAWESOME.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:03:32] Hey, Jeff, thanks so much for having me.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:03:34] For sure. And it’s a gift that you’ve made time. I know your travel schedule is taking you all around the world over these past years, even this this fall, you’ve been all over the place.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:03:42] It’s been crazy going to in California a couple of times, which is a foreign country, and then just down to Florida, so it’s and Texas, so several different countries, so to speak.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:03:52] And I think we talked about, we needed to play tennis together, last time we chatted, we’re like, we got to get out and play some tennis and that hasn’t happened yet. So the next visit. The next visit we’ll do that.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:04:00] You’re pretty tall, so I don’t know. I got to wonder about your serve, now.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:04:04] I’m not I’m not very technical with tennis, but I enjoy it. I’m a pretty competitive guy.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:04:09] Okay. Okay.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:04:10] Game on. I think we’ll, I’ll be a fierce match. 

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:04:13] Oh, that sounds good. Sounds good.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:04:14] So last time we chatted, you had three daughters and now three adult children. You have not added any kids since our last chat.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:04:21] No, no, I have not. But you have. 

Jeff Zaugg: [00:04:24] So at that time, we were matched up. Three daughters, three daughters. I added another daughter.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:04:29] Okay.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:04:30] So, two and a half years later, now our youngest is 17 months old. She can make all the animal sounds. So that’s the current season of Dad Life, your season of dad life, pretty different with adult daughters.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:04:42] Yes, yes. Yeah.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:04:44] Tell me about the current chapter. What are you guys doing for fun together when you interact with your three daughters? What’s been a fun thing recently?

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:04:50] Well, one lives in Texas, she’s kind of my risk taker. So, we were just, Brenda, my wife, we’re just in Texas speaking at an African church doing marriage stuff. She drove down to see us and we just hung out. And so she loves just hanging out. She says, Dad, just having you and mom, it’s a real big deal. And so we text periodically say, How are you doing? And she’ll call us, last night, she calls for the football game and unfortunately our team lost and we won’t talk about that. But she says, why are you not watching? And I said, well, I don’t think the coach really knows what he’s doing. And she says, Really? So, so after the game, she said, Dad, you’re right. And so so we do that. She’s a real big NBA fan, so we talk about a lot different things. And then when she’s dating, she’ll call me. And so she’s dating a guy, not too long ago, and she said, I think there’ll be a third date, you know. And so I’ve learned not to really imply or ask a lot of questions, let her volunteer that. So I’m her dad, but as they get older, you’re you become a friend. And the older they get, the smarter you become.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:05:54] My prayer is that my daughters will call me, for not for dating advice, but just to talk about dating someday. But just to have that relationship like the way you described it, I mean, you are known globally as a ministry leader in the area of marriage and it brings a thought leader as speaker in this field. And for your daughter to say, hey, it’s my dad and I care about his his perspective.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:06:17] She in particular has blown me away. She said, Dad, you know, I’m struggling to try and get guys because she’s 32, almost 33. And she said, you know, if you see a guy out there, she said, I trust your judgment, just let me know. So I’m like, wow, you know? So that’s real big compliment and a real honor. And so anyway, but, but, you know, girls are going to try and marry their dad. So my wife’s been praying that I’ll be a good guy. So, but but girls going to marry their dads.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:06:47] Wow. I mean, that statement just, like, stops me in my tracks. It’s like, who am I? Who am I in the home front? Who am I? Because that’s who my girls are going to marry.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:06:54] Yeah, yeah.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:06:55] That’s that’s it’s sobering is maybe the wrong word, but that’s just like a it’s a jolting like, oh, like this is this is more important my day in and day out, dad life, is more important than I’m thinking.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:07:07] It really is, does because what you and your wife do in your marriage is going to impact your kids to a third and fourth generation. So you’re not just parenting your kids, you’re actually parenting your unborn grandkids. And the thing about being a dad is that a good man in the house helps our kids with their gender identity. So you being a dad and a Godly man helps them really understand being a woman and being a female, just like if you had sons, that would help reaffirm them being men. So that’s one of the things that, you know, I’m not sure why in Christendom we don’t talk about the role of the father, how important it is. But that’s a huge thing because we don’t have a strong male figure in the house, not a dictator, but just a real man. Kids get confused by their gender identity and then that leads to everything else.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:07:55] So fatherlessness would have direct application to kind of what our what what the whole world is struggling with as far as some of the confusion and some of the, oh, my goodness. Well, we we exist as a ministry to help dads see this role as a gift. And so I’m grateful I was told that that when your kids turn 30 or 40, that’s the time where you can actually look with some introspection and say, How did I do as a dad? Like, before that it’s way too early, like if you try to say, How am I doing as a dad when when your oldest is nine years old, which mine is right now, it’s a it’s just a false pulse on how did I do. You’re in that season now of starting to and I’m not asking you to rank, how did you do, but thinking through the lens of your daughters, what do you think some of the things that they would say of, hey, my dad got this part right. I’m glad my dad did this. What are some of the things they would maybe answer?

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:08:45] Well, I think one of the first things is really the whole Jesus thing. You know, I was a pastor when they were born. And so because they heard, they were in church all the time, they were drug to church, they were drug babies. So I didn’t really push salvation on them. I really was waiting for them to come to me about that because they would hear it all the time. And so I think that’s really important. I think I think they would say that I listen to them, but I certainly didn’t do it perfectly. I would say, one of my friends told me, he said periodically he would ask his mentor or dad how he was doing. And so when my girls were nine years old, I sort of asked him, How am I doing as dad? And they would say, Well, when you discipline us, you’re too hard. And so I had to, so I took that in and looked at, okay, how am I disciplining them? And I won’t necessarily say how because that’s controversial, I guess. But the thing was, your kids need discipline because without that, they don’t feel loved. But then I looked at things and I coached them and they says, at times you were hard, so I backed up on that and made sure it was for them and that they have fun, that’s what they wanted to do. So, so I think, so I think listening is really the key. But the reality of it is I think everybody’s going father imperfectly. And you know, but we, in Hebrews says we do the best we can. And so, I love them, my favorite prayer, like Dennis Rainey used to say, I think he had eight kids, is, Lord, help. That was the big prayer, Lord, help. I don’t know what I’m doing, please help. And so I prayed, that His grace would fill in for my mistakes.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:10:21] And we can all pray that prayer every single day.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:10:25] Exactly. Yeah, yeah.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:10:26] We need it. Now, remind me your wife’s name again.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:10:29] Brenda.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:10:29] Brenda. So if I was to ask her, how many years married now?

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:10:33] 37.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:10:34] 37 years. If I was to ask her, hey, from your perspective, where would you say that, Clarence, like, hey, not missed it, but like these were areas that were a struggle in the dad life. Like, hey, these were, these are some things that were and there was a hard what would be some of the things that maybe would come to mind from her, on that side? 

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:10:52] Well she might say sports. She may say we traveled a lot. And so even though we thought we’re doing well with them and they knew who was staying with them, and a lot of times gave us permission to go. I probably have traveled a little less. One of my mentors said that that was really important when they had their games, no matter where I was in the country, I got back for their games. You know, I had three girls playing sports. I only missed like two or three of their games and that was a big deal because they would look up in the stands and, you know, to see me, to support them. And so I think the other thing, that I really worked on, like one of my daughters, Michelle, probably could have played pro tennis. I mean, she was just really gifted, great athlete. And Andrea is too, but she didn’t have the drive. And so I just didn’t push her. You know, she went to university, I said, Hey, just go hit the girls on the on the team. Ask the coach, can you have two girls on the team? Because if I knew she saw, you know, she was it and she could buy me a Lexus down the road, but she didn’t do that. So I think it was important for me to let her do that. Just like when she signed up for a bunch of classes, her freshman year. I’m thinking, you know, she wanted to take, one of the girls, wanted to take a language class, but she wasn’t really good at Spanish. I said, well you’ve had four years of Spanish and I didn’t say anything, but she want to take this other language that was more difficult. And my thing was, you know, she needs to learn. She’s to make our own decisions because the way we raised was choices, decisions, consequences. And I heard a NBA guy counseling NBA player rookies with that and it just stuck, so we always tried to do that. Give them plenty opportunities to make choices, learn from those decisions they made, then learn from the consequences. Because when they went to college, I wasn’t going to be there. And so you have to learn to release them, so those are real big things. Like, that 17 year old, that 17 month old, one day you’re going to have to release her to 1st grade and unless your wife homeschools, but at some point in time, you’re going to have to release her. And so that’s, that’s important.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:13:01] Yeah, I heard you sharing, I believe it was another podcast, but I’d love for you to share the principle, here. There’s a question, so thinking about Brenda and thinking about your marriage and you know, myself, my marriage to my wife, Michelle, now it’s been it’s been sixteen years. But the question that you asked was just like, Hey, husbands, you need to ask this question of yourself, ask this question. I was like, That’s brilliant. Could you share the question that you encourage young or all husbands to ask?

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:13:28] Well, the question is, are you a pleasure to be married to? Or really make it personal, am I a pleasure to be married to? And I was actually speaking with someone, and this wife said about her husband, she said, he’s a pleasure to be married to. And so Brenda’s not with me, so I’m speaking for the weekend, so I can’t wait to get home. She picks us from the airport, we’re driving home, Jeff, and I’m trying to get my nerve and go, and I finally said, I say, you you think I’m a pleasure to be married to? She looks at me and she smiles and she says, You okay?

Jeff Zaugg: [00:14:02] Are you okay?

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:14:04] So my first thought was your mama, but I, but I didn’t say that. And so but then I say, you know, I’ve got some work to do. And so I started doing things around the house, I normally hadn’t done or hadn’t done in a long time. And she wondered, was the invasion of body snatchers happening, whatever. But then finally she asked me to do something I didn’t really want to do. And so I end up doing that, and then she asked me to do something that she agreed to do, and she didn’t do it. She’s just gotten promotion as an executive at a nonprofit. And so when she came to ask me to do it, I got all these reasons why I shouldn’t have to do it, I’m pretty articulate. I can debate pretty well. And all of a sudden, Holy Spirit said, I thought you wanted to be a place to be married to. And I go, drag, man. And so I learned or I’m learning, well I learn, but I’m practicing this whole idea that if I’m going to be a pleasure to be married to, is not doing things for her that I want to do, when I want to do them, it’s doing things for her that she wants or needs. That’s what it’s all about. And since we’re talking about marriage, the other thing, another big player, revolutionized was revolutionized my marriage is that knowing how I treat Brenda is a reflection how I’m loving God. So you see, how I choose to give, is a reflection of what I think about the Giver.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:15:22] Wow.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:15:23] So that was really convicting for me. That was that’s been hugely convicting for me and has really changed a lot of how I treat my, how I treat Brenda.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:15:34] Wow. I use that phrase around parenting all the time. Do I see my daughters as a gift? Do I see my daughters as a gift? And you’re you’re challenging, inviting me to say, do I see my wife as a gift? And how I treat her is a reflection of, of the gift giver.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:15:50] Yeah. Yeah.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:15:52] Also, I think about the words of God that God spoke when the heavens opened over Jesus on the day of His baptism. You are my son, whom I love and in you I am well pleased. I think of that pleasure piece for, I want to just show delight and pleasure to my daughters. But you’re again, you’re saying no, take that towards my wife and say, am I going to choose to step into being a pleasure to be married to?

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:16:19] And and it’s all about serving. And couples that have the longest lasting marriages and the most fulfilling marriages are where they serve each other. And if we’re to be a servant leader to your wife, it makes it easier for her to to serve us. And we’re always talking about submission and following. If we’re serving her, she really has very little resistance to follow in us, but it’s when we’re not going anywhere, the question of why should they follow?

Jeff Zaugg: [00:16:51] Wow. I’m going to take this in a little different direction because I want every dad, I want personally to keep growing, to keep learning, to have sources of wisdom. And I know you’ve written a bunch on this topic, but you live this topic of having, even though you’re now, you know, I’ll just jump right in and say you’re in your upper sixties.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:17:14] Yeah. I’m on Medicare.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:17:16] But you’ve said, I’m going to stay in a posture of a mentee instead of just a mentor. Like you’re still a mentee and you have mentors in your life.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:17:23] Well, I do have spiritual sons and which which is great. But the spiritual mentors, especially one who’s, I would say the late Bob Cooke, who’s going to be with the Lord, he was with me pretty much every week, as I sat at his feet. And what impressed me about Bob, was not only were all his kids Christians, they were missionaries. I think all except for one, but all his grandkids are Christians. I mean, all of them. And, I mean, he lived to be 92 and was married in his twenties, so he he’d been around a lot. I think he was married 68 years or longer. And then his great grandkids. And so I say, this guy’s doing something right. So when I met him, I was really impressed by the way he prayed. And I asked one day, Would you be my mentor? He said I’d love to do that. And years, years ago, he said, Man, you’re like a son to me. And when I was mistreating Brenda, unintentionally or not knowing it, he would sit down and tell me, he would have me come into the house, and he would stick the knife in, which I didn’t feel like going in, I just felt serrated, I feel like coming out. And he would weep with me. He said, You know, he’d say son, the most important thing you do for your wife is Matthew 6:33. It says you got to seek ye first, the kingdom of God. And the Kingdom of God means the reign and rule of Jesus Christ in our hearts right now. That’s what Jesus said, the Kingdom of God is at hand, when he was talking that he said, I’m here right now. So for me to do that and then he said, All these things would fall unto you. He says, Well, your wife and kids, all these things, but if you’re not following God, you can’t help them follow God. And you’re supposed be an example and serve them to do that. So so I had some really Godly men, I had guys from different cultures. I mean, Bob was 92. I have a mentor now of Bill Pannell, who’s a former full professor and author, he’s 94, I think. His wife just past couple of years ago. They were married like over 60 years. And and I have some older man that I’ve gravitated to, who, a guy names and Gordon Loux, you know, he was with the prison fellowship, you know, Colson, I mean, he speaks into my life. So I had these guys who and what’s amazing, I go to him for mentoring, for ministry and stuff but the first thing I talk about is their wives. The next thing you talk about are their kids. So so I’m just like I say, okay, all of these four great men, is their wife and their kids and then ministry. You know, the Bible clue says that in Timothy would just see it in action.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:19:54] Live it out.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:19:55] Successful men, in everyway you want to talk about, all leaders, but it’s God, their wives, the kids. Those are the things that matter. And then, you know, then ministry.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:20:07] Well, you didn’t mention ministry or business or success. You mentioned in choosing mentors that you’re what you love about in appreciate is their grandkids, choices their grandkids. You’re saying that you’re looking generationally down and saying, look, look at their grandkids?

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:20:24] Well, you know, I would come into Bob’s house, and if the grandkids were there, they would come here and hug me. And so, you know, and I didn’t look like them, let me just say that. So for these grandkids, come do this, I said this guy must be talking about me. And so I say, this guy loves me and I just it just translated. And so in getting to know him, I had no idea how successful he was, financially. I mean, this guy was a bad, I mean, he was very successful. I mean, he hung out with one president. I mean, so but his prayer life, he would pray in public, we were starting the FCA chapter, Fellowship Christian Athletes, chapter in this particular city, which became a blueprint for FCA. Well it was his prayer life attracted me to him. I didn’t know one thing about him but that, but then as I got to know him then he was an amazing leader and his kids became amazing leaders for Christ in different, different areas.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:21:22] And you get some of the benefit that his kids have gotten because you chose to pursue, to ask the question, will you mentor? Any practical wisdom for for me in in developing those deeper mentor relationships and any just guidance?

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:21:37] Well, I would, you know, what I did and when my friends that you are unusual he said you know like guys don’t ask about a mentor them but if I see an older man with qualities that strike me or that feel like I need than I just I ask them. I learned when I was 14, if something I wanted, to ask. I said, you know, the worst thing they could do is say no, but they may say yes. And I found that older men really want purpose, after they’ve been “successful” and they love sharing what God has taught them, important to other people. I mean, they they get excited and it also gives them purpose. So they give us wisdom, we help keep them young. You know, or their mind young, so that so I think is a really great trade off.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:22:19] So you mentioned you just kind of breezed right past it, but that these mentors were different ethnicities, different cultural, like like, oh, it’s not, you’re not cut from the same mold.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:22:30] Right, right, right.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:22:31] Where and I know you wrote a whole book about this with Dr. Gary Chapman, it just launched, I think, six months ago. And we’re going to make sure it’s linked out to all of the listeners. But talk a little bit about that book project and how that’s, I mean, I know it’s who you are, but yeah, what led you to helping others in that area?

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:22:48] Well, I just saw a need that we’re really struggling in America, especially in the church, more so in the church, I think, than outside the church with cross-cultural relationships. And so I don’t have to just be black and white, but Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Native American. I don’t think, we as a church, do a good job with that. When Gary Chapman introduced me to Jesus Christ, I remember I was 14, we’ve been friends for 54 years. But when I met him, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was segregated. Even though segregation had been outlawed in 64, it was still practiced very much. So, once you cross the railroad tracks and a lot time from the South, you cross the railroad tracks, you go to another community. People threw bottles at us, called us names, al stuff like that. And he took quite a risk because at this point in time, he was not famous and he became my friend. And we just began to have a relationship. And then two years later, he introduced me to Jesus Christ. And I didn’t want a white guy lead me to Christ because, you know, but he stayed with me for a while, I was incredibly wealthy, because I had my dad and I had Gary, so I had two dads. And eventually got to lead my dad to Christ when I was 18. So but, my dad was killed when I was 20. So then Gary actually becomes my physical dad and everything else. So and then writing a book, and telling our story, we were pretty close, but we’ve gotten even closer because we’ve traveled different cities and just sat, sat and shared our stories. And I’ve been amazed how people respond so positive to it because to us it’s just our story, but to them it’s like it’s a big deal.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:24:26] I am so grateful for you guys taking, what was your life 54 years, and now helping other like saying, hey, we’re going to share this as a testimony tool. And I mean, I have so many more questions on that topic, but I did want to move us into you have a book project coming out, end of this year. Which is likely right around when we’re dropping this conversation, this podcast episode. And it’s a topic that I just feel like, when we go through valleys, we all go through moments that’s like, Hey, this is not God’s best, it’s not my best, but I’m being affected by various factors around me. And then depression is a real thing for dads, for anybody, but for dads. So when you just told me a little bit about this book coming out, I was like, We need to talk about this topic because dads who are caught in or stuck in depression, our ability to bring life to our kids and love to our kids is I mean, silence. I mean, it’s going to pass on pain to our kids. So what led to this this upcoming book and yeah, talk about your journey a little bit with that.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:25:31] Well, I you know, we talked a little bit on the way over here, but I was in a process of defining myself by how much money I made. And so I figured if I make enough money, I can financially take care of my kids, which, you know, you know the phrase I put a roof over your head. And so I had this big opportunity with this quasi Christian organization that was a multibillion dollar company. I mean, just, you know, billions and billions. And we’re really close. Things went well last minute as they were going the other direction. It was so much money that I wouldn’t have had to work for two or three years. I mean, we’re talking life changing money. So when that went out the door, I was getting very depressed. I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I don’t want to hear about when God closes one door, He opens another, I didn’t want any Christian rhetoric, just leave me alone. And I wrote about it in my newsletter and one of my readers kind of read between the lines and She says, You want to talk about it? And I said, No.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:26:31] And you’re a young dad at the time, right?

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:26:34] No, I’m an older dad. This is of, my depth, though it was now you and I talked when I was young that just started my depression. But this is the deepest depression I went, this was 2017.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:26:46] okay. Yeah.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:26:46] And that’s the deepest I ever went and, and she really helped me come out, begin to come out of that. And but at that point in time, I think Isaiah 45:3 talks about being in a dark place. And it talks about in a dark place, it says there’s treasures, a secret riches in a dark place. So a couple of things and what my counselor said what she said what she said, so, Clarence, based on that verse, we are in a dark place. It can be a holy place because God’s with you, I hadn’t thought about that. And then another thing that God began to show me, is when I’m in a dark place, I don’t have to rush out because there are treasures and secret riches, so I don’t have to fake being fine. Now, the goal is not to stay there the rest of my life. But it means that, it’s okay to be this way. And so, as you and I were talking earlier, when I, my first bout depression, my girls like nine years old and I was overwhelmed, didn’t know how to handle it, felt like a failure because I’d just been fired, lost my job, trying to figure out, how am I going to feed these four people in my house, all those things went through my head. And I think probably young dads feel that any way. And then when you have a kid and my dad was not around, I didn’t have someone around me to say, hey, you know, I can help you as you raise these kids, you know? And so I do think I agree with you that I think as dads, we can get depressed or maybe depressed may not be the best word. Or we have mild depressions or anxieties or or loneliness, trying to figure out how we navigate this thing as dads, especially, we feel like our dad was not a good one or if we felt like he wasn’t around, he was an absent father. So so I think is important, that’s what makes the mentor so, so important to have someone there that can help us walk through it, you know, so, so that’s really important. So that so my depression was real. I learned some things, I’m still learning, but it was, I think, coming out of it and my counselor says, you’re still working through parts of it. I think I’m a little bit nicer. I’m less caught up on the external stuff of success. But you know what’s fascinating? I think he had to kill some stuff in me, so He can give birth to life to some other things. And so like you, in the RV, I’m busier now than I’ve ever been in my life. All that stuff I thought I wanted in 2000and 1995, all things I thought I wanted in 2017, He’s bowing me away. So. So thanks for asking the question.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:29:26] Yeah. And I just, I know sometimes we hear depression, it’s like, well, it’s not me. Because we can picture someone in a place that’s, you know, maybe a certain stereotype around what depression is. For me, it’s been like, some numbing, I find myself just not wanting to go deeper in conversation, like you even saying to that one person, I don’t want to talk about it. Like like this like it’s not a full on, I’ve given up on life, but it’s like, no, it’s a place that is not God’s best. Or He has something really good for you there, but he doesn’t want you to stay there.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:29:57] Right, right, right. Well, you know, and sometimes when we get depressed, we can self-medicate and we can it can become pornography or it can become drugs, alcohol. You become anything to numb what we’re dealing with because we don’t know what it is, we don’t feel normal, but we’re men. We’re told to be Superman, you know, and we’re supposed to just…

Jeff Zaugg: [00:30:18] Pick yourself up. Yeah. 

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:30:19] And there are times as brothers, you know, I need you to come into my life, say, Hey, Clarence, you know, I respect you as an older guy, but it seems to me you’re, are you, can I be there, asking you struggling. Or time sometime okay, Jeff, you know, you have those four beautiful girls, how are you and Michelle doing? Yeah, I think we need that. And we, we owe that to each other as brothers to walk together.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:30:42] And even the perspective of, like, it’s not just about like me, there are people who count on me and and it’s worth going to the hard places. So, I met with my counselor today, so I just believe, and I know you have a counselor, I have a counselor. We say this all the time, that’s one tool, friendships, we’ve talked about, mentors. These are all things that help dads not stay depressed. Any other just examples of like, hey, this might be helpful if you’re feeling some of this area of depression? 

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:31:09] Yeah. And I think the first step is admit, hey, I don’t feel normal. I don’t feel like my real self. And then the thing is, what do you think is cause that? Now if you can do your own self analysis, that’s, that’s good. But a lot of times we can’t. And what happened with that, exactly, I realize, hey, I need help. I’m self-driven. I’m. I’m, you know, I’m short, but I used to could dunk. I mean, I worked really hard because people say I’m too short to dunk. So I’m driven, I’m driven, right?

Jeff Zaugg: [00:31:37] Yes.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:31:38] But I came to a point with this depression that says, you know, I need help. And so my counselor was in Atlanta, and she would call me periodically. She would say she walked on eggshells. I mean, I and but but then she began to help me, I began to listen. And and she she was really good at her craft and God used her. And so when I started coming out of it, the way God is, my next speaking engagement, he says, Well, you know, you have to speak of what I just taught you. I said, you talking about my depression? You know, because you know, that’s, that’s not cool. But I start speaking at this Fatherhood Commission, fatherhood Commission, The Summit. Yeah. You know Steven Kendricks, you know Mr. Temple, all these guys, Jeff Kemp, all these guys. So I’m talking to 150 leaders in the fatherhood movement. Right? And I’m sharing my depression, people went crazy. People were taking pictures of all the slides. People, I mean, Steven Kendricks, said, Clarence, this is good, I’m start taking notes because, you know, he’s feeling crazy. And and it was it was phenomenal. And but it was also freeing.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:32:40] Yes.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:32:41] You know, because sin has this power, in the darkness. But when I when I depressed is not necessarily a sin, but when I share with my brothers and sisters, hey, I’m I’m struggling with this. Then then they were in a position to to love me. If I don’t let people know I’m hurting, they can’t really love me.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:33:00] Yeah, that’s a powerful insight is like if I’m going to fake it and pretend and position so that people think I’ve got it all together, I mean, to me, that’s pride, which is a sin. [00:33:09][9.7]

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:33:10] Well, yeah, yeah.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:33:10] On that side. But, you know, the the the feeling, the waves that come at us of depression, that’s not a sin. It’s, what are we gonna do with it?

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:33:18] Right. Right. 

Jeff Zaugg: [00:33:18] You’ve got to be humble enough to go get help.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:33:20] And the thing with the Christian life, Jeff, from my perspective, we weren’t designed to live it alone. We weren’t designed to live it alone. That’s one reason God, for most of us, gives us a spouse. And then out of that relationship with that spouse, because that spouse is really indirectly representing God to us, if we’re married to a Christian spouse. And then think about, our kids, your talking about dads, our kids come out of the love that the spouse and I give to each other. And that’s why kids born that kind of love are so blessed. You know, that’s was all about so and so if we’re hurting, then my spouse is hurting and may not know it or may know it because you use it pretty intuitive. But then this this hurt that I don’t communicate, it permeates every relationship. So it, so it impacts me and my girls, or if you father of boys, it it impacts that relationship. And you can’t give them all they need at that time because you’re so unintentionally self, you know, assumed with yourself, you know. So, so I think that’s really important as a dad, if you’re listening today, find a really good Christian, biblical counselors is not a sign of weakness. You know, weakness is saying I could do it on my own and we really can’t.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:34:36] Yep. Because hurt people are going to just keep hurting people and.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:34:38] Exactly.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:34:39] That is the ripple effect for, it is either fatherlessness is causing hurts or fathers who are hurt are causing hurt. And there’s a lot of hurt being passed down. 

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:34:46] Well, this guy, Terrence Real, wrote this book, I don’t want to talk about it, it’s not a Christian book. But he talked about this whole idea of passing on a chain of pain. And he talked about his dad passed on his chain of pain to him. And it wasn’t until he got his dad’s story, that filled in the gaps of his life because our kids grew up and don’t have our story, the good, bad and ugly and the ugly when age appropriate. But then it helps them understand why they are the way they are, if not then they’re kind of confused, Why am I this way?

Jeff Zaugg: [00:35:15] Oh, the by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony will overcome. There is that, that’s a that’s our next conversation, we’ll go way deeper. Clarence, is there anything else you wanted to pass along to our dadAWESOME community, today?

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:35:29] Well, yeah, I would. And I hope it didn’t sound self-serving, but this book Choose Greatness that Gary and I did, you know, I’m counseling. Some people bringing their kids to me, sons who battled with depression, teenagers. And so I don’t charge for that because I’m not an expert in that. But I’m just trying to love the kids. And one of things I’ve done, because the kids began and young men began to develop a friendship and trust as I’m listening to them, because they’re not getting lot of people to listen to them, but sometimes here dads don’t know what to do with them. So I told one mother, I said, Please don’t bring your son back, until y’all go through this book, Choose Greatness. I already bought the book, we went to the same church and he came back and he was making great success, anyway, I said, What did reading the book and talking to it with your dad do? He says, Man, I learned stories about my dad, it was so funny, but the closeness between him and his dad, another guy, a father with a son, he said, hey keep writing books, because that book, my son, I went through and it helped. And even today I’m meeting a guy next week, he says, reading that book of my son’s, he said they asked, it generated numerous conversations I never thought we would have. So as guys, going to be dads, I think there’s nothing your son wants more or your daughter wants more than to have your attention, spend time with you. And when you devote their time to them, they’re going to bless you. You’re going to bless them. They’re going to bless your grandchildren or your children to come. So so I so I think it’s a really good tool, it’s simple. There are questions at the end of the book. Gary and I share our stories growing up as teenagers and we’ve had just great success with the book. It’s for young boys, 10-18, but we’ve had kids that’s 8,9 and guys as old as 29, you know, read the book.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:37:15] Kind of the whole span. So the book is Choose Greatness: 11 Wise Decisions that Brave Young Men Make, that you coauthored with Dr. Gary Chapman. Clarence, thank you for bringing up that, because we talked about it two and a half years ago. But it’s funny, I went in another direction with most of our conversation, but I will make sure it’s all linked in the show notes, and that dads can pick this up as a tool.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:37:38] And it’s gender neutral for the most part. So so guys can actually, I spoke at the event Fathers and Daughters, 1800 people and the book sold out because most of that applies to girls too. 

Jeff Zaugg: [00:37:50] Yeah, which I want brave young daughters as well.

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:37:53] yeah. Me too. So, so it’s really important. And and I just want to say, Jeff, I appreciate your commitment to fathering, because there are a lot of people talking about fathering, but I really appreciate your commitment and really reaching where guys live. You know, a lot of times we don’t talk about depression in fatherhood, we don’t talk about fear of being a dad, we don’t talk about being overwhelmed. And I think what you do, does that. So I really appreciate that.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:38:17] Thank you. Well, this will be, this is the second, of what will be many future conversations. So, grateful for you. Would you say a short prayer for all the dads listening?

Dr. Clarence Shuler: [00:38:25] Hey Father, I just thank you for your love for us. I thank you, Lord, for making each father so unique with your DNA. And Father, I prayed, every father listening will realize or father to be, who’s listening, that because you love us, you wanted us. That because you gave us your DNA, we have value, we have purpose, we have a Godly destiny. So, Lord, help us to understand self worth, not self worship. Lord, let us walk in the power of who you called us to be. It’s not going to be perfect, but you’re perfect and so we’re going to lean on you. So God bless these men, bless their marriages, if they aren’t married, pray for single dads, as well. Lord, bless these families and the young children and adult children that are be parented by the men listening. In your name I pray, Father. Amen.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:39:12] Thank you so much for joining us for Episode 256 with Dr. Clarence Shuler. All the conversation notes and links to his three books, that we mentioned in the conversation, are all going to be at dadAWESOME.org/256. As I mentioned, in the introduction, we are inviting, over the next month here, as we’re approaching our five year celebration as a podcast, we’re inviting you guys to make a donation to give to dadAWESOME, dadAWESOME.org/give. Inviting you to send me an email, jeff@dadawesome.org. Send me an email with a photo of your family and just any short encouragement of ways that dadAWESOME has been helpful. Anything you’ve put into action, any ways that this ministry has helped affect and encourage your dad life. And then third is share on social media. Simply share dadAWESOME.org on your Instagram or Facebook or other platforms, encourage others to check out the ministry. Thanks so much guys for taking one of those three steps over the next month here. Thanks for choosing to add life to the dad life. Have a great week with your kids.