Episode 264 Transcript (Larry Ross & Harrison Ross: Part 2)

Episode 264 (Larry Ross & Harrison Ross: Part 2)

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: [00:00:38] Hey guys. Welcome back to dadAWESOME! Today, episode 264, is the second half of my conversation with Larry Ross and his son, Harrison Ross. Once in a while I’ll reach out to someone, in this case, it was my uncle’s college roommate, Larry Ross, who directly served and worked with Billy Graham for three decades doing public relations PR work with leaders all over all around the globe. It’s, you know, many of the major movements in the Christian faith, The leadership have looked to Larry Ross for advice. And my uncle’s like, he is an intentional dad. You’ve got to reach to Larry Ross. So I reached to him and he said, What if you include my son Harrison? I love it when a guest says, I want to offer you another perspective, not just mine, in how I walked out this fatherhood journey, but bring in my son. Well, we left off last week’s conversation with Harrison, explaining a very courageous conversation that Larry had coming and repenting and asking for forgiveness. And today, we’re going to jump in and take that forward towards the healing step that that forgiveness moment led forward with Harrison actually experiencing freedom, forgiveness that’s changing everything. So I’m going to jump right into this is the second half of my conversation. If you missed last week, definitely hit pause, go back and listen to episode 263. But here we go, episode 264, the second half of my conversation with Harrison Ross and his dad, Larry Ross. The gift forward and the acceleration because of the age of your kids, you’re able to walk in some of this healing, is so tangible hearing you guys explain this that did, though, the forgiveness moment led you to a journey of a number of years that led to some of the some some of the heart work yourself. Could you take it a bigger step?

Harrison Ross: [00:02:34] Yes. So so my dad went five years ago and he and my father in law, also, went through it. And so it was cool to see both of their and brother in law, both of their experiences was always tucked away of like, wow, that would be cool. And over the last year, the Lord had just brought some some points of pain in my life, and I was sharing it with my mom. And she was like, We got to get you through this thing. And I was like, Whatever, I don’t, and they were like, Hey, we we want to get you there. We’ll cover the whole thing. We want to get ya. And so I, I applied in January of 2022 and and I was really wrestling through stuff in my ministry, really searching for direction and clarity and in a lot of, so my dad and I went through a lot of healing, and like forgiveness and working through those things and continuing those conversations. But I was working through my own wrestling of here I watched my dad go through work addiction and not be home, but I’m wrestling with my kids are at the same age I was when he went to rehab the first time, and I’m doing the same thing to them. I think I’m “present to them” but I’m giving my best to everyone else and not to them. And so I thought I was going to go to this men’s retreat to really work through my clarity and vision for what would be ahead. But what God had for me instead was my own heart and identity as a man and really Father wound, that was even deeper things that we’d faced, but things that I never really saw the the deeper impact. And to find not just forgiveness in him, but forgiveness in me. And the biggest things that God had showed me as I was living in such deep insecurity that I felt and I knew, but I didn’t know why that I was to experience the same quote track, but to to allow God to tailor that to my heart and and to build upon what he did in my dad and did in us and to to help bring freedom in my life, to not now have to live in the insecurity of drawing strength from my family or drawing strength from trying to lead my family or lead others or or drawing strength from my wife or from my kids. I was living in such insecurity, I was looking for everyone and everyone, everything and everyone else to give me strength and identity. And I didn’t know and I thought I was I was, you know, just loving the Lord and loving people. But I what the Lord, the gift he had for me is here, Harrison, I’ve bestowed my strength on you. I’ve imparted that to you. I’ve given it to you. You are my son. And that’s what my Heavenly Father was speaking into me. And, and then to come back with with those those areas of small child woundedness where I felt like my dad was not there, where he was going to do all these things for ministry and to do that not with this chip on my shoulder, but already at a place of healing and to then continue that healing, was was really, really sweet. And both for us and what I said to him recently is, dad, I’m 34 years old and I think to my shame, I’ve lived a lot of my life trying to not be you. I even have people in college that would go like, Dude I just watched you stand and talk to those people and you looked like A. Larry Ross. And to my shame, there were a couple of times where I was like, Don’t tell me that. And as a 34 year old man, I’m finally at a place, again, to my shame, but where I want to learn from you and I want to not just glean things from afar, but to sit at your feet, as your son, to learn from the man that God has made you to be recreated you to be, so that I can continue to pass that on to my kids. And so it’s been sweet to watch God reconcile that. The specific story that the Lord the Lord used your name a lot for you at ORW, but we spent a lot of time looking at what are those core memories. And mine for me, I have an amazing dad who’s an amazing minister of the gospel and servant of the King, but a memory emblazoned in my head is I was I was seven or eight years old and it was my brother’s birthday, my brother’s two years younger than me, and we have a tradition in our family where we get breakfast in bed, and so we all go in for breakfast in bed. And my dad was out doing something for Billy Graham. And so I went in his closet and in my head I remember putting on his suit, his suit coat, I think it was maybe his robe. And I came into the room so that my dad could be home. I came in as my dad, but my brother remembers it as this, like, memory of like, Oh, man, Harrison, you loved me and you were there for me. And you, you did that to strengthen me. And I remember it with a lot of pain. And I see it in almost in third person. And of of this memory of where I almost had to carry the mantle of the family. And I did not know that is what continued, I continued to carry that. To think I had to be strong for my family. I had to be strong for me. I had to be strong for everybody. And it was really sweet through this ministry for for them to just sit with me. And they just asked, Hey, when you look at that memory, where is Jesus? That’s what they asked. And I just was like, He’s not there. They said, Yes, he is. He’s omnipresent. He’s always there. Where is he? And as I as I recollected and was thinking through that memory was so sweet to watch Jesus wearing my dad’s coat. Bearing this weight that I had borne for so long. Wearing that with me, bearing my burdens. And and through that moment, just giving me freedom to lay that at his feet and to not just feel like I have to wear my dad’s clothes, but now to be clothed in the goodness and grace of my heavenly Father, clothed in his humility and righteousness, and to walk in his ways. And so it’s just been really sweet to watch the Lord redeem those moments and bring us closer together.

Larry Ross: [00:09:08] And if I could just say the pain of knowing that it’s one thing to hear people talk about father wounds, but when you’re the father and they’re talking about one and you go, Wow, I did that, and not intentionally, but it that cause effect is there anyway nonetheless. And and seeing, as Harrison has described, we don’t really talk about it but I observed him, there’s an old Jim Croce song, I think it’s Jim Croce, The cat’s in the Cradle. And I don’t know if I’m dating myself by talking about that, but it talks about the recreating the very things you don’t like in your parents and doing it to your own kids. And so to watch him caretaking and compensating and trying to work that out, it’s painful to watch, knowing that that’s a lot of a lot of it was due to my own inadequacy in his childhood. So to hear him able to deal with that at ORW and then share even what you felt God was naming you to be, to grow into the power and strength you have in ministry. Letting God do that through you rather than feeling the need to do it. Because that same caretaking that he mentioned is what I had to do when I, I checked out for a while to deal with this. My whole approach to life and work and balance and my family came and spent a week and walking through that together. And I was in recovery, if you will, from this work addiction. And my dad, I remember getting up and saying, well, when he came, he looked at recovery as like an old sofa that they had that they had recovered, putting new fabric over an old piece of furniture. And he said, But what I realized is it’s recovery in finding a sofa that was lost and now it’s found. It’s not recovering it. It’s recovering in that we got it back. And one of the things I had to realize was no one was there for little Larry. My dad didn’t show up at ballgames. I was an orphan, if you will. And one of the things I did for years is I put a picture of me at seven or eight years old in the mirror of my bathroom and whenever I I needed to I would I would I would be a father to little Larry and taking him along with me and wherever I was going. And that’s what I wasn’t able to do, even for my own kids early on, because no one did it for me. So to have that be able to come together and realize that healing and now having a chance to do it with the grandkids is is a special thing.

Harrison Ross: [00:12:01] And what’s been really sweet is to watch chains be broken from generational sin. And it almost seems extreme to call it sin. You know, we tend to categorize sin as your mind just goes to these crazy explicit things. But I think there was a sin of passivity in both sides of our family. And it’s sin. It is the sin of the garden. And it’s it is more destructive than some of those explicit things because it’s a sin of the heart. And I’ve watched I’ve watched those chains not only break in my dad, but in my own life. And I think then that will have resounding impact, exponential impact on our family and and, Dad, it started with you. With with you even 25 years ago, being willing to raise your hand to say, I need help and I’m not okay and I don’t have to prove myself. I don’t have to figure this out myself and to be broken. And and it gave me freedom to be broken. I was a porn addict for 12 years, like every day, could not go to sleep without looking at it. And I hid, and I hid from you even as an addict, and in wanting to to be free. And then I got to come to my dad in college and just go, you don’t know this about me, but I’m dying,. I need help. And and so it’s been sweet to watch the Lord continue to bring us together in our brokenness as as the point of healing and health. And because of your willingness to stare your dragons in the face and to bring them to the feet of Jesus and allow him to speak identity into you, that’s given me that courage, that’s allowed me to do the work that I need to. And again, my my kids, a friend of mine, said this to me a few months ago, he said, What a gift that your kids will not know the man that you were, Harrison, or the man that your dad was, Larry. Because all they’re going to know now is a life of health and flourishing. We’re still sinful, we’re still broken, but we get to continue to move towards that together. And that’s that’s going to make an impact on our family, on our community, on any every relationship that we have because of your humility and willing to do that, which is sweet.

Larry Ross: [00:14:25] We both addressed a personal pathology, I don’t know if it’s contagious or genetic or whatever, but are you familiar with the Myers-Briggs test?

Jeff Zaugg: [00:14:35] Absolutely.

Larry Ross: [00:14:35] So, I don’t know, 10, 12 years ago, I had I spent three days with a fellow who that’s his he’s a life coach, if you will. Just trying to put a lot of this in perspective. And I did the personality test. It’s 200 random weird questions. I’m I’m an intuitive guy and so I’m trying to figure out what do they ask, What answer do they want here, which they tell you not to do, but I couldn’t help not doing it. Anyway, the next morning I meet with him and he said, Larry, I’m doing this for ten years and you’re an anomaly, I don’t know what to do. He said, I, you are off the charts, introvert. You are off the charts extrovert. You’re at the extreme on both ends of the scale, the same person. He said, I’ve never I’ve never seen that before. But he said, I prayed about it, I was up half the night trying to figure out how to do this. And then he said, I want you to sign your name. So I signed my name, when I was in 10th grade, I was bored in class and I thought, if I’m ever famous, I’m going to develop a signature so I can put it on baseballs or, you know, books or, you know, so I developed this cool signature. But actually my handwriting is arrested in the sixth grade. I had an art teacher in seventh grade to use block printing, so I block print everything. And now my handwriting, I can’t read anymore, but it does remind me what I was thinking at the time. But anyway, no cursive writing since sixth grade. So but I did do my signature in a it’s a crazy thing. So then he said, okay, now I want you to sign your name with your left hand. And because I’m not used to writing on my left hand, it’s painstakingly cursive writing. It’s a writing, I could show you right now, it’s a sixth graders handwriting. He said, I got it. He said, You are an introvert by nature, but you’re an extrovert, by nurture. I had to care take everybody in my life because they weren’t taking responsibility for theirs. And it’s exhausting. And I did it into my career. Caretaking. Dr. Graham during the televangelist scandals of the eighties, trying to protect him in the media and and because he there was nothing to protect but just trying to keep him getting dragged into that and everything else in between. And Harrison I we’ve talked about how he felt the tendency to do the same thing. And to now just be able to live in the moment and be authentic. And it’s truly a gift. And the being able to be present in the moment, not thinking about the next whatever, whatever it is we have to do or where I have to go.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:17:11] Larry, Harrison, this your story, your shared story and what God has done, individually, is a story of courage. We we chatted earlier about a basketball coach and coaching our kids versus putting courage, instilling courage into them encouragement. And it looks in every different person, it’s going to look in a different shapes and sizes, what does courage look like? But a journey of courage, of healing, of hearing God’s voice, of experiencing being a Son of God, of the courageous step to repentance. I believe when a dad walks a journey of courage, no matter where they’re at right now, takes the courageous next step it sets up, courage will still be hard at every stage, it’s hard to step into being courageous, but like the set up for future courageous acts. That’s what ripple effects freedom, like the ripple effect of freedom, the washing of freedom forward for your kids to not know that old dad. Not know that old grandpa. Your story is powerful. I’m very grateful to get just a sliver, a little window into your story today. I wanted to ask, Harrison, if you had anything else that was just like, Oh, this is on my heart to share with the dads listening. And then, Larry, going to have you pray for us to kind of close our time. So, anything else to share, Harrison?

Harrison Ross: [00:18:36] Yeah, man, along those lines of speaking courage into it, I think something that I’m learning is masculinity is is bestowed, it’s not just found. And I think the same is true of femininity. And the job of a dad is to speak life into our kids, to model it, which a lot of times many dads are not living it. They’re living something different than they’re saying. And so their kids won’t listen because they’re not seeing it. But it is chiefly to to speak life and to model life. And so because of my dad’s courage and repentance, I got to come home and repent to my wife, just say, hey, not only have I been living this too model for my kids and my own dadhood, but that’s had an impact on you as my my co laborer in the gospel for our family and to just go, man, here’s where I’ve not been loving and leading you. And so I think the other half, if not more than half of the equation of being a great dad is to be a great husband first and to leave our wives in such a way that we model for our our sons the the way to love their bride, in the future, or to love our our daughters in such a way that they will see, that’s the kind of man that I want. And to impart that into him in what we model. But the other is to to speak life into them in and so we from the ORW, Operation Restored Warrior, they gave us a ring and just as a as a symbol on this ring are some wings, like the paratrooper symbol, but they they use they signify Isaiah 40 “that those who wait for the Lord will mount up on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. And then in the middle of it is a sword. And what they they speak into these veterans is you’re a warrior. You went and you tried to go battle for all these things to run away from your pain, but now because because of who you are in Christ, your identity as a man is to go fight back the powers of darkness and to bring the glory of God into this world. You are a warrior. And so I wear that on my finger. And my my dad has a ring, too. And as I’ve come home now with this fist bump, this strength that I feel like God’s given me, it is my job to impart that and to bestow that into my kids. And so we’ll go on a run or we’ll do, you know, hard things together and afterwards I will get them one by one and I’ll kneel down because they’re young, they’re seven, five, four and my daughters two and I and I looked him in the face, and what I take his my my ring, I stamp it on their hand and I look him in the face and I say, You’re a warrior, you’re strong. You why we work out is to pull out the strength that God’s given us, that what God has already placed in us, we pull it out so that we’re ready to love and serve others. And God’s given you this strength so that that’s what you can do. You’re a servant and you’re an encourager of others. And I speak that in to them of how I saw them give courage on the run or how I saw them being encourager to their brother or sister, and I stamp it in them so it marks their hand. But I hope more it marks their heart of what they hear their dad think of them, and to speak that into them. And then my my little girl’s two, she goes, I want warrior. So, I stamp her and I say, You are a warrior. God’s given you beauty that He’s bestowed on you. You are valuable and God’s giving you that beauty to put His beauty on display and to then speak that into others as you encourage them and come alongside them. And so that’s been a really sweet gift in a way that I intentionally will speak that over them, whether they’re going to school or we’re just hanging out. And and then the last thing I would say is, in my own journey, the Lord brought me to a place, where in my own wrestling, he brought me to a crossroads of am I going to trust him? Am I going to take the courage to walk in his ways or to just still keep gritting and grinding? And my wife and I moved two years ago to plant the church here in the Dallas, Metroplex, just east of it. And and we felt that’s what the Lord was calling us to do. And we were excited about it, and we were knee deep in it. And this summer, the Lord asked me to step away and to walk away from that, because that’s just what he was asking us to do. I had not been giving my best to my family, so anybody can pastor that church, but I’m the only one that can be a husband to my bride and a father to my kids. And and I was reading as a minister of the gospel, I’m a pastor and I’m I’m wrestling with what God would have me do and I am reading the Ephesians 5, husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for her and I, and it hit me, I had been trying to love his church by laying my life down for it, but I had not been doing that for my wife. And I’m called to love my bride by giving up my life for her because he’s already given up his life for his church. And so it’s given me a new perspective for my family, my role as a dad and as a husband to lay my life on the line, whatever it takes. Not for my career, not even for my spiritual output, but for their life, for what God’s going to do in them. And so it’s been sweet to see God teach that in me and blessed that as we walk with Him.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:24:16] Huge courage to take that move. And the story is unfinished. As far as where God’s going to lead you next. 

Harrison Ross: [00:24:21] Yeah. We’re still in transition and waiting on the Lord.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:24:24] Yeah. Praying for you and cheering for you. Thanks for sharing that part of your story. Larry, any last thoughts before you pray over all of us?

Larry Ross: [00:24:31] Yeah, our former Pastor, Pete Briscoe, son of Stuart and Jill Briscoe, would say famously, his definitions, definition of success is when the people who know you best, love you most. And I would just encourage anybody listening to this podcast today that you aren’t what you do. I remember going to my 10th or 20th college reunion, and everybody, even people I knew very well, the first question was, what do you do? And and I was reminded of a Peanuts cartoon, you know, four frames. The first frame, he’s in front of Lucy, the psychiatrist, the S, backwards S, the psychiatrist is in, and she’s pontificating Charlie Brown, each of us is like a deck chair on the cruise ship of life. And next frame, she says, some people have their chair facing forward, they see where they’re going. Other people facing backwards so they can see where they’ve been in the third frame, she says, Which way is your frame facing or chair facing, Charlie Brown? And he’s got a befuddled book on his face. And the fourth frame, he says, I can’t even get mine unfolded. And whether or not you’re facing forward or backward, you can’t get your chair unfolded because our culture says you are what you do. If you’re where God wants you to be, or what’s really blessed me in these last four, six months is watching Harrison wait on the Lord. He really has God told him to wait, whatever the season is, putting long term viability ahead of short term expediency. And that’s a hard thing to do, particularly as a dad and in provide for his family. So I’ve been really proud of you on that and it’s really blessed me to see you waiting on the Lord. And, you know, I want to also piggyback on what he just said about his his his wife, because that truly is before each of us were able to have this conversation, we had to repent with our wives. I was taking my wife, similarly for granted, and with the Eldridge thing, she’s our beauty, we have to rescue the beauty. And I realized that she’s a, my wife is a beast. She climbs mountains all over the world to raise money and awareness for fighting sex trafficking. The first one was 11 years ago to the base camp of Mount Everest. She did 13 days in the camping out in the snow, what I did in 13 minutes, taking a helicopter up there. My momma didn’t raise no fool. But she she’s an amazing woman and I’m just grateful for her and her, she’s a prayer warrior, and the same is true for Harrison. But we it starts with our wives being able to really recalibrate that relationship and then with our children, and I think that I had an amazing experience with my dad in 91, I took him, he’s, we’re Scottish by heritage, took him back to the Crusade, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and he spent three days at the House of Records in Edinburgh researching our genealogy, and he found a two room farmhouse that my great, great, great, great, 4 greats grandfather was born in 1823. His dad was a games keeper on a distillery and we had a chance, with the family, to go up and find that in 2000 and near Inverness. And, you know, it’s it’s a wonderful thing to know where you’re from, but it’s more important to know where you’re going. And for those of your listeners who do know the Lord, I just encourage you to carry on in your faith and be authentic in what God is saying and speaking to you. But if you don’t, a lot of what we’re talking about here today presumes a relationship with with God through Jesus. And it is something that is possible and it’s accessible. You know, the show, The Chosen, every scene with Jesus, they use four words to describe their Jesus, he’s authentic, intimate, playful and disruptive, and you can have a relationship with the God of the universe through his son Jesus. And if you don’t know Him, He will find you and if he has to be disruptive, it may be through some tragedy in your life that’ll get your attention. But hopefully something we’ve said would inspire someone to go deeper. Because I know from my own experience, if I could just share briefly my testimony. I traveled around the world with Billy Graham for, at the time, 27 years in In Crusade evangelism, writing press releases read by tens of millions of people. But I wasn’t in personal ministry, relational ministry with anybody. And it was then that I met Jesus. I thought I knew Jesus, but I was doing Jesus. Jesus was a construct to be to be marketed, if you will. You know, it was a the gospel was a doctrine to be memorized, it was a debate to be won, my religion can beat up your religion. But I had a friend who pulled me aside and helped me understand the gospel is Jesus. And my whole life, my career has been to suit up and show up and live, the mantra has been to suit up and show up and let God do the rest. And I’ve added a third one recently, and that’s lift up the name of Jesus. And that’s something that I am so, so proud and have observed, my son, Harrison does by default. He lifts up Jesus everywhere he goes. And he, first of all, does it through his life and modeling that at home. And secondly, and every where he goes, what he does. And so it’s just a privilege to serve, serve the Lord in our work. There’s nothing wrong with selling soap. I had a secular career before I got involved in Christian communications, but when the product is changed lives, it makes it a lot easier to get up in the morning. And I just want to thank you, Jeff, for what you’re doing to challenge men to to really see the responsibility and the opportunity they have as fathers. And if you’re not yet a father, you may one day be one. And to show you how this works, I just want to say that you maybe you’ve thought about this, this podcast was 47 years in the making because we met through your Uncle Scott, who was a former roommate of mine. College 48 to 50 years ago. I’m older than dirt, so anyway, i’ll shout out to your your Uncle Scott, Dr. Nyquist, my old college buddy, for connecting us together. And thank you for coming through here with your family and your RV tour. We’re honored that you’d spend your morning with us and this opportunity so.

Harrison Ross: [00:31:28] Well, Dad, before you pray, something that has been a huge blessing for my family that my wife and I do every morning. And as a dad, you said it, dad, I can’t I can’t be a dad without my wife, who’s an unbelievable mom and who deals with my idiosyncrasies, but but speaks life into them. I could not be the man and dad I was without my wife and the mom that she is. It’s the greatest privilege I have is to watch her be a mom. And it’s sweet, but a resource we came across, stumbled across, so framed, in a friend of mine’s house called the Breakfast Benediction. And I don’t know where it comes from, but we’ve spoken a lot this morning about identity and doing, but of being rooted in who we are as men so that we can impart that into others. And we say this every morning over our kids. I say it out loud and they repeat it and now they know it well enough, they just say it themselves, even my two year old. And so I just want to speak it over anyone who’s listening. It says I’m not what I do, I’m not what I have, I’m not what other people say about me. I am the beloved of God. That’s who I am. And no one can take that away from me. I don’t have to hurry. I don’t have to worry. I can trust my friend Jesus and share His love with the world. And when I read that, I wept because that’s not how I lived. And it has become such a piece of poetic portrayal of what’s rooted in scripture. And it’s true of me as a as a recreated, redeemed follower of Jesus to say out loud, to remind myself every day, but to then also speak into my kids has been just a lens for our family to think through as we start our day to intentionally both parent them but live under the discipleship of Jesus as we walk with our Heavenly Father at the same time.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:33:27] Thank you.

Larry Ross: [00:33:28] For my prayer, I think all I need to do is say amen to that benediction.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:33:32] Amen. Thank you so much for joining us this week for episode 264 of dadAWESOME. This second half of my conversation with Larry Ross and his son, Harrison Ross. The conversation notes, the links and just action steps, kind of summaries, show notes, transcripts are all at dadAWESOME.org/264. Guys, thank you for listening today. Thank you for choosing to be dadAWESOME for your kids. It matters, there might not be saying thank you today, but it matters that you’re choosing to pursue mentorship and growth and intentionality. Thank you for adding life to the dad Life. Have a great week.