SUMMARY: Being a father is a challenging calling and role, but it can be very fulfilling as we become more strategic. In this Resolute Podcast, Vince Miller interviews the president and founder of Heart of the Warrior Ministries, Greg Bourgond as we hear his perspective on how to become more strategic in our role as fathers and adaptable to each of their children at each stage of their development.
Vince: This is Resolute, and the Resolute Podcast – where we make men better. I am Vince Miller, your host. And today we are starting a new series entitled, “Strategic Fathering.” And today we’re discussing the topic of how to become a strategic father.
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Today we are joined by Doctor Greg Bourgond. He is president and founder of Heart of a Warrior Ministries, located in Minnesota. He holds previous experience, including 10 years in the defense industry and commercial business – and over 18 years in various ministry positions throughout the country. Greg serves as a consultant and teacher in the areas of leadership formation and personal spiritual development. And recently I was at a conference, heard Doctor Greg Bourgond speak, and was moved by his address on strategic fathering.
Today we’re going to look at this message of strategic fathering, and how we ourselves, men can become more strategic as a parent in our family. Well Greg, welcome back to the show again. One of the things that I’ve appreciated about you, Greg – is that God has called you into multiple phases of fathering in your life. I know that you have spent time fathering your own children, but that you’ve also helped with fathering and parenting some of your grandchildren – stepping in as dad to them.
I want to dig into this topic of strategic fathering, because I – I know that you’ve learned quite a few lessons now, having been in the game as a father over the years. And guys like me, that didn’t really grow up with a – with a father in the home, or at least one that was present to us – are often challenged as Christian men to know what that looks like. So you talk about strategic fathering. Can you just tell us for a minute what it means to be a strategic father?
Greg: Well most fathers today are fathers tactically. Which means that they respond to the immediate circumstance at the moment. Oftentimes without giving any thought to its strategic implications. A strategist sees the whole battlefield and understands what the dynamics are, and how to engage those dynamics for an ultimate objective. So for me, strategic fathering is having an ultimate objective.
And my ultimate objective as a strategic father is to teach my daughter – or my 4 grandsons, who we’re raising – how to navigate an ever darkening world. To find what true north is and Jesus Christ. Because they’re going to be battered by the world. They’re going to hear all kind of ideologies and philosophies on how to manage themselves in the world. I want to make sure that I give them a strategic perspective of what they can expect.
So a strategic father looks out into the future all the time. He’s looking for trend lines in what he sees in his children so that he can mediate their, their journey going forward. Sometimes it means small corrections. At other times it means seizing that teachable moment to illustrate a point – either in something you are observing together, or something that they’ve endured at school or whatever it might be. But having the strategic perspective to know what the ultimate objective is – to teach them how to navigate an ever darkening world, and to make sure that their internal compass is pointed at true north so that they can find their way long after you’re gone.
Vince: Okay, so I’m hearing it has something to do with a long view. I’m hearing that it has something to do with capturing teachable moments. It has something to do with forming a young man or a young woman’s character. Now can I – I just want to make an observation about this. This is a very, very hard, changing job – right? It’s – it’s always moving, it’s always changing. And I know that as a guy who didn’t grow up in a home necessarily with a biological father there with me all the time, it can be very hard to traverse without that guide.
And for me – who, I am a father. I have 3 teenage children. I – I find that my job is very challenging sometimes because it’s really moment to moment. Yet you still have to lift my – I still have to lift my head up enough to see the long view of what I want for my kids.
Vince: Do you think that parenting today as a father is more difficult than it used to be?
Greg: Yeah I do. And the reason that I do is that of all they’re exposed to from a variety of, of sources. Whether it’s their friends or it’s the internet or it’s media. They just get bombarded with all of these messages. And if you don’t give them the tools to be able to properly interpret the message – and then to bounce it against what you know to be biblically accurate – they’re going to get lost in the midst of that.
One way in which I tried to be a strategic father with my – my grandsons, is – at a very early age, that I gave them values. For instance, Brayden – who is now 19 years old – his values were strength and honor. Kieran, who is now 17 – I gave him the values of courage and strength. And for – courage and valor. And for Gaylen, it was goodness and integrity. And Lachlan was truth and honor.
Now why did I do that? First of all, when they were young – they didn’t know what that meant. They just thought it was a kinda neat way that Papa addressed them. Because I’d always address them with their values. I’d say, “Hello Brayden, strength, and honor.” Or when they went to bed at night, I’d say, “Goodnight Kieren, courage and valor.” And I waited for that teachable moment.
I’ll give you an example of a teachable moment. Brayden was in preschool at the – we had a preschool at the seminary that I attended. And I got called by the director one day. And said, “I need to talk to you about your grandson.” And I thought – like any other would, “He’s in trouble, he must’ve cold 07:24 clocked somebody on the playground or done something wrong.” That was my thought. So to make matters worse, when I got there – she invited me into her office. And I thought, “Oh no, what did he do?”
And she says, “I need to tell you about what took place on the playground.” And says, “Your, your grandson, Brayden is very popular. Everybody loves to play with him. But he noticed that they weren’t playing with this little girl. And he stood up in front of his friends, and says, “I’m not going to play with you until you play with her.” Well I got all puffed up and proud, and so we got in the car and I’m driving him home.
And I’m looking in the rear view mirror, and I said, “What happened on the playground today, Brayden?” So, so he told me. And I said, “Son, what you did took strength, and you did the honorable thing.” And that was the teachable moment. All of a sudden her connected this term of endearment, of these values that I gave him. This unique way in which we greeted each other – to something concrete. And to this day, he’ll say to me, “Papa, can I tell you about the honorable thing I did this week?” I say, “Yeah, as long as you tell me about the dishonorable stuff you did too.”
But there was the connection. So I’ve done that with every one of my grandsons. That’s being strategic. Because I knew this. That every decision that they would make in life is going to be processed through the filter of a value. The hills you’re prepared to die for, the principles you intend to live by. And so I knew that if I – I established that strategically at a young age – and it’s never too late to begin doing this, by the way. That we’d be able to go ahead and nurture it in their life, so that when they have to make decisions and I’m not around – they’ll be able to make the right decision because they’re going to constantly think of those values. So that’s what it means to be strategic.
Vince: Okay so you just – you just challenged me in – I think a very important way. And I think some of the young fathers that are listening today really need to pay attention to what you just said. Because there’s something strategic that has that really long view that says, “I’m going to way back here when they’re young, start to impart these concepts and these ideas and these images – to my sons, to my daughters, so that they can capture the meaning of this over a lifetime.” And as soon as soon as you said that, I felt a little bit of a deficit in my own life as if I’ve missed the moments. But yet, there’s still hope to fuse these things together, I believe.
Greg: Well yeah, not only that – but here’s what’ll have a greater impact on your children than anything else. They’ll probably forget 90% of what you tell them. But they won’t forget how you lived. If you live a Godly life, that is the gift that will keep giving. You’re living it – right out in front of it. I mean, it doesn’t mean that you make the right decision every day, or you don’t have some off days or some struggles that you’re dealing with. But when they see you proactively trying to live a Godly life – against the culture, against the backdrop of the culture in which we live – that takes root.
And so living a Godly life will go much further in training our children, than just about anything we will say. When you do live a Godly life, and it’s consistent and it’s congruent – then what you say matters to them. But until they see the correlation, they won’t phrase it this way – but until they see the correlation with what you – how you live, and then with what you say – it doesn’t click for them. Because they’re visual. They’re going to pick up on how you live your life.
Vince: Yeah, speaking of – of how we live our life, I– I’m always challenged Greg, by digging into God’s word, and then discovering that we – we don’t have a lot of really solid examples in the Bible of parents. I mean I’ve heard you talk about people like Samuel, Eli, David – and they – they had some failed moments as fathers with their children. And yet, there’s something about the challenge of parenting – even for great men, that’s very difficult.
I sometimes – when I, when I hear something like this – like being a strategic father – I may be tempted to think of myself as a failure in areas, but I can still be aiming — Aiming for Godliness in my own life, and aiming for Godliness in my children’s lives. So what – what do you think would be a challenge for the fathers out there today, in the face of the failures that they sometimes face regarding strategic parenting? What would you say to those guys today?
Greg: Well, first of all – when you take a look at these biblical characters that– Replete with examples of poor fathering. I think it was inspired for the Lord to put that in his word. Because oftentimes, you’re going to learn a lot from what not to do – than from what you’re being declared to do. And so when you look at the lives of these giants of a faith – and understand that there are some frailties there, and there are some weaknesses there – well it doesn’t mean that you can’t make those corrections yourself. So you can learn what not to do by just spending some time in these biographies of these, of these giants.
For the men that are listening, one thing I want to clarify for you – it’s easy to be defeated as a father. It’s easy to go ahead when you’re confronted with a child about some parameter that you set, some rule that you’ve made – and you get the backlash to capitulate and fold. And then to feel like you’re a failure. But the idea is this. The enemy always wants to bring you to the failures of your past. God wants to bring you to the victory of your future, and the battle is in the present. For God is God, and Satan is not.
So if you’re constantly reminded of your failures, that’s not of God. Don’t allow that to deter you. Don’t allow that to step back from the obligation and responsibility and the privilege we have to be a strategic father in the lives of our children. Because that’s just what the enemy wants. So if you’re constantly reminded of those failures, that’s not of the Lord. Because he says in several scriptures that he has cast that behind him. The idea is to remember that he wants to bring you to the victory of your future, and the struggle is in the present.
Vince: That’s good.
Greg: So it’s one step at a time. It’s not putting together a whole strategic plan on how you’re going to manage your family. It’s engaging the moment with the future in view.
Vince: That’s it. I love that, Greg. And in fact, as I sit here and talk you to you, I’m – I’m realizing that we really all have a father, and he’s a very healthy one. And he loves us perfectly. And all we really have to do is to model our parenting after the way that our father has parented us.
Vince: And deeply trust in him. So guys, thanks for listening today. That’s the show. And we hope that you will lean in today to what it means to be a strategic father in your world. With your kids, your sons, your daughters – and even your grandchildren. Strategically parent them. Keep the long view – and take the time to turn every moment that you can into a teachable moment that guides them along the way, and be the father to them that God has been to you.
Well, that’s the show. Thanks for listening. Gentlemen as we close, I want to remind you that none of this would be possible without you. Your prayers, your financial support, and your encouragement keep us going. Therefore we would be honored to have you consider a monthly donation to Resolute. Even a small gift makes a huge difference for men around the country. If you would like to share a gift with our organization, just head to the website – beresolute.org. Click the word “store” on the menu bar, and then “select donation.” All gifts to this organization are tax-deductible.
And I hope that you enjoyed this podcast, but please know that the time that we spent together today is worthless, unless you act on it. So do something today by getting off the bench, and into the game. And I will see you right back here next time on the Resolute Podcast.