Seeing a book in print is like seeing your child being born—except that people are generally more lenient in their reviews of your baby. Thanks Eric for your very kind and thorough review last week; you had the book before I did!
This is an interview I did for Shepherd’s Press Publishers to introduce The Home Team: God’s Game Plan for the Family.
What motivated you to write the book?
I dropped into the deep end of ministry while still quite wet behind the ears, at age twenty-nine. I had no kids and had never counseled anyone whose marriage was longer than my own (four years at the time). Suddenly people who had been married for decades and had teenagers in the home were knocking on my door for marriage and parenting advice.
Thankfully I had been trained that the Bible is sufficient for all things pertaining to life and godliness and I realized these folks weren’t really interested in my advice anyway; they wanted God’s wisdom. So, I quickly learned to rely entirely on the word of God as the source of the counsel I gave.
Now that I have been married twelve years and have four kids the only thing that’s changed in my counseling is that I have some stories involving snot and diapers. But my counsel is still only based on the authority and sufficiency of the Bible.
I realized early on that most of the family issues people struggle with start with a break down of the primary unity in the family: the husband and wife “one-flesh” union. I first had to remind them that they are a team, a one-flesh union, and that the problems they face needed to be tackled together. Each spouse is not the problem; the problem is out there and the team needs to address it as a unit.
I also applied the need for unity to the issues that faced children and even situations with in-laws and grandparents. The book is the fruit of what I learned works well in counselling families.
How did you choose to use sport as the theme for the book?
People who know me chuckle when they hear I wrote a “book about sport.” Although I have played many sports in my life—soccer, hockey, rugby, fencing, karate, judo, krav maga, cross-country running, and of course, chess—I am really bad at anything that involves a ball, co-ordination, or sweat (which is why I include chess as a sport).
But the book is not about sport, it’s about family. I like to learn while being entertained, and the world of sports provides a ton of entertaining, interesting, dramatic, and humorous illustrative material to explain the biblical concepts that address family unity. Jesus used parables that involved whatever his listeners were familiar with—farming, weddings, etc.—and today people are familiar with the Olympics and the Super Bowl.
Another reason is that my wife reads a ton of parenting and marriage books, and then passes on to me those she thinks I’d like to read. Men lag notoriously behind women in their interest in books on family. I figured that if a lady read The Home Team, and benefited from it, the sporty stuff could be a “selling point” for her to get her husband or teenager to read it.
I also include illustrations about women in sport too, so it’s not a book for jocks. It’s a book for men and women and children who want to play the positions God has assigned for His game plan for the family.
What concerns do you have about the cultural impact on the biblical family model?
I believe that each generation is faced with the same old sins, but wrapped in different packaging, or what I term “old opponents in new uniforms.” It is the role of Christians from every epoch to discern the times and apply God’s wisdom so that we shape our world and don’t allow our culture to drag us away from God’s standards.
The influence of social media is something I am very interested in. There’s not much written on it from a biblical perspective, but I have seen the damage excessive connectivity can have on the family. For example, families that are fragmented by constant distraction and connection to their work and friends rather than each other. And I have also seen the benefit of using technology as a tool to enhance team unity. For example, parents can be more involved in helping their kids select good friends, and they can use technology to strengthen family bonds…just think of how Skype helps grandparents be in the lives of their grandkids from distant cities.
I think there may be some views I espouse in the book that will be considered controversial to some, but if a reader is careful to see what part of what I am saying is proven by Scripture and what part is just a suggested application, I feel they will benefit from the exercise of thinking, even if they disagree with me. Some issues I address include schooling, the working mom, interfering grandparents, discipline of children, and other prickly subjects. But I believe it is productive for us to be challenged to think through these issues.
What would you change about the book now that it’s in print?
The name on the cover! It was with great trepidation that I penned a book about marriage and parenting. I feel like I painted a target on my kids’ back. I try to practice what I preach, but the theory is easier than the practice. It’s just that I found the material really helpful in my family and in the families of people in our flock, so I hope it will prove helpful to the readers.
Anything you want to add?
I’d like to thank Drs. Tedd and Paul Tripp for their role in getting this book published and their influence in my life, and Shepherd’s Press Publishers who are so committed to making available biblical, gospel-centered family material. I also owe a heartfelt shout-out to Ginger Hubbard, the author of one of my favorite parenting books, Don’t Make Me Count to Three, who kindly read and endorsed the book and Jennifer Strange, the best editor.
Click here to see the book in Amazon.com
Other reviews (not all glowing by any means):