Practical Faith

Well, it’s great to be back down in Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama. I didn’t know that I was in Birmingham though. I’d never left Washington when we were coming down the escalator. They’re just making me feel right at home. You guys know you’re in trouble again. There’s somebody up in front of you saying, “Hi, I’m from Washington DC and I’m here to help you.” But I will tell you, Richard’s name is becoming known in Washington because I give that book out. If some of you are new and you don’t know it, he wrote a book, The True Measure of a Man. Does anybody have one of those things? Do you have one?

Well, I just spoke at the Hilton ballroom to about 800 people last week. We have a high-tech prayer breakfast up there and I open it and play center field for the speaker and close it every year. And I always commend this book to people, but you know, in sales, they used to give you a little training on how to overcome objections. When I say this is the best book I’ve ever given them in The True Measure of a Man, and I say, it’s written by a guy I’ve known since high school Richard Simmons, and at that point they do like that. (Laughter) And I said, no, it’s not that. “Come on. Let’s go. Let’s go.” It’s not that guy. Are you serious? That’s why I told him when they republished it — I think Richard just locally published it to work with men down here; I was having guys in DC that have said, I read that thing five times — and so, I tell Richard when you redo it, you’ve got to get your picture put on the cover so they’ll, but that didn’t help really, until I could explain it.

You know, since I’ve seen you last, we spend a lot of time in Colorado in the summer, my son and I, Tucker and I, we go up fishing a lot at about 12,000 feet in the Rockies. I had an ATV crash. To be honest, I’m just half proud to be here. Cause it could have taken me out. I have a little trout lake that you always catch fish in because up at 12,000, you have to hike in an hour and hike back out an hour and nobody wants to do that. So, if you’re willing to pay that price, you can catch some fish.

Anyway, I told Tucker, I said, you head down the hill and I’ll catch you. And we’ve been doing it our whole life. And I just made a mistake, locked up the front brakes. And it launched me over, I was about 11,000 or 12,000 feet still, over the handlebars — pilots call it compressed time — they’ll go into a 30-second dive and then, but their thought life, they feel like was 20 minutes. It’s compressed time. I got to tell you, going over the handlebars, I had the sad feeling, not terror thinking, what a really dumb way to go out. And I was actually thinking of Christopher Reeves. You know, the guy that played Superman, he just fell off a horse. This seemed worse to me because I knew when I was in the air, I was going to hit in front of that ATV.

And then it was going to run back over me. And that’s what happened. Three local kids found me on the trail and this little country gal said, Mister, I hate to tell you, but your lips hanging down off your face. I didn’t know it. So, I kind of put it back and put my other lip to hold it in place. And I lost all the bottom teeth. I got some fake ones in there now. And, but I tried to not be self-conscious about it. Cause I really couldn’t speak for about a week and a half to groups. The doctor says you’re on the injured reserve list for about a week and a half.

My first one back, there again was about 800 people in the Hilton ballroom. Holly went out — I thought, I have this phobia, these teeth are gonna fall out while I’m talking. She went out and bought me some PolyGrip. And I thought, well, I’ve just gone to the next level. And then I said, honey, I still have the scar that goes all the way from here to here. Should I go back to a plastic surgeon and get him to get rid of the rest of it? She said, no way, baby. She said, that thing is sexy. She said, real men will pay for one of those things.

And so, I’m here and I’m feeling great. I want to recognize a couple of people and then I have some things I want to talk to you about today, boys. One is coach Chris Yeager from the Mountain Brook Spartans. Coach. Would you just stand up so the guys could see you? (Applause)

Chris is one of those coaches like I had in high school. He loves all his boys, and they know he does. So, we’ll be pulling for you. You playing tonight? Who you got? Oxford. Okay. Well, bring us a “W” back to Birmingham and then cheer up, it’ll get worse. You’ve got Hoover the next week if that works out. Then, I’d like to recognize my coach, one of my coaches from high school. One of the things when I come down here every year, I’m just looking to see if he’s still in the audience. So, he made it another year. Coach Snoozy Jones is back there. Coach, could you just please stand up a second?

My coach, Coach Jones, has been nominated for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and he made it and I think they’re going to do the induction; I think you said in May or late spring. Coach, I’m really proud of you. High school. Okay. Well, I’m the speaker. It is what I say it is, coach, because I had enough of your crap a ways back, okay. (Laughter) And that ain’t no joke.

Well, you know, people are always asking about Washington, and I’ll just tell you this, we’ve been there a long time, and I’ve never seen it more divided and more tense. The audiences that I speak to, I used to have to spend about a fifth of my talk time upfront, motivating audiences, trying to wake them up, who I am, why this is important and why you need to listen. And Washington can, they can be a hard audience. I mean, you can have someone with a mic dying of leukemia, crying, sharing, and people would be visiting at their table.

But I will tell you this, since these last couple of years, people are listening like they’ve never been. I don’t even do any motivation stuff upfront because you can see it in the eyes of the audience. I’m a veteran. I’ve done this before. They’re looking at you saying, if you have anything important to tell us, tell us, we’re listening. You know, people just aren’t as cocky as they used to be. Even people that haven’t lost stuff yet are not as cocky when I engage them.

You know, listen to this. “I have had few difficulties, many friends, and great successes. I’ve gone from wife to wife, house to house, visited great countries of the world. I’m fed up with inventing devices to fill up 24 hours in the day.” That was the suicide note of cartoonist. Ralph Barton. “I sit in my home in my house in Buffalo. Sometimes I get so lonely, it’s unbelievable. Life has been good to me. I have money. I have health, but I’m lonely. I’m bored. I often wondered why so many rich people commit suicide. Money sure isn’t a cure-all.” That was OJ Simpson. You know, this last one really astounded me. Elvis Presley, three weeks before he died, one of his best friends asked him, Elvis, you wanted three things when you started out — wealth, fame, and happiness. Elvis said, “Well, I have two out of three, but I’m not happy. I’m lonely as hell.” And he was the king.

Carl Sagan was voted the humanist of the year in the eighties. Do you remember, is that familiar, the name Carl Sagan? If you’re a school child, you’ll know him for sure. His piece called “The Cosmos” was shown in almost every school in our country. For the most part, it still is. Sagan was the guy who came on, and he says, “we live among billions and billions and billions of stars”, but I’ve seen the opening of “The Cosmos”. He’s standing on a beautiful rocky seashore with the waves picturesque crashing into the rocks, and he says this, “The cosmos is all there ever was. The cosmos is all there is. The cosmos is all that ever will be.”

Now, in communications, this is what we call “assumptive language”. Somebody makes a statement. There are huge assumptions behind that statement, but there’s no underlying dialogue to verify the statement that when somebody says, “The cosmos is all there is, all there was, all there is, all that ever will be,” if you look behind that assumptive phrase, what is he really saying? There is no God, never was, never is, never shall be.

You know, the thing that’s kind of disappointing to me, is that I think we’re living in one of the most anti-intellectual ages in the Christian Church in known memory, especially in this country. Most Christians, people who say they’re Christians, are involved with Christian organizations, kind of want a good experience and good feelings, but so few people can articulate the profoundness of the gospel. I mean, it changes all the rules. It actually does. Now, Sagan’s view is this. Picture this was a three-dimensional box, this piece of paper I’m holding up. He said, all there is, is just the energy and matter that’s inside that box. There’s nothing outside of it. And there’s nothing but energy and matter inside. This is basically what we teach kids in public schools.

Well, if you take that a little farther, and it’s called naturalism, the thesis is we come from nothing and we go to nothing, but here’s where they’re intellectually dishonest. They say, but in the middle, you have dignity. Save the whales, have safe sex, be nice in the lunch line, and don’t do drugs. Now, wait a minute. You know, people kind of, kids eventually figure this out. If I come from nothing and I go to nothing, ultimately, what am I in the middle? Nothing. Who gives a crap about the whales? Because when we die, when all this is over, it’ll be like we were never here. And it won’t matter. How do you live a completely meaningless life?

Now I know, I work with men, many who say they would name the name of Christ, but they fall into the second category. They’re really deists. A deist says God created everything in the box. And then He checked out. He’s not involved with anything in the box, and he doesn’t care. We’re kind of on our own after that.

Everybody I’ve ever worked with that would tell me I’m an atheist. I have discovered when I get to work with them in any depth at all, some of the reasons people say that — one is anger, they’ve had a very hurtful experience, so they write it off and they blame God. They just write Him out of their life. The second is pride and that’s a control issue. They just don’t want to submit to anybody so if there’s an almighty God out there, you might have to, he might be the boss and they want to be the boss of their life. The third is there’s usually some moral impurity in their life they’re not willing to give up.

So, to balance that there has to be no God. So, they don’t so they can enjoy this impurity with a minimum of guilt. But let me tell you the difference between Carl Sagan and the Gospel. If Sagan and these guys are right, we have no dignity, no inherent dignity. If you don’t like some people group or Down syndrome children, just get rid of it. If we have no purpose, you have no destiny, nothing you say matters. Your life doesn’t matter. There will be no accounting at the end of life; the bad guys do get away with it.

And by the way, there’s no foundation for ethics. Who makes the rules if there’s no God outside the box? Well, you’re left with utter meaningless. Nothing you ever do, nothing you ever say ultimately matters. Well, let’s all get pumped about that kind of life. He even gets excited about it in the film. He says, we come from star stuff, and you can go back to being star stuff. What am I going to say? All right, I’m totally in, man, I’m pumped about being star stuff.

This is rampant in our culture, it really is. Let me juxtapose the Biblical viewpoint, and I want to show you practically how this changes every rule in your life. The Bible says, there is energy and matter inside the box. There’s a God outside the box, but He’s not made of the same stuff in the box. God is a spirit. It says in John chapter four, He’s omnipresent. A spirit can be everywhere at once. And we believe this and here’s the Gospel. It’s not like theism. God parachuted into this box to be involved with us. He heard our screams. He, Christ the Son of God, parachutes in here to save us, to rescue us.

How incredible, one, that God made us in the first place, but He would parachute into the cosmos and be involved with our life. You know, Jesus said a sparrow couldn’t fall from the sky without God knowing it. And then he turns around and says, we count more than that.

You know, the more I get this, the more unashamed of Christ I am. Talk about being thankful, this Thanksgiving, I’m about to just come out of my shoes, I’m so fired up and so grateful, the more I understand the profoundness, the Lord is offering us a new beginning. You know, I had two boys, one was a Marine tank commander, and the other one was a high-tech guy up in Washington, well, he still is, they were twins, good students, William and Mary. This one, one of the twin brothers comes up to me, came to something I was speaking at, and he said, I’ve never been to a Christian anything he said, I don’t even know why I’m standing here but I really enjoyed that talk. I said, what’d you like about it? He said, well, you were funny. It’s fun to be around you. He said, I thought this would be boring. And I never thought anything that had to do with Christ, you were going to laugh. And he said, but when you got to the serious part, my manly pride, I was struggling because I felt a tear about to just the surface tension, to spill over my eyelid and go down my face.

And I was fighting it. That would be embarrassing for me, but I didn’t expect for my heart to get touched. Well, we began to meet, and this guy gives his life to Christ. His brother found out about it and was furious. The Marine. And one day I was walking down the sidewalk and there comes his brother and his brother walked up to me. He said, yeah, well, my brother gave his life to Christ, but I’m not. You’ll never get me, chaplain. I’m an atheist. I mean, he really spoke to me like he was angry with me. I said, no kidding. So, tell me, how’s that working out for you? And he just stood there and stared at me.

I already know how it works out. It sucks. Everything is meaningless. Purposeless. Embrace the darkness. Now Jesus comes in here and says, he’s the light of the world. He loves us. And then it keeps on snowballing. Then he humbles himself to the point of death, hangs on a cross to redeem us, naked in front of his friends, his mother, and his enemies. That is unbelievable. Brit Hume always tells me, like, some kind of Mafia don, and he kind of is in a way around Washington, but he said, you know, Leachman, this should be the deal nobody can refuse. And yet people walk away from this deal all the time to go it alone. Well, let me know how that works out for you.

Now, since our life counts, I want to do an exercise with you today. And I hope you will get the copy of this. I’ve given this to Fulbright scholars at Harvard. And I run this by leaders. All my men love this test. I give it to them once, once a year. And it was a test that one of my mentors gave me. And it’s a game changer. Since our lives matter, most people are not organized as though their life matters. They do what I call just sleepwalking through life.

And so, this little test is called how to evaluate your life and ministry. And you go, wait a minute. I’m not in the ministry. Well, you should have a ministry. Every one of you. In the Bible, it’s called the priesthood of believers. That every believer has a little circle of influence. People you know, people that trust you, and that we should all be a part. God’s army is one at a time and its fixed bayonets. It’s not gimmicks. It’s not programs. It’s not organization. It’s just God’s men. Now this is a three-point test, and I want you to take it yourself this morning and to pass the test, one has to align, roman numeral one has to align with two and two has to line up with three, or you’re in denial. You have to go back and start all over. I just gave this to a Fulbright scholar at Harvard and he said, that’s the toughest little test I’ve ever had. Not intellectually. It just makes you choose. You know, it’s very painless to stay in denial. And most men just sleepwalk through life in denial, pretending, wasting their life, trying to convince other people they’re somebody they’re not.

So here we go, Roman numeral number one. What is your mission or objective? Now you get a defining question with each Roman numeral. So, here’s the defining question for number one. What do I really want? Not only now, but at the end of my life. Now you notice I underlined I, and really. We live so much of our life just people pleasing, trying to be validated from other people. We live in suspended animation, in anxiety. When you finally realize people can’t validate me, what I have can’t validate me, who I know can’t validate me. What I’ve done can’t validate me because that little voice keeps saying inside you, you know, I think we both know they gave you an award, but we both know you’re still not okay. But I said, there’s, I put that I really, because there comes a point where you have to sit down and go, wait a minute. This is my life. And I’m on the clock. The guy from Harvard I gave this to, he said, are you telling me everything we do is on the clock? And I’m like, you can’t be serious. How’d you get in Harvard? You ask me something like that. It reminds me of the guy that got busted for cheating. He said, how’d you nail me? The teacher said, well, you wrote down, “I don’t know either.

You know, one of the questions Jesus asks all the time. Very interesting. What do you seek? What do you want? I counsel men. I mean, they’re all knotted up. All upset, all plexed up. And I go, well, what is it you’re so upset about? What is it you actually want out of life? I’d say half of them can’t even answer that question. Jesus asked blind Bartimaeus what do you want? He said, I want to see, I want to see. Now I would encourage you to go get by yourself. I had to ask myself one day, what would I say to Jesus if he faced me and said, Jerry Leachman, what do you want? Now, I’m not talking about three blonde girlfriends and a Ferrari. I’m talking about something noble, something that the Lord would sign off on, something worthy of giving your life to, because you’re going to give it to something.

So, you have to decide, what do I really want? And I’ll tell you why. This brings us to number two. How much am I willing to pay for it? How much am I willing to pay for it or suffer for it? Now, this kind of flipped me. I told my mentor, pay for it or suffer for it? Because he had us write down our priorities. And I wrote a bunch of things down, people pleasing him. I wrote a few. I thought he might be pleased with me. He was my teacher. If I wrote it down, maybe some stuff the Bible would approve of. I don’t know what I put down that were really my priorities. Then I realized, I didn’t know what a priority was. I was a young believer. I’d swapped teams. I took my jersey off and I put on Christ’s jersey, but I realized I had good values, but I didn’t know what a priority was until he taught me this test. How much am I willing to pay for it or suffer for it?

Now, when you get it down to that, that you’re willing to pay for it or suffer for it, you’ve got a priority. He said he had a musician come to him one time. He said, I want to play the piano like Van Cliburn. He won the Lenin medal in Moscow at 19 years old. And he said, do you want to practice 11 hours a day? He said, no. He said, then you don’t want to play the piano like Van Cliburn. You’re just dreaming.

I’m going to share my four objectives with you in just a second. Not that you have to be like me, but I am praying your creative juices, a fire of conviction would arise in your heart if you want to know where I want to take you today. I’m coaching you up right here. Just do what I say. And this is a game changer. You need to decide what you really want, what your mission God has called you on. You go, I don’t know if I believe. I don’t care. You’re still called of God. He put you here for a reason. You better align up with the God who came into the cosmos and created you and everything else. You have a destiny. One of your missions is to find out what your destiny in Christ is. Put his jersey on and then find out what he has put you here to do.

After the apostle Paul became converted, one of the prayers he prayed every day was, Lord, what do you want me to do? He made it his magnificent obsession, or you will waste your life. Now, pay for it or suffer for it. That was news to me. And then he took me to the third and final stage. Sometimes men give me push-back on this, your schedule, who or what gets my time? You may know the guy that taught me this. He was one of my teachers, Dr. Hendricks from Dallas Seminary, Dr. Hendricks said, there were a couple of us in there, and he said, boys, how many hours did Jesus Christ have in a day? I thought that might be a trick question, but I stepped out on faith. I said 24. And he said, exactly, at least you boys have one thing in common with Jesus. Congratulations. You have 24 hours a day. Jesus had 24 hours a day. How much of the will of God did Jesus get done in His life with only 24 hours a day? And my buddy said a hundred percent. He said, exactly.

So don’t ever tell me, you need more time. There is no more time. Just forget that when I make peace with reality, but you see all these three things have to line up. You have to know what your mission is. You have to be willing to pay for it or suffer for it. And you have to give it your time. He said, boys don’t ever tell me you don’t have enough time. Just tell me one thing. It’s not a priority. I’m telling you. This just challenged everything in me, because I had to start choosing, because the alternative, like I said, is sleepwalking through life and basically wasting your life. So, I actually went out in the woods one day, and I’m not good at stuff like that, I’m ADD, I live in the present, but I get to meet new people every day. And some people say, oh, I went out and I was all by myself. I did a 24 hour overnight to try to think this out. And I was a basket case, but I tell you, the Lord met with me. Get alone with the Lord.

When you go through the Bible, all the great leaders, God spoke to them when they’re alone and quiet. Now do this, think about only your life here, and let me coach you up the rest of the way. Now, work with me, men on this; this can be a game changer. I went out and I searched my soul, and I came up with four objectives. This was about 20 years ago when our mentor taught us this, and I came up with these four objectives. They’ve never changed. And these four objectives I’ll pay for, I will suffer for them. Now, I want you to think, if you can get your life down to what you really want and you feel God has sent you on a mission and you get it down to something you’d pay for suffer for, and you gave it your time, you’re a juggernaut. You’re unstoppable.

I was doing this little test with a CEO of a $2 billion a year company. He flew around on a jet, all that kind of stuff, all during the week. And so, when he wrote his priorities, one of the things on his list were his children. But when we got to his schedule, he was spending an average of three minutes a day with his children. Now I know you have a busy time. If you’re an accountant, you have tax season. Sometimes it’s just go time. But I’m talking about the trend. You look for the trend line in a man’s life. At the end of the day, people do what they want to do. So, I took my pen and crossed his children off the list of priorities. And this guy stands up on the table with veins sticking out. Now, you know what it means when a guy stands up on you like that, right? But he was only about four eight, and I was thinking, I got grand-kids, but I can still take you, dude. You need to sit down. I got you. Okay. And he was furious with me. He said, how dare you tell me I don’t love my children. I said, I didn’t say you didn’t love him. What was I telling him? They’re not a priority. You’re in denial. You’re in utter denial. He said, what do I do? I said, quit your job. Do you understand who I am and what I do? I said, I know who you are, and I know what you do. You need to quit your job. He said, how can you tell me that? I said, well, is there nobody else in the United States that can run this, your company?

So, he had a little flush of humility. And he said, okay, yeah, there are 10 other people in our country that can run the company. I said, okay, I’ll take that. Only ten other people can do what you do. Then answer me this: who else in our country can be the father to your children? And that stopped him right in his tracks. He said only me. I’m their father. I said, our family motto was winners take responsibility, losers blame others. Quit your job. Buy a smaller company that actually does something for people. I don’t even like your company. I tell him that. Funny thing was; it was half bluff. I’m not even sure what his company does, but, but I was validated by the fact that he agreed with me. He confessed to me.

He said, I know our company sucks. And so, he resigned. And he bought a smaller company. And that helped people with illnesses and so forth, a health care company. And he had somebody else run it. I was standing on the 30-yard line with the Washington Redskins and my phone. I felt the vibration because you can’t hear anything in our stadium. I had a text, 50-yard line, gold box level. And I looked back and here’s this guy with all his kids. And he got behind them where they couldn’t see, they were looking at the game, and he put his hand over their head, did like that, pointed. I pointed back. He’d made his children a priority.

Here are the four things that have become my principles that I will pay for and suffer for, just to give you an idea of what I would like you to do with this talk today. The first one is no fear. I just decided I was sick and tired of living a life of fear and anxiety. You know, the Bible says, 365 times, almost one for every day of the year, fear not, but it only gives one reason. I’m with you. If you believe Christ is raised from the dead, and that’s a big deal, because if Christ isn’t raised from the dead, we’re not going to have an afterlife. That means I’ll never see my beloved mother again. I’ll never see my beloved brother again. And I desperately want to see them again. This isn’t religion to me, this is everything. This is either true or we’re the biggest fools that ever lived. I just got tired of living a life of fear and anxiety. I believe Christ is alive. And I believe He’s with me. So, I’ve decided I don’t ever have to be afraid again. And I’m not.

Holly woke me up the other night at 3:30 in the morning and said, somebody is in the living room. I had on sock feet. I got up and sprinted down my hallway and slid in there like Tom Cruise in that stupid movie, you know, what was that movie? Risky Business. You’re wasting your life. Okay. (Laughter) He ain’t that executive. He can take me. I’m sorry about that. I was disappointed in a way not to find anybody in our living room. I believe God was with me. And because my family is, are one of my priorities, I’m willing to suffer for them. I’m willing to pay. That’s settled up front. I’m all in, in advance.

You know, a lot of you know that one of the fellows that God asked me to mentor was Tony Snow. Tony was beloved by both sides of the aisle. And he had called me from Fox one day and he said, the president has asked me to be the press secretary; could you come down here? You’re my chaplain. Can we talk this over? And we did and we finally decided Tony felt called to do it, called of God, and called to help the country. And he wasn’t doing it for ego. He was already famous. He didn’t need to be more fame. So, he did it. Well, then he called me one day and he said, I just left the doctor’s office. I have colon cancer. You’re my first call. I don’t even know what to think. I’m numb. My mother died of colon cancer when she was 39 years old. This is serious. He said to me, I don’t even know what to think.

I said, well, Tony, you’re a baby in a basket. He said, what’s a baby in a basket. I said, you know, Moses, when he was born, he was to be God’s deliverer. And Pharaoh knew that. Pharaoh put a hit out. The most powerful man put a hit out on all the kids under two years old. And Moses’ name was on the hit list. Then his mother puts him in a little reed basket and floats him down the crocodile infested Nile River. That would bring a tear to the eye of a stone dog. It’s so sad that baby had no chance. Pharaoh’s daughter finds him, hires Moses’ mother as the maid. Now she’s getting a check for raising her own son. I said, Tony, man’s plan for Moses was to take him out, but God’s plan for Moses was he was going to be God’s deliverer. I said, Tony, you’re going to be here. You won’t leave the earth one second before God wants you here. You’re a baby in a basket. It’s kind of funny. Every time we talked on the telephone, when the conversation would end, he said, all right, Leachman, love your guts, baby in a basket. And he’d hang up. I’d go, baby in a basket.

When it got towards the end and his illness was advanced, he summoned me down to the West Wing. He said, I’ve been working so much, I’m so spiritually hungry. Could you just come and give me a lesson from the Bible? And I went down to his office in the White House, and I forget what lesson I was giving him, but right in the middle of the lesson, he just doubled over with pain. And his pain was so intense, I stopped reading. I didn’t know what to do. And he opened one eye like that, and he said, what did you stop reading for? I said, well, Tony it seems like we got the game on. You’re in excruciating pain. He said, I want to hear the Word of God. I thought, man, what hunger. I said, Tony, I’m going to stop the lesson. I’m going to tell you, I don’t think I’m mocking you in any way, my brother, but I want you to take this on faith and do what I’m about to tell you to do.

Now, this is for you too, men. It has to do with no fear and it’s a mystery. But if you do this, you won’t believe how fear will dissipate in your life. I said, Tony, when you’re fearful, when you feel lost, maybe you’re afraid God’s distant from you. You have a wife and three kids. You’re worried about leaving them. I said, praise God. Say praises to the Lord. The Bible says, God inhabits the praise of a Saint. It’s a mystery. Whenever I feel fear and anxiety welling up in me, I began to praise the Lord for parachuting into the box, for caring about me, for dying about me. Every time I come back down South; I’m reminded that some people still argue over theology in the South. It’s so liberal where I live, if you’re in for Jesus, that’s it; you’re in. You’re in the club.

I had a Southern minister asked me recently, well, Jerry, what’s your theology. You can tell I’m from Montgomery. That’s the way they talk down there. And I thought I would just zing him a little bit. I said, well, I’m reformed. That means I’m in the sovereignty of God. He says, yes, I understand that. I said, well, I’m a reformed black Pentecostal. And he did just like that. He said, are you serious? I said, I’m totally serious. I’ve been in the Redskins locker room so many years. And I will tell you what. I hear those kids pray. And I get so fired up, I wish I want to suit back up and hit somebody. We love you, Lord. We praise you, Lord. We worship you today. Lord, nobody can withstand you, Lord. I have learned to praise the Lord from our players. And I just find when I do that, God inhabits the praise, and he draws near within seconds.

So, I tell Tony this. The next week, I got a call. He said Leachman, its Snow. I said, where are you? He said, I’m up at Kennebunkport with the president. He’s in there talking to this Putin guy from Russia. I can’t take it anymore. I had to get out here for some fresh air. He said, I want to tell you something; that praise the Lord thing, it works. I’ve been doing it. No fear. The second thing is a Godly, a grateful heart. The core of all sins in Romans one; for when they knew God, they didn’t recognize Him as God. Neither did they give thanks. And their foolish hearts became darkened. The shortest route to a heart of darkness is an ungrateful heart. If you have a grateful heart, these things will be true in your life as a trend.

Joy. Joy only has one source, a grateful heart. Worship. Worship has only one source, a grateful heart, and we don’t just worship in church. Sometimes I’m just with my kids and I just grab them and say, God, I love you. That’s worship. And sense of mission. The people with grateful hearts, they’re the ones that volunteer. I got to give back. God has been so good to me. The real definition of humility is somebody who just can’t get over the grace of God in their life; they just can’t get over it.

A grateful heart, a Godly heritage. You know, I came from a family where there was a lot of addictions. My mother and her spouses, four out of five were divorced, so, we had a history of that as well. I thought, I’m going to lay my life down, on my watch, and if I get married, I will lay my life down for it. I praise my wife at the temple gates, my children and I talk almost every day. It’s been a paradigm shift. I pay for it. I suffer for it gladly. Our second family motto is you can fake caring, but you can’t fake showing up. You got to be there, not just talk. You gotta be there. And I want a Godly heritage. You know, we’re always training our kids for better, for worse. I remember when Tucker was still in one of those booster seats in the back, we were at a red light in Washington and the car in front didn’t move instantly. And Tucker started going, “go, go, go, idiot”. Holly looks right at me. He goes, well, there it is, Jerry, way to go. Well, that’s for worse. You teach what you know, but you reproduce who you are.

You know, the other day, our son who’s just married, they came for a visit. She had to go back to Houston where they live a couple of days early. He had to stay in Washington for a couple of more day’s business. I turned in the hall and I saw my son with his hand on our daughter-in-law’s head, giving her a blessing, praying over her before she left. It brought tears to my eyes. I do that to his mother every day. She can’t leave the house without a blessing from me. I can’t leave the house without a blessing for her. When we go to the table, my boys stand till their mother is seated. When she sits, we sit. If we were guests in your house, we do the same thing. Then they still can’t start shoveling the food in. We say a blessing. Then they remain sitting. And when their mother takes a bite, they can take a bite. How do you think that makes their mother feel? Great. What does that teach my boys? This is how you treat women. What does it teach my daughter? This is how you should expect to be treated by men. She’s never been in an abusive relationship. She knows it when she sees it, and she won’t put up with it.

And I’ve told you this before, about my son-in-law. If you have a daughter, pray for one like my son-in-law. He loves Jesus. He loves our grand-kids. He loves my daughter. He’s in the Secret Service. He’s got a gun; he’s got a badge. It doesn’t get any better than that right there, I’ll tell you. And a Godly heritage. I just want to mention prayer. I’ve decided winners take responsibility. I’m on point to be the prayer warrior for my family. I will tell you I’ll commend this to you. Quite often, I get on the floor to pray, and I lay in the shape of a cross with my face sticking right down in the floor. That’s kind of a good position to be in. And I lay like this on the floor with my face down to humble myself before God. And I make my prayers and petitions for my family. I do that two or three times a day. Sometimes I’ll stand out my children’s bedroom and hold my hands up and kind of pray through the wall where I think they’re lying at night after they’re already asleep. I pray for them at games. At games, they know if my hat’s off, I’m praying, and it’s funny, sometimes it’ll get tight, and they’ll look over to see if my hat’s on or off. The Godly heritage. I’ll pay for that. And I’ll suffer for it.

The one thing that does take men out in this category, and it’s the last thing I’ll mention is moral purity. Moral purity can actually absolutely short circuit and frustrate and quench the family heritage that you want. One of the things that’s taken men out that I work with is pornography. You know, we know now if men expose themselves to pornography on a regular basis, that chemicals are released in the brain that are literally stronger than crack cocaine. The first person I heard say he was a sex addict was Wade Box with the Red Sox. And I thought, oh man, own your own stuff. Then I got educated through counseling men. You can literally become addicted. It creates neural pathways. It activates the reticular activating system, which means that’s a filter and what we should notice.

My son gave me his car when he got a company car and it’s a 10-year-old BMW 500 series. Now it’s 10 years old, but it’ll still do 90 miles an hour in first gear with the emergency brake fully on. I know that for a fact, but I notice every 500 series BMW. That’s the reticular activating system. When I’m at lunch with a man, sometimes I can almost tell him if he’s exposing himself to pornography. Cause I mean, an A-plus woman could walk by, to a C-minus woman, and they literally are trying to keep eye contact with me, but they can’t do it. And I mean, everyone that walks by, and I could almost tell him what his life’s like. You can have a private life, but you can’t have a secret life. When we do this, it defiles our conscience, and we have no power spiritually. James says, don’t be double-minded. If you have a secret life, you’re double-minded.

I’m not trying to shame anybody. This is all of us. You can look at me and say, have you ever clicked on anything you shouldn’t look at? I’ll tell you right now. Yeah, I have. This is all of us. But here is why this is a big deal to me, James, the brother of Jesus said, if you’re double-minded let not that man expect anything from God. Now God may throw you a bone, but you have no right to expect it. That means power and prayer. It’s a big deal to me and my soul to have a powerful prayer life. Especially when I’m praying for my children and my grandchildren. I can’t even express to you the love I have in my heart for my family. I’ve decided to lay down my sex life for my family.

Here’s the last thing I want to mention. I’m not talking about being a good boy or a bad boy. This is bondage or freedom. Some people wear, what were those, ‘What would Jesus do?’, little bracelets. And I’m all for that but most of the time I have no idea what Jesus would do. The other time I do, but he’s the son of God, for crying out loud, He probably wouldn’t click on pornography. But it says he was tempted. Now I look at it this way. When I have that clicker in my hand, and I get tempted — now, a lot of men will confess to me, Jerry, I’m mostly tempted when I’m in the house by myself and no one’s there — I go, wait a minute, do you believe in the omnipresence of God? Yes, I do. I say no, you don’t. You’re like a deist. You’re never alone. There is no secret sin. When I tell men they feel that’s embarrassing. You know the stuff I do, the things I look at, you’re saying Christ is there? I said absolutely. Or none of it’s true at all. Well, that’ll change your life right there.

But I look at it this way. When I have that clicker in my hand, and I’m about to click, I’m in a voting booth and I’m about to vote, and here’s what I’m voting on. Yes, I want to be part of the problem. I want to be part of a multi-billion-dollar sleaze industry, right out of hell. Yes, I’m in. I want to be part of that team. And by the way, you can’t expect God to do anything in the life of anybody else that you won’t let him do in yours first or you’re phony. When I click on this, I’m saying yes, it’s okay for my wife to fantasize about other men when we’re together. Yes, it’s okay for my son-in-law to have affairs. Yes, it’s okay for my daughter to fantasize about somebody besides her husband and get this last one. Yes. My nine-year-old granddaughter. She’s beautiful. And when she’s a little older as a teenager, it’s fine with me if they take her picture and put it on the Internet. Now this is when a fire gets up in me guys. You know how I feel about that? If somebody would do — hell no. I’m not clicking. I’m going to lay my sex life down for my family because I want some degree of moral purity.

I have lust in my heart. I confess that to all of you. We’re men, we’re wired that way, but I don’t have a secret life. I have a private life, because I don’t want to be double-minded. I want to have a clear conscience. I want to have spiritual power and I want to have power in my prayers. Men, lay down your life for those you love. The last thing I want to mention are friends to help me across the finish line, franchise player friends to help me across the finish line. I decided to be very deliberate about developing an inner circle and being part of that inner circle.

Men. Now don’t stop working on me. This is our last little addendum of the day. Your inner circle will make you or break you. Did you notice the time Christ developed, spent developing an inner circle? Most men don’t have an inner circle. Really. They know a hundred men, but they don’t have an inner circle. I didn’t. And I decided to be deliberate about it. And I kind of targeted guys I was drawn to, that I thought, I’d be a better man to be around him, and I’d get them for lunch. Jonathan and David talked about their covenant together. Now I have a franchise player inner circle around me. It gives you power. You will go farther than you’d ever go on your own. You have to have truth, fellowship, and accountability in your life.

Truth. The Word of God, fellowship mutual, encouragement, and accountability. That someone that is helping you go where you want to go, but you can’t get there alone. The Bible says if one can chase 1,000, two can chase 10,000. This is exponential power. Some of the generals I’ve been mentoring in their faith. We got on this topic. And one said, you know, when I send guys out on recon missions, I always send them in two, three, or four. I said, is that in case some get killed, the mission continues on? He said, no, the fear factor drops down to zero. I’ve asked Airborne Rangers, you’re over enemy territory at night, they opened the door, do you jump or not behind enemy lines. You know what they say to me, real Rangers, if I’m by myself, maybe I jump. Maybe I don’t. But if my band of brothers is with me, I’m out the door. 100% of the time. Do you have a circle, an inner circle of a band of brothers?

This was a speech given before Henry the fifth was to lead men into a hopeless battle.

“He that hath no stomach to this fight. Let him depart. His passport shall be made and crowns for convoy will be put into his purse for we would not die in that man’s company who fears his fellowship to die with us, for this day is called the Feast of Crispian. And he that outlives this day and comes safe a home will stand tiptoe when this day is named, and he will show the scars on his arms and he will stand and say, I was there in the battle on St. Crispin’s day. Old men forget yet all shall be forgot, but he’ll remember with advantages what feats he did that day, for this day to the end of the world, we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”

I want to light a fire in you. I don’t care what age you are. If you don’t have an inner circle of a band of brothers, it’ll make you or break you. When my brother died, word got around Washington, and I will tell you in 40 minutes, there were 10 men. I’m a southerner. When bad things happen, I just have to go outside. Ten men were just sitting with me under the tree outside. They couldn’t bring him back to life, but they could sit there and weep with me. They have permission to hold me accountable. When you give somebody that permission, you can’t hold it against them because you gave them permission.

I want to close with a powerful example to illustrate the power in an inner circle. Paul and Silas, they were soulmates. And they went to found the church at Philippi. They cast a demon out of a girl. Everybody got mad about it. They had a kangaroo trial, and they throw them in the prison. They beat them with rods. It says in Acts 16 and threw them in the inner prison they were in stocks and chains. Could you imagine what it smelled like in there? Guess what they begin to do at midnight? Praise the Lord. Like I told Tony, like I’m telling you. You know, those two guys couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket and everybody in the prison heard them praising the Lord. They could’ve gone negative. They could have gotten mad. Well, thank you God. We’re trying to talk you up. Thank you for the reward. If it wouldn’t spoil some big project you’re working on God, we could use a little help down here. Thank you. They didn’t do that. These two men began to sing praises to God at midnight in the dark. And the revival broke out in that prison.

There is an incident that happened a few years ago in Cleveland. I had a guy from Cleveland in one of the groups and he said, that happened. They tell the story about the Cleveland symphony orchestra. Some seasons ago, the orchestra was forming a well-known piece by Mozart called “The Magic Flute”. Midway through, a powerful storm raging outside the symphony hall caused the lights to go out. Undaunted by the darkness, the musicians hardly skipped a beat. The members of the orchestra knew the music so well, they carried on the performance even though it was pitch black dark in the symphony hall. At the end of the Mozart symphony, the audience burst into thunderous applause, clapping and loud at this extraordinary feat. A stagehand illuminated the conductor with a flashlight, shined it along the front row. The musicians took their bows, the applause crescendoed again and again and again. It was a night never to be forgotten.

This illustrates a great lesson. Do we know the Savior by heart? Have we rehearsed in the good times? Have we practiced the presence of God to the point if the times went dark and the lights went out, if we couldn’t see the conductor, would we still make the music? Dark times will come. Storms will for sure make everything seem pitch black, but, like you, I want to get to the point in my life where I barely miss a beat. I want to do that not for my own soul’s sake, but for the applause that will resound to the Lord, Jesus Christ. You know, when you’re doing great, and for some reason, we always put people to give testimonies up front, they’re doing great, and they want to tell you how they made their first million dollars. When you put somebody up that has endured incredible suffering or is bearing up to incredible suffering and they speak, it reaches the deepest part of your soul and it’s glorious.

We’ve taken Christ and tried to make him our personal assistant in this country, so you’ll never suffer, and you’ll be happy, happy, happy, and prosperous all the time, time, time. That ain’t, that’s not life and it’s not in the Bible, cause I’m going to tell you, here’s the rule, no suffering, no glory. The Bible says for the glory that was set before him Christ endured the suffering of the cross. No suffering, no glory.

Men. If the lights go out in this, my last thing to you, now listen to me, if the lights go out in your life, and they eventually will, if you keep making the music, it will be glorious. You know what? Life is a storm. And one day you’ll bask in the sunlight. And the next day you will be shattered upon the rocks. What kind of measure of man are you is what you do with the storm? Because of my inner circle, I have my priorities worked out. I’m willing to pay for it or suffer for it or die for it. My way of thinking is when the storm comes, my brothers and I are going to look in the face of that storm, lean into it and say, do your worst, do your worst. Just sick and tired of living afraid.

I want a Godly heritage. I want friends to help me across the line and in the Bible, only 30% crossed the line picking up speed, the other 30 finished, but they limped across, like David. He screwed his family up at the end. The other 40 don’t even finish. Now, where are you going to be in that statistic? If that’s the people in the Bible, I want to finish and I want to be picking up speed. I don’t want to be double-minded, and I want to have power and prayer for my family. Don’t you? Stop thinking of yourself. Take off your jersey, put on Christ’s jersey and lay your life down for the flock. This is the will of God for your life.

Now let me be your chaplain and close with a prayer over you men. We’re all on the clock.

Lord, when we give you thanks, we’re acknowledging there is a God who has always been, there is a God who is now, there is a God who will be forever. When we give thanks, we enter into your spirit Lord and Satan has no chance to give us a bad and defeated attitude. Lord, I want to pray a prayer for every man here today. That right now the spotlight, he would only shine it inside his soul. Lord search these men today, whose jersey do they have on? Are they double minded and they’re just faking it, but they actually have no power? Have they organized their priorities in a way that they’re giving all their time to the stuff that they would suffer for, pay for? Are they giving their time to just who knows what? Lord I pray that every second we have left, time’s the most precious commodity, I’ve been around billionaires while they were dying, and they all, not one has said, I wish I had more money, they say I wish I had more time. Lord, search these men’s hearts today and give them the courage and the resolve, light a fire in them to make amendment in their life, no matter how radical it may be, and put your jersey on Christ and pray like Paul every day, Lord, what do you want me to do? May they fulfill the destinies that you put them on this earth to be. Thank you that your son, Jesus parachuted in here. He is our champion. He came to rescue us. He’s heard our cries. Lord, we want to praise you today. We love you today. No one can withstand you today, Lord, we thank you, in Christ’s name. Amen.

May the Lord be with you. Men, as you leave offer each other the peace of Christ with a handshake.


Add grace and understanding to your day with words from Richard E. Simmons III in your inbox. Sign-up for weekly email with the latest blog post, podcast, and quote.

Fill out the form to receive wisdom in your inbox from Richard E. Simmons III.