Ed & JoBeth Young
May 14, 2000
You know, as many of you realize if you hang around here very much, I grew up in a pastor’s home. Thankfully, neither my mom nor my dad ever manipulated or coerced me to go into the ministry. However, during my junior year at Florida State University, I felt a direct leading to go that route. I moved from Tallahassee, Florida to Houston, finished my undergrad, enrolled in seminary, and found myself working at my father’s church—the place where he was a senior pastor.
My first real pastoral-type assignment was to give the morning prayer at the 11:00am service. Now, Dad’s church is much more formal than ours— suits and ties and the big throne chairs, the giant organ, and all that. They took me aside and gave me instructions on how to do this prayer. They said, “Ed, when the organ music slows, that’s your cue. You walk behind the pulpit, you pray, and then you lead the entire church in the Lord’s Prayer. After that, you leave the pulpit, make your way down the steps, and sit on the front pew.” I said, “I’ve got it. Music slows, I get up behind the pulpit, I pray, then the Lord’s Prayer, then I leave and sit on the first pew. Yeah!”
I was so nervous, I had written that prayer out. Man, I didn’t want to mess up. I even had the Lord’s Prayer written out because I wanted to do everything just right. The service started, and I was sitting on the edge of that throne chair just waiting. The organ music slowed. I look around, and people on the platform began to nod and say that it was my time. I eased behind the lectern and began the prayer. I was reading it. During the middle of the prayer I said to myself, “This is pretty easy. It’s going pretty well. I feel like I’m in the flow. A couple thousand people listening to me, the television cameras rolling, no big deal. No problem.”
Then I got to the Lord’s Prayer. I was thinking, “Oh, I know the Lord’s Prayer. I mean, I’ve got it written down right here.” So I said—while I was praying—“You recite the Lord’s Prayer with me as I pray. Our Father.” The entire church said, “Our Father.” “Who art in Heaven.” “Who art in Heaven.” “Hallowed be thy name.” “Hallowed be thy name.” Then the wheels came off. I vapor-locked, I froze, I couldn’t read any more! The church began to mumble, they didn’t know where I was going. Finally I said, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen!” People began to laugh at me, snicker at me like, “Ha, ha, ha, pastor’s son! He can’t even say the Lord’s Prayer!”
I made that long walk with cold beads of sweat dripping off my forehead, and I found myself sitting in the front pew. Of all people, I sat beside my mother. Mom leaned over to me and said words I’ll never forget. She said, “Ed, your voice sounded real good.” I said, “Thanks a lot, Mom, I’ve just botched the Lord’s Prayer and you’re telling me my voice sounded good!”
Well, this weekend, I want you to meet the woman behind the voice, my mom, JoBeth Young. Sit down mom, sit down. Now, my mother and I share a love for coffee. I’ve told her we can sit down, just have a cup of coffee, and chill out. So here we go.
ED: Mom, it’s great to have you here. How are you feeling right now, are you feeling pretty good?
JOBETH: I feel just great, yeah.
ED: Does she have a great accent, or what? From Laurel, Mississippi.
JOBETH: I really do sound like he mocks me, so that’s okay.
ED: Mom, I think it’s pretty funny how this whole thing happened. Tell them about when I called you and asked you to do this, because you didn’t really want to do it. I kind of had to force you to do it.
JOBETH: Well, a couple of weeks ago I got a telephone call. “Mom, I want you to come up and speak to our church—Saturday night, and twice on Sunday morning.” I said, “Ed, I don’t do that! I don’t do those kind of things! I can’t, I just can’t do it.” He said, “Well, okay then. Just come, and I’ll interview you.” Well, of course, I’d already said “No” once, and what do you say to your precious son? I said, “Okay, Ed, I will. I’ll do it.” So then, after I’d accepted it, I talked to my husband on the phone—he was out of town—and I said, “Ed asked me to do this, and I told him that I would.” He was real silent, and he said, “If I asked you to do it, you wouldn’t do it.” I said, “You are so right. I wouldn’t. No, no.” But anyway, I am thrilled to be here, thank you.
ED: That’s good. Well, Mother’s Day is a special day, and I know that there are so many moms out there at different stages. I want to talk a little bit about being a mom, because Mom, you’re a great mom. Not a perfect mom—sometimes people look at a pastor’s home and say, “Oh, you don’t have any problems. Everything is hunky-dory, everything is fine, every day is a bull market.” That’s not the case, and we’re going to talk about the real deal.
I’m in a series called the Parent Map, and last weekend I did a message called, “The Spouse-Centric Home.” I talked about the importance of revolving everything in your family around the most important relationship—the marriage. And if you missed that installment, I beg you to pick the tape up, because it will help you to get a working knowledge of where we’re going, and we’re going to build on each message. But today, Mom, I’m going to fire several questions at you. Let’s just respond to them, and see where it takes us. The first one that I want to ask you is basically about the differences between myself, my younger brother, Ben, and the baby brother, Cliff. How did you mother all of us, and how do you mother all of us, with our unique skill sets and temperaments and all that stuff?
JOBETH: Ed, yes, all three of you are different, and as we know, all children are. Ed, as far as temperament is concerned, is choleric as well as sanguine. We know he loves to have fun, and as well, he is a leader. Our middle son, Ben, is more melancholy—Ed, as you know—and he is choleric as well. Then our youngest son tends to be choleric and sanguine.
ED: Choleric? What do you mean by the word choleric?
JOBETH: Choleric would be a person who shows the characteristics of a leader: aggressive, that kind of thing. But also, I think, you have to consider the birth order. Dr. Kevin Leman wrote a book several years ago dealing with birth order. It really is important. With you being the firstborn, you would have the characteristics of being not only leading out in things, but also being inquisitive. You like to entertain, we know that. That started at a very young age when you would do anything. You were the first grandchild, as well, on both sides of the family. When you would perform or do something, you would always say, “Smart! Smart!” and give yourself a little hand. I still see that you do those kinds of things. But anyway….
ED: Thanks for saying that; I appreciate that. Mom brought some photos and gave them to our video department.
JOBETH: Not only did he like to entertain, but he loved to look good when he was entertaining—and always liked his hair to be right. You know, the style of the day. In fact, he even was an innovator. I mean, you thought that we just now started wearing our hats backwards? Hey, this has been 39 years since you wore your hat backwards, watching TV, sitting in your little rocking chair.
But also, we saw in you that you loved to play, to have fun, to impersonate. We see all that in you today. That’s why it’s so important to encourage that as a child has those characteristics. But you always loved to dress the part, and you and your brother Ben loved to play Batman and Robin. The odd thing was—I didn’t figure it out for the longest time—you loved to be Robin. You would think you would have loved to be Batman.
ED: Well, it was definitely the costume. Robin has a better-looking costume than Batman. Batman’s costume is boring! It’s gray and blue, half his face was covered. Robin had those cool green shoes.
JOBETH: But just the progression of your clothes through the years has just been amazing. It has!
ED: Oh, no. You can see it up there. Man, that bowtie was working. Wow. Now, that—right there—of all the suits I’ve ever had, that’s my favorite.
JOBETH: This is when we stepped over the line with your clothes. Everything goes back to that. We were in a store in Columbia, South Carolina, and I said, “No, Ed, I don’t think you need that suit.” He said, “Well, can I call Dad?” Yes, he called him, and his dad said, “Buy the suit.” From then on it’s been down—I mean, uphill. But it is great to see the different personalities, and the way God has gifted each child.
ED: Now, I’ve defined parenting, during this series, from three scripture verses. I’ve said that parenting is “the process of teaching and training your children to leave.” Don’t you like that? To leave. The teaching part is found in Deuteronomy 6:7, which says we should capture teachable moments and teach our children. The training part is from Proverbs 22:6, which says to train up a child in the way he or she should go. I like that—in the way he or she should go, not the way we want them to go, but they way they should go. The “leave” part is from Genesis 2:24, which says, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.”
Training your children is a 24/7 deal, and we must see how they’re bent and then go with that bend. I know I’ve done some research before on the Proverbs 22 text. The whole picture behind this is when someone back in ancient times would look for a bow to shoot an arrow. They wouldn’t just arbitrarily pick some limb, chop it down, and bend it their own way. They would see how the wood naturally grew and cut that wood. Then they would fire arrows that would have some trajectory and be able to aim them properly.
I really feel, as a parent, Mom—and I know you did this with all of us—that you see where our skill set lies and then actually coach us and help us in that realm. Then we could really have that sharp aim and that focus that really glorifies God. Do you have anything to add to that at all? I didn’t mean just to preach for a while, but I do encourage parents to do that—to assess their children’s skill sets at an early age.
I know, for example, Cliff, my youngest brother, always loved music. I remember Cliff, two or three years old, in that rocking chair in his room listening to music. He was always like that, and now he has a band and travels all over the country. He told me the other day that they’ve sold nearly a million CDs. Mom, I’m proud of him! But you didn’t try to force him into something else, you guys kind of went that way.
JOBETH: I will say this, though, Ed, you’ve always been inquisitive. And that’s a good characteristic to have. I remember when we really saw this was when you were in kindergarten in Canton, North Carolina, and you had a young friend, a boy named Lynn. Lynn’s mother was expecting a baby, and she was quite large, to put it mildly.
Anyway, you asked me one night, all of a sudden, “Mom, what is wrong with Lynn’s mother?” Well, you were five, and like I said you have always expressed your feelings to any and everybody, so I thought I’d better not go into this yet. I said, “Nothing. Nothing’s wrong with her.” So then, several days passed, and once again you said, “Mom, what is wrong with Lynn’s mom? What is wrong with her?” I said, “Well, Ed, you know, she has a baby growing inside of her, and just at the right time it’s going to be born.” You looked at me and you said, “Is it wrapped in a blanket?” I said, “No.” Then you said to me, “Did I grow in you like that?” I said, “Ed, you did. Right there next to my heart.” Oh, I felt so good about what I was saying. You looked at me and then you said, “I don’t believe you.”
ED: You also hit on an important issue and something I’m going to talk about during this series. I’m going to talk about teaching your children about sex. When do you start talking to them? How do you have “the” talk? I firmly believe the family should be the context in which we talk about this God-ordained, God-invented subject. Also, the church should talk about this, so we’re going to deal with it. Parents, all the time, ask me, “When do I talk to so-and-so about sex? How do I talk to my children?” So we’re going to go into that.
Let me talk to you about some roles. It’s once a mom, always a mom, but also, your role has segued from one role to another. Talk to me about how you see the evolving, changing roles in your life.
JOBETH: Well, you know, just last night and this morning your dad is speaking on how to mom, and his points are about role-changing. In other words, the first point is that as a new mom, on up to about preschool, you are a caregiver. Then your role changes somewhat, and you become a coach all the way through school and high school. Then as your child leaves the home, you become the cheerleader. The role reversal happens gradually, but it has to be that way. With our having three sons, not daughters, I think maybe the old adage you’ve heard before comes in to play: a daughter is a daughter all her life, but a son is son until he takes a wife.
ED: That’s good.
JOBETH: It is.
ED: I’ve never heard that. How many of you have heard that before? I’ve never heard that. Look at that, it’s not that old!
JOBETH: You see, it should be that way. It’s not that it’s always easy, but it’s good. The son has to become the head of his household.
ED: I’m going to discuss that, too, in this series: how to individuate, how to cut the cord, so to speak, from your family. The Bible says in Genesis 2:24, “For this cause,” for this reason, “a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife.”
ED: Also, I think you’ve told me before, it’s leaving, it’s cleaving, and it’s…
JOBETH: Weaving. The couple weaves their bodies together, their lives together, and they become one in God. It’s the triangle there. That is what the weaving signifies. I think my role reversal, as far and you and Lisa are concerned, happened when you left Second Baptist to come and pastor Fellowship Church. I came up here with Lisa to look at some housing, and we were driving around with two members of the church. I was sitting in the back seat by Lisa, and all of a sudden it just hit me. I’m the pastor’s mother! I’d never been a pastor’s mother before. I thought, “What should I say? What shouldn’t I say?”
But it’s great, it’s wonderful. I think that each role God gives us is great, and he uses it in our lives. I wanted to mention, too, a verse that has meant a lot to me as far as what the mother can be. She is the mother, she is the caregiver, the coach, and the cheerleader, but also she has the role of the grandmother—spiritually in her children’s lives and in her grandchildren’s lives. When Paul wrote to his son, his spiritual son, Timothy, he reminded Timothy that he knew his grandmother and mother had guided him in the scripture from the time he was a young child. It provided the wisdom that led into his salvation in Jesus Christ. I feel that many times—even though I know it is the father who is the spiritual head of the household—the mother is also a spiritual leader in her teaching. I think we should certainly be mindful of that.
ED: Well, I guess the take-home here would be that wise mothers need to recognize their roles, recognize when they change and when they evolve, and then lock in there. But be open and willing to ultimately become that cheerleader, as you said. Well, I’ve had a lot of questions in my parenting career about discipline. I don’t know if you ever had any issues with parenting about discipline, but I know we have a lot of single parents here, and discipline is a major hurdle that we all face. I’m so passionate about it that we’re going to spend two sessions just on discipline. How do you discipline your rebellious teenager? How do you discipline this or that? Talk to me about discipline.
JOBETH: Well, I feel that children certainly need it. I think not only do they need it to help them in their later life, but I feel that it sets the parameters of your home. You have your rules. This is a security for them. They don’t want to be given freedom and be allowed to do anything. They interpret that to mean you don’t really care what they do.
ED: That’s right. When I draw the lines for my children, they always want to test and see where the lines are located. What’s tempting as a parent is to move the lines. But if we keep the lines—and I think you and Dad did a good job of this—if we keep the lines consistent, then when you do step over the lines, there are consequences. The consequence needs to fit the crime, and so on. Also, when you draw the lines and you stay within the lines, you communicate to your children, “Hey, I’m a word-keeper. I’m a commitment-keeper,” and that’s something.
JOBETH: Basically, that’s what you need.
ED: Talking about discipline and things like this, I’ve had something happen to me, and I’ll probably share it. When I was fifteen, I got my driver’s permit, and I fell in love with Lisa. I had to be in by 8pm because the sun would set and all that. So I knew that, and I was trying to be responsible. I had a car that you guys bought me—a $500 puke-green Delta ’88. It had about half a million miles on it. Then my youngest brother’s first car was a Lexus, you see how things change? A Delta ’88 to a Lexus! Anyway, I’m still bitter and angry.
But anyway, back to the story. I took Lisa home, and I stayed too long. We lived about thirty minutes away from her, and I was an hour late on a Wednesday night. I was supposed to be in at eight; I was driving at nine, speeding. Young people, do not do this, please. I thought to myself, “Well, I’m going to be cool,” because I thought you were at home and Dad was at some meeting at church, surely, on Wednesday night. I could get by you….
JOBETH: I’m a pushover, yeah.
ED: Dad was a little bit scary, but I was confident that he wasn’t there. I got into our neighborhood, and I was going around the curves, and a car passed me going the other way. I thought to myself, “That kind of looked like Dad’s car.” Then I said, “Surely that wasn’t him.” I drove in, walked in the door, and you go, “Ed, where have you been?” I said, “Mom, to be honest with you, I kissed Lisa goodnight, and I stayed longer than I should, and I’m sorry.” I said, “Did Dad have a meeting tonight at church?” You go, “No. He went out looking for you.”
JOBETH: Oh, not good, ha, ha.
ED: All of a sudden I see his headlights through the pine trees, and he pulled into the garage. He said, “Keys. License.” I was pulling my license out and he goes, “Just give me the whole wallet! Your summer is mine, Edwin Barry Young! You will be working for me, you’re not going to see Lisa….” I mean, he went on and on. He definitely overreacted, Mom. Yeah, she was back there going, “Get him! Yeah!”
JOBETH: You have to be a team, Ed.
ED: Yeah, and you guys always presented a unified front. Then you eased up. I understand, you were scared of something happening to me and all that. Discipline, that makes sense. Dad was stronger on that point; you were a little bit weaker.
JOBETH: But all this leads, Ed, to the character training of the child. And all of us want that. We want to see good character in our children.
ED: We need to discipline decisively, that’s the deal, and consistently. But also, too, the character training thing is huge. Values are more caught than taught, but you catch them through training. Talk to me about the training thing. How did you train Ben, Cliff, and I? I know the training was there.
JOBETH: Well, it was; and it’s just like your love of fishing. Your dad taught you to fish, but little did we know that character trait—if you could call it that, wanting to catch that fish—was going to lead you. God was going to use that at one time for you to become a fisher of men, and that’s exactly what’s happened. I think back though…
ED: Well, fishing’s a biblical sport, too. The disciples caught fish, and they also fished for men.
JOBETH: But the time I think I was just so humbled by something that I saw you do—and you were quite young—as you were beginning to learn how to brush your teeth. You were about two years old, I guess, and you would brush your teeth and then all of a sudden you would brush the ends of your fingers. I thought, “Hmm, well.” But it dawned on me that I had a false tooth, just one, and every time I brushed my teeth I’d have to remove it. Then I would hold it in those two fingers, and I would brush it. So Ed thought, “Hey, my mom brushes her teeth and then she brushes the ends of these two fingers.” Really, it is funny, yet it’s scary, isn’t it? You realize how your children do look at you. They do what you do. They say what you say. It is a humbling thing.
ED: We’re on stage 24/7. Our children are watching us and it is staggering what they pick up.
JOBETH: But I do want to say, too, that if they are going to look at us, if they are going to mold their lives after us and learn from us, I feel that it is so important for the vertical relationship we have with God to be what it should be. I have found—and certainly this hasn’t happened in my life and didn’t when I was twenty-one years old maybe—but it’s been a growth process, a spiritual growth process. I feel that as long as that relationship is what it should be, the horizontal is going to be what it should be. In other words, it will spill over to your children.
ED: By vertically and horizontally you’re saying…
JOBETH: That’s right. If the vertical relationship is right with the Lord, then that horizontal relationship with other people—your children, your spouse—is going to be what it should be.
ED: Let me throw another question at you.
ED: When I was a teenager, I would sometimes say, “Oh, Mom, I don’t want to go to church tonight or for this youth activity because my friends aren’t there,” and this or that. What would you say?
JOBETH: I’d say, “Ed, you’re going to go.”
ED: “But Mom…”
JOBETH: “It’s not because you’re the pastor’s son, Ed. You just need to do that. It’s what we do at our house and in our family. We have chosen to go to church, and that’s what you’re going to do.”
ED: You know, I cannot thank you enough for taking me to church, and I want to put that challenge out to every mom, every single parent, every father, because there’s nothing like the local church. When we put that as a priority, you have an ability to underscore the values we’re teaching as a family unit: that we go to church. The church is also underscoring them and highlighting them. That’s strong, because the school systems and secular society are not doing it. It’s only the family and the local church. I firmly believe, Mom, that I would not be where I am today in my relationship with the Lord, with Lisa, with my four children; nor would I be here, had it not been for you and Dad saying, “You know what, Ed, sometimes you don’t feel like it, but you’re going to come along.”
JOBETH: That’s right. I’ve heard over the years, “Oh, well, I was forced to go to church. I want my children to have that choice. I don’t want to force them.” Well, we force them to do everything else, even to go to a birthday party sometimes they don’t want to go to. If you’re not going to encourage them and take them to church, how are they going to choose? They’re not even going to know church. That’s not even going to be an option.
ED: I know, even with our children, they say sometimes, “Well, I don’t feel like going.” I really feel we should capture those teachable moments as parents, as moms, in this context because we can say, “You know, LeeBeth and E.J., let me tell you why church is so important. The love we have for you and for each other, seeing someone commit their lives to Christ, knowing what Jesus did and is doing and wants to do in your life, you cannot miss out on that.” We talk about the importance of everything we see in life. When those teachable moments approach in rapid-fire succession, we try to capture them. That’s again going back to Deuteronomy 6:7.
JOBETH: I know in my own childhood, I never shall forget my dad explaining and using a teachable moment in my life. My mother had a fiery temper, and at one point she knocked down this little radio we had in our home—a little Westinghouse radio, I can see it right now. She knocked it off the counter and it cracked. Dad put it back together, glued it, and it was fine, workable. But in the next few days, he used that as a teachable moment. He said to me, “Jobie, I want you to see this radio. You see that crack? You see how I glued it? It’s together. It’s okay and it works, but that crack is always going to be there. It’s always going to be noticeable.” He said, “That’s true in our lives. We have things that happen to us: heartbreak, pain, suffering. God can heal that, yet the scars are always there.” God uses those in our lives, and I feel that we need to look for those teachable moments.
ED: Yes, we do. God has the ability to turn those scars into stars for all of us. I just want to again encourage moms at the church here to invite their friends to this series. I’m going to talk about when to actually know you’re ready to be parents. I’m going to talk about infertility, teaching your children about sex, discipline, single parenting—the whole nine yards. I really want everyone to show up here because I believe it’s the future of our culture. Mom, I love you, and your voice sounded real good.
JOBETH: Well, thanks.
ED: It did. It really did. Happy Mother’s Day to you!