Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Protect Your Relationships

Leslie Basham: Why is Mark DeMoss so careful to make wise choices that promote purity? 

Mark DeMoss: I’m fully aware that great, great men and women of God have stumbled and fallen, going all the way back to King David in the Bible. I would be foolish to think that I’m somehow immune from those kinds of problems.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, June 9.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I want to welcome back to Revive Our Hearts my brother Mark DeMoss. And I’m sure I’m somewhat biased and certainly love my brother, but I’m also very appreciative of his heart for the Lord and the wisdom that God has given him as a man, as a husband, and as a dad. I know our listeners have been encouraged this week to hear some of the insights that he has shared.

Mark, you’re a husband; you’re a dad, a businessman, and now you’re an author. I remember the first time somebody called me an author, and I looked like “Who are they talking about?” because I didn’t think of myself that way. I know you didn’t particularly aspire to be an author, but this is a book that is something that was very much on your heart, that you felt compelled to share.

Mark: Well, I did. I’ve been fascinated with wisdom for most of my life: How you get it, and who can get it, and where you find it. That’s sort of what I’ve written about. I really believe wisdom is for everybody. It’s not for some elect group or extra-talented or intelligent class of people. It’s for all of us, and I’ve tried to write that way. That’s the only way I know, anyway. We cover a wide range of topics, some very simple and practical, some rather deep and maybe profound. I’m excited about it.

Nancy: The book is called The Little Red Book of Wisdom. You said, Mark, that the book covers a wide range of subjects. It does. We’ve talked about everything from priorities and values and focus in life to writing letters. I want today to just touch on a number of different topics that you talk about in the book that I think may sound simple, but in fact really are profound. They make such a difference in the outcome of our lives.

For example, you have a whole chapter on the wisdom of age and the value that you place in your life on getting wisdom from older people. Why did you feel like that was worth making a whole chapter in the book?

Mark: I feel like, one, it’s been a factor in my life, drawing from people much older than me. And secondly, I really feel one of the ways we get wisdom is from wise people, from being around wise people. There’s something about the way most of us live our lives. We naturally gravitate to people our own age. This is true from birth. We’re grouped in school with people our age. We tend to go to work and associate with people our age. Go to any church in this country . . .

I always thought there was something a little bit out of whack about that because I believe you can learn something from anybody. It’s always been a goal of mine to learn something from everybody I come into contact with. But somebody my own age has only lived as long as I have.

If I want to know about challenges in raising children, for example, I’d rather learn that from somebody who’s already raised them. So I write about several people, usually thirty-plus years older than me, that have had some sort of impact on my life or that I’ve learned from.

I think anybody listening could identify right now somebody who’s much older than them, and if they thought about it, they probably could glean something very insightful from their life.

Nancy: Who is one of those older people who comes to your mind who’s had a real impact in your life, and what did you learn from them?

Mark: A few of the people in this chaprter are well known people who have founded huge organizations. But one of my favorites is a story I tell about a man we all know as Mr. Lussi, Lamar Lussi. When we first came into contact with him—and he’s 30 years older than me; he’s in, I guess, his mid-70s—he was part of the maintenance and janitorial staff at our children’s Christian school.

He was always so full of joy and happy and had a smile on his face. He’d be out in the morning as people were showing up for school and was just that kind of person who would brighten everybody’s day whom he came into contact with.

He has since become what we call the “director of encouragement,” and is really something of a campus pastor and friend to our students.

Nancy: So your school actually has a position of director of encouragement?

Mark: That's his job title. And he does it. He takes it seriously. This isn't a show up at lunch time and shake some hands kind of thing. He's there first thing in the morning, and he's there at the end of the day. As I began to learn more about him and hear more about Mr. Lussi, the stories I heard just amazed me. I learned that he calls every student on their birthday.

Nancy: Every student in the school?

Mark: Yes. He calls every student and says, “I just want to wish you a happy birthday and pray with you.” And he prays with them for their next year. He usually does this early in the morning.

I remember one morning he called at 6:45 in the morning and talked with Georgia on her birthday. And as amazing as that is, I began to hear stories about students who had graduated and continued to get this phone call from him on their birthday.

We had a student that had graduated and was serving in the military in Iraq and got a call on his birthday in Iraq, somehow, from Lamar Lussi. This man will never be famous. He doesn't have a lot of money. He'll never be prinicipal or the head master, but to students who walk through those doors, he’s had a really remarkable impact.

And when you think about it, he’s 30 years older than me, so he’s 50 years or 60 years older than most of these students. I think these students will look back on this—to them—very old man with some remarkable memories about the impact he had at a particular time in their life.

You’ll find Lamar Lussi at the hospital when a student is ill or a family member is having surgery. A father in the school told me recently that a family member of his was having surgery. And he said, “Lamar Lussi was the only non-family member that came to that hospital.”

There are just dozens and dozens—and hundreds, I guess—of stories about this man. So I point to him as an example that there’s really no greater calling in life than that of a servant. This man is a servant. He’s given his life to these students and their families.

Nancy: As a younger man yourself, what’s been the takeaway for your life that you’ve gotten from this? What’s the wisdom you’ve gained from this older man?

Mark: It’s hard to overstate the impact that a call or letter or visit or prayer with somebody has in their life—and that he is a positive, joyful person, rain or shine. Nobody is free from personal heartache and struggle and turmoil, and he’s had it in his family. But coming through a carpool line in the morning, you won’t know that he’s struggling because he’s got a big smile on his face and a joy in his heart.

He’s the kind of person you’d want at your children’s school, and we’re fortunate enough to have him.

Nancy: And the kind of person you probably find yourself wanting to be like. Learning from older people, do you ask a lot of questions?

Mark: I ask a lot of questions. I want to know what it was like to lose a child or to be fired from a job or to be slandered in a newspaper article. Whatever I can learn from somebody who’s 20 or 30 years past me is valuable information. We don’t know it all; we can’t know it all.

That’s a great thing about life, actually, being placed here beside people who have been down this road. I have a special affinity for older people. I really do. We seek them out, April and I. We’ll talk, oftentimes, about, “Let’s go to dinner with so-and-so because their kids are already married, and now their kids are having kids. Let’s see what we can learn about how they handled their kids’ dating, going off to college, bringing a new family into the picture with an in-law, and so on.”

It’s a valuable resource that’s available. Again, this isn’t complex or out of reach. The wisdom of age is available to every person listening here. We all know older people.

Nancy: And the other side of that coin is to say to older people, “You have something to offer. There is wisdom that God has given you—maybe through making some right choices in life, but also out of wrong choices that you’ve made, regrets that you may have.”

I know we have a lot of listeners who are older and may feel that they have nothing to offer. As younger people, we’re saying to them, “We need to hear from you. We need you to be willing to share and to let our lives be touched by you.”

You know, learning from older people implies that you have a teachable spirit and that you’re willing to listen. I know you love the book of Proverbs. You read a chapter from the book of Proverbs every day. I’ve read through Proverbs many, many times over the years myself.

To me, one of the huge takeaways of the book of Proverbs is this: If I had to say what is the number one quality of a wise person in the book of Proverbs, it would be somebody who is a learner, somebody who has a teachable spirit, someone who listens to counsel. You have a whole chapter in this book, The Little Red Book of Wisdom, on listening instead of talking all the time.

Mark: It’s called “Shut Up and Listen,” which may be a strong term. But I’m big on this, Nancy, because first of all, I realize that in my entire life I’ve never learned one thing while I was talking. When I’m talking, I’m saying what I already know. I can only learn something while I’m listening or reading. My style and my demeanor is very low-key, and I speak slowly. April, I think, a lot of times wishes I would just spit it out and speed it up a little bit.

Speaking slowly for me is really not just a result of my style or my demeanor. I speak slowly because I choose my words. I hopefully avoid saying something that might be hurtful or that I might regret having said. It’s a great principle to listen before you speak. It’s a challenging thing for me in my line of work. I’m in the public relations business. We really get paid to speak quite often.

Nancy: To give counsel.

Mark: To give counsel, to give advice. Many people in our profession are very quick to give advice. But what I’ve learned—from years of being in meetings and settings where advice was being sought—is that oftentimes people are giving the advice so quickly, they haven’t even really heard the problem or the question or the dilemma.

So by listening and delaying my speech and delaying counsel and advice, I have the benefit of more information—more time to have thought through and processed what it is I want to say. We’re in an age where we have talking heads everywhere we turn. Television is full of talking-head programs. You have interview programs where the interviewer is talking instead of asking the guest questions.

That’s the society we live in. I’m a good listener, and I think people like a good listener. Sometimes it’s not easy, because we want to speak. We want to put our two cents in, and listening takes patience.

Nancy: I’m thinking of that verse in James that says, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). It’s interesting that when we’re not so quick to hear and we’re too quick to speak, we tend to be more prone to also get more angry, to get hot under the collar, or to spout off or mouth off.

Then there are all the regrets, and the words that come out that can’t be retrieved, and the damage that is done to children, in marriages, in relationships—the things we wish we could take back and can’t. So there’s a lot of wisdom in that matter of learning to be a listener, having a teachable spirit, and learning from people who have something to offer. As you said, every person can be our teacher.

Mark: This principle, Nancy, would prevent an awful lot of strife and arguments and stress in our homes. So many times, I could respond to something one way, which might even be what I’m thinking, and it could have a very explosive result. Or I could just hold my thoughts a minute and then speak something differently, and it can have a calming effect or a totally different result. Literally, in the span of 30 seconds, the result of speech could be remarkably different.

Nancy: I rode to the studio this morning with your wife, April, and we talked about this very thing. She talked about how your patience and willingness to listen and to be more level and not spout off has in so many cases—even in your marriage—defused her when she was upset about something. I know that goes both ways in your marriage, and that April is good at that as well. It’s a great illustration of what a difference that can make in a marriage.

Speaking of marriages, I want to touch on an unrelated area to what we’ve been talking about, but something you talk about in your book that I think is so important. It is something we talk about a lot on Revive Our Hearts, and that is loving your mate and your marriage and the glory of God enough to safeguard it by the way you handle relationships with members of the opposite sex other than your partner.

You talk in this book about defending your marriage by guarding against inappropriate relationships and contact in the workplace or outside of the home. State the principle for us and how you see that to be wise.

Mark: The principle, essentially, is to avoid being alone with a woman other than April in any room, automobile, etc.

Nancy: So we’re talking about business lunches—

Mark: We’re talking about lunch, travel, a taxicab, meetings. And you say, “That sounds pretty narrow or even inconvenient.” It is sometimes inconvenient for working men and women, but it’s a lot less inconvenient than trying to piece back a broken home. It’s a lot less inconvenient than paying alimony, getting joint custody of your children, and so many other things that result from cases where things go bad.

I’m fully aware that great, great men and women of God have stumbled and fallen, going all the way back to King David in the Bible. I would be foolish to think that I’m somehow immune from those kinds of problems. But the way I’ve approached this is to say, “Okay, while it’s possible for any of us to mess up in these areas, I want to make it more difficult—physically and humanly speaking, I’d like to make it more difficult.” One way I do that is to not work alone in an office with a woman.

My profession is, for whatever reason, about 70 percent women in public relations. But I decided I won’t do that. We hire women, but I won’t work alone in my office with one. If two of us are going on an assignment that requires travel, we won’t book a seat together on the airplane, even though that would be productive preparation time.

Nancy: I’m assuming you don’t go to the airport together.

Mark: We won’t go the airport together. On the other end, we’ll rent two cars. We’ll charge one car to the client, and we’ll pay for the second car, which to some people seems utterly ridiculous. “You mean two people going from the same airport to the same meeting place are renting two cars? That sounds crazy.”

But I’ll tell you what it’s done. It’s protected me. It has protected women who work for me. It has demonstrated to April, my wife, that this is important to me and that she’s more important to me than they are. It just sends a lot of signals, I think, that are good signals. And I don’t regret a moment of it. I don’t regret a bit of the inconvenience. It’s really now become sort of second nature.

Nancy: You’ve probably seen some situations where people didn’t take those kinds of precautions and really paid a price for it.

Mark: I’ve seen them, and I hear about another one, it seems, almost every week.

Nancy: People may be saying, “Just having a business lunch, that’s not an affair,” and thinking, “Why are you going down that road? Of course we can just have our meetings or work together and avoid that.” But you’re saying it’s wise to start out on the front end thinking about what the implications could be.

Mark: All of the disastrous stories that any of us could recount had simpler, more innocent roots.

Nancy: They didn’t start out as an affair.

Mark: Right. If you have lunch together, you’re now a little more comfortable together than you were the day before. If I give a woman a ride after work—I mean, everybody knows about these circumstances. A woman has her car in the shop and needs somebody at the end of the work day: “I need a ride to pick up my car.” That’s a seemingly very innocent thing to offer.

I just say, “You know what? We’ve got more women than men working this office. A woman will take you to get your car. I’m not going to take you to get your car at the end of the day.” To me this isn’t legalistic. It’s just, I think, the better part of wisdom. I do it for myself. I’m not preaching to anybody on this. I’m doing this for myself.

Nancy: Actually, I don’t mind you preaching on it, and I do preach on it on this program. The thought has crossed my mind many times—and I think you pointed out in the book as well—that a man and woman who are never alone together in an office or car or restaurant or whatever are highly unlikely to ever have an adulterous relationship.

Mark: That’s right. The worst thing that could happen, if you follow this guideline, is that you could get an unhealthy emotional attraction for somebody. But you could not fall into a physical relationship with somebody with whom you were not alone behind a closed door. It’s impossible.

Nancy: Over the years, I’ve shared this principle from the book of Proverbs and other parts of the Scripture with our listeners and have really strongly urged this, even in things like email communication. Our listeners know that when I have any kind of personal or ongoing dialogue with married men by email, I’m copying their wife.

Again, you might say this sounds like overkill or unnecessary, but I care about those marriages. I care about protecting their relationship. I care about guarding my own heart. These are things that have been so helpful to me. They’re like guardrails that keep you from falling off a cliff. You don’t need to worry about falling off the cliff if you drive within the guardrails.

Mark, I know that so many of our listeners want to be wise women, wise wives and moms. Thanks so much for writing this book. Thanks for sharing this week on Revive Our Hearts. I know that a lot of our listeners are going to be blessed by that book. I’m also hoping that they will order it for their husbands or for their dads as a gift for Father’s Day, because I think this is a book that not only will women enjoy reading, but the men will as well.

Leslie: Again, the title is The Little Red Book of Wisdom, by Mark DeMoss. It’ll help you to learn to guard the most important things in life: your relationship with God, with your family, and with other people. It’ll help you guard your time and use it wisely. It’ll help you make wise decisions and encourage the people you care about.
You can get a copy of The Little Red Book of Wisdom when you contribute any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Your gift will help us continue broadcasting Revive Our Hearts in your area. God can take that  gift and greatly multiply it in the lives of those who listen. Nancy has an example.

Nancy: While Revive Our Hearts is geared toward women, there are some men do listen in as well. One man wrote us from Wisconsin and said:

I just wanted to thank you for the work you are doing through your radio program. My wife benefits hugely from it, and I’ve witnessed an incredible transformation in her. This is particularly amazing considering the people she and I were in the past.

This husband listens to the program as well and wrote about the change in his life through this ministry. As I read emails like that I think, "We could not speak to this couple, and many, many others just like them, each day without the support of our listeners. 

Would you help us continue teaching biblical truth to listeners like these? We'd like to send you The Litle Red Book of Wisdom when you contribute any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com, or as for the book when you call us at 1-800-569-5959.

Just a reminder that The Little Red Book of Wisdom would make a great gift for a husband, a dad, or a granddad. Our order processing department tells me that if you order today, we'll do our best to get the book to you by Father's Day.

Leslie: We heard today about the importance of learning and listening. We’ll have a chance to do this tomorrow, listening to a panel of women who will share practical wisdom on travel, childrearing, marriage, and singleness.  Please be back, for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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