Men I am so excited to bring you the first part of my interview with Dr. William E. Brown, who is the president of Cedarville University. This first installment is going to focus on being a husband and father.
First I want to give you a little more information about Dr. Brown and his family. He has been married to Lynne now for 36 years. I will also tell you how cool Lynne is. On their 36th anniversary they went out to eat and then to see Avengers. How fun is that! They met during his senior year of college and went on their first date during his last month of college. They have two children and two grandchildren with whom they are blessed to live near. Dr. Brown is also currently in his 10th year as the president of Cedarville University.
Listen men and learn from this interview. Dr. Brown has been married for 36 years, has a daughter who is in her late twenties, a son in his early twenties and they all love to spend time with one another. He texts with his children daily, still enjoys breakfast with his daughter on a regular basis and is getting ready to go minister with his son overseas. He speaks from experience and there is much for us to learn from him.
WH: Dr. Brown thank you for taking the time to sit down with me. I am going to go ahead and jump right in with a big question. What is the biggest challenge you have faced in marriage?
DB: In marriage we face a lot of different challenges and they change as the season of life change. For you Wade with four young children the challenge is to balance nurturing your children and loving your wife. But if I were to pick one then I would have to say that over the years the biggest challenge has been overcoming “me”. If things are not going right in my marriage or family then inevitably I can look to myself and find the problem. God calls husbands to (Eph. 5) love their wives like Christ loved the church. When you consider how rude, backbiting, complaining, etc. the church is we get a better understanding of the commitment us men are called to.
DB: Lynne and I have taken personality tests like DISC and on all of them we are totally different. We are not supposed to get along. Howard Hendricks said that “It’s not how compatible you are but how you handle your incompatibilities.” You can be 99% incompatible but if you handle it with love and grace then you will have a great marriage together. On the other hand you can be 1% incompatible and if you are rude and self-centered in dealing with that 1% then your marriage will be miserable.
WH: You are so right that when you have kids it is difficult to maintain the balance of nurturing your kids and loving your spouse. What are some practical things you did to maintain this balance?
DB: Well at six months old I started taking April to breakfast every Saturday. At first it was to allow Lynne to sleep in and get some rest. Over time this became an important part of our routine until April was in her teen years and life got incredibly hectic. April even made it a point to be at home on Friday nights instead of at friends so we good have our breakfast date. I did the same sort of thing with Alex as well except it was on another day of the week. Now that April lives near us we still make it a point to have breakfast together on a regular basis. During our breakfasts together I tried not to be too parental but rather I took the time to find out what was going on in life. These regular breakfasts with our two children set a great foundation as they grew older.
DB: Lynne and I would have regular date nights. Working at a college provided us with plenty of babysitters. These times together helped us stay close and maintain that balance.
WH: From what you are saying it sounds like trying to set aside these times with your kids is important for creating a foundation that you can parent from well?
DB: That is true but I would say we shouldn’t try, but rather we must do these things. They are that important.
WH: Dr. Brown that is well said. When you first came to Cedarville I remember you sharing one time how you had been writing a letter to your children each year on their birthday and that you planned to give them the letters when they turned 18. I loved this idea and think it is a great practice for men to do. Would you mind sharing how this came about?
DB: Yeah I would love to share that. When April was born I found myself so overwhelmed. There was show much in me that I wanted to share with her about my hopes, dreams and love for her that I took the time to write her a letter. I figured I would give it to her at some point but I wasn’t sure when. Then her first birthday came along and I realized things had changed so much during that first year that I needed to write another letter. Then it continued and I decided that I would give all of them to her when she turned 18. I also wrote a letter when she trusted Christ because she was so young. At first I thought it to be a bit perfunctory but in reality this has been very significant for my children. Just before turning 18 I wrote one last letter, typed them all up and added pictures from over the years and then gave it to them. This was a very special gift from me to my children.
WH: I just love that! I am so glad that I heard you mention this over nine years ago. Is there any other piece of advice you would give to fathers?
DB: My father was a wonderful man but he was quiet and not very expressive. When I was older I was at his house in Florida in his office talking and he shared with me that he was proud of me. It about brought me to tears and I wondered why. I then realized it was because it was the first time I heard him say it. He never said he wasn’t proud of me but this was the first time he said it aloud. Fathers tell your sons and daughters often that you love them and that you are proud of them. I believe that many young boys struggle transitioning to being a man because they have not been affirmed by their fathers. As a result they look to prove their manhood through things like violent behavior, over working or pornography. So remember to tell your kids often that you love them and you are proud of them.
WH: Dr. Brown one of things that I keep hearing is that as husbands and fathers we need to take initiative to engage our wives and children so that we can have great relationships with them.
DB: That’s right Wade. As men when we aren’t sure what to do we tend to shut down and not do anything. We would rather do nothing than fail. As men if we are going to lead in our homes we must be the ones to engage and let our families know how important they are to us.
WH: This has been some awesome stuff! I am so encouraged by our conversation and I know that those who read this will be too. Is there any last advice you would like to give to the readers?
DB: Marriage and parenting is really about on the job training! I would say though that marriage more than anything is about commitment. Love is a byproduct of commitment. A couple weeks ago our son and daughter with her family were over celebrating our 36th anniversary and they took time to encourage their mom and me. As they talked April pointed out that over the years one thing she always knew was that her mom and I were committed forever and there was no fear that would ever change. She shared how that has carried over into her marriage. Men stay committed, never let the thought of divorce enter your mind, do the necessary things and you will be rewarded with love.
WH: Dr. Brown this has been amazing time learning from a man who has so much on the job training! Thank you!
Men I hope you enjoyed this as much as I have. What I love about the stuff Dr. Brown shared is that none of this stuff is over the top difficult, but it is simply making the time to engage your wife and kids. Dr. Brown also mentioned as he shared how he and his kids text back and forth almost every day. That is not a difficult thing to do but it lets them know he loves them and is thinking about them. The other great thing is this idea of “me” being the biggest challenge in marriage. He is so right on. During the interview he shared with me the “Men of Integrity” devotional and said that as men we need to do things to keep the important stuff in front of us. He has led a group of men for over three years through these devotionals and it has been a great way to keep the important stuff in front of him.
Well that concludes this post but be back next week for the second part of Dr. Brown’s interview. In that post we will be talking about the essential components of leadership and a fear that DR. Brown has had. God bless.
Your Turn: What are things you do to stay close to your wife and children in this busy life?