Read an Excerpt
Thoughts on Faith, Family, and Fatherhood
By JOSH TURNER
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2014 Josh Turner
All rights reserved.
A MAN AT PEACE
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. PROVERBS 14:30 NIV
Integrity. The word means "things fit together" or "things are as they should be." And when things are as they should be, I can be at peace. That's one reason why I want to be like that, a man of integrity. I want my sons to be able to look at me and say, "Daddy's a man at peace." I want to be a man of integrity, but I sometimes fall short.
Here's a question: what's the worst thing you could imagine happening on a photo shoot for Bassmaster Classic? Bingo! The fish won't bite! This happened to me recently. Not that there weren't any fish biting, but just not fish of the right size. We spent the day on the lake doing everything right, but all I could reel in were small fry. Nothing big and manly and worthy of the title "Master of the Bass"! We were burning daylight, so my guide finally said, "Josh, I caught a big one earlier today. Wanna use it?"
And there I was, faced with one of those moments when I had to choose what kind of a man I was going to be. And I took the bait. I said, "Yes." We got the big one out of the cooler, I struck my best pose, and he snapped the photo. Mission accomplished. "Head for the shore, fellas!"
While that may have been a great photo, it wasn't a great moment for me. To tell the truth, it was awful. I didn't act with integrity—and I knew it. The fish in that picture? It didn't "fit" the actual circumstances. Things in that picture were not as they should have been.
It may sound corny, but I felt dirty after that experience. I felt like a dog that had rolled in the muck and needed a good hosing off. It wasn't my guide's fault, and it sure wasn't that fish's fault. It was all Josh's fault. I made the decision to do something that didn't fit with who I want to be. Basically, I blew it. I haven't been all the way around the block, but I've been far enough around to know you only get so many chances to blow it in this life before the people closest to you—the people you love and care about the most, like your sons and your wife—start to doubt you. Oh, they'll keep on loving you, but they're just not sure they can always trust you.
I don't want to be that kind of father or husband or friend or man. I want to be a man of integrity—so that my heart will be a place at peace, peaceful like the glass-smooth surface of a bass-filled lake at dusk.
Sometimes choosing the little fish makes you the bigger man.
DON'T LET IT GET THE BEST OF YOU
The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. HEBREWS 13:6
When it comes to fears, I've got a few. The first that comes to mind is deep, dark water. To me, being in an abyss is the epitome of feeling helpless and overwhelmed.
On our one-year anniversary Jennifer and I went to Jamaica. That was when I first gave snorkeling a try, but I didn't last very long. When I first stuck my head down in the water and saw the coral reef right in front of me, I was fine. But when, in my peripheral vision, I caught sight of the depth and darkness of the ocean, I literally started hyperventilating, something I'd never experienced before. I guess the best way to describe it is, I freaked out! I grew up about an hour from the ocean, and I've seen a lot of crazy things in and around the water. Plus, as I've gotten older, I've learned about rip currents and sharks and stingrays and other sea creatures, so I have a healthy respect for it all.
The other fear I'd mention is a much more personal one: it's being gone from Jennifer and my boys. When I say gone, I mean separated from them ... permanently. Just the thought of that gives me a heartbreaking, hurt feeling. I actually wrote a song recently about the possibility of being apart. It's called "Being Gone from You," and it's probably the only song I've ever written that makes me shed tears and get choked up when I'm singing it. It's just a very personal, emotionally deep song that talks about my greatest personal fear.
But I've learned from experience that, if you're not careful, fear will get the best of you, maybe even the very best of you. Fear can keep you from people and experiences that could enhance your life. For example, I've seen cases in my own family where parents are so fearful for their children—so scared they're going to get hurt or sick—that they really shelter them, if not smother them. Then their children miss chances for going out into the world and making their own mistakes. Unfortunately, instead of drawing the child closer, all it does in the end is push the child away.
I believe it's best to deal with fear in the opposite way. If you look in the Bible, you'll see that "fear not" is one of the most consistent messages you'll find. I lean on the verse that says, "Do not be anxious about anything" (Philippians 4:6 NIV). So that's what I do: I pray and give the fear to God and trust Him to give me courage. Now don't get me wrong. It's okay to be scared. Being scared is a natural emotion and a good reaction to some things. And in certain situations the feeling of fear can literally save your life! But feeling fear and living in fear are two very different things. And God clearly doesn't want us to live in fear.
When Jennifer and I celebrated our ten-year anniversary, we went to Hawaii. With her encouragement I decided to give snorkeling another try. I managed to get in the water, figure out how to breathe through the snorkel, swim down into the water, and actually have a great time. I really did. I believe that, with God's help, I overcame my fear of deep water enough to try snorkeling again. I even got to see a green sea turtle—something I would've missed if I'd let fear have the best of me.
DREAMS REQUIRE HARD WORK AND REST
"Be still, and know that I am God." PSALM 46:10 NIV
I knew at an early age I had a talent for singing. My parents did too; they could see it. When I turned thirteen, it became a dream of mine to take my talent somewhere, so I started singing at ball games and beauty pageants, basically anywhere anybody would let me sing. By the time I was seventeen, which was the summer of '95, I was playing guitar and writing my own songs. Between then and the summer of '96, I started working at a local farm supply warehouse. I realized this warehouse was full of a lot of dust, chemicals, and pesticides. But what I didn't realize was, I was ruining my voice by breathing in all that junk and by not knowing how to sing properly or take care of my voice.
I'll never forget the day I started singing along to a Tim McGraw song and felt physical pain. I knew right then something was wrong. I told Mama, "My voice hurts. It hurts to sing." She took me to a local doctor, and he advised us to go to the Vanderbilt Voice Clinic. What they found was a lesion on my right vocal cord. Fortunately they said, "The Lord does better healing than we do, so we're not going to do any kind of procedure." I was put on vocal rest for a year. I was also told to drink plenty of water and to stay away from alcohol and caffeine—and from that chemical-laden warehouse!
Another part of my rehab was working with vocal coach Sharyn Mapes in Florence, South Carolina. I'd visit her once a week after school and sing classical vocal music (also part of the doctors' approach to my healing). That was an extremely hard season for me because I couldn't do what I loved to do—sing country music. (I did learn to whistle real good though!) At the end of that year, I started easing back into singing country, but I used the classical techniques I had learned.
In August 1998, I transferred to Belmont University in Nashville, right back into the world of classical music and theory. I knew I was still struggling. The truth is, I was fatigued from such a taxing experience. But the pain gradually started going away, my endurance returned, and I started noticing my range had gotten a lot bigger and the texture of my voice was like never before. What I initially thought was a big problem turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise.
I'll never forget sitting down at Belmont one day, singing a Randy Travis song called "The Hole," and hearing myself thinking, Wow, now this is really special! Only God could've seen how all this would work out.
The days and weeks and months of rest had paid off, and my voice not only healed but became stronger. Plus, I then knew all about my vocal cords and what I would need to do to care for them over the course of the career I dreamed of.
Actually, the truth is, God healed me. I just had to be still for a while and let Him.
PLAY BY THE RULES
No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter. Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 2 TIMOTHY 2:4–5
In the early days of my career, we all traveled on the same bus. By we all I mean my wife, Jennifer, the crew, the band, everybody. That's just how it is when you're starting out. But I felt convicted that we needed some rules, some bus rules. So I posted a list in the bus. There were actually quite a few, but here are four I remember:
1. No women on the bus unless they're family.
2. No alcohol, drugs, or smoking.
3. Clean up after yourself.
4. We play country music and we dress the part.
I remember playing at the Grand Ole Opry several years ago, and a member of another band got on our bus and "took" the rules and hung them up in the men's bathroom of the Opry. As you might guess, this got me and my list a lot of attention—negative attention. Billboard magazine even included it in a story they were doing at the time on touring in the music industry. My reaction to the whole thing was "What's the big deal? I'm not ashamed of the rules on my bus. I don't care what anybody else thinks about it. It's my bus."
I don't post my bus rules anymore. Everybody who works for me knows what I expect, and they abide by those expectations—or they don't work for me. I believe this is the way it is with our heavenly Father. God has rules and expects us to abide by them. This is His world, and He knows how it works best. If we don't want to follow His rules, we're free to find another bus. But His is the only one that'll get us to where we really need to be.
MAKING A LIST
Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. PHILIPPIANS 4:6
You know those stories about how God answered prayer right down to the tiniest of details? Well, Jennifer and I have a story like that, and it involves our home.
In 2004 we were living in a brick home patterned after an old farmhouse. It was very well built and we loved it, but it was right in the middle of a neighborhood with a shared gravel drive, and we soon found ourselves craving some privacy and space.
So in late 2007 we started seriously looking for a new house with some land. We looked and looked all over the Nashville area but just couldn't find exactly what we wanted. Our realtor was helping us too. All of us were constantly on the Internet looking at listings trying to find our place. Well, Jennifer and I got home from church one Sunday, and we started looking at listings. That's when she said, "I think we need to make a list of everything we want in a home and property, and then pray over it." I thought that was a great idea, so we did: we made our list and prayed over it.
Almost immediately we felt the Lord telling us to look for land instead of a house. Prior to that we were opposed to building; we just didn't think we had the time to get involved in all that building would mean. The idea was just overwhelming. But we really felt God leading us that way. We talked it over with our business manager and with our realtor. The two of them said they felt good about it too, so we changed our focus and started looking for land. Again, we looked and looked, but there was always something just not quite right with every property we looked at.
Then one day our realtor sent us a "land" listing just a few miles from where we were living at the time, but it already had a house on it. It was a brand-new listing—it hadn't even been on the market twenty-four hours—so we made an appointment to see it. We were the first prospective buyers, and as we drove onto the property, it was almost like walking through the pearly gates. This property had everything on our list. Everything! It was amazing. There were old barns on it from the 1800s, a creek ran through the property, it was close to forty acres, the house was well built, it had a shop, the grounds offered plenty of space for our boys to run and play—I could go on and on.
To this day we have no idea why the property was listed under the land MLS since it had a house on it, but that's the way it was! We also realized that, had we not prayed about it and started looking for land like the Lord told us to, we never would have found it. So it was very obvious that God was taking care of us and testing us at the same time.
I'm grateful that Jennifer suggested making a list and then praying over it. That invited God into our decision-making process. It wasn't that He wasn't in it to begin with, but it was a very tangible way of saying, "We want a change, but we want to be led by You, Lord." God answered our prayer, every detail and then some.
A MAN NEEDS FRIENDS
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. PROVERBS 27:17
I was somewhat of a loner growing up. I did have a best friend or two as I got older, but one of those went down a different path than me. Other friends would get close but then move away or do something I didn't agree with, so I'd part ways. I didn't place a huge value on fighting for friendships. If you hurt me, you might get another chance, but maybe not. I was fine and dandy by myself.
But one day I asked myself, If my wife and children were taken from me, who would I have? Who could I depend on outside of my family? The answers scared me. So that night I committed to nurturing my friendships, especially my friendships with men, and doing a better job at being a good friend.
A man needs friends. He needs other men who will hold him accountable, encourage him, and lend a listening ear. And sometimes a man just needs another man to sit together and laugh with. Yes, it's that important. Many times I get set in my ways, and I'm intimidated by being asked to step out of my comfort zone. I'm convinced this has kept me from fostering male friends throughout my life.
Early in the book of Genesis, God told Adam that it is not good for man to be alone. What we've learned since then is, it's also not good for man to be a loner.
COUNT ON IT
Now above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your "yes" must be "yes," and your "no" must be "no," so that you won't fall under judgment. JAMES 5:12
If Daddy said he was going to do something, you could believe it would happen.
One time my brother and I were walking down the dirt road beside our house with Daddy, and he said, "You see that power line? I can hit it with a rock on the first try." Then he picked up a rock and hit the line!
One of the craziest things I've seen concerning Daddy's credibility happened in the drive-through lane at Hardee's. We were sitting in line after placing our order, and Daddy said, "I bet I can spit my gum in that trash can over there." Even though Daddy was competent in situations like this, the trash can wasn't close by. But he leaned back and spit his gum, and it landed on the lower edge of the can's lid. And then Daddy's gum rolled up the lid and into the opening! We simply could not believe it!
I don't know if we were impressed so much with what Daddy did as we were with who Daddy was: he was and is a man who will do what he says he will do. Trust me!
BELIEVING IN MYSELF
We will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head–Christ. EPHESIANS 4:14-15
A lot of my success has come from just believing in myself and in the talents God has given me, no matter what anybody around me is saying. I've learned you'll always have encouragers and discouragers. When you're chasing a dream, you have to learn to sift through what people are telling you and saying about you.
From my early teenage years, through high school and into college, I had the dream of being a country music singer and getting a record deal. That was all I talked about. You could see my dream in the way I dressed and acted. Even my bedroom when I was in high school was decorated in a country theme, complete with pictures of country artists all over the walls, a couch covered in cowhide print fabric, and a coffee table made out of an old wagon wheel. It was a dream I was really trying to achieve, so I surrounded myself with what I loved and symbols of what I wanted for my life.
Excerpted from MAN STUFF by JOSH TURNER. Copyright © 2014 Josh Turner. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.