This is a guest blog post by Gary Schneeberger, Vice President of Media and Public Relations at Focus on the Family:
Last week Jim Daly shared his journey of faith during a two-day Focus on the Family broadcast. Even though I knew the details of Jim’s story, I found myself fighting back tears all over again as he spoke. As turbulent as his childhood was—having his father abandon his family when Jim was at a young age and having lost his mother to cancer when he was seven, I am convinced those years prepared Jim for his current role ministering to today’s families.
After those programs aired, we received an encouraging letter from one of our radio affiliate station managers. I thought I’d share it to encourage you as well. I think it captures what the Lord is doing with Focus. As Jim has said throughout the transition, “God is in control, so be of good cheer!”:
“I wanted to pass on my thoughts and commendation about the Focus on the Family broadcasts featuring Jim Daly’s story, today and Monday. If you would, please pass my thoughts on to John Fuller, Jim Daly and the broadcast team:
I have something simple and big to tell you guys: WOW! Let me thrown in a pumping arm and add, “YES!”
First, we have carried the Focus on the Family broadcast since about 1980. It’s been a part of our lives and our listener’s lives for many years. Focus on the Family and Dr. James Dobson have been synonymous in our minds. Many of our listeners have grown up hearing Focus on the Family our stations. I’ve grown up with Focus from my days as a single guy in my early 20’s to married and parenting, now pushing 50. All with a backdrop of Focus on the Family.
Yet, in this time of huge transition at Focus into a “post Dr. Dobson era”, I was wondering, “Will Focus really be able to pull it off?” After all, Dr. Dobson has a very personable, charismatic personality that has always been a real draw. Sure, Focus has been a huge team of very talented people and not just one heavy hitter.
And yet, this transition really bothered me, not just as a listener, but as an affiliate station manager. Perhaps the best analogy would be a Super Bowl championship team losing their star quarterback. Everyone wonders: do they still have the stuff? Could they be Super Bowl contenders next year? Yeah, they have all the rest of the team, but the star quarterback is gone…
I must say that until just this week, I thought the same thing about Focus. I quietly wondered: Can this ministry pull it off? Can the lead speaker have the ability to connect with people, in a down to earth, personable way? Not a clone of Dr. Dobson, yet capturing the essence of what made Dr. Dobson “work” for so many years: that down-to-earth, person-to-person style.
Well, yesterday and today I found myself saying, “They DID it! Wow!” What an amazing two days of broadcasts Jim Daly is a different man altogether than Jim Dobson. Jim Dobson’s upbringing had a Dad we all would have loved to grow up with. Jim Daly’s background had family brokenness and heartache. Sad to say, many of us have had “family dysfunction” in our backgrounds, and find ourselves perhaps relating more with a Jim Daly than a Jim Dobson.
Don’t get me wrong: Jim Dobson’s wholesome upbringing suited an important purpose for those who didn’t have such a great Dad. They could somehow connect with what that Dad looks like, hearing Dr. Dobson share about his father. That inspired many dads, me included, to raise our kids in a healthy, wholesome way.
But I think that Jim Daly’s upbringing of pain and family brokenness ushers in a new era at Focus that has an even stronger element of empathy and compassion for the many who truly hurt. These virtues have always been there at Focus, and I believe it has been key to its success. But in this new era, I can hear an even greater measure of empathy and compassion, that really inspires me and, I believe, many others as well.
So many people are hurting. So many are wondering if there’s hope. Sometimes, all it takes is a person who can pull up alongside them and say, “I know what it’s like to hurt, really hurt.” From that meeting point, I believe that we can help that person to a much better place in the Lord.
Well, I know that’s not happening by accident at Focus. You’ve been planning this transition for very long time. But what had me on pins and needles was this: will the new Focus on the Family broadcast really get that across? Will Focus be able to communicate it in a way that is both professional, yet very personable, like we enjoyed with Dr. Dobson for so many years?
Today I am happy to say, “Absolutely! I heard it on the radio!” It really shone through in a huge way and I’m thrilled. Focus on the Family’s selection of Jim Daly not only as CEO, but also as the key voice of the broadcast really “hits it out of the park”. And it “does my heart good”!
So, hats off to the whole Focus on the Family team. By the infinite grace of God, you’ve done it again. Be encouraged—God has some wonderful things in store for you and all of us together!
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity…” (Jeremiah 29:11-14a).
If you missed the programs he’s talking about, you can listen to part 1 and part 2 here and here. To get the entire story of Jim’s journey to faith, why not pick up a copy of Jim’s book, FINDING HOME. And, let me invite you to keep in touch with us. Let us know how we can help your family thrive in the days and years ahead! We’re in this journey together.
Media and Public Relations