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Today’s guest is Michael Foster.
We go deep today talking about:
- Focus and prioritization with a large family and a busy life
- Taking action to lead your family successfully if you haven’t shown up well until now
- Daily disciplines and habits to navigate family, finances, fitness, and faith
- Mindset shifts to chill out and become a calm leader
- The most important thing a man can do with his family
Michael Foster is a husband to Emily, a father of 7, Pastor of East River Church, and business leader. He and Emily produce the We Made People podcast and newsletter to provide practical content for those who want to establish a productive Christian household which will last generations.
You may have heard of Michael as the author of the book It’s Good To Be A Man and the documentary of the same name.
It’s Good to be a Man by Michael Foster
You are the foundation of your family, you are the firm footing. They build their lives on. You carry a glorious burden and you never dream of laying it down. You carry it with joy and gratitude. You show up, even when you don't feel like it. You lead, serve, love and protect. You are a father. This is the Dad.Work podcast where men are forged into elite husbands and fathers by learning what it takes to become harder to kill, easier to love and equipped to lead. Get ready to start building the only legacy that truly matters. Your family
Curt Storring 0:59
All right, gentlemen, welcome back to Dad.Work podcast. This is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of dad work and I am joined today by Michael Foster. And we're gonna go deep talking about focus and prioritization with a large family and a busy life, taking action to lead your family successfully. If you haven't shown up well until now, daily disciplines and habits to navigate family finances, fitness and faith mindset shifts to chill out and become a calm leader. And the most important thing a man can do with his family. Now Michael Foster is a husband Emily, a father of seven pastor of East River church and a business leader he and Emily produce the we made people podcast and newsletter to provide practical content for those who want to establish a productive Christian household, which will last generations, you may have heard of Michael as the author of the book, it's good to be a man and the documentary of the same name, you can find him online, look up his name look up the we made people podcast we made people website, you can go find him on Twitter where he's most active, which is this is Foster twitter.com/this is Foster, Instagram, all the rest that kind of stuff. He's out there, just search for Michael Foster, I know you guys are gonna like this conversation. And it was very encouraging was very anti hype, which I quite enjoyed, because he's just talking about life. In a way that man he is doing so much in his life right now. And he's able to navigate the chaos, knowing that he's never going to get perfection and all of the things that he needs to do. And so how is he actually managing all of this? And I think he does a really good job answering that question. And many more. So guys, if you have been enjoying this podcast, please take two seconds, give this a quick rating and review on Spotify or Apple if you're listening on those platforms. And otherwise, you can join the 10 day elite dad challenge at Dad.Work slash challenge that's gonna give you 10 emails over 10 days 10 challenges to become an elite man, husband, father to lead your family well, so if you do that, you're gonna get a lot out of it. But if you just need this hit this morning, whenever you're listening to this, hop on into this podcast with my guest, Michael Foster. Here we go.
Alright guys, welcome back for another episode of the downward Podcast. I'm excited to have Michael foster here with me. Thank you for coming on. I know it's been a tumultuous couple of months, but I appreciate your time. And it is, in fact good to be a man. So I'm sure that's where most people listening will I've heard you from? But what are you up to today? Tell us just a little bit about how we made people and maybe just family as well how long you've been married? How many kids you have? Yeah, so Em and I celebrated 20 years of marriage this month. And we got married macing
Michael Foster 3:24
the 12th of July back in 2003. And we started dating in high school. So we've been together 25 years actually. And God has blessed us with eight kids. We did lose one child. So there's seven still with us. We had four boys, four girls, my oldest son will be 17 in October and my youngest is a girl she is three. And
so we've got we've got a busy household. And right now like it's County Fair, so that kids coming and going from the county fair to go watch rabbits and then ride ride that night. It's like they're and they all divide up in different groups. And Emma and I live a busy life we have a very full life we own a small farm. I'm a by vocational pastor, and and it just never stops. It's full. So I became a Christian way back in 97. Grew up kind of a agnostic atheists and so converted later in life and never intended to be a pastor. But a friend of mine asked me to fill in for a youth Bible study never came back. So slowly I took over the youth Bible study and then I became the youth pastor and then assistant pastor and I've planted two churches, both here in Cincinnati, Ohio, one way back in the day 2005 And then one back in 2020, which I am the senior pastor at, called East River church, in terms of I've been trying to A matter of fact, I'm taking my sales staff through essentialism right now is a great book, you haven't read this book, it's fantastic. I've been trying to dial back and just make sure that I'm super focused on the things that matter most, you know, what are the vital few amongst an ocean of the trivial many? And things are? What what do I want to spend my time on. So one reason I, it's good to be man was a podcast, I started with my friend Nan tenant. And I backed out of that, just because I felt like it reached a good closure with the 75th episode. And I wanted to work on something with my wife, and, uh, not really be dealing with difficulty of, you know, seven hour time difference and all that and, and, and I wanted something that was a little more story driven, and would help kind of move past just talking to men, but also a broader, still do the men's stuff, but, but a broader group. So we made people's the podcast, I focused on it, we started it, my mom had a medical procedure go wrong, that caused her to have two strokes. So then we had to get her back to health, she was doing good. And then two weeks ago, today passed away. So then we've been dealing with a ticket on her estate, and all that stuff. And that's, that's kind of the next level, as a man, as you get older, you start thinking about Probate and Trust and pass it on your wealth and total wealth management. And how do you not, you know, wealth is more than money? It's It's tradition, it's obviously spiritual wealth. How do you pass that on to the next generation? You know, how do you get it to your son and your son, son. And so that's kind of the stage of life a man, I'm 43 years old. So I'm in this, you know, I don't think we're having any more kids, it doesn't seem to be happening. And now it's like just discipling these kids up, and helping them start to build their own families.
Curt Storring 7:01
Man, you know what, I think that's why I'm sort of drawn to what you're doing, because it's so much. And it's so broad. And it's not like, Oh, I'm a specific expert in this one little thing. It's like, Man, I'm just doing a lot. And you know, having whatever success I'm having, but I'm also sharing and, you know, I'm imperfect, and yet, I'm just doing it. And how masculine is that to set an example by just doing so much. And that's one of the things I want to talk to you about is that focus piece, because as I was going through just some of your old material, I was like, dude, you've got a job. And you're pastoring, and you're doing this podcast, and you're doing this, and you've got seven kids, and you've got like, what? And I don't know, what's that that's like to have all these different things, because I've always just had my business and the family and only recently, much like you, it sounds like I just became a Christian last year. And so like, that's entering my life in terms of like, how am I interacting with the church and all that kind of stuff. But I feel busy with four kids, and yet you're, like eight times more than me? How are you actually navigating this? And I want to talk maybe just generally for now, but like, very specifically later? About, what about like the time with the kids? How do you prioritize that? How are you giving them one on one time? How are you getting time with your wife? So I don't know if you want to take that broad first in terms of what you're just talking about with existentialism is or essentialism, I should say. And then maybe specifically with the kids and wife,
Michael Foster 8:22
well, I'm kind of a sprinter, when it comes to life. So I'll be super intensely productive, and then kind of like coast for a bit. And so I started a church, bought a house, farm and got chickens, and wrote, it's good to be a man and worked as a business development guy that time, all at the same time. So someone's like, How'd you do that? I was like, I just sacrifice my health. Now, that's like, like, and so when you look at a lot of the wisdom on Twitter, you can just tell people aren't for real? Because it doesn't if you're actually doing it, you know what this can cost? And people say, well, that's bad. You say yes, it's bad. And, and so trying to figure out life's margins is not ever easy. And it so sometimes you just gotta go 200% and can't, can't sustain that for very long. And that's, you know, you can go 100% For a short period of time, and then you got to back off. And you really kind of as a general, if you kind of think about things, like when you're building like electrical structures or whatever, you always want to create 20% room. You want to oversize it 20%, right. So you always want to be running at 80% capacity. That way, just in case if it goes higher to the spike whenever you have a problem. It's kind of a good rule for life. Try to, in general, run at 80% of capacity. Right? Always leave another 20% So for example, if you have something like my mother have a stroke. What happened is Emma and I switched on and off, going down to the hospital full. And it was a four hour commitment just because driving there and getting in there, whatever. So one day I do four hours next day, she do for about four hours. We did that for two months, or nine weeks. And we had to do it to keep it alive. And we're having disagreements with the administration at the hospital and how they're dealing with stuff. So what happened? Well, the kids got neglected to some degree. Right? And, but they're older. And in then what also happened, like they watch screens more than they should have. So now we've had to correct that, right. And then we got my mom at her nursing home. Then we stopped going to her every day, she was better, she was recovering. And it was like every other day or every three days and we'd and she was actually able to talk on the phone. So I give her a call and have that conversation with her. And, and that didn't go there. So we slowly started to recover. Now that she's passed away, we're now we had I told my wife, we had the funeral Monday of this week. And then it was like, Tuesday, we were like staring at each other like a pm like what do we do? Right? Like it was there wasn't something crazy going on for the first time in months. And then yesterday, I said, All right. Now we gotta get back to our get back. You know, for me, I love the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. And by the end of that movie grows so much. Because he this gets this rhythm right this habit. And I said my ideal life is to get a really strong rhythm and habit. And so what we have to do right now, number one, let's get back into our family devotions. So we do that Monday through Friday around the dinner table. So like I read scripture for like 10 minutes, and we talked about it for about another five or read for about five minutes and talk about it for another. It's very short. But man, I'll tell you, it makes a difference in your household. So I'll read a passage and then I'll say what do you think about this, right? And the kids will say I think this and whatever. And sometimes they'll say silly silly things, we'll all laugh or hurt. Alright, stop joking, I really have to talk about this. But once we get that in, I'm back to doing like zone two running, just try to get my 150 minutes in a week to to, you know, 300, something like that. And Emily, actually, I saw her this morning, and she had started running again. And so now like, alright, let's add our habits back in there. So, so long way to say sprints will happen in life. And people on Twitter often are idiots that are only new advice that if everything's ideal, here's all the things you have to have, right? And you're like, yes, yes, but it doesn't, you'll you'll be falling in and out of that in life. And to get to a place where you have those habits in that way, you can squint real hard, and you're gonna lose this, you're gonna pay for it somewhere. And everything's trade offs. Right? Was it worth to do what I did, and to have the negative effects on my health? I think I'm willing to trade a solid church. We paid off $70,000 of debt from a business loss I had during that period to not having that around my neck. Yeah, I think I am, that I'm willing to do that. But you can't do it forever. And so we so you got to look at your time and just say everything's a trade off. Right? And so when you say no, to something, you're gifting yourself time in the future. So can I do this? Can we do this right now? No, I cannot do that. I had to spend time with my kids. So I think really busy people. It's okay to be busy. If you're busy in the things that matter, right? Do not be busy and stupid things. Like it's that simple. Like, why am I doing this? Why am I engaged in this argument? Why am I why am I sitting here watching YouTube real or Instagram real or Facebook real after real? Why not go live a real life? You know? Why not join? Do you actually do you know, resilient jujitsu or take your kid to the shooting range? Or go get you know, why not actually just do things and so just you really have to have a good idea. So for me, I have a pretty discipline, way of approaching how I get things done. I wake up at 5am Take a ice cold shower, drink my coffee. Let my mind clear. Don't look at my phone. Don't don't look at anything electronic. Don't look at my email. Try to keep it that way for about the first 45 minutes to an hour. If it decent outside, go and walk and just pray. I'll listen to my Bible sometimes on my phone, but I'm not checking any notifications. Sometimes I'll sit down and read my Bible like got actual paper Bible. And then like, you know, your mind starts to clear that I sit down, I read 1000 words every day. So if it's crap, right, it's like morning pages is the discipline is always to write 1000 words. So you just become used to write in. So that's that I do sermons three, three times a month, those sermons are about 3000 words. So I'm producing I produce around 40,000 words of content a month. So it was really good. A lot of it's terrible, but I'm always writing. And so one reason I have so much content is because I just made writing and I'm a writer, I made, you know, I started to think about myself that way. And, and so now, but I have so much content, and I mult I use it in multiple ways. So I will when I'm working through something, it might be a Twitter thread, but that Twitter thread gets rewritten into part of a sermon, where I do a sermon, and that serving gets broken down into a Twitter thread. And it's not, so I'm reusing content constantly. And I take lots of notes when I read books. And in I just, I'll try to sum up, like, whatever stuck out to me in all. And so what I do, I save it on my iPhone, it's in my apple notes. And I'll just write it there. All right, that stuff at stops, stoplights, whatever. And then when I'm thinking through an issue, I'll put in a key word, and they all show up there. And so I have like, years and years and years of notes of when I first read Extreme Ownership, or when I first read spiritual leadership, it was, well, Sanders, I've gone through essentialism. Now twice. I have all those notes. That's hard when you read books, because sometimes you're like, you're paraphrasing something, someone said, a little too close. And it could be plagiarism. So you just gotta like, where did I get this from, you know, I don't want to get in trouble. And so I do that, I wake up, I get those, I get that work done. Then I, my wife usually gets up around seven ish. So I'm usually done with that. She and I sit and she sits on the couch and kinds of wait wakes up and the kids start to come out, the younger ones will talk to them walk through where where we're going to be that day, like what's going on. And, and so then, from there, I get to work, I work usually 830 ish, to five, nine to five. So I work 32 hours a week at my my day job. Come back home, but I come back home, first thing I do, go put on my shorts, and go run and lift to do it right away. You don't do it. If you address anything else, it's just, it's gonna get too late, you're gonna be too tired. I may switch to the mornings, but I'll go do that. And then then I feed the chickens and the kids come and do that with me. And then I evenings are with him. Like from about we go to bed around 10 ish. So it's been about seven hours of sleep. So I'm trying to get to eight. But we from like, 830 to nine. It's just me and my wife hanging out talking for laundry. You know, maybe we don't watch much
anymore on television. So we'll like pop up in a bottle of wine and sit and talk and hang out. And then the way we do stuff with the kids is sad. Friday is Family Night. So I see you know, almost always to that stuff. And then I so no, I won't give up Friday unless I'm out of town. So we will usually like play Mario Kart, Mario all stars or, you know, watch a movie if there's anything to watch. And, and then Saturday morning, we let them watch cartoons and we'll go to like a park or whatever. I take Friday's off to focus on like church meetings and leadership planning. So we just kind of get our flow of our life in, there's all these little responsibilities. Like I have to go to Home Depot to pick something up. So then I'll pick two kids. And when you will have a lot in your app for kids now you'll start to see this they start to pair up. But I mixed my kids up. Like I'm going to take the older kid and the younger kid that's going to be weird. We'll see how that goes. And and then we and so we then we just talk about life. We go to Home Depot and we get to stuff. And now Home Depot becomes like father, son, father, daughter time, I got to do it anyway. And we just talk, don't talk to your phone, like just turn it off. Like I'm super willing to ignore people. I have 90 unanswered text messages right now. And that's pretty normal for my life. Just you have to like when you're with your kids to be there. And so I think you don't have to spend tons that's really hard if you grew up in a broken family, figuring out how much time you should spend with your kids how much you should play. The main thing is I used to be nuts. I used to play like, three hours a day with my first two kids we'd like, and I was easily guilted. And I'm like, if I didn't play with them, I felt like I was doing a bad job, then I found out that almost no one does that. And it's super weird. And into, what I do now is I try to make sure that I've had a conversation with all my young kids every day, older ones, they start to pull away, you know, when they get puberty, my 12, whatever, they you don't have to have a talk every day. But anytime I make sure I see them, every day, I make sure they get a hug and ask them how they're doing. Sometimes it's just like, I'm fine. You know, it's a teenage boy. But I try to I try to use my life to enter, I stack as much as I can. And I think people try to get things one thing done at a time. But I think you can fill your life if you learn how to stack and let things overlap. But that's the reality of our life. It's very busy life. And I would say I work 60 hours every week, between church and my my day job. But we do spend a lot of time with our kids, and they're happy, cheerful children, it's been blessing him. So that's kind of a long breakdown. But I just feel like one reason we started we may people is because I'm just sick of everyone having everything figured out. You know, if they don't, and I just don't buy it. I hate all the influencer culture is toxic. Instagram is where people go to envy. So often, these can be awesome things right? Obviously, we're doing this, I use it. They can be really powerful tools. But I think people don't understand how close they are in life performance to a lot of the people they look up to. Don't think they realize that those people, they talk a good game, man, life's messy and hard. And when we did, we made people I said, what if we did a family and marriage podcast, where God was the hero, not us. And it wasn't us having everything figured out and just letting people know. Yeah, we got some food stamps once upon a time, not not not proud of it. And yeah, we almost got divorced. And here's how we've arrived we're at. And my marriage is oasis. Man, I love it. I mean, we love hanging up my wife. It's like we text all day long and, and super close. And I love being a dad and I don't have any strange kids. And but it wasn't always that way. It was hard to get here. And it's just been kind of sloppy and bumpy. That's the reality. And so I just like, the here's, here's how we how we're doing it. Here's the real answer. You know, sort of that's all. There you go,
Curt Storring 22:37
man. Okay, so this would lead to like, 10 hours of conversation if I dove in everything I want to dive into. But I really appreciate that because it was the broad overview. And it's so encouraging. Because, I mean, I don't know what to expect. I also come from the so called broken home. Weird dynamics going on. And so I'm looking at this going, I'm not sure what it's supposed to look like, because I've never seen it done before. Nobody in my family, nobody my wife's family has like, had the family that stayed together. And I went through, I think probably some of that guilt you're talking about before, which is like, Man, if I do this one thing to my kid, it's gonna ruin them. And I only know that because it, it felt like it ruined me. And what I didn't take into account is, well, I'm going to be there for him. Like, nobody was there for me. But I'm going to be there for my sons now. And my daughter. And that seems different. And so I like the fact that like, it can be messy, and it can be life, which it's supposed to be. But one of the things that I've noticed in guys I talked to is when they have to reorient and put more into one bucket. I'm finding guys getting lost, going like, oh, no, I'm never gonna get back. They're all what am I going to do here? And then they kind of just crater. And I think it's probably to do with like, the short term mindset that is so prevalent in culture that I struggle with, versus like multigenerational, like bro, it's fine. We're going to spend a little bit more time in a year from now. And that's okay. But you want to talk about that at all. Is that Is that accurate? Do you think?
Michael Foster 24:02
So? I grew up again, like pretty high conflict household, a lot of fighting and a lot of arguing and a lot of poverty, and lots of different types of abuse. Not physical abuse. Maybe that's the wrong way. Like I wasn't protected. Like we were inundated with evil movies. You know, just stuff that kids shouldn't see a young age and my and my mom and dad just like were disrespectful and fought in front of us all time towards each other and a lot of anger, all that sort of stuff. And that's that's a really hard environment to grow up in a kid. I was very sensitive, very intuitive, sort of feeler type of guy. You know, I read a room when I'm sick. I'm terrible to be around. Because it messes up my ability to read people. And I think everyone's mad at me. Like, oh boy, why was my wife like, are you mad at me? She's like, are you sick? I might have Yeah, I started to realize that, you know, my spidey senses messed up. But when you grew up in a home in your life that you kind of gotta shut off your emotions, you don't grow, you have stunted growth, okay? And when you don't have a dad that teaches you things, at least in a positive sense, by handing that stuff to you, there's, you're always going to be behind a little bit. And so I learned things in my 20s, I should learn in my teens, things in my 20s, or in my 30s, or children in my 20s, and so forth, right? I'm always going to be behind, but I can close the distance, you know, I can gain, but dads are awesome. And without one, you're at a, you have a loss. Like I like to use adoption, as an example. So adoptees, will always have a loss in their life in peace, good adoptive parents know this. And so it's doesn't mean they can't have a happy life, a good life or whatever. But they have had a lot of suffering in their life, they, and they feel a loss. And you just have to recognize you've lost something, you've lost a good family, and you're always going to be behind. But who are you? Who are you competing with them, like close the distance, don't worry about it, and make the ground you can make and know that right now in America, a whole lot of men are just like you, right? A whole lot of men struggling and then you can make a brown like I again, I almost failed out of school. Because I wouldn't do my homework, I almost got a divorce because I wasn't leading my, my family well, and my wife was getting seduced by feminism. You know, and yet, here we are, and we've made so much ground by God's grace, get what you can get done. And I'll tell you this much though, like regretting the past, like nostalgia, I think of histology as a killer, as a thief. Where were you, you can kind of get whimsical and wistful and look back to the past. That was awesome. Everything was great. And there was good things. But a lot of times people are doing that, because they're just unhappy in the present. So they're really sacrificing their future a lot of times because they're full, so full of regrets. Do I have regrets? Yes. But during the past, I don't have a time machine. There's nothing I can do about it. God's forgive me for my sins, I've repented to them. And so now I'm just gonna move forward. And I would say, like, All right, so you again, you're supposed to you told yourself, you're gonna lose, you're gonna be at your ideal weight by the time you're 30. And you're still as fat as you were when you made that goal. Well, nothing you can do about that. But once you start doing something now, once you start changing your habits, right like this, get going. And I think moving guys to action guys really think they need a plan. You don't need as much of a plan as you think you do, right? Like, I mean, basically losing weight is core deficit. Like there's all these other things like I'm a big fan of keto, but keto and carnivore. But one reason that works is because you're eating less calorically dense foods, and you're more satiated, so you don't eat as much. So you can argue about the particulars. But how do you make How do you solve a financial problem? More income, and less expenses? That's it, man, like, so where can you cut expenses? Where can you increase, like, start taking little steps, and then you get in the habit of winning, you get in the habit of doing things. And so I feel like I'm always just trying to push people to do something. Like every time I do a podcast, I was like, Hey, do you have seven books to read on that? Dude, you've read seven books, and you didn't do anything with those last seven books you read? Why don't you do one of the things from one of the last books you read instead, instead of me giving you a bunch of books to read? Why I got a bunch of books to read, but most of our most guys are trying to break free. Their problem is a think mastery in information and technique is the thing that will get them free. What they really need is a bias towards action. And I know that sounds like again, Twitter platitudes or social media platitudes, but you got to you actually got to do something. And so I just say, start doing something gain when you can gain and when I think of my son's I think of, I'm thinking of generational football, right? So my grandfather was a cult leader on my dad's side and a bad man used, sexually abused some of my cousins was physically abusive to my dad, and put my dad in a mental institute back then, and they were really abusive places. He whipped my dad with cables. At one point, my dad didn't do any of that to me. My dad never beat me, my dad definitely loved me. He didn't teach me how to be a man. But he gave me what he had said, How far do you move the football down the field? Well, he moved it down the field, maybe just a couple yards. But now, he wasn't he wasn't a bad evil man, and like my grandfather was, and now I'm able to move the football down, you know, way further, my kids aren't, will actually have financial inheritance and will actually, they grew up in church, and they've been discipled. And I care very much about their education, I focus on all that stuff. Am I going to get where I would like to get to in this life, I'm not going to, but that's for them. Right? I'll hand the baton to them. And say, keep building Casa de Foster, keep building the house of Foster. And here's, here's the next stage, son, here's some of the things you should you should consider. And that's how you think about things. Get as far down the football field as you can, and raise your children to the best of your ability to be the sort of people that will take the baton for you and say, I'll take it from your dad, you can rest.
Curt Storring 31:04
While said, Man, that's um, that's one of the things that I think action, obviously, that's not by my own desire, just like how God made me as like, Thank God, I've got that action by us, because that seemed me through a lot of things. And I try really hard, like you said to sort of push guys in that direction. But what I didn't realize about action bias is that it actually requires time often. And I was not willing for that time to be passed. I was like, Well, I'm doing the thing. Can I not have the results immediately? But no, you can't actually. And I think one of the greatest things of becoming a Christian for me is like, oh, no, I've got a really long ball game to play, like a really long ball game, and that my own death isn't even the end of it. And that blew my mind. And so I'm starting to think much like you were just talking about more generationally. And man, the stress and the anxiety is just melting off. But when I do something for a long enough period of time, I noticed that I tend to just do better than somebody who's only been there for a little while. And imagine that. So I think like if guys can sort of remove the shame and the guilt that you were talking about before. Like, I've got regrets. But like, okay, so and then what? Like those are just taking away your entire life if you don't forgive yourself, and then seek forgiveness through repentance, and ask God to forgive you. But man, there's just like, be under tension for longer and you will grow more, and then things work out when you just do stuff for a long time. Is that what you're seeing that to?
Michael Foster 32:30
Me? Yeah, I mean, so think about weightlifting. So if you haven't been weightlifting, the first week, you're going to be sore, right? If you're pushing it fairly hard, that soreness doesn't break for almost like three ish weeks for most people. And once you hit a certain age to get my as you feel, you got to be really careful. You want to hurt yourself, like you don't live the life you live to live. But but I've found for me personally, at about three weeks of consistency, it starts to become more automatic. And so then I think about like, got to do this for three weeks, right? And so you're like, just you are willpower using willpower. But willpower can only sustain you so long. It's got to be become more and more automatic. And so I just saw people try to get three weeks of anything, right? Don't masturbate guys, for three weeks, look at pornography, that will like you can do it. Cold showers, run lift weights, whatever it takes, okay, if you want to break free from that, like if you can just get three weeks now will you fall back into it at some point, a lot of guys do or whatever. But it you can break a habit. Usually in about three weeks most habits and what's good is like your willpower can probably get you there. But willpower, you it has to start it's just times like I like JC Ryle, he wrote a book called thoughts for young men. He's a, he's a really recommend him be a good good guy to read. But while he um, he says habits are like stones, that when they start to roll down the hill, they start to fall, like they become more unpredictable and uncontrollable. Okay. So uncontrollable habits are good and bad. Right? Like if dude, I'm gonna get up and I'm gonna lift weights, it's just what I do. It's just a habit, right? It's just who I am. That's a good thing. So habits have can be positive or negative. And when you're young, they're like a little sapling. Anyone can break them. But as you get older, you grow into a tree and then and then not even six men could push you over right? And so habits over time become more set. They become who they become, like I I didn't think of myself as a writer until I almost had my book published. And my co writer said you, I thought of myself more of a creative brainstorm. You know, like, I wasn't really writing these long articles or anything. And he was like, Dude, you are a writer. And nowadays, I think of myself that way. And so I write because I'm a writer, James clear talks about that, and, and atomic habits, that becomes part of your identity. And so give it time, and over time, it just becomes who you are, you know? Yeah,
Curt Storring 35:27
one of the things that I've noticed about myself, and the guys that we work with is that habits, the willpower for habits tends to stick a little bit more if you're doing the right thing for the right reason. So if you don't know why you're waking up, to lift weights every morning, you're not going to feel super enthused when you start to wane in the willpower. But for me, I'm like, well, I need to be the grandfather, who can still squat to pick up his grandchildren, and then like, run with them. So I need to wake up early and go to the gym today when I'm 34 years old, so that when I'm 64, I can do these things. So I don't know, does that has that been part of your journey as well, like, here's why I want to do the thing, and just be able to, like really prioritize based on values.
Michael Foster 36:10
Yeah, and wanting to look good is not a great motivation. I think like a lot of the motivation, I mean, that not that that doesn't matter. But you have to have the deeper motivations, the deeper reasons are the things that make us tick. What's what is, I have this written on a whiteboard, in my office at home, the best gift I can give to my kids is a healthy godly present. Father, right. And, or to my family is healthy, or godly, healthy, present me. And so why do I'm doing this? So I can be here as long as possible? And but why do I want to get in shape? Well, because, you know, I've got, I've got weight to lose. And one reason I'm gonna lose the way, so I have more energy, so I can spend more time with my kids. So so I can be a better example to them. So I can be a great example to my own church, and I'm a leader, and people follow me and they emulate me, and you the easiest way to change behavior and other people's first change in yourself. And I look, when I see behavior, my kids that I don't like, obviously, it's my job as a data discipline. Correct. But I always start with, where's this true in my life, right? And where can I change that. And I've worked really hard in making our house very calm environment. So not a lot of fighting, all screaming, it's pretty hard to provoke me to get me to scream, right? If I scream, something's on fire, or you really have stepped out of line in a very intense way. But really trying to cultivate an environment where we don't have arguments, we have discussions. And when we argue we don't argue to figure out who's right. But what's right, right, we're trying to figure out what's right. And, and I'm teaching my young, my young sons, how to control themselves. So one reason I just whatever I want my kids to be, I gotta be that in subsidy motivation? Do I want my kids to be healthy? Do I want my kids to resent or not resent? Resist a lot of the evil things in the culture? Well, I have to resist it myself. Do I want my kids to be cheerful? Well, I need to be cheerful, do I want them to be self controlled? Well, I have to be self control. And I think that's a big motivation for me, I want to be I want I want to be what I want them to be. And so that motivates me. And that's, that's definitely changed how I do ethics. You know, these are a lot of these truths. It's hard to write books on them. Because they're, like, on a paid, it's like a single page sort of thing. You know, I mean, and so, I think it's, it's like Jocko says, like so much is it's simple. It's just not easy.
Curt Storring 39:06
Yeah, yeah, I've thought about that, too. It's like, Okay, what if I wanted to end up writing a book about some of the stuff I'm doing? It's like, okay, well, it's gonna be a lot of fluff. You know, maybe that's why I'll stick to Instagram where it's, you know, very limited. But when you said that, about being who you want your kids to be, I think that's extremely important. The influence that we have, they're going to use us as a mold to fit into eventually, and you heard a lot but you know, boys will want to be the man their father is and girls who want to marry the man, the fathers, and that's a lot of motivation, especially now that I've got a daughter and that's like a whole different level of, oh, man, I better be like on my game, but I want to bring the discussion a little bit to family leadership, and how much a man can sort of change the culture of his family if he hasn't been doing these things? Because on the one hand, you've got the man who have abdicated leadership and are wiser now picking that up and you know for For whatever reason, the wives want to feel safe, the husband's not making them feel that way, whatever. But can have you seen, I guess, in your church community in your own life? Can you as a man with nobody else making these changes around you? Can you lead your kids into acting better? Can you lead your wife into trusting you and following you again? Like, how much influence can we have, when we are the only ones who decide to make a change? Does that make sense? It does.
Michael Foster 40:26
You can have influence how much is going to depend on how far along you like If so, for example, let's say you've abdicated and now you've got teenage kids, and, and you've been married many years. Trust doesn't, it's First off, it's gonna be very difficult to correct a lot of the mistakes you've made at that point. But you can correct some of them. And, and that's what you should focus on, is, you can't, you're not going to, let's say you never play with them with their little kids. Well, you're not, you're teenagers don't want to play trains anymore, right, you're gonna have to find some other way to connect with them. If you've made a promise after promise to your wife, and not kept making yet another promise is not. So for example, women will talk down to a man, when he met, he sets a goal, here's what I'm gonna do, right, women will say, will somehow show disapproval. What I think a lot of guys don't understand. In many cases, that woman is scared to have hope, because she doesn't want to be let down again. And so it's like a self protective measure she's doing, like, I'm gonna lose this weight. You know, there's women, they get really worried about their husband's health, right? Or I'm gonna get our finances right. And she'll kind of Naegleria in some way. And she's doing that, because you've let her down so many times, if she just doesn't want to get her hopes up. So what I always tell guys is Don't tell them when you're making changes just change. Right? I remember, when I lost like 30 pounds, and never gained it back. I still got more to go. But um, I decided I'm gonna lose weight. And I decided what I was going to do it is just do omad. And, you know, just beef and broccoli every night, and then run two miles. So that's what I did. And I run two miles every day, I ran through as a tornado warning, or anti moths, like whatever. I just did it. And I didn't tell my wife that I was going to do this. But I want to get home from the church office, I got put on my clothes, and then go run two miles, come back, drenched. I've got a lot of weird food allergies. So she doesn't usually cook down for me because I am particular in what I can eat. So she'd see me eat the same thing over and over again. So that I start losing weight and feeling better. She says I really need to get I need to get back running myself. I was like, well, that's great. Yeah, you should do it. I really support that. And she said, Would it be okay, if I ran with you? I was like, yeah, yeah, she's like, oh, I want to run three days a week. I'm like, that's cool. You know. So then she runs three days a week with me. And then she switches to running every day. I run around everyday but Sundays, and and we'd go for runs. And we would talk we talked about life, you know, and stuff and improved our marriage and improved her health improved my health. And, and I never taught her to get in better shape. She's She's like, she's naturally skinny. She used to like seriously eat a sleeve of Oreos and down it was like Chardonnay and not getting any weight. Where meat is looking at it I probably put a pound on and but she had gotten she had gotten some more weight on her than normal still looked fine. But I didn't have to tell her to lose that. She just started following me. Now it will work that way every time. No, but it's what are you gonna do? You're gonna scream at her. You're gonna scream her into submission screamer into fine. Like you're gonna guilt her you're gonna do manipulation? How's that gonna play out for you? What choices do you have? Right? Where do you have agency? What can you do? You can basically use your example and words. And that's all you got. And if you start using other things as leverage, like withholding sex, withholding money, withholding affection, whatever, that that is going to probably lead to a you know, shoot off, right? Like, it's gonna get, it's gonna get rough. So I say, set goals to grow in the areas that you want to see change in the family, and then recognize that everyone's gonna resent you for a bit. This is a it's a crab barrel idea, right? My guide income a guy starts like dressing nicer. Everyone's gonna tease them. Right? Nice shirt, do they make it for men? That sort of stuff. They're gonna they're gonna give you a hard time and and you just have to dudes do that it's in sometimes it doesn't. It doesn't matter. I don't really mean anything negative about it. And sometimes they do. Your family will do the same thing. So the crab barrel, as the crabs try to climb out of the barrel, the other ones pulling back down, right. And your family does it for different reasons. But you're just gonna have to take some of the criticism. And in the Dad, you're trying to be Mr. Dad now, but where were you when I needed you? I wasn't there. I wasn't, I'm here now. Well, that's good and all yada yada yada. I don't care, right storms off. Like, you could say, you're never why would you ever forgive me? You know, like, I forgive you. You have mistakes too yet. You can do all that if you want. But I think it would be better to roll with it. And say, Well, I love you. And and just to, like wear them down. Wear them down with your kindness, to discipline. Rocky Marciano. I love boxing. So all life I explain in boxing metaphors. Rocky Marciano had a pretty powerful puncher. But he was he was mostly good as his pressure game, Moses. Like he just kept common and common and common and common. He didn't let off. And that's how you have to be used as that pressure, constant, godly pressure on your family. And, like I had one of my sons, they were getting in a fight, my two older boys would get in a fight. I don't know what it was over. So Emily throws them out in the back porch and tells them just to duke it out, and slams the door. Right? I'm on the phone. And then these are these boys are big. They're like, you know, HUDs is six, two now. And Athanasius is 511. Both both right around 175 pounds, give or take. And I'm like, Whoa, you boys can't do that. You stop. You go to your room. And we'll talk in a moment you come over here. And because I just didn't want them to beat the snot out of each other. Well, of course, my my son, my son Athanasius. He's a little more intense. And he screams at me right away. Right? I your temptation as a man is to match and go above. Right? How dare you talk to your father that way, you know, Mr. temptation, but what you want to do is you want to go below, right below my son, you need to change your tone. Don't talk to me that way, what's going on? Okay, well, here's what's gonna he'll he'll almost always lowered the volume down a little bit. Right. And then when he does that, again, you go a little below that, and then you're turning the tension down, like you literally changing the volume on it, you're pulling him into your gravity, right? You have a gravitational pull as a man, you're pulling him into it. And you're teaching him how to manage his emotion. But you have to have yourself under control, and not be insecure, and overreact. And like, you know, how dare you talk to me that way? You know, he's a dumb teenager, I'm teaching him, right? Like, is this a threat to my manhood? Is this a threat to leadership in my house? If I, I can just tell him, you're not cutting the internet off and not buy your new clothes? And you're eating potatoes every day? Like, what was the kid going to do? Like, I have all the control. But um, so I shouldn't be insecure about it. And so I think the tech, What's hard is not to changing yourself. What's hard is letting people pull back, pull you back into who you once were, you just have to know when you're changing. They are going to resist the change you're bringing into the life. And when you exhibit and when you experienced that resistance? No, that is a necessarily necessary step in correcting your household. The resistance is them like Is this for real? Push them back on you. They're testing you? Are you the Are you the new man, you say you are right. And resistance is part of it. And just like pressure, keep being who you are now, don't let them change you. If you screw up, say you're sorry, or whatever, move on. But I think that's you can bring a ton of change, and you can fix what you can fix. And I've seen some really terrible households, like be transformed over a period of time, five years, 10 years. And with marriages, it's almost always better to work out your marriage than get a divorce. Now, it's not always better. But it almost is always better. To like being divorced and trying to get married again, especially later in life is is a nightmare. I tell everyone this, no one wants to marry a divorcee. Especially if you're old and ugly. They don't. And someone's got to tell someone that it is a brutal hard life. And some some people got thrown into it not by their own choice, right. wife left them cheated on them, whatever. But um, work like work it out, man. We're like do Do what you can. So that's my thoughts. Yeah,
Curt Storring 50:03
those are great thoughts. I appreciate that. And I don't want to spend like too much time on the tactical part. But I'm curious if being calm was always the way that you were or if you brought some of that anger into the beginning of your of your marriage and family life, how did you get that under control?
Michael Foster 50:18
Um, how did I So definitely, I used to have a shorter wick and more explosive temper, but I definitely learned more, I can be temperamentally mild. But I used to get really upset about things. And then I started to think about them differently. Like, for example, but if you think of relationships as power struggles, your spouse is going to feel that, and they're going to sense the critical judging mistrust from you. And they're going to mirror that back. atcha. And then why are you behaving this way? Why are you being so negative? Like, why are you trusting me? Well, you know, then you're getting a fight. And then that will be a self confirming, like prophecy, see relationships or power struggles? Well, they certainly are when you come with that mindset. And so stop thinking about things the same way. What like, you have to actually change how you think when I, I look at my, my job as a father, to turn children into adults, right? I'm raising adults, I'm not raising children. In the sense, I'm raising them into adulthood. But, and a big part of that is just teach them how to manage your own emotions and tell them no to them, like, and so I, like meet them, their reaction to me is not about me. Right? I have a job, my job is to Father them into maturity. So I don't take it personally, or not in the same way I used to, as I think of, I really know what I'm trying to accomplish in the leadership of my home. So I think thinking about things differently. When we go into an argument. I like to always give my wife a hug when start arguing like, wait, wait, wait, wait, we're not enemies, we're on the same team. Let's just touch each other. Because there's something about touching each other that diffuses tension, you'll feel like you'll feel like that breath, and you kind of relax a little bit changes the nature of the whole conversation. And so I think, starting to think differently about stuff. So anger is a secondary emotion, it usually comes from being deprived of something like comfort is one might. So I don't really think in my life about being comfortable. My life is a man, like, so I love to start my day with a cold shower. It's not comfortable. I've been doing that for 20 plus years. And so when my kids come and ask me for something, and they interrupt me doing something, I don't fly off the handle, because I don't think of my life as being about comfort or ease. So I think just starting to think differently about what your purpose what your roles are, you know, that that'll help regulate it over time. But it takes a little while. But also praying, praying, like, like, angry people haven't resolved their issues, because they, it's all it's all like bubbling around behind them. Also, some of us just like lifting weights and taking like cold showers bring down inflammation, like, sometimes your body's just super irritable. You're just irritable, right? Because you you're charged up, like how are you offloading your stress? What is the release valve in your life? You know, I think those are also boundaries, setting clear boundaries, like, Hey, Daddy has this at this time, is when Daddy does that. Okay, those are those little things done and cumulatively changed stuff.
Curt Storring 53:49
Yep. agreed on, especially for me, that was the boundaries big time. I was just, you know, let people walk over and go like, why aren't you respecting the boundaries? And I'm not setting and then, you know, yeah, exactly the word. I know. We got a couple more minutes. I'm curious. Last sort of thoughts on? I don't know, speak to me. Imagine, you know, you're going through, you've got your four kids, you're about to get into the teenage years, you want to lead the family? Is there any spiritual discipline? Is there any encouragement? Is there any, like, make sure you look out for this, that you would want to leave us with before we get where we can find more about you. I think the
Michael Foster 54:22
most important thing a man can do in his household is to read the Bible and pray with his family. I mean, seriously, what I tell guys is pick three to five days a week to start and read a portion of Scripture, usually from a historical book, just because it's a narrative. It's easier for the kids to listen to. It's not as didactic you know if you're going through Romans and you got little kids it's probably rough but if you read in like a gospel or Exodus, you know, anything like that. That can be a great read some passage a lot of times in Scripture, they kind of have them broke like Bibles, they have little board parts. This read that read it and say what's what stuck out to you? What do you think about it? And then like, yeah, stuck out to me too. Why do you think that stuck out to you? Bla bla bla bla bla bla, right? And, and then you talk for a few minutes and say, Okay, what should we pray for as a family, you know, we should be praying for this, that has got this big job coming up. And I should probably, you know, as an herbalist said, Let them say this, pray for their cat, pray for their friend, pray for their toe, pray for whatever there just depends how small they are. And then you pray. And then you start to also have them pray. And then you can like do things like sing psalms, or something like that. But if you just get that first 15 minutes down, you will find that your kids start talking to Oh, dad was like that thing we read the other night. I mean, you said that, and then you start building this culture around that I think that's the most important thing a man can do in his home. And where a lot of guys go wrong is they try to do too much. You know, like, I have these guys that kind of, they become Christians. And now they're like, they try to almost like reproduce a worship service at home. Right. And so, and it's like, man, doing a little for a long time, produces quite a bit of fruit. So I'd say, Do not neglect reading the Bible, and praying through children. Also, you cannot tell your kids, you love them too much. You do need to encourage them. And you need to like boys get discouraged, super easy. Young boys. You don't want to flatter them. Right? Don't make it fake. But encourage them when they do well did a great job. positive reinforcements is more powerful than negative or the long haul. And, and then you just you have to actually have to discipline your kids, you have to tell them no. And I don't know what sort of podcasts this is when it comes to spanking. I'm against hitting. But, but a squat in the butt associated. It's not about punishment, it's about corrective and saying, Hey, sins, bad behavior brings destruction into your life, it brings pain, okay? And you you need to instruct your kids. So you discipline them and say, here's the right way. Right? And you do it under control. I don't know about ever being without anger, like, just you have to be in control. That's the main thing. Those those little things like, do so discipline has two forms. It has restorative, right and formative. So restorative is bringing them back to the right way. Can't bring them back to the right way if you hadn't taught them. So formative discipline is a word we use for it often is like discipleship. So how are you teaching your kids? How are you? Like, what is the means? There's informal and formal, like is the formal so that you go around the table and you do family devotions? You take them to church, you make sure that they're, you know, getting, they're interacting with the sermons are involved in whatever ministries your church has for them. You're forming them, and then when they walk away from it, you correct them and just be It's okay. It takes takes a long time. Kids sometimes are crazy. Like, my second Warren has, like, done crazy things for some reason. And I remember when he was like little, we said, we just got to get them to force. So you'll stop, you'd like to escape the house in the middle of the night and do like, like nightmares. But power through it. Like I hear a lot of people say, Oh, spanking doesn't work, I spank them. Well, you got to be consistent. You have to have consistent rules and stick to it. It doesn't happen overnight. It takes often months and months and months. And also some kids, it doesn't work. And some of my Christian friends will disagree with me on that. But I don't know. athenee says you can hit him with a piece of rebar, he would cry for a second back to normal. Would it matter why the kid had a bunch of steel and it didn't just in a matter. And I learned that that wasn't the way that we're going to get the fruit that we're looking for. So that's this kind of a throw a bunch out there. Brother some thoughts?
Curt Storring 59:08
No, I appreciate that very much. And where should guys find you now? Assuming they want to know more, which I would recommend. I know you got books and podcasts and stuff like that. Where's the best? Yeah.
Michael Foster 59:18
So I wrote a book called it's good to be a man. You can find that on Amazon. It's there. There's old podcast that has 75 episodes. He's still on iTunes or any directory we haven't taken off. And then also I'm on Twitter's where I'm most active at this is foster th is is FOS ter This is foster mom on Instagram at we made people which is our current podcast we were we are walking through kind of how we've grown to understand marriage, family, children, all that stuff. And we're kind of just telling our story, and using the birth of each kid as a framing mechanism for this first scene. So nice,
Curt Storring 1:00:01
sweet, amazing. Okay, well that is excellent. I appreciate your time on this. And I'm really glad we got to connect after the craziness of the last couple of months. So yeah, man, appreciate your time. Thank you for listening to the dad work podcast. That's it for this episode. But if you would like to stay in touch between the weekly episodes, why don't you go over to Instagram and follow me there because I draw up a number of things throughout the week that are related to what we talked about on this podcast but usually go a little bit deeper, provide some tips you can find me on Instagram at dad work dot Kurt. That's da di W O RK dot c u RT. And please, if you have been getting something out of this podcast, if it has touched you if it has improved your marriage, your parenting or your life, would you please leave a quick review on Apple or Spotify, leave a rating. If you have a few extra seconds, leave a quick review. That's the best way that we can get this work in the hands of more fathers. And I truly believe that we change the world, one father at a time because each father that parents better that loves better raises children who do the same. And in just a couple of generations. I feel like we could be living in a world much better than the one we live in today. Your review will help us along that path. I thank you so much for being here to listen until next week. We'll see you then.
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