FamilyLife Today®

4 Strategies for Authentic Manhood: Jeff Kemp

with Jeff Kemp | November 8, 2023
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Former NFL Seahawks quarterback Jeff Kemp offers four solid strategies toward a powerful, humble, and fearless biblical manhood that goes the distance.

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  • Former NFL Seahawks quarterback Jeff Kemp offers four solid strategies toward a powerful, humble, and fearless biblical manhood that goes the distance.

Former NFL Seahawks quarterback Jeff Kemp offers four solid strategies toward a powerful, humble, and fearless biblical manhood that goes the distance.

4 Strategies for Authentic Manhood: Jeff Kemp

With Jeff Kemp
November 08, 2023
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Jeff: Lift other people; lift the Lord; lift the circumstances. Make things better than they used to be. And that works better when you’re humble than when you’re proud, and when you’re team-oriented than when you’re self-oriented, which means you’re going to be counter-cultural in a consumer-based, selfish, performance-driven, “me, me, me” culture.

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at

Dave: This is FamilyLife Today.

Ann: Let me start the day, because we’ve been talking about manhood for the last two days with Jeff Kemp, which has been phenomenal! But Dave, as I’m listening to Jeff, I’m thinking, “You are this man.” You’ve had a rough past. You had a miserable childhood in some respects, but you are living out what it looks like to be a godly man. And now that we’re older—we have grandchildren—when our sons come to you and say, “Hey, Dad, this wasn’t too great in our family,” and “This hurt me when you did this,” the fact that you have been so humble to say, “Tell me more. What do you mean by that?”

Whew! That is being humble, and I have loved watching you grow older and become more dependent on Jesus than ever before.

Dave: You just said that, and my first thought was the opposite.

Ann: What do you mean?

Dave: The fact that you’re saying that is like, “Oh, that’s good.” I was—the last two days with Jeff, which I love,—


Ann: —me, too—

Dave: —and I agree with everything he’s saying—I was feeling [that] I didn’t measure up.

Ann: Like a failure?

Dave: “I wasn’t that husband.”

Ann: Aww.

Dave: “I wasn’t that dad.” I mean, that’s where I went rather than—and in one sense, I was inspired, like, “I’m going to! I’m not dead!” [Laughter] I can still breathe, and I can do it.” But, again, there was a part of me thinking, “Oh, I failed.” Do you ever sense that, Jeff, still?

Jeff: Of course! We’re competitive, and that’s the carnal side of us that wants to do it ourselves, and always compares, and feels less than.

Dave: Yes.

Jeff: At the beginning of this book, Receive, I say, “Let’s take a look at the quintessential man; you know, the man for all seasons.”

Dave: Jesus.

Jeff: Jesus. But when you look at Him, don’t compare yourself to Him, because you’re going to be pretty “stinkin’ rotten,” to use Ann’s words.

Ann: That’s good!

Jeff: Compared to Him, right?

Dave: Yes.

Ann: Yes, yes.

Jeff: You’ll beat yourself up and all this stuff. That’s not the gist. Looking at Him gives you the essence of who God’s going to turn you into and who God gives you credit for; because Jesus lived it, then He died, and then He gave it to you if you receive Him, are born again, and say, “You’re the center of my life.” You get credit for that!

That’s how He’s seeing you. Your wife not only sees a lot of good performance, but she sees that, when you don’t, you want to be different.

Ann: Yes.

Jeff: She’s giving you credit for that. That was such a sweet, great dynamic—

Dave: —oh, it was!

Jeff: —of marriage right there.

Dave: Yes.

Ann: And we’re talking to Jeff Kemp, who’s married to Stacy, who’s pretty wonderful, too.

Jeff: Totally wonderful!

Ann: How many years have you guys been married?

Jeff: Forty!

Ann: Forty years, and you have four—?

Jeff: Four married sons, and nine cool grandkids. [Laughter]

Ann: We’re talking about his book, Receive. The subtitle is The Way of Jesus for Men. I love this conversation. It always gets me excited (and I bet other women are, too) when men are talking about what it looks like to be a man of God.

Dave: Even your title—we said it earlier: It’s a quarterback writing a book called Receive. But as a quarterback, and we both know this, we love great receivers. Great receivers have attributes. I was thinking that your book is a little bit like that. To receive from Jesus, and to be the man we’re supposed to be, we have to be good receivers. We have to follow the way of Jesus.

Jeff: It’s proactive.

Dave: Exactly!

Jeff: It’s not passive.

Dave: Right.

Jeff: I had a few really smart, great authors tell me, “The word ‘receive’ doesn’t sound really strong. It’s not that catchy. It doesn’t say anything masculine enough.” I talked to another friend, and I said, “How about if we put a tagline, ‘The Way of Jesus?’” He said, “That’s strong!”

Dave: Yes.

Jeff: But you know, Steve Largent is in the Hall of Fame. He wears a really cool, gold coat, and so does Jay Rice; two guys that I threw some of the touchdowns to. Those guys were incredibly intentional and proactive about receiving the ball.

Dave: Yes.

Jeff: Steve Largent used to look at the tip of the ball, not the ball in general. “Aim small, miss small.”

Dave: Yes.

Jeff: Both of those guys would tuck the ball away and wrap it between their palm and their arm pit so no one could punch it out. They would catch with one hand to be ready for one-handed catches, okay? They would catch with a bag in their face to get better at difficult ones. The best receivers in the NFL are unbelievably trained to go get the ball and make the quarterback’s job easy. They’re serving the quarterback.

Dave: Yes.

Jeff: Now, a good quarterback is actually supposed to be serving the wide receiver and throw[ing] the ball to a one-foot diameter of accuracy ahead of him—

Dave: —right—

Jeff: —not behind him, not low or high; protect his ribs, you know, “get smacked in the jaw, Mr. QB, but put the ball on the money!” Drew Brees was my example of seeing someone do this over the years. He was an investor in the success of his receiver, alright? That’s the same principle in marriage. Ann, invest in Dave; Dave, invest in Ann. Where do you get the power to do it? You both can’t do it! [Laughter] You’re just human. You’re sinners!

Receive it from Jesus as a daughter of God (“Abba”), Ann, and as a son of God. That’s the receive principle. Proactively be dependent, be humble, be listening; read the Bible as a son, listen to a sermon as a son, listen to a podcast as a son—or a daughter—and wait for Him to speak to you. God is real. He’s not limited by anything that the world says. So, that’s proactive receiving, and it is something strong, but it doesn’t depend on you. It depends on Him. You’ve just got to make yourself available to Him and believe that He’s good, which is why we’ve been talking a lot about, “You’ve better believe God is Who He really is and get an accurate view.” Once you do, you can get an accurate view of you, and an accurate view of you is humble.

“Humble” means seeing yourself through God’s eyes: “I am incredibly valuable. He makes me; He made you. He doesn’t make junk. I’m made by the Master! But I am so stinking flawed. I ran away from Him, tried to do it my own way, and had a bunch of hidden pride and lust (and this and that) and stupid motives. I mess up. So, I’m more flawed than I can ever imagine, but I’m also valued and created with this great potential, and He died on the cross for me!”

Ann: It’s the gospel!

Jeff: Yes, right. If you have that accurate view of God and then your accurate view of yourself (which you receive from Him, which you can’t earn), then you can start receiving from Him minute-by-minute guidance on how to live. So, I lay it out: the number one thing is [to] receive; the second big thing is [to] transform. Keep changing into a better version of you through God’s power. You don’t have to do it on your own. It’s [to] transform into Christlikeness. You know, Romans 8:29: the purpose of life is to be conformed to Christ. That will make a better husband, a better radio host, a better quarterback, a better janitor, a better software designer, dad, mom, or whatever.

“Transform” [means] always be ready to grow. Be humble on the journey from as is today to “to be.” By receiving from God, you’ll get a lot of that help. Secondly, by huddling—connecting, opening up, talking, supporting, and praying with each other—I ask the question every week of my buddies, and they of me, “What’s the most important thing you need to talk about? What’s the most important thing that I can pray for?”

Ann: This is Level Five friendship.

Jeff: That’s Level Five friendship. I have heard God speak through my buddies when I just get that honest. That has been changing me, transforming me, from the as-is Jeff of three years ago to the version today, which has a long way to go to be more Jesus-like, but it’s getting better. And I’m not—there’s no scorecard! I’m not better than Dave or worse than Dave. I’m obviously much less good than Jesus [Laughter], but I’m not going to beat myself up for that, because He already gives me credit. It’s grace! Grace, grace, grace, grace.

Men, you don’t just need friends,—as Dave Wilson said last show, or you’re going to crash and burn in loneliness and isolation and unaccountability and some stupid decisions—you get to have friends!

Dave: Yes.

Jeff: It’s fun! It’s awesome! It’s teamwork. So, the first word is “receive,” the second is “transform;” always changing. The third is “huddle,” which is this Level Five friendship. Don’t go alone. And the last one is “lift.” It’s kind of your mission as a man. Lift other people; lift the Lord; lift the circumstances. Make things better than they used to be, and that works better when you’re humble than when you’re proud, and when you’re team-oriented than when you’re self-oriented, which means you’re going to be counter-cultural in a consumer-based, selfish, performance-driven, “me, me, me” culture.

Ann: Have you guys been around other men who have done that? Give me some stories of men who have lifted others.

Jeff: Lifted?

Ann: Yes.

Jeff: I got to work for Bill Bennett, who used to be the Secretary of Education in the cabinet with my dad for President Bush. When Dad died, Bill came to our house and told my aunts and uncles, sisters and brother, and my mom some funny stories about Dad, which was kind of [about] masculinity. [He] made fun of Dad, and we loved it. Then he said, “I’ve got to say this about Jack Kemp: wherever he went, whatever the issue, whatever the audience, Jack Kemp brought lift!”

Ann: Hmm.

Jeff: “A sunny, optimistic disposition that we could make the future better than the past and a belief that everyone has great potential to live up to their God-given dreams.” I took that word, and I thought, “Man, that’s really how I want to live! I don’t just want to do ministry, so people say, “Oh, that was good. Your ministry’s good. Nice speech.” I want it to lift Jesus, and I want it to lift people to what God wants them to be.

Then, I thought, “LIFT! That’s a cool acronym: Life Is For Transformation.” It’s moving from proud to humble, isolated and alone to connected in team, stingy to generous. If you’re quiet all the time and never open your mouth, “Open up! Share a story.”

Dave: The first name that came to my mind was Jim Caldwell.

Ann: Really?

Dave: Former Detroit Lions coach; now he’s with the Carolina Panthers. He was a lifter of men. He is a man of God! He’s a lot like Tony Dungee—

Jeff: —who I thought of!

Dave: Yes.

Jeff: Unbelievably humble; a lifter of others.

Dave: Yes, that’s Jim. They’re clones. I know Jim was, in many ways, discipled by Tony, but he’d walk in a locker room or walk into a Bible study, you name it! His eyes were always on others, seeing greatness in them and lifting them up. You know, the other guy I thought of was Josh McAllen.

Ann: Me, too. I thought of Josh.

Dave: He walks in a room, and he’s a man of joy. He was only at Detroit as a quarterback—

Ann: —he’s funny!


Dave: —one season, and we just bonded and became great friends. Now, he’s coaching the Heisman trophy winner from last year, Bryce Young. He’s the quarterback coach down in Carolina with Jim Caldwell and another great man, Frank Wright, who you know, and I know.

Ann: He was a player for Detroit.

Dave: Frank’s a friend, and he’s a lifter of men as well. And I’m not just thinking of athletes, but those are the men who came to my mind.

Jeff: I can think of guys that have names we recognize, with big achievements, but how about a heating and air conditioning contractor who got his girlfriend pregnant at 19? He chose to marry her against his family’s wishes. They kind of got mad at him, and he said, “Alright!” And he moved from Pittsburgh, all the way to California (and [he] didn’t know God). She worked for Christian businesspeople in heating and air conditioning, and he worked for a different one. This is my friend, Chuck.

His wife said, “Chuck, you’ve got to come work for these guys. They’re so nice!” He said, “Yes, but they’re all churchy, Jesus-y; I don’t like that junk.” They lived it out. They were so honest and so ethical that they gave money back to customers who overpaid and stuff like that. He came and worked for them, and he ended up receiving Jesus. He should have been an attorney if he’d been able to go to school (to law school). His mind was like that. He put it into the Bible, and he studied the Bible so well that we ended up kind of pushing our chaplain for the Rams to decide, because he brought in this guy to teach, and we made Chuck the chaplain.

Dave: Wow.

Jeff: And then, the Angels made him the chaplain; the Ducks—Anaheim Ducks hockey team—made him their chaplain; and he became my best friend. We moved into his neighborhood, and they took care of my family when I got traded to San Francisco, when I got traded to Seattle. He took care of my family. He sold a car for me. He served me unbelievably. He came to my house every morning for a year and taught me the Bible and Christianity. He played catch with me when I couldn’t work out with the ‘9ers because I was in LA, and I couldn’t work out with the Rams because I wasn’t on the team anymore.

Unbelievable friend! And every conversation was really real, honest, blue collar; funny sense of humor; no church “Christianese.” I’m not against someone who knows a lot of that—

Dave: —right—

Jeff: —but he always brought it back to God’s truth. He knew the Scriptures so well, he’d tie every conversation to God’s way of doing things and God’s principles in the Scriptures. He was the most popular chaplain, and we know this from history, of guys on all the teams. They said, “I love that Obremski guy! I learned so much from him. I still have his notes!”

Dave: Wow.

Ann: There was a man in our hometown, Maury Sheets—which is interesting, because I barely know him. I think they had six kids, and some of the kids were around our age. Dave knew them, too; but I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. Our family was great, but incredibly performance-oriented, so I felt a lot of pressure with everything I did to be the best at it, whether it be school or sports or relationships. This family and their kids were just nice, genuinely nice, and kind.

Jeff: That’s cool.

Ann: Super-fun! But talk about the power of a dad! This man, who had six kids, I remember him looking at me, barely knowing me. I can remember him holding my shoulders, looking me in the face, in the eyes, and saying, “Ann Baron, there’s something special about you. There’s something really special about you.” And I knew it wasn’t what I did; it was who I was.

It was so compelling and attractive for this older man to have this sweet, pure motive, just saying, “I see something in you.”

Jeff: That’s the Gideon principle.

Ann: Yes, yes.

Dave: Yes.

Jeff: And you’re tearing up as you speak of it.

Ann: Yes!

Jeff: He helped speak into your identity, that the Father really gives you and sees.

Ann: Yes, and I didn’t even know the Father, but all I knew was, this family loved Jesus, and “I want to know a Jesus who does something in a person’s heart who can lift others like that.”

Dave: Yes. All my life, Jeff, growing up in the same hometown, I wasn’t a Christian. Anytime I got around this man—because his son married a girl in my class, and every time I was around that guy—I was thinking, “If that’s what a Christian is, that’s what I want to be!”

Ann: Did you feel that, too?

Dave: He was—

Jeff: —that’s the shining light that Jesus said—

Dave and Ann: —yes!—

Jeff: —“Let your light shine.”

Ann: Shine!

Jeff: That was my dad’s favorite verse: “Let your light shine—”

Dave: —“in such a way”—

Jeff: —“so that your Father in heaven gets glory.”

Dave: Yes, yes. He was a magnet to Jesus! He probably influenced me more than I even realized, because years later, I came to Christ, went back, and spoke at their church; and I can still see his smile. He’s in heaven now, but man! He was a lifter.

Ann: Right? And he’s just a regular guy.

Jeff: Those type of men are cool! I interviewed 30 men, in addition to looking at everything I could find about Jesus, for this book. They were all men I respected who have integrity, and they lifted me: Robert Lewis,—

Ann: —yes—

Jeff: —Tony Dungee, David Robbins with FamilyLife; and I interviewed Russell Wilson. Russell said that he was a hooligan; he was a troublemaker in junior high. All he liked was sports! All he cared about were his sports and himself. He said a man came into his life and lifted him to a different vision. His name was Booker Corrigan. He was a junior high teacher, and he pulled him aside and said, “You know, Russell, you have no idea! If you put as much energy into school (academics) and people, treating them well, as you put into sports, you have no idea how far you could go!”

Ann: Wow.

Jeff: Russell said that hinge shifted his life! He also had met Jesus when he had a dream that his dad would die. He went to church the next day and accepted Jesus. But this man gave him the vision for an others-centered life, a lifting life. I’m amazed! Russell—he studied football, he practiced so much, and he did all this extra stuff. Every single Tuesday, he would go to Children’s Hospital in Seattle, from the time he was a rookie all the way until he was MVP of the league. He would make sure he focused on serving others and calibrating himself.

He's not a perfect guy; I’m not a perfect guy. Jesus is the perfect guy! But LIFT; Booker Corrigan was a lifter, and he influenced this other guy.

Dave: Yes, and I think we want to be known as “Bookers.” This woman is a lifter!

Jeff: She is a lifter!

Ann: Aww.

Dave: It’s crazy to watch!

Jeff: And we’re not talking about her bench press. [Laughter]

Dave: Yes; that’s pretty good, too.

Jeff: It’s what she does to lift the spirits, the identity, the vision; the stewardship of people’s giftings; [she] lifts their spirits, lifts their hope. That’s what lifting is!

Dave: Yes, she’s a real man! [Laughter] That’s what she is; she’s a real man! No—

Ann: —thanks, you guys.

Dave: I’ve said this before, but I’ve watched Ann, in airports, walk up to total strangers. I know what she’s going to do. She starts walking, and I think, “Here she goes!” She feels like God has given her something to speak life into this person. I can’t even hear the conversation, and I’ll see this woman sitting in an airport chair, and you just see her face go from, maybe, discouraged or having a hard day or week—maybe they’ve got little kids; I’ve seen you do it with moms on planes, picking up their bags—and you just see their face go from discouragement to life.

I’m thinking, “There she goes. She did it again!” She lifts you.

Jeff: It’s not that hard to do, but many people don’t. The reason—I’ve heard Ann; Ann used to not have confidence. Beautiful, young, talented; a “can do everything” gal who didn’t think she was good enough, didn’t think she was special, didn’t think she was cherished. She got her identity—

Dave: —right—

Jeff: —through this relationship with Jesus over the years.

Ann: Yes!

Jeff: Knowing who you are, your tank is full. Now, you’re looking for “who can I pour it into?”

Ann: Yes.

Dave: Right.

Jeff: That’s what we’ve been talking about. Please, everybody—me included—let’s receive totally who Father God, Abba Father, the real dad, says you are as His daughter or as His son. We men, particularly, need this, because we go for the image of performance and achievement too much.

Dave: Yes.

Jeff: It’s hurting us, and it’s hurting our sons and daughters. It’s messing up our marriages, and the Church is missing the Jesus-like studs that it needs.

Ann: I agree, and you—when men do this, we as women want to stand up and applaud: “Look at you guys go!” We long for that. We see it, and when we see it, it’s pretty magnificent.

Dave: And I’ll say this: we talked last night about a friend of ours, Jamie Winship, who walked into our church decades ago. He [had never known] who he was. Our global guy met him and, to make a long story short, one of the things Jamie said—because he’s always teaching from the Word of God about identity; it’s everything about what he does. I’ll never forget one of the first times I heard him speak. I had him come in and teach some Bible studies for the Detroit Lions. I thought, “I want to get this guy in front of these guys.”

I remember him saying this: “When you understand your identity in Christ—when you understand who you are as a man, a beloved son, or a beloved daughter—you walk in every room, and you own it! You’re so fearless, because no longer are you trying to impress anybody in that room. You don’t need to! You’ve found out who you are in Christ. You are secure.”

And that’s one of your words; it’s in your book: “security” and “identity.” He said, “Then, you walk into the room, and it’s no longer about, ‘What do I look like? What do they think of me? What am I going to say that’s going to impress somebody?’ Who cares! You now are others-centered.” You’re a lifter! It’s like, “It’s not about me anymore! I’ve got it!”

Jeff: Yes.

Dave: I’m totally fearless! “Okay, I see somebody who needs a word? I can speak it with no fear, because—”

Jeff: —“I don’t need to fill my tank anymore.”

Dave: Exactly!

Ann: Yes.

Dave: It’s filled!

Jeff: The Father’s filled it, and now I’m going to pour into others.

Dave: Yes.

Jeff: And when you’re secure, then you can use all of His gifts. That’s why we’re talking so strongly about identity, and it all starts there. “What’s God’s identity?” and “Who does He say I am because of what Christ did?” Now, that might bring us back to the gospel. If you’ve not yet received Christ’s forgiveness and God’s adoption as His son or daughter, you’re not going to feel this sense of assurance and confidence.

It’s awesome to be His son! Not only do you get eternal life, but you get a change in this life. Please ask God to search your heart and tell you that Jesus is the answer. Receive Him fully; accept Him. You know, “believe” means [to] put your faith in Him, not just say, “I think a chair’s going to hold me up.” You sit down in the chair.

Dave: You trust Him.

Jeff: Yes.

Ann: We’re at a time of year, as the holidays are approaching, that we start thinking about Christmas; about Christ coming (being born for us) and then dying for us. What better time to surrender and give your life to Jesus?

Jeff: Receive the greatest gift ever! Not just Jesus and His forgiveness, but adoption as His son or daughter.

Dave: Jeff, pray with the listeners—

Jeff: —let’s do it!

Ann: Yes, why not? Let’s do that.

Jeff: Father God, I just want to pray that any person who hasn’t yet experienced total surrender, belief, and trust in Jesus Christ to give them complete assurance of forgiveness, and not just eternal life, but amazing life now, lived for Your purposes—give them that experience through the power of Your Holy Spirit. And for those who do know Jesus but haven’t let Him turn them into the adopted son or the adopted daughter, give them their identity. Give them an accurate view of You, Father, an accurate view of themselves; and help us all walk by receiving, listening, and depending on You every second of every day. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Shelby: What a beautiful prayer to remind us of our need for Christ. You know, neediness in the Christin life is a good thing! I know it’s the opposite of everything our culture screams at us today but be needy and watch God show up to do in our lives what we’d never be able to accomplish in our power.

I’m Shelby Abbott. You’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Jeff Kemp on FamilyLife Today. Jeff has written a book called Receive: The Way of Jesus for Men. If you want to grow in your relationship with God, develop, and reach your potential as a man with Jesus, this book is going to help you do that. It's going to be our gift to you when you partner with us financially here at FamilyLife Today. So, how do you do that? You can go online to, or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. If you missed that, again, our number is 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” That will help you remember. And feel free to drop us something in the mail if you would like. Our address is FamilyLife, 100 Lake Hart Drive, Orlando, FL 32832.

Make sure to check out Jeff’s “Level Five Friendship Playbook” in the show notes as well. Jeff is going to show you how to build a brotherhood of men and a small huddle of guys you can share everything with in life and grow closer together in Christ. Again, you can find all of that in the show notes today. Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear from a guest who wants to “punch you in the face,” but she still loves Jesus at the same time. Sherri Lynn is going to be with us tomorrow to help us gain a deeper understanding of PMS. You won’t want to miss tomorrow’s show. We hope you’ll join us.

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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Episodes in this Series

Receive: The Way of Jesus for Men: Jeff Kemp
with Jeff Kemp November 7, 2023
Former NFL Seahawks quarterback Jeff Kemp shows what it means to receive your identity as God's son and drink in Jesus' perfect example of being a man.
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What Makes a Man? Jeff Kemp
with Jeff Kemp November 6, 2023
Former NFL Seahawks quarterback Jeff Kemp tells his story of moving out of earning manhood and into confidence in what really makes a man.
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