Bold Steps: Our Passion to Break Cycles and Create Legacies: Mark and Dee Jobe
Moody Bible Institute president Mark Jobe and his wife Dee know there's tremendous power in thwarting generational cycles and taking bold steps toward a new, groundbreaking legacy. Hear more about their story and the path that regenerates a family.
About the Guest
- Connect with Mark Jobe and catch more of his thoughts on PastorMarkJobe.com, and his podcast, Bold Steps.
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Moody Bible Institute president Mark Jobe and his wife Dee speak of the path they’ve witnessed, which thwarts generational cycles and regenerates a family.
Bold Steps: Our Passion to Break Cycles and Create Legacies: Mark and Dee Jobe
Bold Steps: Our Passion to Break Cycles and Create Legacies: Mark and Dee Jobe
Mark: Do you know how many alcoholics say, “I never want to grow up and be an alcoholic like my dad and repeat the cycle?” Just not wanting to be it doesn’t guarantee you’re not going to repeat it. There has to be a step.
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 FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Dave: This is FamilyLife Today!
My favorite thing, makes me cry every time at church, is not the sermon. It’s not even singing worship, although that’s powerful. It is life change stories.
Dave: When somebody tells a story of life change.
Ann: Like at baptisms.
Ann: When we do baptisms, you’re sobbing.
Dave: I weep. Every time I weep. The only reason I’m bringing that up is you’re sitting there, and somebody’s telling a life story, and you want that story. I know if I’m telling one, then people out there, I know they want God to move in their life in the same way.
Ann: To have a story.
Dave: But a lot of people never realize the most important thing that needs to happen for that life story to be their life story. What is it?
Ann: My first response is Jesus. Jesus gives us life stories, but you have something—
Dave: That isn’t the answer. I’m thinking on the other side of our side of it, is we have to take a step. We have to do something. Of course, you’re smiling because you wrote a book on this.
Your podcast is called Bold Steps, right? I just thought, “If I have to introduce Mark and Dee Jobe, I have to talk about taking a bold step to life change.”
Dave: We’re back on day two with you guys. Welcome back.
Dee: Thank you.
Mark: Yes, great to be back with you.
Dave: Tell our audience a little bit about what Bold Steps is. I know it’s more than just a podcast; it’s a way of life, right?
Mark: It really is. Here’s where it came from: About twenty-five years ago, we were leading all these people to Christ. They were coming to Jesus.
Dave: Through your church as a pastor?
Mark: Through our church, yes.
Dave: Inner city in Chicago?
Mark: That’s right, and a lot of brokenness, a lot of baggage. So, we started doing these Encounter Retreats, we called them, for men and women separately. The theme that emerged was this: Everybody has a cycle to break, everybody has a bold step to take, and everybody has a legacy to make. It’s about breaking cycles of the past, it’s about taking bold steps of obedience, and it’s about creating a new legacy as well. What is it that you’re forging?
So, I’m talking to guys who have had addiction from their grandfather, their parents, and if they don’t break that cycle, it’s going to be passed down.
Mark: So, we say, “What’s the bold step you’re going to take to break that cycle? It’s not going to happen through passive neutrality. It’s going to happen with a bold step.” So, at the end, at both the women’s and the men’s Encounter Retreat, they would get up and share their bold step. We would say, “What’s your bold step?” and then we would cheer them as they go down. “Hey, a bold step, bold step.”
Mark: When I started the program on the radio, they were saying, “What should we call it?” Someone said, “You know what? You challenge people to take bold steps,” so that’s where Bold Step came from.
Ann: That can preach right there. You’re the President of Moody Bible College. I bet you’ve talked about that at chapel.
Mark: I have. I have.
Ann: I bet you have.
Mark: Everybody has a cycle to break, a bold step to take, and a legacy to make.
Dave: Well, let’s talk about that a little bit. How do you break the cycle? I know you have to take a bold step, but where do you start? I had a pretty bad cycle: two alcoholic parents, divorce, adultery, the whole thing, and I know I’ve had to walk that journey. But as I was becoming a man, and even when Ann and I got married, I did not know that I had a cycle that I had to break. I had to understand that.
Ann: Generational sin.
Mark: Generational sin that falls into the lap. So a couple things I would say about this: Number one, you’re not responsible for the background that you come from, but you are affected by it. So your parents’, grandparents’ sins—it’s not your responsibility but you are deeply affected. The Bible says that the sins of the parents fall into the laps of the children.
Dave: Is that your translation of Exodus 20? The third and fourth generation into the laps?
Mark: Yes, basically into the laps of the children. Here’s what we’ve taught people, and I use the story of Gideon because think about it. Gideon’s father was the guardian of the Asherah pole. He was seeped in paganism, and we think, “Well, what’s bad with that?” There was child sacrifice involved in the Ashtoreth worship. It was very ungodly, very pagan, and when people pointed to Gideon, “Hey, isn’t that the son of the guy that takes care of the Asherah pole?” so that was his identity.
When he came to God and was about to be commissioned to his new season of life, God told him, “Go and cut down your dad’s Asherah pole. Use the wood of the Asherah pole to fuel the fire to the altar of the Living God. I believe that’s an image that you can use. So, some people’s background is infidelity, addiction.
Mark: Bitterness, alcoholism, a divorce. It’s part of their heritage, it’s what they grew up with, and I say, “You need to cut down that pole. The very thing that has been maybe your shame, the very thing that you say, ‘That’s not what I want to be,’ may it be the fuel to the fire of God. But you have to take an action step.”
We challenge people, “Take a step that you know you’ve taken.” It can’t be, “I want to be a better person” or “I don’t want to do this.” Do you know how many alcoholics say, “I never want to grow up and be an alcoholic like my dad,” and repeat the cycle? Just not wanting to be it doesn’t guarantee you’re not going to repeat it. There has to be a step like, “I need to write a letter to my father and forgive him.” Like, “I need to join a 12-step program and deal with this issue.”
Sometimes the very thing that we’re coming out of helps constitute the calling that we’re going into, because we understand the pain of it. Like I had a guy; 17 years ago he walked into the church, a cocaine addict. His aunt practically drug him there, and he said, “I’m not going to stand up, I’m not going to sing, I’m not going to take off my sunglasses.” [Laughter]
He sat in the back. He’s about six foot, six. “I’m not going to do any of that.” And God got a hold of him, turned him around, broke that addiction, and he is a drug-addiction counselor now because he understands it. That fuels his calling.
Mark: Sometimes people that are in a certain calling—you’re in a marriage. I don’t know your full story, the background, your full story, but I bet there’s—
Dave: You’re going there. You’re right.
Mark: I bet there’s stuff there that you say, “You know, we could have ended up in a bad place,” or “We come from some places, but this fuels our calling because we know that this can be different from what we lived or what our life could have been.” So there’s a passion, there’s a fire to see the healing happen. Usually that’s the way it is in our lives as well.
Dave: Yes, it’s sort of like God meets you in your pain and then He blows us away, because in that pain He doesn’t just meet us. He then uses it as our platform. It almost becomes our purpose.
Dave: When you said that, Mark, I thought, “Yes, my broken home has fueled why we’re sitting here today.” We have a passion, number one, to lead people to Jesus and the gospel, but to see marriages restored. Why? Because I came out of a broken one.
Ann: And me also.
Dave: I didn’t even know that was going to be a fire inside me, but it is.
Ann: But it wasn’t until we really struggled, and we almost lost our marriage.
Ann: That’s what woke us up to say, “Oh, we need to break this cycle.” Did you guys have cycles that you had to break?
Mark: We’ve had a lot of cycles we’ve had to break. [Laughter]
Dee: Well, I’ve had a lot of cycles I’ve had to break.
Ann: I was wondering, because you talked yesterday, Dee, just about watching your parents’ marriage wasn’t something that you would want to have.
Dee: Right, and I learned what a Christian home was. I didn’t learn it in the way I wish I had. But I think what’s really important at these Encounter Retreats—I just had one with 600 women a couple months ago, but we have them look through—we name things. We name some of those sins, some of those cycles.
Mark: Identify them.
Dee: I think you need to identify what cycles are in your family. We don’t ask people to deal with all of them, but choose one you’re going to start with, and take what’s your bold step with that one cycle. What do you need to get some personal counseling, what is it? For me there were cycles. There were cycles of anger and bitterness and insecurity.
Ann: So it doesn’t just have to be an addiction.
Dee: No, right. No, no, no.
Ann: You’re saying internal things that you’re struggling with or lies that you’ve been listening to internally.
Mark: I had less cycles to break because my parents broke the cycles. I think that when you break cycles it doesn’t relieve your kids from responsibility. They’re still going to have issues to deal with, but I think it makes it less if you’re the cycle breaker, if you’re the one that’s breaking the cycle. My dad had to break a cycle. My mom came from an alcoholic family. They broke some major cycles, so I was in a much healthier home. We all have our issues that we have to deal with, but the cycles weren’t as great.
I do believe that just as the sins of the parents fall into the laps of the children, so do the blessings of the parents fall into the laps of the children as well.
Ann: Yes, a thousand generations.
Mark: Exactly. Exactly, and so we need to keep that in mind as well. So you’re not just doing it for you, you’re also doing it for your children and their children. At the end of these Encounter Retreats, at the women’s Encounter Retreat, I do the “father-daughter factor.” I speak into the women about sometimes the vacuum that they have of a father that has spoken into their lives.
Dee: There are women weeping across the auditorium every time.
Mark: Every time.
Dee: He speaks to them and asks forgiveness on behalf of those dads and men that have hurt them, and it’s a very powerful time.
Dave: As I speak at men’s retreats, I try to help men understand this, and you just said it. When you are dealing with a temptation or a struggle, we often think, “This is my struggle.” But as a father and a dad and a mom and a wife, this is not just your struggle. This will be your son’s and daughter’s struggle.
Dave: Scripture is true. This will fall in their laps. So the stakes are much higher than you think. It isn’t, “I just have to win this alcohol or this porn battle,” whatever it is. “My kids are going to deal with this,” so it should up the ante to say, “I’m going to win this thing. I’m going to take a bold step because it isn’t just about me.” Is that true? Is that what you’ve seen?
Mark: You’re preaching to the choir. [Laughter]
Dave: It’s what you do, but—
Dee: I just had a conversation with a young lady at church, a single mom, divorced, three beautiful little girls and now just had another son in a relationship that is not a healthy relationship. I said, “Are you going to splash blessing or curse on these kids? What are you doing? Be who He’s called you to be. Looking to men to meet those needs is never, never going to fill you. What are you splashing on these beautiful kids?”
There is a list of cycles I had to break and still break, but I remember at times when it was difficult with my daughter at times—she’s a great girl—but I was telling your wife before we started the show, that we have three sons. The girls are the ones that have the drama. [Laughter] During that time, I’m one of the women who Mark speaks to. My dad never said he loved us. Never.
Ann: I never heard that either.
Dee: Yes, never heard that, so all of that was new.
Ann: Me too.
Dee: All of that was so new. The nurturing, all of that was so new. So when high school hit Mark said, “You know what? Let me take over for a little bit,” and I did. I had to back off until I could work through some of my own pain and dealing with cycles that needed to be broken.
Ann: What was your pain doing?
Dee: I think I was more harsh. I think “I’m going to control.” It was mainly control.
Mark: Out of fear and out of love, but that was the response.
Ann: I did too. When we’re fearful we control.
Dee: Yes. So Mark stepped in at that stage and helped me out there. [Laughter]
Mark: I was more of a coach.
Mark: Thank God that the older kids get, the more they realize how much, and so they have a great relationship right now. But yes, you repeat the cycles that you see typically.
Ann: Parents, break the cycle.
Mark: Break the cycle. Break the cycle, because you’re affecting—I’ve been pastoring long enough now. I just realized two Sundays ago—a young married woman wanted me to dedicate her children. She said, “I really want you to do it, Pastor Mark.” I said, “Okay. Why?” She said, “Because you dedicated me as a baby.” I said, “How old are you?” She said, “33.” I said, “Okay. I’ve been a pastor for a long time when I dedicated the mother of children I’m dedicating.”
She showed me the picture of when I held her and dedicated her 33 years ago. But we’ve been around long enough to see the couples that choose to break cycles, the effect in their children. We’ve seen some really wild stories and now the kids you would never know it, because the parents helped break the major cycles in their life. Of course, everybody has their things to deal with, but they’re in a whole different course now.
Ann: When you talk about in your book, What Now?: How to Move into Your Next Season—it’s this little book. [Laughter] I like that it’s so easy to read.
Dee: Me too. I love little books.
Ann: Read it on a plane, and you’re just done with it. It has so many great principles in it. Even in the last part of the book you talk about taking the first bold step, and you talk about you guys going into Tijuana with your friends. You need to share this story.
Mark: Yes. So we were down at a conference in San Diego, and we invited some friends to join us. They had never been to Mexico, so I said, “Okay, we’ll rent a car,” and went to the car rental place. They told us, “Well be careful, because Tijuana is really bad right now.” They said, “The last people we rented a vehicle to, the police stopped them, had them get out of their vehicle, got in the car, and drove off with the rented vehicle. So be leery of police,” is what they told us.
I said, “Okay.” So we go down there. We have a dinner. We were driving back up in Tijuana with this rented vehicle. Somebody says, “Hey, there’s a cop behind you.” I’m laughing. I look in the mirror and sure enough. So I put the turn signal on, turn lanes, and they move behind me. And then they turn on their lights and start waving that I go to the side. So I pull to the side.
This guy, dark sunglasses, gun in his holster, comes up to me—motorcycle guy. In Spanish he says, “Pull into that alley up there because it’s too dangerous here.” Someone says, “Take off! Take off!”
Ann: Dee, what are you thinking? Are you nervous?
Dee: I was nervous, but my nephew was with us, and he assured me we were going to be fine. [Laughter] Assured me. He convinced us to go to this place on the beach and have lobster, and he assured me we would get back safe, but—
Mark: So we pull over, and this cop starts talking to me. He says, “I’m going to give you a ticket. I have to take you down to the police station,” and I said, “Well, can’t you write the ticket out?”
“No! I have to—” so he’s very aggressive, talking to me. I feel like he wants money, to be paid off. He said, “What are you doing down here?” I said, “I was at a pastor’s conference.” “Why a pastor’s conference?” “I’m a pastor in Chicago.” He looks at me and says, “What does Romans 13 say?”
“Excuse me?” He says, “What does Romans 13 say?” in Spanish. I thought—
Ann: Good thing you speak Spanish.
Dee: I know.
Mark: Yes. So first of all, two things roll through my mind. “What in the world does Romans 13 say?” [Laughter] Just because I’m a pastor doesn’t mean I’ve memorized the whole Bible. And secondly, “This is not like Awana. I don’t get a sticker; I go to jail if I don’t know what Romans 13 says.” [Laughter]
So I say, “Well, Romans 12 says, “Don’t be conformed—” He said, “Romans 13.” I think, “What does Romans”—and then it struck me. It says, “Submit yourself to the governing authorities as though they were servants of God.” As soon as I said that he took his sunglasses off, took his hand off his pistol, and started addressing me as “Pastor.” He just changed.
He said, “I’m not going to give you a ticket, so pastor, be careful. Go slower.” I think, “What just happened?” And then he pulls up next to me and says, “Hey, pastor. Pray for the Police Department in Tijuana. We really need it,” and then he takes off. I’m like, “Whoa, what just happened there?” But you know, it reminds me that we’re all on a journey. Our journey can be hijacked and ultimately we need to know the Word of God.
Because our journey is going to be hijacked, a lot of things that we don’t understand, and ultimately it may not be a police asking you what Romans 13 says, but it’s the Word of God ultimately that’s going to get us where we need to go. We need to know the Word of God, and we need to depend on the Word of God. That’s just a very strong example of knowing the Word of God.
Dave: Ann read me that story. We were reading through your book, preparing for you guys coming in. We were driving in the car and she read it.
Ann: You actually knew—
Dave: And I say, “Romans 13! Obey civil authorities.” [Laughter] I hadn’t heard the rest of the thing, and I think, “Is that where this guy’s going?” and it was. But your application of it is so powerful. As you recounted it, Mark, I thought, “There’s a guy, and I’m sure there’s a woman, a husband or a wife, whose bold step is ‘I need to be the husband that I know God has called me to be,” or “I need to be the wife.”
Dave: “I haven’t been.” In some ways we feel like we’re defeated. “I messed up. I’ve been messing up for years.”
Ann: “I don’t know how to break this cycle.”
Dave: You’re right. You have to decide right here, right now. You’re listening to this program today I think because God said, “I want you to hear this. Your bold step you need to take—” We started saying, “If you want to change your life you have to take a step. It can’t be somebody else taking a step.”
Dave: I always used to say, “You hear the story up on stage and you think, ‘I want that story.’ You can’t have it. It’s their personal story because they took a step.” So today the step is, I think, what you just said, Mark. “I’m going to surrender, re-surrender, and say, ‘I’m going to become the man of the Word or woman of the Word I need to be. God, meet me there, fill me, and make me the man. I want to be a cycle-breaker.’” And you can be, with God’s power, right?
Mark: One hundred percent. I believe, Dave, that God uses divine appointments. Someone’s listening to this broadcast right now, whether it’s on the radio, whether you’re listening to it online, but the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. Maybe you look at your past and say, “It’s not what I wanted, but I am repeating the cycle over.” Maybe you’ve been discouraged about it.
God wants to let you know that there is hope, and that you can break the cycle. It’s not a time to escape, to blame, but it’s a time to say, “This is a problem in my life.” Get out of denial. “This is a problem in my life, and I’m not going to run from it anymore. I’m going to address it, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to break this cycle. I’m going to go talk to my pastor. I’m going to go get counseling.”
“I’m going to join a 12-step group. I’m going to find a marriage counselor to help us work through this. I’m going to go back home and talk to my kids and say, ‘Forgive me, because I’ve not been leading my home the way that God calls me to lead my home.’” But you have the power to affect, I believe, generations to come.
Mark: But it starts with the decision, a bold decision to say, “This will not continue on my watch.”
Shelby: I love that prayer from Mark. Let’s take our prayers right to the cycles of destruction in our lives. Ask Christ to bring about change, real change into your life. Ask Him to move and unlock the shackles we’ve strapped onto ourselves, because He can set us free. Jesus rose from the dead, so He can bring new life into the dead areas of your life.
I’m Shelby Abbott and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Mark and Dee Jobe on FamilyLife Today. Mark has written a book called What Now?: How to Move into Your Next Season. We’ll all kind of in seasons in our life, and sometimes those seasons can be bad: spiritual lulls, midlife crisis, an unforeseen pandemic, maybe, but at some point all Christians feel the need to readdress and reorient, to move toward God’s calling in our lives, and Mark talks about that in his book, What Now?
You can pick up a copy of that book at FamilyLifeToday.com. And if you want to help support more conversations like the one you heard today, you can go online and make a donation. As our thank you we want to send you a copy of Mary DeMuth’s Love, Pray, Listen. This book is going to be our gift to you when you partner with us financially.
You can go online to FamilyLifeToday.com or give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, that number is 800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word “TODAY.” And feel free to drop us something in the mail if you’d like. Our address is FamilyLife, 100 Lake Hart Drive, Orlando, Florida 32832.
Next week Dave and Ann Wilson are going to be joined in the studio by Quina Aragon. She’s going to talk to us about how to teach our kids about God’s love.
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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