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November 2017

Introduction to Just Call Me Dad


“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God might not be something you do, but someone you raise.” --Andy Stanley

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” 3 John 4

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9


Of all things I have been in my life, there's nothing I enjoy more than being a dad. Now I am getting a taste of the grandpa thing as well, but that falls in the same category.

My first child, JJ, didn't get the best end of the dad deal. He was my learning experience, or should I say failing experience. I had a really hard time going from being a very competitive athlete to being the father of the athlete. It is hard to believe at this point that back then I was that dad - the one who yelled and screamed at the ball games. I will never forget the time after a freshman basketball game when JJ looked at me and said, “You know, you’re not helping.” That began a realization that I needed to do some work on my “daddying.” However, I really didn’t mellow out much during the rest of JJ’s high school years. I am sure his coaches had a thing or two to say about me.

Suzanne and I were married when JJ was 3. Kurtis came along when JJ was 10, soon followed by Emily. By the time they started school, I had had time to mellow and to learn from my mistakes.

Kids can be successful in all sorts of ways. First and foremost, you know they are turning out well when they are a joy for other people to be around. At the end of this chapter, I will show you a Bible verse that is good to use as a report card, to measure your kids’ progress and your own success in parenting.

For purposes of credibility, and to brag a little bit, let me tell you about a few of Kurtis’ and Emily’s accomplishments.

One moment that really took things to the next level was when Kurtis got the results of his ACT college entrance exam. There are lots of standards to use in judging the success of our kids. In this book, we will discuss famous basketball coach John Wooden’s definition of success, which says you need to be the best that you can be. God made us all different in our sizes and shapes, and we all have different abilities. As we go through this book, I will spend a lot of time talking about using God's standards as to what success is. But if we used earthly standards, what a proud moment when Kurtis revealed that he got a 32 on the ACT. That put him in the top 2% of kids taking the college entrance exam.

My wife Suzanne and I both have college degrees, but we were nowhere close to being in the top 2%. A lot more of the credit probably belongs to the Lutheran school and St. Teresa High School. Of course, the most credit goes to Kurtis, for doing the hard work. But if I am going to get you to pay attention for the next 200 pages, I thought I should share some of our parenting success.

Donald Trump’s presidential slogan in 2016 is “Make American Great Again.” I believe what makes America great is our commitment to family and to making this country a better place for our kids than we had it. There is a meme currently floating around the internet that says, “Instead of leaving a better world for our kids, how about leaving better kids for our world?” Can you imagine how great the world would be if everyone could get their kids to turn out better than they were?

Using these earthly standards, the jury is still out on my kids. At this point, Kurtis still needs to graduate from college and get a job. He isn’t perfect; he has and will make mistakes along the way. But at least in one way of keeping score, my wife and I felt pretty successful when we heard that ACT test score. We were equally proud, when our daughter Emily followed that up with a 30 on her ACT and like Kurtis was also an Illinois State Scholar.

But more than just worldly success, was when they were able to share their faiths. One of our most blessed moments with Emily went back to her 8th grade graduation, where she gave the valedictorian speech. Kurtis had set the bar the year before, as he also was at the top of his class. The last two paragraphs of his speech went like this:

We have come a long way since we began at this school. But we must realize that though things are changing, we still must continue to become better students, better Christians, and better people. My dad has taught me, “Good, Better, Best: never let it rest, till your good becomes better and your better becomes best.” We must never be satisfied with where we are, because where we are is nothing compared to where we will be when we are with Jesus in Heaven. I often see LSA [Lutheran School Association] football shirts that say “Do work” or baseball shirts with Colossians 3:23, “Work at everything with all your heart as for working for the Lord not for men.” The LSA has given all of us a great education, and most importantly, an education that keeps Christ in the equation. Now I think it’s time that we use what we’ve learned to do God’s work.
Our world doesn’t need a superhero to change the world, just average people doing what God has put them here to do. I think the movie Evan Almighty is right when it says, “We change the world by completing one Act of Random Kindness at a time,” and I think everything can start with us. It doesn’t take money or fame. It takes us, the people that God created Himself, doing their part. The LSA has helped by giving us the tools, now it’s time for us to do God’s work.

As stated at the beginning, there is no greater joy than to know your kids are walking in the truth and have grasped what you have been trying to teach them.

But now it was Emily’s turn, and she followed up with this speech:

I have also found a great friend in Jesus here at the LSA. I am so blessed to have a school where I can learn about God and strengthen my faith. As kindergartners, we sang songs that Jesus loves me. One of my dad's favorite authors is Rick Warren. He wrote in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, that life basically comes down to two things, our relationship with others and our relationship with Christ. He wrote that knowing and loving God is our greatest privilege and being known and loved is Gods greatest pleasure. God planned the universe and orchestrated history so that we would all be here at the LSA together, so that we could become friends with each other, but also friends with him. Our purpose is to share that love, so that others will also become God’s friends. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.”
Even if some of us continue life's journey at another school, it is important that God remains first in our every thought, word and action. To have a good friend is one of the highlights of life. To be a good friend is one of the noblest and most difficult undertakings. Often when my parents dropped me off for school, they would ask to make sure I had everything I needed, and many times their last words would be, “Be a good friend.”
So many times my spirits have been lifted when I have heard from some of you. I hope somewhere along the way I have been a good friend to you as well. A good friend is someone that will listen. Someone that you can share your deepest thoughts with. Someone who brings out the best in you. They make you laugh a little louder and smile a little brighter. They know how crazy you can be and still choose to be seen with you in public. I cannot imagine life without this school or without any one of my classmates. We are blessed to live in an age where no matter where we are, it is easy to stay in touch through things like Facebook and texting. We need to make sure we keep Jesus on our friends list as well. Make sure we go to him when we are faced with life's challenges. He wants to be included in every activity, every conversation, every problem and every celebration. An old hymn states, ‘what a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.’ I end with the words to one of my favorite songs: ‘we live, we love, we forgive and never give up, ‘cause the days we are given are gifts from above, today we remember to live and to love.’ (Superchik We love)

These speeches felt like points where Kurtis and Emily were no longer tagging along with our faith. They were now developing their own faith.

The numbers are telling us that a significant percentage of kids don’t do that. They grow up in the church but they never really grasp on to what the church is all about. Then when they get out in the public, they are easily led astray. We often ask why or how kids lose their faith. My guess is they never really had one to begin with. At some point, kids have to go from being part of their families faith, to having their own.

It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings. Ann Landers.

One of the themes of this book will be that if you give a person a fish you have fed them for a day. But if you can teach them to fish, they are fed for a lifetime.

There are always people that are better or worse at something. I’m writing this book to try to help people who would be happy with the level of success that I've had in raising my kids.

In 2017, I came up with a new measurement of child-rearing success, when I reached out to Tom Zobrist, father of Chicago Cubs player and World Series MVP Ben Zobrist. My son Kurtis now plays baseball at Olivet Nazarene University, which is where Ben played for three years. The father of one of Kurtis’ roommates also happens to be a lifelong friend of Tom’s. Through these connections, I invited Tom to come to Decatur and speak at my church.

It's very interesting to interact with Tom, because he is so humble and what I would call a totally normal guy. He is the pastor of a church in the small town of Eureka, Illinois, but he was able to raise a kid who became a World Series MVP. By my standards, it doesn't get much better. But when Tom began his talk at St. Paul's that day, he quickly put my thinking in place. He said that people come up to him all the time and ask, “How is your boy doing?” To which he replies, “Which one? I have three of them.” Tom considers all of his children to be MVP’s; Ben just does it on the stage that is most visible.

He went on to tell an amazing story of how he and his wife Cyndi were actually raising Ben to be a preacher. When Tom was going through Bible College, his young children would help him do his homework. By the age of three, Ben had a good grasp of who Jesus was. Ben always had a good way with people and a good relationship with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In high school, Ben successfully played three sports, with his greatest achievements actually being in basketball. As graduation approached, his parents were very thankful that Ben seemed ready to go to Bible College and fulfill his parents’ dream of him being a preacher.

However, it turned out that their plans and God's plans were a bit different. Ben used $50 of his own birthday money to go to a baseball tryout camp. Out of that camp, he was offered the chance to play baseball at Olivet Nazarene University. His parents had doubts if this was the right thing for Ben or if he would be better off at Bible College. Ben went on to play for Olivet for 3 years and then finished up his college career at Dallas Baptist. He was then drafted in the 6th round by the Houston Astros. And the rest is history 108 years in the making.


Tom finished his talk with a reference to bible verses about ministering before kings. Ben has been given a huge platform to share the gospel, bigger than his parents could have ever dreamed. In late 2016, Ben went with the Cubs to visit President Obama at the White House. Not long after that, he was asked to give the opening prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast. He sat at the head table, a few places down from President Trump.

I was floored when Tom talked about attending all seven games of the World Series. He went into extra detail about the very last game, played in Cleveland. In the extra innings, Cubs center fielder Albert Almora tagged up and went to second base. Tom quickly realized that meant the Indians would walk slugger Anthony Rizzo and that Ben would be up, putting him in a situation that many kids dream of: the at bat that could win the World Series or lose it. After getting down by two strikes, Ben was able to lash a ball down the third base line, scoring the go-ahead run. What an incredible moment for his proud parents!

In October of 2017, Tom released a book that includes these stories.

Yet as Tom mentioned, he looks on all of his kids as MVP’s. It‘s great if your kids can have worldly success in this life. But how do you define true success? One simple yet very powerful way is to apply I Corinthians 13:4-8:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (NIV)

Now take your child’s name and insert it into each point of this verse. Does this verse now describe your kid?

_____is patient
_____is kind
_____does not envy
_____does not boast
_____is not proud
_____does not dishonor others
_____is not self seeking
_____is not easily angered
_____does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth
_____always protects
_____always trusts
_____always hopes
_____always perseveres
_____never fails

When I was ten years old, I had life all figured out. My brother’s friends called me The Professor, because I would sit at his basketball games and broadcast them into a recorder, while keeping stats during the course of the game. At that young age, I could talk sports with the best of them. My life plan was to play professional baseball for ten years and then get into broadcasting. At MacArthur High School, I batted .532 in my senior year, which in 2017 was still standing as the best average in the 40 year history of the school. I landed a scholarship to Georgia Southern, which at the time was one of the top 25 baseball schools in the country. I have a letter stating that they wanted me to take the place of Marty Pevey, who was getting drafted that year. Marty went on to play in the major leagues and is currently the manager of the Iowa Cubs. At the last minute, I decided not to move sixteen hours away from home and contacted Tom Dedin at Illinois to let him know I was ready to accept their scholarship offer. But they had already committed to another player so Tom put me in touch with the coaches at St. Xavier in Chicago. So I ended up there, playing baseball and study communications.

After my freshman year, I was still young enough to play Legion ball. I was part of the best Legion team to play in Decatur, as we finished second in the Illinois state tournament and the Central Plains Regional. I was named MVP of the state tourney and was able to meet many valuable people that would be a part of my life, including Kevin Koslofski.

After so many successes and a promising future in sports, I’m sure my parents were pretty disappointed when I announced in my junior year of college that I was going to be a dad. It’s interesting how life works. What at the time seemed like a mistake is now what I am writing about as my greatest pleasure. There have been times that life has been awfully hard. JJ’s mom and I ended up divorced, and it is never easy to raise a kid in two houses and two families. However, now I can’t imagine life without (JJ) James Walter Minton Jr. Even more so since he has made me a grandfather with his own sons, Noah and Elijah.

So with all this in mind, let me share this little blueprint with you:
Build the Home, Change the World.

I believe that this world would be a better place if we got back to traditional family values. I would like to see kids growing up in homes where they are receiving love from both a mom and a dad who have established a stable life together. Homes where kids are introduced to reading and writing at an early age. Homes where, from proper discipline and parents’ examples, kids learn the basics of being a good citizen: don’t cheat, lie or steal and don’t whine, complain or make excuses for your actions.

In this better world, kids wake up each day thankful that they get to live in a country with the opportunities and blessings of the USA. By the time they get to high school, they have developed good habits in their eating, studying and work ethics. They have so much invested in their studies and their chosen sports or extracurricular activities that it is easy to say no to drugs, alcohol, sex and other immoral behavior that could put them behind the 8-ball as they go forward.

After finishing their schooling and establishing a way to make a living, these well-grounded young people save up some money before deciding to marry their long time sweethearts. After a few honeymoon years, it will be their turn to be the parents and pass on the traditional family values that they were taught.

Obviously, we are all going to make mistakes and hit bumps as we travel down this road. But it is important that we establish what are the right and wrong paths, so we know if we are headed in a good direction. It is my hope that with the 13 principles I discuss in this book, I will give you some tools you can use to put this goal into motion.

If we build the home, we can change the world.




Just Call Me Dad! 13 Principles for Better Dads, Better Kids and a Better World

1.    Have a WORDview.
2.   Life is preparation for eternity but you have a purpose here on earth.
3.   Life isn’t fair! Be a good loser.
4.   Life isn’t fair! Be a good winner.
5.   Develop good habits.
6.   Enjoy Word entertainment.
7.   Don’t be a victim.
8.   Serve rather than DEserve.
9.   Prepare yourself for opportunities.
10. Respect authority.
11.  Don’t lose Heaven when you are going through hell.
12. Forgive.
13. Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.
Teachable Moments

Do kids come with an owner's manual? Book jacket cover



Do kids come with an owner’s manual? This book is about Jim Minton’s journey of figuring out how to raise his kids, and in the process, learning a lot about himself.
When Jim’s children were born, his focus was to raise Division 1 athletes who would make him look good. He started off as that obnoxious dad we have all witnessed at sporting events. He ended up with 13 principles for improving himself, plus three amazing kids who bring him so much joy as they walk in the truth.
Don’t cheat, don’t lie, don’t steal. Don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t make excuses.
Jim has a love for good quotes. He kept a list on the refrigerator as his kids grew up, many of them coming from legendary basketball coach John Wooden. Jim knew his kids were going to find the bad stuff on their phones and in the culture; it was up to him to get the good stuff in front of them. Along the way, Jim discovered that the Bible is that owner’s manual he was looking for.
Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest, until your good becomes better
and your better becomes best.
Jim was an award-winning high school and college athlete. In 2018, he was inducted into the Decatur Illinois Public Schools Hall of Fame, for his accomplishments as a football and baseball player. He was also part of the Decatur Pride Fastpitch Softball team that won two National Championships. But what is NOW most important to him is “just call me Dad.”
Jim is thankful that he took advantage of the teachable moments that came up in his children’s lives and on their sports fields, often learning lessons from his kids at the same time. He is so blessed to have an incredible mom to partner with in his wife, Suzanne, and a great role model of unconditional love in his father, Ken.  It was a God-thing that a buddy asked him to play 100 holes of golf in a one-day fundraising event for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is blessed to be part of a church that lives out its slogan, “Build the Home, Change the World!”
No written word, no spoken plea, can teach our youth what they should be.
Not all the books upon the shelves, it is what the teachers [parents] are themselves.
Jim and his family are far from perfect. But you can learn a lot from their journey of finding out that Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.

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