Today’s Table Talk is by the wonderful Joe White, President of Kanakuk Kamps, prolific author, encourager, mentor, encourager, speaker, encourager, … and so much more (oh yeah, did I mention he’s a walking encourager?!) Today he shares the true meaning behind joy. It’s centered on the meaning behind not only the holiday we are about to celebrate, but also all our efforts this month to teach the kids about service… where and how to serve. It begins with the “J”.

Thanks for sharing Joe!!!

… and thanks for walking the road with me.




The “I’m Third” Household

It’s been the kamp motto for seventy-five years!  “I’m third!”  God first, others second, and I’m third.  Every kamper hears the “I’m Third” talk every summer.    Jesus Himself dreamed up the idea a couple of thousand years ago.  When asked what was the greatest commandment, He simply put it (as my old hillbilly friends says) “on the barn floor where even the cows could get to it.”

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:37,39)

Keeping the motto in the home absolutely creates harmony and bliss.  Forgetting it fragments a family and steals the joy.

Husbands lead the way by serving our wives and finding creative ways to lighten her load daily.  We write love letters, help with her household chores and let the compliments flow.  Wives add charm and grace to the “I’m Third” home by respecting, honoring and serving their spouse.  Debbie Jo is amazing at this.  Her uncontrolling, unselfish, serving heart draws me to her in greater and greater measure every year of our marriage.  I fight my “I’m First” impulses daily to set the pace.  I’m such a selfish person in my “natural man” but WOW, is it worth the fight.  Putting me and my needs first has caused almost every disagreement we’ve ever had.  After thirty years of marriage I owe her all the charm and romance and closeness in the relentless pursuit of the “I’m Third” motto in our marriage.

I continue to applaud the amazing, gallant pursuit by single moms and single dads who take “I’m Third” to new heights by continuing to keep God #1 in their lives and serve their kids with whatever energy is left when the unspeakably challenging work days conclude at 5, 6 or 7 p.m.  I admire your courage so much!

Teaching “I’m Third” attitudes to our kids is a huge challenge, as we all know.  As parents, here are ingredients to develop an “I’m Third” home.

#1 – Set the pace.  Be the example in the morning and when you cross the threshold of the front door at night.  Strip off the “me first” garments and clothe yourself in the “God first, others second” gown of pleasure and satisfaction.  (Kids believe what they see in you!  It’s unavoidable.)

#2 – Become an expert on other’s needs.  Know your family members’ love language.  Some appreciate touch.  Some appreciate acts of service.  Some need quality time.  Most need loads of encouragement.  Some appreciate tangible gifts.  A great dad/husband, mom/wife can rattle off his/her family members’ needs (things that they are excited about, things that are heavy burdens in their life, things that they desire joy from receiving, without even thinking twice.)  Being an expert on your family members’ needs is the best post-graduate degree you could ever imagine.

#3 – Ask the Spirit of Christ to fill your heart.  Most of us have selfish hearts, let’s face it!  Jesus was the opposite!  Man, was He unselfish!  His life was all about others.  As His Holy Spirit fills your heart in prayer you literally see cardiac revolution – a change of attitude about everything.  My heart can harden without Him in seconds.  I cling to His indwelling and presiding spirit with all that is within me.

#4 – Keep no records of wrong done to you!  Give complete forgiveness and grace away every single day.  When we get begrudging and bitter and vindictive we don’t want to serve.  (Picture the cross in your mind with the pierced hands and outstretched arms of the Savior.  Now is a great time to clear the slate completely.)  Forgiveness and grace can’t wait to serve.  Bitterness can’t wait to turn inward.

#5 – As a family, study three passages of Scripture together.  Day 1:  John 13:3-15;  Day 2: Philippians 2:1-11; and Day 3:  Mathew 22:34-40.

#6 – Set a firm family standard around the motto.  As you lead, insist upon the lifestyle with the kids.  Reward “I’m Third” behavior.  Restrict “Me First” attitudes with consistent firmness.  Use of the TV, telephone, ca
r keys, video games, allowance money, etc., are great tools to reinforce behavior and attitudes . . . positively and negatively.  Insist on it, moms and dads.  Don’t let your kids talk and act selfishly.  Remember the God-given chain of command in the home.

All Family Members:

#7 – Honor, honor, honor God and each other in the home.  Family members are to be treated like antique china and original oil paintings by famous artists.  “I’m Third” treatment is as contagious as chicken pox and doesn’t leave any scars from contacting the disease.

#8 – Teach (example first, words second) the magic words of renewal, “I’m sorry.  Will you please forgive me?”  I never cease to be amazed at how powerful these words are to immediately transform an “I’m First” relationship.




It’s a whole lot more than a cute acronym.  It is the essence of a happy home.

Standing with you for a strong family,

Joe White,

President – Kanakuk Kamps

Joe White

Since 1976, Kanakuk Kamps owners and K-2 Directors, Joe and Debbie Jo White, have shared a deep passion for pointing kids to Christ through Christian sports camping. Together they have seen Kanakuk grow into nine unique Kamps and have also founded Kids Across America – for inner-city kids. Joe played football at S.M.U. where Debbie Jo was a cheerleader. Joe then coached at Texas A&M before moving to Missouri in 1972. He has since written 19 books and speaks across the country for Men at the Cross, After Dark, Pure Excitement and Focus on the Family radio. Dr. James Dobson says, “Joe White knows more about teenagers than anyone in North America.” Debbie Jo trains the leadership team and the summer staff in a Precepts Bible study. She leads and organizes our Kamps with both dignity and grace. Joe and Debbie Jo have four children: Jamie Jo, Courtney, Brady, and Cooper; and eleven grandchildren: Hays, Maggie, Dax, Gabby, Jack, Anthony, Lillyanne, Hayden, Tiki, Hannah, and Samuel.

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