Gary Smalley Talks About Grandparenting and Positive Change

When my grandson Michael was ten years old, he lived about a block away from Norma and me. One day he ran to our house and banged on the front door. When I let him in, I saw he’d been crying.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“It’s my mom,” he sobbed. “Grandpa, she’s driving me crazy!”

I was relieved, amused, and interested. Michael’s mom happens to be my daughter, and I know she’s a wonderful person and a great mom.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. Tell me what’s happening.”

“Grandpa, there are so many rules in my home. I don’t think I can live through it.”
I was laughing on the inside but said, “Oh, bless your heart.”

“It’s horrible! What am I going to do?”

I asked him, “Is this how you want to live? Letting other people affect you like this?”
“No,” he said. “But I don’t know what to do.”

“You want to do what I’ve been doing lately?” I asked.

“What are you doing, Grandpa?”

I said, “I’m changing the way I think. Want to join me?”

With beautiful innocence, he answered, “Yeah, Grandpa!”

“There are four verses I want you to learn and meditate on day and night.”

We went outside and gathered four little stones, representing the four verses. Then he put those smooth stones in his pocket. Every time he felt them, he would meditate on one of those verses.


For an entire year we focused our minds on those four verses, asking God to help us understand them and model them in our actions. One of the verses was Romans 5:3–5, which basically says when you go through a difficult time, you can rejoice—you’ll get patience, character, hope, and more of God’s love.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3–5)

Twelve months passed.

One afternoon, Michael’s mom picked him up from school. Almost home, Michael called out, “Mom! I left my spelling list in my desk, and I have a test tomorrow. Can you take me back to school?”

This was the final straw for his mom. “No. I’m not taking you back because you’re such an irresponsible student. You’re not serious about school. I want you to feel the pain of an F tomorrow so you can remember not to do this anymore!”

He started to defend himself, but stopped. One of the verses we’d been meditating on came to mind, and he realized he couldn’t get angry at his mom.This situation was a trial, a test of his character, and he needed to rejoice.

“Mom, I just want to thank you for what you’re saying to me right now. I want you to know, you’re the best mom a son could have. I just thank God for you because God is using you in my life, right now even, to remind me of really important things.”

Kari later told me, “I was so stunned. I didn’t know what to say. I started crying. I had to pull over and take it all in before we turned the car around to take him back to school. I was wondering where this change had come from.” It came from him praying about those four little verses and meditating on them for a year.


Positive change in our world begins with positive change in a family. The best way to change your family is to change your thinking. As your thinking is elevated by the words of Jesus, you’ll be able to model those words in your actions.

We all know actions speak louder than words. We’ve all promised to change, and failed. There’s a better way. Begin by humbling yourself, like a child.

God gives grace to the humble.