Family and Fatherhood

As Vice President of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Dave Meyer has long been a stabilizing force behind the scenes, helping to support Joyce and build an organization that ministers the love and message of the Gospel to millions each year. We recently sat down with Dave—a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather—to discuss what it takes to build great relationships and maintain a strong marriage, faith and family.

You and Joyce have been married for over 50 years. What are some keys to having a great marriage? How do you keep your relationship strong?

DAVE: First and foremost, it’s important to know the Lord—that’s the starting point. Knowing God’s principles from his Word helps you govern your own life and receive His help and direction.

Every person also has strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to focus on the positive and let go of the negative. Joyce has talked about this, but in the early years of our marriage she used to record in her mind everything I ever said or did that upset her. Then, every time we got in an argument, she would bring it all back up. I wondered, Where are you keeping all of this?

When you hang on to all of the negative things about your spouse, it places tremendous pressure on the relationship. Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t address issues that need to be dealt with, but so many things aren’t worth holding on to.

When you see a weakness in your spouse, or if there’s something they need to change, it’s important to remember that only God can change them. The best thing you can do is go to God in prayer and give the situation to Him. At the same time, it’s also wise to pray for yourself. I’ve prayed, “Lord, if I’m seeing this from a wrong perspective or if I’m in the wrong, please show me.” This opens the door for God to speak to you as well.

You two have very different personalities. How do you deal with that?

DAVE: Our personalities are totally different. Joyce has a choleric, “Type A” personality, and I’m much more laid back. Each personality has strengths and weaknesses. It’s easy to think, I’m strong in this area, so why aren’t they? Or you can also begin to feel insecure or threatened by their strengths if you are weak in that area.

But it’s important to look at what the Bible says about marriage. It says, “the two shall become one flesh.” As Joyce says, it’s the “becoming” that’s the hard part! However, as time goes by, you become one flesh by embracing each other’s strengths and appreciating them. You eventually reach a great place where you allow each other to be themselves—that’s where Joyce and I are now, and it’s a freeing experience.

You have always been a tremendous support to Joyce, even years ago when it wasn’t common for women to teach in church.

DAVE: Years ago, when Joyce first began to teach, I spent a couple of weeks being offended. I said, “God, why didn’t you give me the ability to teach?”

Then one day God spoke to my heart and said, “If you allow Joyce to do this, and if you do what I am calling you to do, then My joy, My peace, and My grace will always be on you.” So, I got the picture, and began to support Joyce, and I soon recognized she had a strong gift to teach.

God has given each of us specific gifts and talents, and if we try to be something we’re not, it will only make us miserable. There’s so much joy and freedom in being ourselves and also allowing others to be themselves.

How has understanding people’s natural gifts and personalities affected the way you raised your children?

DAVE: Our four children each have different personalities. David is choleric, Laura is phlegmatic, Sandy is melancholy, and Daniel is primarily sanguine and likes to have fun. So, as they were growing up, it helped to understand their personalities and realize where they were coming from.

For instance, Joyce had a difficult time with David for a while when he was young, especially when it came to disciplining him. We finally realized it was because he and Joyce have the same personality. As a result, we changed our tactics a little bit. The same methods won’t always work the same for every child.

When it comes to raising children, I think it’s really important to remember God is in control. If we do what the Bible says and “train up a child in the way they should go,” we can trust that He will help them to grow, mature and come into their destiny.

For instance, our daughter Laura has a phlegmatic personality. As a teenager, she’d come home from school and kick one shoe in one direction, kick the other somewhere else, throw her keys to the side, and drop her books wherever she felt like. The next morning, she couldn’t find anything! Her life was unorganized, and it seemed like nothing we ever did or said helped the situation. Ironically, Laura is now the one who helps Joyce keep everything organized!

It’s the same with our youngest child, Daniel. He is extremely sanguine, and all he ever cared about was having fun. Even when we disciplined him and made him stand in the corner for a “time out,” he’d soon find a way to play with the wallpaper and enjoy himself. He struggled in school, and there were many times when we thought, How is he ever going to make it?

Well, today he is the CEO of all of our stateside ministry. We didn’t see it early on, but he also has more of the choleric personality than we thought, and God developed him into a tremendous leader. To see what God does in situations like this is almost breathtaking. That’s why you can never give up hope. An important part of being a good parent is loving your kids where they are, realizing they will go through different stages in life.

What are some other important keys to being a good parent?

DAVE: Well, they are a lot of the same principles as being a good spouse. You certainly can’t do it without God’s help and direction, and you’ve got to be committed to loving them through the good and bad times.

I think one of the greatest things we can teach our kids to do is work hard and take responsibility. I learned responsibility at a young age, and it was such a blessing because you take it into adulthood and it helps you have a great life.

So often, children today are given everything and they don’t learn responsibility. And if they don’t learn it when they’re young, it’s very difficult to learn it when they are an adult.

You and Joyce have eleven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Is there anything you’ve learned as a grandfather that you didn’t learn as a parent?

DAVE: I learned that you can have fun with them…and then send them back! [Laughs] Seriously, grandchildren are great. Many of them are actually older now, but over the years I’ve so enjoyed spending time with them and doing things like taking them to the ballgame. They can ask questions, and you can have input into their lives…maybe share a little different perspective than their parents.

You know, you learn so much in life as the years go by and you make it through different experiences. Then you try and share some of that wisdom with your kids and grandkids.

To think about where Joyce and I began and where we are now, it’s just amazing. That’s why we tell people to stick with God and never give up on their loved ones. Because if you keep pressing on, you’ll eventually see the fruit of it…and it’s always worth it.

Dave Meyer,