Raising Godly Sons—Passing the Baton Conference: The Importance of Fatherhood
Story by Margot Bass
Photos by Gary Apodaca
This story was first published in Fall 2020, Issue 85 of Calvary Chapel Magazine.
“I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this,” Brenen Beeler admitted wearily to his father Brian in 2012. As a new church planter, the 27-year-old was burning out. His fellowship was growing, and a part-time construction job paid the bills, but his schedule meant he studied Scripture into the early morning hours. “I got to a point where I was completely broken,” Brenen recalled. “Dad said something I’ll never forget: ‘Don’t you think the Lord knows that? Maybe He’s just seeing if you’re willing to do whatever is necessary to serve Him.’ It was simple but wise, profound but basic.” A few months later, the church was able to hire staff to lighten Brenen’s load.
Brenen’s father Brian is not a pastor—but a faithful Christian father who, with his wife Gail, raised four children who love Jesus, including two Calvary Chapel pastors serving in California. Brenen, now 36, and his wife Morgan planted Regenerate Church in Newport Beach in 2011, now located in Huntington Beach. Oldest son Garid Beeler, 40, and his wife Ruth planted VISION City Church in Irvine in 2014. Brian and Gail have supported them in church planting, practically, and with prayer.
Brother Torin, 38, a businessman, lives with his family in Arizona; a sister, Alexa, 26, ministers at Garid’s church. Brian recently retired from a successful 40-year business career and is now the donor relationships director for Victor Marx’s All Things Possible Ministries. The Beeler children grew up under the teaching of Calvary Chapel Founder Chuck Smith at CC Costa Mesa, CA. Brian and Gail have ten grandchildren.
Men enjoy the January 2020 Calvary Chapel Upland, CA, men’s conference focusing on passing the baton of faith.
Brian, Garid, and Brenen were the featured speakers at the 2020 Calvary Chapel Upland, CA, Men’s Conference: Passing the Baton on January 25. The theme, said Upland Pastor Randy Walls, was to prepare and [spiritually] arm men for their roles in bringing godliness to the next generation. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7a). Randy explained, “We need to teach the Word of God to our children. But first, before I can teach those words to my children, they must be in my own heart. That’s how I teach them.”
Randy emphasized that the conference is not simply for fathers, but for all men “because we all can influence people in the next generation.” These annual conferences began with an observation: “I simply noticed the lack of young men who truly desire to grow in their faith, in godliness, holiness, and Christ-likeness within the church. Our culture is against manhood, biblical manhood in particular … because we’ve turned our backs on God and [degraded] our view of fatherhood,” he said. Randy’s hope is that more churches will hold conferences focused on these issues.
In the following Q & A, the men share their experiences and observations about raising godly young men.
What is your definition of a godly man?
Brian: A man who’s born again, filled with the Holy Spirit, and who surrenders his life to the lordship of Jesus Christ. It’s being a servant to your family. I’ve not always done it, and I have my faults. But when we mess up, we repent, ask the Lord to forgive us, and then get back up and keep walking with the Lord.
Garid: A man who loves the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind, and with all his strength; who loves his wife as Christ loves the Church, and loves his children enough to train them up in the Lord. Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).
Brenen: A man who truly lives for the things of the Lord. David was a man after God’s own heart, and he failed. My dad is not perfect, nor is anybody. But he has loved the Lord and put Him first in his life.
Randy Walls: Being like Jesus, especially as He sacrificially loved us enough to give His life for us. That’s what men are supposed to do. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). In training our children to be godly, we need to be on our own personal quest to become more like Jesus. I’m going to love like He loves—having His compassion, heart, righteousness, heart of service, and humility.
How has your dad influenced you?
Garid: My dad has taught me what it means to be a godly man, husband, and leader. I feel like I know how to love my kids and my wife because of what I saw in my dad. My dad and mom were always available to give me sound advice. Often it wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear.
He loved us and showed us that he cared by disciplining us, teaching us what was right and wrong, by not taking it easy on us so that we would know how to work hard. He didn’t hand everything to us. I always knew I could call my dad and he would be there every step of the way.
Brenen: My brothers and I have often said that if we could be half as good a dad and husband as our dad, then we would be great husbands and fathers. He, like Paul, said—not with his mouth but his life—Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Jesus taught His disciples by living life with them—they were able to watch and learn from Him. I just want to be present for my children and my wife, to be the example they can look to, as my dad did for us. I want them to see Christ in my life.
Brian: My wife and I came from non-Christian homes; so when we gave our lives to the Lord, we wanted to make sure that our kids would know the Lord, walk with Him, love Him, and teach others to walk with Him. My wife was instrumental in raising our kids, devoting her life to homeschooling and raising the kids in the Lord. Obviously, they all had their separate journeys; when they were old enough, they would make their own choices. Fortunately, they all chose to walk with the Lord.
How do you set spiritual priorities?
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
Garid: My brothers and I were heavily involved in sports, but we never missed church. Our priorities were to always keep the Lord first in life. We were expected to honor the Lord with our time and to do the best we could with what God gives us. My dad also raised us to never quit. If you commit, you work hard, do a good job, and finish it out. That really helped shape our character.
Two of Brian Beeler’s sons, Garid (center) and his brother Brenen (right), pastor Calvary Chapels in California.
Brenen: My parents believed training their children up in the Lord was a command. Every morning we had morning worship and devotions: we’d sing, read the Bible, and pray together as a family; at night we’d pray. It was very much like Joshua said in Joshua 24:15b: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Even when some basketball opportunities came up on Sundays, we said, No, because we had church. And yet the Lord provided everything that we needed (college sports and academic scholarships).
I remember from a young age that Dad would pull out his checkbook at church every single week; he was faithful in tithing, even when things were tough or tight. I always found him faithful to do what God had called him to do.
Garid: At church, Dad was a hard worker, involved with practical things, counseling or ushering. In my own church plant, he’s been involved with spiritual leadership, prayer, and taking care of whatever needed to be done.
Brian: Brenen and I taught a third- and fourth-grade Sunday school class when he was in seventh grade. We went through the training together. He taught the class, taking responsibility for preparing the lessons, and I was his assistant. I just supported him, whatever he needed.
How important is prayer?
Brian: Satan doesn’t like it if you are a Christian family, and he’s going to do everything in his power to try to put a wrench into your relationships. We prayed a lot for our kids, especially when they were teenagers and not always walking with the Lord. Prayer is everything. Even now we pray for each other and thank the Lord that He’s watching over us.
What advice do you have for other men?
Brian: I have friends who’ve raised their kids in the Lord, and they have walked away. I think, Wow, there go I but for the grace of God. Keep praying for them and being an example for them. I tell families with little kids to pour into them. Have devotions with them and pray with them. Show them how to be godly by example.
Garid: It’s never too late to be the man that God’s called you to be. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1a). In passing the baton of faith, men can place so much pressure on themselves. What they need is to be present in their children’s lives; the most important thing they can do for their family is to stay committed to the Lord.
Brenen: As a man, you can very easily allow the world to see one part of you, the nice part. Behind the scenes, your wife and children know who you really are. Search out who you really are and discover who God wants you to be. Step up and into the role that God has for you as a husband and father.
Resisting—Then Surrendering—to God’s Call
For Garid and Brenen, the path to becoming pastors wasn’t direct, and both resisted God’s call on their lives for a time. Although they never walked away from their faith, they didn’t always pursue the Lord, both acknowledged.
Then He [Jesus] said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Matthew 4:19-20
Brian recounted, “We didn’t pressure them to be pastors. When Garid said he wasn’t going to be a pastor but wanted to go into the business world, we said, ‘OK, whatever you want to do, just love the Lord in that.’ The Lord later spoke to his heart and he became a pastor, and I thought, Wow! It was totally the Lord.”
Brenen added, “My parents never wanted to force us into one thing; they just wanted us to do what God had for our lives, knowing that He would get us to where He wanted us to be. The Lord was faithful to bring us into the ministry.”
All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.