Devotionals by Dr. James Dobson

Tryout Day

Encourage one another and build each other up.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

An encouraging word is welcome at any time, but is needed most of all after a disappointment or failure. That’s why Scripture instructs us to “encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). I (JCD) am reminded of a story about Joy, a twelve-year-old who had her heart set on making the school cheerleading squad. She practiced cheers, cartwheels, and toe-touches for weeks. Yet on tryout day, Joy’s best effort still fell short. She was crushed.

Joy’s mother had been traveling at the time. When she returned she asked, “Joy, how did tryouts go?” “I lost,” Joy answered quietly. “Really?” said her mother. She put her arms around her daughter. “Well, Joy, I am so proud of you for working so very hard, and then for having the courage to go out there and try!” The change in Joy’s expression was immediate.

If Joy’s mother had showed the slightest disappointment or embarrassment, Joy would have felt even worse. Emotions are contagious. We tend to “catch” the reactions of those around us and incorporate their highs and lows in our own spirits.

Your children are at their most vulnerable when they endure a terrible hurt or setback. Your attention and thoughtfulness during these moments can lessen the pain and bring you closer to your kids. Like Joy’s mother, you may even find the silver lining that turns disappointment into triumph.

Before you say good night…

  • Do you try to turn around disappointments in your family?
  • What “encouragement strategies” can you deploy?

Lord Jesus, we need eyes like Yours—eyes that see opportunities to bring comfort out of pain, light out of darkness, hope out of despair. Open our eyes and hearts, Lord, so that we might walk our children through these years. Amen.

Illustration adapted from Mothers Have Angel Wings, compiled and edited by Carol Kent (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress Publishing Group, 1997).

Listen to today's broadcast of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk at  For more from Dr. Dobson, visit the resource center at

This devotional is taken from Night Light for Parents. Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reservedUsed with permission.

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About Family Talk

Packed with the same wisdom Dr. Dobson has provided audiences for more than 30 years, Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk is designed to help families and influence the culture — all flowing out of a heart for spiritual transformation thru trust in Christ for every life. It's the voice you trust...for the family you love!

About Dr. James Dobson

About the Hosts:
Dr. James Dobson:

James Dobson is the host of Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk. He is also the founder of Focus on the Family, where he served for more than 30 years.

A licensed psychologist and marriage, family, and child counselor, he was an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California for 14 years. He invested 17 years on the attending staff of Children's Hospital Los Angeles in the Division of Child Development and Medical Genetics.

Earning a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, he's authored more than 30 books, including his most recent bestseller, Bringing Up Girls. Dr. Dobson has also been heavily involved in governmental activities related to the family. He was elected in 2008 to the National Radio Hall of Fame.

Dr. Dobson is married to Shirley, the father of two grown children, Danae and Ryan, and the grandfather of Lincoln and Luci.


Dr. Meg Meeker:
Dr. Meg is a pediatrician, who has practiced pediatric and adolescent medicine for 25 years. She is the author of six books including the best-selling Strong Fathers/Strong Daughters: Ten Secrets Every Father Should Know, and its companions Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: The 30 Day Challenge and Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, 8 part DVD Small Group Study and WorkbookBoys Should Be BoysYour Kids At Risk, and The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose and Sanity. She is a popular speaker on pediatric health issues and child-parent relationships. Dr. Meeker has the heart of a mother and the wisdom of a pediatrician. 
Meg is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and currently teaches medical students and physicians in residency training. She has been married to her husband, Walter for 31 years. They have shared a medical practice for 20 years. They have three daughters ages 29, 27 and 25 and a son who is 21. She lives in northern Michigan.


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