LISTEN TO EP.73
Leaving a Legacy of Influence: A Tribute to Presidential Historian Doug Wead
What can we learn from the life and legacy of a legend? Reminisce with Dave Donaldson, Scott Young, Wendell Vinson, and Scott Wead as they talk about the influence and impact of Doug Wead on their lives and our nation. As a world-renowned Presidential historian, New York Times bestselling author, a former adviser to two American Presidents, and regular guest on national television, Wead seemed larger than life. Hear from his son Scott as he shares some of the amazing moments and memories he has of his father. Wead captivated audiences with his creativity and humor as a man who sought to make every moment in life count. Finally, hear from Wead himself as we share a short humorous clip from his memorial service on how he knew there is a God. When we become all who God has destined us to be, what will be the legacy of our influence?
Welcome to the Influencers Podcast. We are here to see the increase of influence in your life to make your world a better world. And the world we live in a better world. Today on the Influencers Podcast, we are going to honor the life of a man who influenced this nation and the world over years and decades with profound and powerful communication and profound and powerful messaging.
Doug Wead is a best selling New York times bestselling author. I remember reading his books when I was in college and saying, “This guy is smart and he’s good with words.” He’s been an advisor to two American presidents. He’s served in the White House as a special assistant under president George W. Bush. He’s the co-founder and original board member of Mercy Corp, which has distributed in a compassionate way, over $2 billion worth of food and medicine around the world. He’s been influential in literature. As I said, he’s authored 39 books and co-authored with President George W. Bush. He’s interviewed six presidents and first ladies, 19 of the children associated with the White House and the president, his most recent book, “Inside the Trump White House”, is a fascinating look at the presidency of our recent President. For two decades. He has been researching and writing about families. He’s very interested in families. He has written All the Presidents’ Children, which became an instant New York times bestseller. In fact, it was reprinted three times in its first month. He authored the book, Raising of a President, which was the first book to deal with the subject of the parents of a president. His early beginnings were in Muni, Indiana. He was raised in the home of an Assembly of God minister and church leader. He went to Evangel University, but many universities recognized and celebrated his accomplishments as wisdom and conferred on him. Honorary doctorates, his influence spans many areas and many decades in the seventies. He began writing about the Catholic Charismatic Movement and became a bridge building ambassador between Catholics and Protestants, bringing them together under their love for Jesus. His life and his message transcended the world of religion and church into the corporate world. He gave speeches to capacity, paying audiences and places like the, the Hoosier dome in Indiana and the Georgia Domain, Atlanta. He filled stadiums in Germany and France, millions of tapes and CDs of Wead are still available and still inspiring people. He became an advisor to the Vice President, George W. Bush. He helped organize his presidential campaign in the late nineties and into the two thousands. He served as the advisor to George W. Bush leading up to his years as election as President. And if you’ve ever heard the term “compassionate conservative”, Time Magazine says that was coined by Doug Wead in the nineties. He was still influencing Arizona politics. He introduced a successful campaign in the state that now requires two thirds vote in order for them to raise taxes. I like that. He ran for politics and continued even into the two thousands. He was part of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. He has been an influencer in so many areas and over so many decades, we honor this man and the influence he had. We want to learn as we celebrate his life. He influenced on many levels a person like me. He influenced through his messages, his books, his tapes.
We’ve got two great friends on with us. Co-Host Dave Donaldson and America’s pastor Wendell Vincent – great friends, and they’re going to reflect. And then we have his beloved son, Scott with us, Scott Wead. And we’re glad that all have joined with us on Influencers Podcast. Dave, you knew Doug Wead personally. And do you have any extra comments you’d like to add or any questions you’d like to add those that are joining us on the podcast today?
A Life of Honor
Well, I think the people listening that heard that 10 minute introduction in a really snapshot of Doug’s bio only illustrates his influence in the various sectors. And as you said, Scott, think about it. I mean, at the top of influencing government in the White House, public liaison, he was really the first of his kind as like the faith-based director. He wrote as you, as you mentioned, best selling books, he was working on books up until really weeks before his death. He impacted the church like few others. There are not too many people in our lifetime that, that were a more sought out speaker than Doug Wead. As you mentioned, he helped found Mercy Corps, which has helped millions. He was very influential in helping my brothers with Convoy of Hope. And now City Serve.
He is one of our senior advisors and we’re so honored and elated that his son, Scott Wead is part of our team overseeing the National Grant Center and Doug, his dad, was so proud of him and Scott’s just been hitting it out of the park winning grant after grant for the church. I worked with Doug on the Charity Award Dinner. One of his great gifts among many is that when people give him accolades, he would always give it away. He would give God the glory, but he would turn it back on affirming that person. So he created the charity awards to create this big spotlight to honor people from various sectors that were making the world a better place. So whether it be celebrities, sports figures, government business, the church, nonprofit, and I have to tell you, I attended many of these; Wendell and Scott did as well.
And the anointing and the power of the Lord in that room was something I’ll never forget. And it just shows you the, the power of honoring and ultimately giving God the glory. So there’s so much that we can say about Doug and his legacy. We’re going to reminisce a little bit and talk about his influence, but more of what we can learn from his life and legacy. But first I think it’s more than appropriate to hear from his son, Scott.
Scott, your dad passed away only what three weeks ago. We’d like to hear just about how you are doing your family. And then I know you had some amazing moments with your dad before he graduated to heaven.
“Don’t Cry Because it’s Over, Smile Because it Happened.”
Thank you, Dave. Yes. It’s been quite a bit of a shock. A couple weeks after my dad passed away, my mom passed away as well. I’m in shock, but God is good. We are hanging in there. One of the things that was really wonderful personally for me is over the past few months, is that I’ve had the chance to relocate to Florida and actually live near my dad. And the night before dad had his stroke, we had a wonderful dinner and a time together and got to fellowship. And one of dad’s literary agents, when he was a young man was the same agent as Dr. Seus. And Dad always had an interesting saying, he said, “Don’t be sad for the memories and the times that are over, be glad that they happened.” And I’m very glad and thankful for the life that Dad lived and the memories we have.
Wendell you and I have had a lot of special moments with Doug. Share some of those.
I was always so blessed by Doug; just his overall optimism and faith. He had a perspective on life and the world that was unique, but it was also very inspirational. And I can’t tell you how many times I got off the phone with Doug or left some conversation with him that I just felt so uplifted and strengthened. And he also had an amazing gift of humor that he could, he could make you have a perspective that had joy and make you laugh. And these days it’s nice to have friends that can help you laugh some and and operate in the joy of the Lord.
Creativity and Joy
Without a doubt, God gave him an extra dose of creativity. I think like a truckload, I mean, you think about his creativity and I had a front row seat to it, traveling with him while I was in college. And then working with him on various ventures over the years and heard him speak many, many times. In fact, I would, would memorize his sermons word for word, and then I’d try to give them, and then people in the audience would recognize ’em and they would chuckle, but I didn’t care. It’s like, how do you mess with a masterpiece? I remember, some of the favorite sermons, of course, if you haven’t listened, about the fear of people, fear of failure. One of my favorites that I thought was so creative was he started out a message talking about King David and then he gets partway through and he goes, “Oh, you guys have already heard about King David. I think I’m going to talk about Queen Esther”. So he starts talking about Queen Esther and sharing that story. And he says, “I’m sure most of you here have already heard about Queen Esther.” Then he goes, “Some of you don’t really like the Old Testament, so I’m going to go to the New Testament”. He goes, the New Testament. “Let’s talk about the Apostle Paul”. So he talks about the Apostle Paul, and you’re wondering what the world is going on. Well, the next thing , he’s pulling all three of those stories together into a message.
When you and I talked soon after Doug’s passing, what did you say about his sermons? I think back over the years, listening to Doug preach, his sermons were some of the most memorable. Sometimes preachers worry about people, remembering their messages.
Doug had a unique angle that would make it just memorable. You would remember it. And it would stick with you.
And you said that I mean, some people forget your sermons.
I didn’t say mine specifically. He loved to have fun, but one time, we were returning from an Amway Convention on the airplane and I wasn’t an Amway, but he was a diamond for Amway, I mean C at the top. I was on this plane returning from an Amway Convention and a vast majority of the people were Amway. The guy that was with me decided to play a practical joke and to let the leader of the group know that I was Dave Wead, Doug Wead’s brother, younger brother.
So he walks up to me in front of like the whole plane. He says, “I know who you are.” He says, “You’re Dave Wead, you’re Doug Wead’s younger brother.” And I said, “Why, no, I think there’s a mistake.” And he goes, “Right, right.” Well, he has the plane, the entire plane. And this is something Scott Young would do. He has the entire plane singing Happy Birthday to me. And then people are walking up with their Doug Wead books, tape packs. And they’re asking me to sign it. Dave Wead’s flight attendant walks up and she says, “I don’t know who Doug Wead is, but can I have your autograph?” And he absolutely loved that story.
We were joking about it just a number of years ago. A friend of our family came up to me and said, “People are talking about your younger brother, Dave Wead.” She goes, “You don’t have a younger brother, Dave Wead.” I mean, there was just so many funny things. The other is that Scott, he was an incessant reader. So he had a natural creativity, but yet he was always reading. I would go to church with him. We lived in the same neighborhood and he was there and he would read. You thought he was reading like the denominational periodical. He was actually using that as the cover and inside it was time magazine or Newsweek.
He had nothing against the denominational periodical, but I think he thought Time Magazine was a little more interesting. But really an incessant learner, wasn’t he?
Miracles, Gifts, and Truth
Yeah. And deeply spiritual. One of the things that always blessed me about Doug was he believed in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And he believed in them as being very practical and very essential to real life and to influencing others for good and for God. And I think that’s one of the things that’s most remarkable about Doug that really opened doors for him, that he really relied on the gifts of the Holy Spirit to speak to him, to show him stuff, and to cause him to be able to operate in that spiritual dimension that he utilized in very practical ways to influence people for the Kingdom.
Yeah. In business and in government. Every sector. And he wrote a book on the Word of Knowledge. He had the gift of WordS of Knowledge. I saw that happen. He was speaking and at the end he wanted to have a time of prayer. And he had people come up, and one lady shared how her husband passed away from a heart attack and how she was in deep mourning. And he pulls out a little piece of paper and on the piece of paper is her name and the clothing she was wearing and her need. And obviously at that moment, I mean, she was just overwhelmed that God knew she was going to be there and knew of her need. And that’s just one of the most powerful, memorable moments.
Scott, you were with your dad a lot at, at different venues. What are some of your memories of his ministry?
Flying on a plane to Springfield, Missouri, Dad was sitting next to a gentleman. They began to discuss each other’s life. And the gentleman asked my father what he does and my dad said he was an author. And he said, “Oh really? What is the next book you’d like to work on?” And dad said, “Well, I heard a story about a man named Mark Buntan in Calcutta India, and feel like the Lord’s calling me to write a book about what he’s doing”. And the man said to him, “That’s funny, my name’s Mark Buntan.” And that began a relationship and a friendship that led to writing a book called, The Compassionate Touch, which sold over a million copies. And Dave, I know you and your brother were involved in the eighties with Dad on that project. So yeah. Miracles seem to follow.
Scott, there’s the public persona of your dad on a platform or in an auditorium or doing a national television program. But what about his influence on you and his family away from the crowds away from the authorship? Just a family man with a son and with his other children.
Well, Dad had an interesting life because I remember as a young boy, knowing Dad before the success, and I remember my brother. In fact, my dad and mom and brother, they lived out of the car until my brother was seven years old. And it wasn’t uncommon for them to go to McDonald’s and order a happy meal and have my brother eat as much as he could. And then whatever was left over was divided between Dad and Mom. So the beginnings were very humble and I saw God do a miracle in Dad’s life. I remember I was in preschool when I began to see a shift. And it was a real defining moment for Dad. God opened a door and I think it’s inspiring to know that for people, wherever they’re at, whatever they’re doing, whatever their station is in life, if they feel like they’re failing or feel like things are going tough, that at any moment, God can take someone and raise them up and do something wonderful with them.
If they submit their life to him. One of Dad’s favorite verses was an Ecclesiastes. And he discovered this verse at a real low point in life. The verse says “Better to be a live dog than a dead lion”. And dad was traveling evangelist at the time and very poor and not many doors opened. And he was visiting a church I believe in, in mission. And he saw a poster on the wall of some Assemblies of God youth conference. And he saw his preacher on this poster and he thought to himself, “Oh my goodness, I’ll never be able to preach a youth conference like that preacher, I’ll never be able to do anything great”. He went to the basement of this church as he prepared for that service. He had been reading a book about Winston Churchill titled, When the Lion Roars, and he opened his Bible and found that verse.
“Better to be a live dog than a dead lion”. And he stood up and got on his feet and said, “Winston church, you are a dead, you are a dead lion, but I am a live dog”. And he knew at that point that God could do something with him because he was alive. And it wasn’t long from there that God began to open doors. And he was not only able to speak at conferences, but influence people in churches and business conferences and conferences around the world. And I think that’s the story of Dad’s life, but I think it’s also hope for anybody wherever they’re at.
Refusing to Compromise
Doug had a lot of role models and I think what was uncharacteristic is these role models were as diverse as his background. So for example, he was named after Douglas MacArthur. So Douglas Wead, Winston Churchill. And he was also greatly inspired, like all of us have been, by Tommy Barnett. He called Wendell when we wrote the book on City Serve. He was an evangelist. Pastors would say, “Well, if I had buses, I’d have a lot of kids. If I had Johnny Cash come and sing, I could get a big, if I could have angels, people would come to my Christmas pageant or whatever.” First Doug says, “Yeah, he’s got buses, he’s got Johnny Cash, he’s got angels.” And then he thought about it: “Well, why don’t you invite Johnny Cash? Why don’t you get some buses? Why don’t you grab some angels?”
That’s good. Yeah. So true. But he worked hard to be an effective communicator. As I mentioned earlier, he would study not only, literature, but when he would travel to another country, he would study that culture. So very cross-cultural like Paul was when he did that crossover from the unknown God, in Athens. For Doug, he would study, “Who are the well known figures in Taiwan”. And he would tell me it was a BADM mitten player. Studying that culture, the influencers, and when that culture knew that he did the additional homework to get to know them and what it was important to them it opened their ears even more so to the Gospel.
So Dave, I’m wondering if he influenced you? He was a deep man of faith, a deep committed Jesus follower, but he wasn’t afraid of politics or politicians. And you have been able to bridge faith and the world of politics. Did he influence you in any of those areas?
Nobody has influenced me more as it relates to trying to be a bridge to the various sectors and to try to galvanize the various sectors to accomplish something great for the Kingdom. Nobody demonstrated that better than Doug Wead. Obviously, as he would say, if he was with us today, “Made some mistakes as well.” I mean, there were some scars upon scars as it relates to his first marriage, and I knew Scott’s mom, glory, incredible woman, incredible woman. And then his second wife Miriam, one of our closest friends. And as I mentioned, neighbors; wonderful woman. But he regretted some things that he probably should have kept private that he included in books. And there were things that he would communicate to me that, that even though you are pressured by peers or by a publisher, never compromise your values, never keep doing the right thing day after day.
And because if you, if you don’t, then those trappings can devour a lot of time, a lot of our opportunity. Those were discussions that Doug and I would have frequently. And he would say to me, really, as a warning, “Don’t make the same mistake I made.” And I love that because, as Henry Ford said, “I cannot afford the tuition of learning from my own mistakes”. I learned a lot from Doug. A vast majority was just the positive things about him and what he accomplished and as Wendell said, his love and faith for God, his joy, his creativity, and his hard work. But I’ve also tried to learn from what he would call his failings, his shortcomings. But at the end of the day he would say what his son Scott just said, and that is, “We might be dogs, but we’re alive.”
He’s in heaven. And as live dogs, we have to make every moment count. And he did. Doug made every moment count for the Kingdom. The trip to Moscow was one of the most interesting trips I’ve ever taken. But actually we were in Russia after the fall of the Soviet union. We had gone to St. Petersburg where he was speaking at a business conference. And I remember pulling up to an auditorium, a historic auditorium that seated several thousand people. And they were so excited about Doug Wead coming to speak. They didn’t know who Dave and I were, but they were excited about Doug. And they were there ready to receive him. We got out of the out of the car that we were in, and they were just all over him. I turned to Dave and said, “Now I know what the Beatles felt like when they came to America”, because these guys are really crazy about Doug and it was nonstop.
A Seamless Message
He had the capacity to move from talking about business entrepreneurship right into issues of character and spiritual life seamlessly. And I had not been exposed to this. I’d been exposed primarily to preachers who were preaching the Gospel and faithful to do that, but he had that ability to just move seamlessly in that conversation.
Another funny part about that trip was when we had decided that we were going to leave St. Petersburg and go to Moscow, he did not want to get on one of the national planes that flew the air plot planes that were very old planes that were from the fifties and fly from St. Petersburg to Moscow. And we assured him it would be fine. We got out there and we almost had to drag him onto that plane.
He was so concerned that that plane might not make the flight. And he was telling us about all the planes that hadn’t made that flight. We almost had to sedate him just to keep him on that flight. It was really something, He had so many fun trips together. But I remember, when we first started working in Washington, DC, and we were just getting started, but God’s favor was so great. And I said to Doug,
“If they only knew, if they only knew.” He looked at me and he said, “If they only knew.” Doug served a big God, we all know what it’s like to be underestimated. And you think about a God that we underestimate over and over again. But Doug served a huge God, mean where nothing was impossible, nothing.
He’s having a lot of parties up there. He loved parties. He loved having fun. And there’s a lot to celebrate because there are not too many people in our lifetime that have inspired more people than Doug Wead, friends.
You’re going to love this. We are ending today in Doug’s own words, this clip illustrates his ability to speak to a wide range of audiences using humor history. The arts to proclaim Biblical truths here is the late great Doug Wead in “Why I know there’s a God”; Enjoy.
“Why I Know There’s a God”
In case you’ve ever wondered in your experience in life, is there, or is there not a God? Does God exist or does God not exist? I’m going to tell you how I can prove there’s a God. You say, “Come on. This is a network”. “You’re talking about God, what’s this about?” This is an extra. Coincidentally, in my lifetime, I stumbled across this and I can prove there’s a God. What happened was just before the dress rehearsal for parent night, the band instructor learned that I was a squeak. He was very angry and he felt very bad for the little girl that got blamed for everything. And he was very angry at me. And he said only, “Only one condition will you be allowed to play on parents night. And that’s if you don’t actually play – you just act like you play. I don’t want you to even make a sound on parent night. And tonight at dress rehearsal, don’t make a sound. I want you just to act like you’re playing the clarinet. Only under those circumstances, will you be allowed to play on parent’s night.” So I said, “Okay.”
So, so during the rehearsal, as we were playing, she squeaks. And the band instructor said, “You’re outta here. You’re outta here. Get outta here, get outta here. You’re outta here. You’ll not play parents night. Go, go, go.” I took my little clarinet apart. I walked away and I didn’t get to play in parents night. And I was the only kid at fall Creek Grade School that got.. it was traumatic that I got kicked out of band for squeaking. And I wasn’t the squeaker. She was the squeak and I got kicked out. So see, there is a God.