Summary: If we do almost nothing for our children but give them a great marriage, then that counts for more than anything else. But to do that, you have to have guardrails.
We are in Part Four of Guardrails. Everybody knows what a guardrail is. If you’ve been with us,
you know that basically what we’ve done is we’ve taken the idea of a guardrail that we’re
familiar with and see every single day, and we’ve come up with a parallel idea as we think about
living our lives. But just to kind of get us all on the same page, a guardrail is a system designed
to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous or off-limit areas, a system designed to keep
vehicles from straying, and that’s a key word, into dangerous or off-limit areas. Even though we
know how that works with vehicles, the truth is in many areas of our lives, our finances, our
relationships, our morality and different areas, we need guardrails. So we asked the question,
what would it look like to establish guardrails in lots of different areas of our lives? In other
words, what would it look like to develop systems that keep us from straying into dangerous
areas, financially, morally, relationally, professionally, academically—whatever it might be. So
we came up with our own definition of a guardrail.
Here’s our definition: It’s a standard of personal behavior, which means it’s a behavior that you
choose for yourself, a standard of personal behavior that becomes a matter of conscience. What
we’ve talked about in these last few weeks is what it would be like if we created standards of
behavior—that is—this is what I will and won’t do (we just come up with them on our own) and
we so tune our consciences into those that when we begin to break our own standards, our
consciences light up and it keeps us from living on the brink of disaster—again—morally,
physically, relationally, with our health, whatever it might be.
Now this whole idea of guardrails is nothing new. In fact, the idea of setting personal standards
is nothing new. As Sandra and I talked about this series, it dawned on us that this has really been
a part of our lives since even before we met, and that in some ways, we may have never met had
we not had guardrails in our lives—even in college and after that, or standards that we had set.
So I thought it would be fun, especially because today is the day it is, to invite her out to talk
about how this principle has interacted with our lives. So would you please welcome my wife,
Sandra Stanley. This has been fun.
Sandra Stanley: In a stressful sort of way.
Andy Stanley: In a stressful sort of way. On the way to church today, she said, “This is kind of
like getting up early and going to a surgery.” She doesn’t enjoy public speaking, but as you’re
about to discover, she does a delightful job.
Now, last week we did this whole thing on creating moral boundaries, and I gave some advice to
singles and couples. One of the pieces of advice I gave to singles was no sleepovers. You just
need to decide as a standard of behavior, no sleepover, and my boyfriend just doesn’t spend the
night here. It doesn’t matter if he sleeps on the couch. It’s one of those standards of behavior.
And I think I told you that when we were dating, we did have a sleepover, and so for full
disclosure, I wanted you to know that, but I wanted Sandra to tell you the story. How’s that?
SS: That’s good. This is one of those stories that is kind of funny now, but it was not funny at all
at the time. It was 1987 and we were either engaged or almost engaged, and I was a college
student living off campus in an apartment with my sister, and Andy was getting ready to go on
his first trip to Africa. He and his friend Randy were headed to Kenya. For those of you who’ve
done mission trips, you know for certain countries you have to have lots of immunizations and
things to get ready to go. In 1987, I think there were either more immunizations you had to have,
or at least it was different. You had to spread them out over a time period. But Andy didn’t have
time for that, so he’s going to get all of his in one sitting.
AS: Well, I just forgot.
SS: It was about a week and a half before he’s leaving for his trip.
AS: Which meant half of them wouldn’t even kick in until I got back.
SS: So this friend of ours, who is a nurse, comes over with this bag full of shots for him and she
lays them all out and she said, “Andy, this is going to be bad. It’s going to be real bad. In a