The Houston Chronicle June 15, 2007





Houston lawyer Jared Woodfill, from left, Jerry Woodfill and the Rev. Matt Woodfill co-wrote a book based on the Bible's book of Proverbs. GARY FOUNTAIN: FOR THE CHRONICLE


June 15, 2007, 6:29PM
New book extols 'men of integrity'
Proverbs 32 Man authored by father and his two sons

This Sunday, Jerry Woodfill will take part in a father/son role reversal.

Typically on Father's Day he would be listening to a sermon delivered by his son, the Rev. Matt Woodfill, founding pastor of The Woodlands Christian Center.

But this year, Jerry Woodfill, a NASA engineer, will be giving the sermon. His sons Matt, 37, and Jared, 39, and their families will be in the congregation in a new building designed by daughter-in-law Celeste Woodfill, an architect.

Jerry Woodfill, 64, will talk about two of his favorite subjects, his successful sons.

"The greatest gift you can get on Father's Day is two sons like I have," Jerry Woodfill said. "The lives they live have been an example for me and my wife to be proud of."

He refers to his sons as men of integrity, exemplified by what he calls the "Proverbs 32 Man." That's also the name of a book he co-wrote with his sons.

In the Bible, Proverbs ends with Chapter 31, which includes the story of the "virtuous wife." Where, he always wondered, was the same concept for men?

"Mother's Day is very popular. At church, whole families show up and have dinner afterward," the elder Woodfill said. "The sermon is often based on Proverbs 31 and the woman of virtue."

On Father's Day, Jerry Woodfill said, many fathers sleep late and don't go to church.

"I always thought there should be something to get dads involved, so we created it," he said.

He found his inspiration in Proverbs 20:7 and used it as the first verse of his Proverbs 32: "Who can find a man of integrity? The just [man] walketh in his integrity: his children [are] blessed after him."

Both sons got involved in their father's idea, arranging the verses to fit their concept of the Proverbs 32 Man. For example, their Proverbs 32:2, "He is wise and will hear and increase learning and as a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels," is from the Bible's Proverbs 1:5.

It took all of them about a month to select and compile the 31 verses. Then Jerry Woodfill decided they should write a devotional book, using a different verse each day as inspiration.

"I know our family has benefited from this," he said. "I became a Christian at 29, and I believe the things we found as young parents helped Matt and Jared become successful men who also appreciate the things of the Lord."

He proudly points out that Matt left a successful engineering career to become a minister, and Jared is an attorney with his own practice, Woodfill & Pressler.

"My dad is really the main author," Jared Woodfill said. "He has been a great father and an example of what a man of integrity should be. He invested a lot of time in our lives, so I jumped at the opportunity to be involved."

The format they chose for the book starts with a verse from Proverbs 32, followed by a reading from another book of the Bible and examples of people the family team considers men of integrity.

"You can tell who wrote each story because my dad's are all about space; mine begin with a joke and are some (that) I have used as sermons," Matt Woodfill said. "And Jared's all have something to do with the law."

The book was self-published several years ago and sells for $10. But the Woodfills often give it away free, as they plan to do on Father's Day.

"This is a book written for men," Matt Woodfill said. "But it's for women, too, because if a man changes and is led to the Lord, he will bring his family along with him."