April 28, 2021
Building the Foundations of a Strong Family | S1 EP1

Steve and Mary Alessi reveal the unlikely foundations of their family business, and show how you too can build a strong foundation for your family.

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Have you ever thought about the foundation of your family - and how that foundation affects your present and your future?

You should...because the values that shape your family are the values that will shape your future. 

In our inaugural episode of Season 1: "Being Before Doing", the Alessis share the powerful story behind what has become the family business.

Steve and Mary Alessi have been married for over 30 years, and have four young-adult children - Christopher, Stephanie, Lauren and Gabrielle - who work alongside them as they lead a thriving multi-campus, culturally diverse church in Miami.

 On first glance it would appear that the Alessis have all the resources they'd need to have a great family life.  Long before they became pastors and parents, however, their individual paths were being orchestrated by divine interventions and decisions that would impact their lives, as well as the lives of future generations.

You’ll hear Steve and Mary dig deep into their roots, and share personal recollections of their childhoods.  Together they discover powerful and pivotal moments in their family’s history that guided their family from the streets of Brooklyn, to the forests of Georgia, and finally to the sunny skies of South Florida. 

Throughout this episode,  Steve and Mary unearth the powerful values that have helped them from the strong bonds of family that have held them together for over 3 generations - and explain how you can apply the same values to build a strong foundation for your family.

Key Takeaways You’ll Discover

  • The foundation of a successful family must be rooted in love for God and living authentic lives in full view of each other. 
  • Just one person reaching out and helping another person with a Godly influence can impact countless people over the long term 
  • Knowing and appreciating your history and background is a key element to forging strong bonds in your family over time

The Family Business Question of the Day!

Listen to the end of the podcast to hear Steve and Mary's "Question of the Day" and then share your answer on social media with the hashtag #alessifamilybusiness!

Strong Family Values Quotes from The Alessis

“The only way to have an harvest is to have a seed” - Steve Alessi 
“You don’t hope against the seed, you speak over that seed.” - Mary Alessi 

To learn more about the Alessis, visit http://alessifamilybusiness.com

Join our family business every week as we talk about life, and help you build a great future with your family, no matter what business you are in.

New episodes are uploaded every Wednesday! 

More Resources

Get your copy of the new book by Steve Alessi,  “Forty-Two: A Guide to Finishing Well when You Thought You Were Finished”

Click HERE to get your copy! 

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Steve Alessi  0:10  
Well, today, we want to welcome you to the very first start of something very special to Mary and I we are calling it our family business podcast. Because let's face it, family is everybody's business. So today, Mary and I are here and how you doing, Mary?

Mary Alessi  0:28  
I'm doing good. How are you Steve? 

Steve Alessi  0:29  
I'm great. We're supposed to be acting as though we're at home. just chatting. Sure, like, so often we do. You had a recording last night that you showed me of when you're chatting about things that we usually chat about, because so much of what we do in our professional world is ministers and pastors. So much of it is reviewed rehearse? Yeah,

Mary Alessi  0:53  
we spent a lot of time talking about all Yeah. And my phone and recorded it,

Steve Alessi  0:57  
you did, we'd have it. So we're preparing ourselves for some kind of environment like this, where we want it to be natural, organic. And us just talking about things here that maybe we can't talk about on Sunday, say, because we're in a mixed company have crowd members in the church, and we don't have enough time. And so that's what the family business podcast is about. The little tagline there, because family is everybody's business. There's kind of a little thought provoker there because some people in society wants you to think that hey, what happens in my family is our own personal business don't metal. Yeah. And yet, they're not happy when all of a sudden things get all jacked up in their business, or their home, their family. That's true. But what we've tried to do in our lives is just live our lives out loud, as they say, we put it out there for people to see how we adjust with our kids, how we work with our kids and work with our marriage, how we go about living at home, but yet also working together. So family is everybody's business, it should be everybody's business. Because if you keep it in private, sooner or later, it's going to become somebody's business Anyway, when you're having to go to them and say oh my gosh, my, my kids are jacked up or my husbands or wives. So it becomes everybody's business. So we

Mary Alessi  2:19  
put as much effort into our families. As we do our businesses, we'd probably like the outcome a whole lot more. This is what we're going to talk a lot about, yeah, how to do that.

Steve Alessi  2:27  
So that's where we're coming up with the whole family business podcast. So you feeling good about this?

Mary Alessi  2:33  
I am we have a lot to share. We we spend a lot of time talking, analyzing, dissecting the things that we have done the things that we know, we wanted to do what God's word says about family, and we put a lot of it into practice, we've, we don't just talk about it, we walk about it. And I just made that up right there. I just made that up.

Steve Alessi  2:55  
right there on the spot, my brain just was going.

Mary Alessi  3:01  
We do I mean, we spend a lot of time sharing, we get asked constantly, you know, the who, what, when, where how of our family, because we have a unique situation with all four of our kids that are working with us in ministry that we never forced, we did not make them do this, this is not something we said Your life will be perfect if you work for us at the church. We didn't do that. And so we get asked, Well, how did you get to where you are with your kids? And and really, we've, we've processed that along the way, it's been a daily work, that we've just really looked at other people's lives. And we said, well, we don't want that. And we do want that. And that maybe that will work. And then of course with God leading us all the way in God's word and wisdom is a big word for you. You like to incorporate in every decision. Wisdom. Yeah. And that has been an anchor in our marriage. And it's been an anchor in parenting our kids, we, we will draw from other people's experiences, but we don't draw conclusions. We'll just analyze to be able to see where the fruit is. And then we back up and say, Okay, what, where's wisdom here for Christopher? Where's wisdom here for Stephanie? Lauren. And Gabby, they're all different. And God has a different plan for all of them. So, yeah, it's just

Steve Alessi  4:18  
it's just kind of cool that we get to talk about it here. And we get to talk about it from the family standpoint. But also, here's the unique thing is from the Ministry standpoint, yeah. You know, the fact that we've got adult young adult kids that we've been able to raise, yeah, all these years and now they're all in their 20s right now. is unique in itself that they all love one another care for one another like you and I as parents want to hang out with us, you know, do the whole thing when we hang as a family. But then you add on top of it, this other component of man, you guys work together and you work together not just the same profession, but You work together in the same company, which just happens to be a church, which is ministry in the same building in the same building? You know, we were we're working at this Yes. On a daily basis with our kids, which required us to do things early on that were pretty intentional. And then some of them are just all God, because there's things that happen that only God was able to make happen as we abide by certain principles of wisdom that we played out. So part of this was intentional. A lot of it was just grace, it was just a good grace of God. But people also want to know that how in the world do you guys do that? And all four of your kids are level headed. They love God, they love each other. They love ministry, they love the people of the church. That's a big deal, because we've been in this our entire life. Yeah. And we've seen a lot of pastors kids grow up that are now adults, that some of them don't even have a relationship with God. Now, I know, I know. And they don't, they surely don't love God's people. They don't love the church. Some of them rarely go to churches, pastors, kids. And here we are. We're second generation in this. You may be third generation, but I'm second or third. Well, my papa was not in nonstress. Yeah, he thought he's the Apostle Paul. But my father, first generation, second generation or your third generation. So how in the world is this happening? And that's something and the sense that of course, you think of family business, you tie it into mafioso stuff? It's a family business. Ours just happens to be another you do another m word, which is the ministry oh my lord, the mafia, the mafia ministry know, the ministry, how do we then how do we work together? Not just we live together. But now how do we work together?

Mary Alessi  6:51  
It can I just say that one of the things this podcast is going to do, we are not going to use christianese. We're going to talk like we talk at home, we're not going to, you know, my first thought when you say That is to say, Well, if you'll just lead people into relationship with Jesus, if you'll just lead your children and your children will love what you love. And if you just exemplify the love of Christ, and walk that out, and you love the church, they'll love the church too. Well. That's not always true. You know, that's not every day. That's not true. There are times where... did you like that noise? I scare you?

Steve Alessi  7:29  
It's what I'm gonna say go don't

Mary Alessi  7:34  
know, but the truth is, it's not perfect science. Yeah,

Steve Alessi  7:38  
so you're just gonna talk raw?

Yeah, real.

That's why are we doing this? So that means the studio here is going to have to hit the Bleep button on occasion when you get riled up, because sometimes what comes out of you? Yeah,

Mary Alessi  7:54  
well, you know, I'm a Christian first, but I'm a human being, and sometimes your human being first. Christian. Okay, so I'm a Christian human here. But I'm 53. Now. So the filters are almost completely removed. So it's gonna be fun. It's gonna be fun. And we've, we've lived a lot we've seen a lot. Yeah, we've experienced a lot in our lives and being raised in ministry is, is really prepared us in a lot of ways for the hard days. Yep.

Steve Alessi  8:24  
You know, this is gonna be a lot of you and I, it's going to be a lot of Chris and I, and then you and Chris, it's going to be Stephanie and I and Stephanie, and you, then we'll get Lauren and Gabby all in here. And then we're going to also reach out to some friends of ours that serve alongside of us in the ministry that are actually I call them friends, thank God, I can call our staff friends, I know, they're going to sit in here around the table. And we're going to hear from them about how they really interact with us as a family. Because that's not easy. When your pastor is the father of the other staff members that is on a board and they don't know how to always deal with them. And they you know, sometimes they think, wow, that you know that staff, that kid of the pastor could be spoiled, they could be favored. They could be given privileges that the average person won't give them, or they're afraid to even deal with them. Because they don't want to get in trouble by you know, someone in the higher ups and right and the family, and yet, we tried our best with all of them to recognize when we get here. First, if you're an Alessi, you need to lead by example, not by parking space, sure, not by title or name. And that means they have to work hard to gain the respect of the other staff members that are in leadership. And thankfully over the years, the leadership here our friends, our staff, have been so cordial along the way to help even get our young adult kids now Yeah, all still loving the environment here not hating each other, not dreading going to work, but they love working together and there's a beautiful respect that is going to look really super as we continue to do this together. So but it's gonna be good. Here's what I'd like to do today since we've kind of given some introduction. First, I feel like we're supposed to pray. But I know that's not the case here.

We can pray. No, we got it.

Mary Alessi  10:17  
Jesus. Here we

Steve Alessi  10:19  
here's what I'd like us to talk about today. Okay? because not a lot of people are, know our story know where we came from to. We didn't just get here in ministry, because we went to college, and because we got an education, and we came over and started our church instead, and so forth. This even happens before there was any college experience for us. Right? You and I were raised in the ministry. And we said we're second and then third generation. Yes, ministers. Yep. And so what did that look like for you growing up in the church?

Mary Alessi  10:53  
You know, I remember my earliest memory of really having an encounter with the Lord was as a little girl, when my grandfather would tell the story of being his family was not saved. This is on my dad's side, his family was not saved. And he came from one of like 11 brothers, and he was walking home one day in the mountains of Georgia. I know this sounds made up but is not is the truth. And he heard out of one of the little houses, little church houses, like what we see when we go to Georgia, those those little church across the street like that in the windows were open. And he heard people praying and singing, and then he heard someone speaking in this language he'd never heard before. And so he just remembers as a little boy walking home in the dark, that he walked over to that window when he peered in, and it was filled with white people, black people. Yeah, probably no, Hispanics, wow. But they were worshipping, they were singing and they were speaking in tongues. And that was such a story that marked me of this. I want that too, even as a little girl and how he got saved. And he took it home and his family got saved. And then he got in ministry. Then he had my father. My father was extremely talented in music, like he was almost a prodigy, musically, songwriter, incredible guitar player just would blow your mind how talented. He taught himself to play the piano. His mom and dad were both very gifted. My grandmother, his mom did kids crusades for years and she did magic. And I just remember being so enamored, not only by the things that they could do in front of crowds, big crowds, little crowds. I just knew that I wanted to be able to make an impact with what Jesus did in my life. I wanted that same story. I wanted that on, you know, I wanted that to be me too. And, and so all of my sisters, we all went the ministry way we felt called into ministry very young. By the time I was 12, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. And I always, you know, over the years, I would question that, did I really know was I really that kid or that I just think I was until Gabby, at around 12 years old was one of the four of our children who at 12, she knew already know, she already knew. And I was like, that was me. That's it. I didn't do that. God did that. And I didn't do that. And Gabby needed to do God did that. Yeah. So it was just a hunger that I had, that I wanted to be in full time ministry. From that time, I didn't know how it was going to happen. I didn't know how it would play out. But I knew that God had spoken to me somehow someway.

Steve Alessi  13:25  
And then you were raised on the what they call the evangelistic field, which means you you and your family went from church to church. Yes, you and your mom and sisters would sing and dad would preach.

Mary Alessi  13:36  
So we would travel in the car during the day going from state to state, city to city and my mom and dad would teach us to sing in the car and I take the high notes and the high harmony and Martha would take the lead and Marvin lane would take the low and my mom and dad would saying and we would just spend hours in the car learning to sing all of my dad's songs. Yeah. And then we'd get to a church and you'd start on a Sunday morning. And you remember these days and you'd have crusade was they call her saved was like a revival of revive night that lasted two weeks, every night of the week. So yes, we were homeschooled clearly or we wouldn't be gone every summer and we would go and so I just knew really early on being entrenched in that culture. Being around church 99% of my life, yeah, really caused me to be even more hungry, because I saw what God could do. I just watched salvations as a little girl people transformed by a relationship with God by a moment in a crusade where my mom and dad were singing and preaching, you know, and we were getting up and singing and you know, that was just it really shaped us. It really really did. So we spent the majority of our childhood doing that.

Steve Alessi  14:49  
Yeah. And during that time, because you're in the church world, you know, there was good there's bad there was ugly. It is what it is. No

Mary Alessi  14:56  
no yeah, no perfect

Steve Alessi  14:58  
ministry is perfect. And but you saw the good, you did. And the good really outweighed all the bad in the far because you had a love for the ministry as you got older. I did. So then you're in high school and you didn't just attend youth group. You guys were more. Okay. We're gonna lead.

Mary Alessi  15:17  
We did. And I think our parents, and you've said this, which is what connected you and me together, we were raised with the same values about ministry and about church. Yeah. And it made our relationship so much easier. You did not marry a wife that you had to say, Come on. Just put your hair in a ponytail and let's get to church. We've got to be on time you married someone that would, you know, church was priority. I could not wait for Sundays to get up. And Saturdays we knew that Saturdays are when we started getting ready for church. You know, we didn't wait until Sunday morning. We were both raised that Saturday is the preparation for Sunday. So that helped us be on the same page. And our dads knew each other before you and I ever knew each other because they went to Bible school together.

Steve Alessi  16:02  
Yeah, people don't know that. I don't know. Sorry. Dads were buds in Bible school and even up until the year your dad passed away, they still stayed in touch with each other strange bedfellows, no doubt about it, but they still stayed in touch with each other. But our relationship started. Again, here you're raised as a evangelists, daughter on the road. Before that even started, our fathers would connect at Bible school in Lakeland, Florida. The school I eventually went to later on and graduated from right and the city that you and I both were born in. We were both in the same hospital in Lakeland, Florida. A few years apart just a few while our dads were at southeastern at different stents along the way,

Mary Alessi  16:51  
are suing their ministry calling That's crazy. It is and they had us.

Steve Alessi  16:55  
So my story's unique and that my grandfather, Papa Alessi was here in America that came over from Italy. And he's in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He's a good Catholic, they go to Mass pretty much every day, he gets handed a track, which is a story of a paper pamphlet. That's a story of the salvation message of Christ. He reads it feels convicted gives his heart to the Lord. Which makes me always go back and think about the one person what a difference one man can make if you're just obedient and give somebody a lift up by a good word or good Bible or something that introduces somebody to God, because that man that did that for my grandfather is going to in heaven to this day, he is going to receive a real crown life because of all of those who have come to the Lord since my grandfather got saved. And then his three sons were in full time ministry. And that's the coolest story. It really is a great, most amazing testimony. We never forget that man never gets so caught up in the success of today, you know, and all the numbers and the crowds that we forget. It started with one on one to the job on the john church taught how important it is to be an inviter and get people to church on Sundays and

Mary Alessi  18:23  
the courage that it took that guy we don't even know his name. But he had that track in his pocket. We'll never know his name. But he reached out and said here what evangelism? You know, we don't need a microphone for that. No, that's beautiful in an entire generation. today because of that guy,

Steve Alessi  18:40  
yeah. Because then my grandfather got saved. And when he got saved, he wanted to make sure his sons and daughter were in church all the time. So in Brooklyn, they went to church on Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday, they go to the Spanish church, they go to Puerto Rican church, they would go to the Italian church in the black church. They were always in church, which then put a hunger for God and my dad's heart. He comes down to Miami, runs into my mom at a church evangel Christian or evangel temple. I think it's called up in North Miami. My mom came from a unique upbringing. Her father was a truck driver was into construction. He was a heavy smoker and he drank quite a bit. And but her mom was godly. Yeah. Ody May Grice. She was so godly, she was angelic, passed away way too soon my grandfather passed away which by the way, that's where I got my red hair from when I was younger, was Graham was granddaddy, we call them and he died in his 50s from emphysema. And then grandma passed in her 60s, way too early grandmommy. And then my mom was raised pretty much for a love of God and the love of the things of God, because grandma mommy would stay home first to take care of grandma. Daddy, granddad didn't want to go into church. And a lady, a minister in North Florida or South Alabama, came and picked up my mom and took her to church on Sundays. And

Mary Alessi  20:14  
she recently told us the story. This was amazing.

One person I know one person,

Steve Alessi  20:24  
one, Pastor, lady, yeah, would pick my mom up, take her to church. And then one day, my mom asked my grandma, her mom to go, and they went to church together. And my mom, at that point, just developed a love for God and a love for the ministry. Because she saw that and so she always saw herself as somebody who would be set aside for ministry. Then she runs into this Brooklyn, New York guy who comes down here. And you know, he got to Southern or Northerner, and he was a walk. And yeah, you can say that her family had a hard time with meeting him at first, but then they get married, they start a church right here in Miami, I was raised in the church, as you were raised on the evangelistic field. And in high school, you know, I knew my job was to be a youth leader, and I'd be the president of the CIA is the Christian, and that Christ Ambassadors was what they called it. And it was the youth group. And so I served as you did growing up. So the point was that we were kind of forced at times to work in church force to serve. We never had the privilege of staying home. Never even when we were sick, burning with fever, our parents had us in church on the back row, somebody who's babysitting us, but we were there. Yes. In the office, one day, they left me in the office at the Chamber of Commerce in South Miami.

Mary Alessi  21:51  
Really, I got left in the office that left me off.

Steve Alessi  21:54  
I was sick, they supposedly told us to keep an eye on me. And all of a sudden, in the middle of the service, they started smelling smoke, and they ran in and I found a set of matches, and I lit the garbage can on fire and church kids, I'm telling. But we were raised in that. And we served we did and we love serving, right? We learned to love God, which then allowed us to love God's people. And then we did feel the call the ministry. So Mary, as you and I are living at this season of our lives. It's not surprising now to our parents, that we would then have kids come alongside of us to want to serve alongside of us because our parents sowed towards this they did. We knew what it was then to take those same seeds and sow them again. Yeah, into the future, right for our own kids, which then are kids. And this is where we're getting even more intentional. Because we don't want this thing to stop at the third generation. Now. We're going to see this thing continue. God is not a God of just limited by three genders, right? Oh, my gosh, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That's not where it stops. No, it doesn't. It may be harder for the third generation. But that doesn't mean it's impossible for the third generation. Yeah, we can see this thing happen, which means that we're more intentional today than ever to have conversation like this with our kids. Have them dialogue with us when they're struggling with something that's going on in their life or in the ministry or their relationships we're very hands on, even though they're young adults, because we know now this seed that they have been given the Bible says he gives seed to the sower, we got the seed to sow, because we were part of the harvest of our parents seeds. Our kids will have seed the sow, because they are part of the harvest of our seed. That's right. And babe, our grandchildren will have the seed to sow because our kids are going to so that's right, the right kind of seed. A farmer knows the only way to have a harvest is to go plant a seed. So we're planting seeds. It's not surprising.

Mary Alessi  24:17  
No, but what you're what I hope people are hearing when you say the way you're phrasing what you're saying. You're not saying hopefully, and I, you know, that's what we're working for. You are saying it very absolute. This will happen. And I think there's a lot of moms and dads out there single moms, single dads. I hear it all the time. Well, you know, I'm sowing the seeds. And I want my kids to grow up and serve the Lord. So hopefully, well you just exit out the seed. You don't hope against your seed. You speak over that seed you stand firm knowing our parents didn't hope and anything but Jesus We didn't have options, we were going to go to church, we were going to serve the Lord because it was the main thing. And it was the best thing. And that wasn't a mistake. We weren't caught up in a very strict bubble of Christian church that that we rebelled against. No, they exemplified what it was like to live for God and serve God, not just be a Christian, but serve God. There was no "and hopefully one day"... they raised us with an absolute truth and an absolute faith. And that's in both of us. So I think even as you might be hearing us talk about some of the how tos and the principles of how we've operated, we stand on a firm foundation of if the Word of God is true, and we know it is we will sow the seed and we will reap this harvest. So what do we do? We protect the seed. Yep, we germinate the seed, we make sure that seed has the right environment for it to grow into the harvest that we will walk in.

Steve Alessi  26:01  
Yep. I'm glad to hear you say that. So what we're going to continue to be talking about is on some of that intentionality, some of the things we've been able to do things that we felt were important things that we learned from others were important to do the right kind of position to put our kids in the keep ourselves in Yeah. Because you know, you and I, we've got a, we've got to keep this relationship together. First and foremost, it can't be one thing on Sunday, and another thing on Monday through Saturday are the kids will get that image in their head, which is a reason why some of them will rebel over years because they see that the parent are, they're just not on the same page. And there's not this concurrency that is going on. So it's important that you and I continue to work this out with each other, but then we're going to be talking on our family business podcast about how we were able to accomplish accomplish some things with our kids. Okay, before we're done with this. I want them to know something a little bit more personal about you. Okay. All right. What is your favorite color?

Chris Alessi  27:12  

Mary Alessi  27:13  
no, I like all the colors. What do you think is my favorite color?

Steve Alessi  27:16  
Don't ask me I'm asking you man ever answer a question with a question. Well, sales.

Mary Alessi  27:22  
What is my favorite color?

A lot of things.

Steve Alessi  27:31  
Ask me asked me.

Mary Alessi  27:32  
What's your favorite color blue? Is Oh, that's not creative, honey.

Steve Alessi  27:36  
That's perfect though. It's color

Mary Alessi  27:38  
to Boy Color. Okay, let's like me saying pink.

Steve Alessi  27:41  
Hopefully a buddy can maybe share this podcast with people. And if they do so on social media, somebody tell them to come listen to this thing. Maybe they can then put in that little shared thing that they do your favorite color and hashtag it. Mariela C's favorite color,

Mary Alessi  27:59  
so then I need to give them my favorite color. No, let them let them guess. You know,

Steve Alessi  28:03  
what are they thinks they're your favorite color. only getting the hint? Well, I know. Yeah.

Mary Alessi  28:09  
I don't have a hint Christopher's

Steve Alessi  28:10  
wedding. Christopher's wedding. No, man, that was my favorite color on you.

Mary Alessi  28:16  
Oh, but here we go again. Okay, we

Steve Alessi  28:20  
got to go. With an M. Oh, magenta. Great talk with you. Hope you enjoy the first the launch of our family business here.

Chris Alessi  28:36  
Thanks for listening to the family business podcast with the Alessis. We appreciate you listening and learning with us as we just shared more about the family business. You know, I bet there's someone you know who could use this kind of advice and encouragement. So make sure to share this episode with them and their family. Because let's face it, family is everyone's business. If you want to be a part of our family, subscribe to the show right now on your favorite app and make sure to download the episodes so you can hear them at any time. Oh, and one more thing. One of the best ways to help us spread the word about the family business with the Alessis is by reviewing the show on Apple podcasts or your favorite app to help us out, write a review and join us next time at the family business podcast with the Alessis! 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai