“I should be insane–or in jail.” Instead, Jim Daly, President and CEO of Focus on the Family managed to rise above his harrowing childhood growing up in Compton, in South Los Angeles, with faith and perseverance. A bloodcurdling neighborhood murder merely serves as the backdrop to the abuse and alcoholism within the four walls of his own home, a cycle broken only by the cancer that left him motherless.
“I am living proof,” he wrote in his 2007 autobiography, “Finding Home”, “that no matter how torn up the road has already been, or how pothole-infested it may look ahead, nothing – nothing – is impossible for God.”
“Back in 1989, I had a decision to make. I had no idea at the time that my entire future hinged on that one moment. I’d been working in northern California in the sales division for International Paper, one of the industry leaders in the field of paper and packaging products.
One night, the plant manager took me to dinner at a swanky restaurant in Berkeley, where he offered me an upper-management position with a six-figure salary. I was excited about the opportunity and pleased it would give me the financial means to take care of my wife, Jean, and the children we hoped to raise. We could even buy our first house.
That night, I told Jean about the position and the salary I’d been offered. We both were enthusiastic about this new direction for us.”
A few minutes later, Jean said, “By the way, there’s some kind of business message on the answering machine for you.”
“The recording was from a man named Ron Wilson. Jean and I admired Focus’ mission to strengthen marriages and families and were big fans of their radio broadcasts, so we were intrigued by the career opportunity.
Suddenly, I had two possibilities to consider, so I prayed about both. I knew Focus wouldn’t be able to offer the same compensation as International Paper, but money wasn’t the only consideration. The Focus mission was close to my heart.
When Ron called on Saturday to ask me to join the Focus on the Family team — at one-third the salary I would make at International Paper, I knew what I felt the Lord was telling me. Ten minutes later, I called Ron and accepted the offer. I’ve never regretted the decision.
In some ways, the power of prayer is a mystery. Not every prayer receives what we might consider a definitive answer, of course. But I’m convinced, both from the truth of Scripture and from many experiences throughout my life, that the Lord hears our hearts and moves according to His plans to guide our steps.”
Daly started his career at Focus in 1989 as an assistant to the president, fostering relationships with the ministry’s supporters. In 2004, Daly was appointed chief operating officer, the role he held until he was handpicked by Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson to be the group’s president.
Daly was named president of Focus on the Family in 2005. Under his leadership, the organization has taken on a major role nationally in encouraging and helping facilitate foster-care adoptions, earning recognition from the White House and Congress for its efforts. The ministry also has reinvigorated its traditional focus on helping couples build strong marriages and raise healthy, resilient kids.
Daly has been married to his wife, Jean, since 1986. Jean is also a welcomed guest on the Focus on the Family Broadcast. They have two sons and reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.