Pastor Dave wrote last fall about the biblical imperatives for parents to not "provoke" their children. Today, he writes about how that practically applies in his own parenting.
I walked into our family room and was shocked by what I saw. My 13-year-old daughter was doing something I thought only an adolescent boy would do. She was sitting in her mom’s antique wooden chair attempting to maintain her balance on a single leg of the chair. The scene looked like the promotional photo from Cirque du Soleil.
I was impressed, concerned and frustrated all at the same time. I yelled, "What are you doing you goofball?" The force of my question sent her sprawling into the entertainment center and she was showered by a cascade of DVDs, CDs, books and the most recent family picture cased in a heavy metal frame. Fortunately, the old school heavyweight television set stayed in place.
Girl meets worldliness
Being a teenage follower of Jesus seems in many ways to be a ninja-like balancing act, especially for young women who are striving to live in the world yet not be worldly
. My daughters are bombarded daily with the worldly mantra chanted by their friends that they must wear stylish clothes
, listen to cool music, be the perfect
height and weight, say the right things at the right time
, be part of the popular crowd and keep both a boyfriend
and his rival interested
at all times.
This is the balancing act my girls live in everyday: they embrace Jesus who hates the mantra yet loves and pursues the people who chant it. I have learned that a single word from dad has the power to spur them on toward holiness or send them sprawling headfirst into worldliness.
Provoke not, you must
As dads, we have a strong biblical warning regarding our sons and daughters. Both Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 warn us, "Do not provoke your children." The result of such a provocation is that our kids become "angry" or "discouraged." I have learned the painful way as a dad that nothing provokes my four girls to anger and discouragement more than a careless and cutting word from me.
As in Star Wars, there is a positive use of this force that is more powerful than its dark side. Dad can use words skillfully to build up his daughters. Ephesians 4:29 instructs us, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as it fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."
That is exactly what I want to do as a dad. I want to speak insightfully into my girls’ lives as it fits the occasion so that they receive the grace they need to stand strong.
How to grow daughters in grace
The "occasion" my daughters find themselves in most often is a war for their identity and image. They can either see themselves in the mirror of the world or see themselves as a mirror reflecting Jesus to the world. My constructive words can be the conduit of grace to them for this fight. Here is the progression I work through each day with each daughter:
Dave Bruskas is the campus pastor in Albuquerque. This summer, he and his family will be moving up to Seattle as he becomes an executive elder.
- I affirm both the godly character and good works I see in her life. These two truly make a woman beautiful to those around her with opinions that matter (I Timothy 2:10).
- I compliment her appearance as she models modesty and self-control for all to see (I Timothy 2:9) and how her wardrobe, jewelry, hair, and make-up complement and highlight her countenance.
- I remind her that she is righteous in Christ. Nothing is more beautiful to the Father than the righteousness of his Son, and he sees my daughter through the lens of Jesus’ righteousness rather than her ugly disobedience. This means she is beautiful to the Father.