There are few aspects of life that have changed my life and relationship with God as deeply as my daughters have. Now that my oldest is 6 I have learned to not only be a minister to them, but to give them the space to minister to me. I am at a point in my life in which I am learning that the relationship of parenting has a lot more to do with developing the gifts my girls have than anything else. My oldest is the quiet, bookish one who can pull out deep meanings and has conversations with me that challenge my understanding of God and challenge me. My youngest is the sassy outgoing type who likes to sing and call me out on being a “Silly Daddy.”
I have to work hard to not squash the questioning spirit of my 6 year old and to help her discover God for herself and not give her a solely inherited faith, by to allow her to develop her own relationship with God. I also have to work equally hard to not be triggered by my almost 2 year old who is so like me in personality that it is a little frightening. Both of my girls have great gifts to offer me if I humble myself and allow them to minister to me, but if I try to force parental authority rather than lead them it gets ugly fast and instead of building each other up tears and grumpiness reign. Friends theology teaches that each human being possesses the ability to hear the voice of God speaking within and that our role is to seek out in the people we meet the way God is speaking through them. As a parent it becomes a bit difficult to seek that voice out in our children since often the truth they have to share and reflect at us is the truth of our personal errors.
I don’t want my daughters to be obsessed with negative body image and food intake, and I sure don’t want to hear “Daddy, is it ok for you to eat that?” It is hard to hear those little voices when they question my brokenness and my hypocrisy, but I need to. I need to give their voice the weight it deserves, especially when they are sharing their ministry of concern, or their questioning of whether what I do and what I say are matching up. I firmly believe that God has placed these two small ministers of his grace in my life to teach me to listen better, to use my authority to promote others’ gifts, and to challenge me to live as I say I believe.
When I was considering what to write this week, my youngest toddled by singing the chorus “Hallelujah, Grace like rain falls down on me.” and the truth of the grace I have received through my girls ministered to me in that moment. As I considered the grace I have received through the ministry of my daughters I started asking myself some queries to examine how I was present to my girls:
How do I encourage my kids’ ministry? What ways am I helping them develop their gifts? How do I help them see their gifts and talents? What ways do I allow them to minister to me? What areas do I need to let them minister to me? What ways am I interfering with their ministry? Is there any issue of pride or fear that is preventing me from accepting their ministry?
For you other parents out there, are there queries you ask yourself that I might add to this list?
With love and trepidation,
Gil George, Silly Daddy