Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Serving Without Complaining, Part 2: Teenagers

Yesterday I wrote about Serving Without Complaining, how I am meditating on and contemplating Ph 2:14-15. Since it bears relation to this post, I will repeat it:
"Do all things without complaining or arguing, that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as stars in the universe."
Other translations (and my regular ESV) use : "shine as light in the world".

Towards the end of yesterday's post I wrote about what complaints I anticipated feeling, one of which was "If my daughter is not on her best behavior, will I stress about it?"

I hadn't thought much else about that comment, imagining myself explaining to her how she needed to be a good example and so on, dealing with it and moving on.

Apparently my thoughts on that weren't good enough and needed some more examination. Today in my Facebook newsfeed was an article shared by a friend Amy. The article was from a blog, Chatting at the Sky by author Emily Freeman, and was entitled "One thing your daughter doesn't need you to say".

Emily wrote about the unintended mask we place over our daughters' faces when we express that they need to be setting an example of a 'good Christian' to others. That mask ultimately does much more harm than good to the person wearing it, and usually has non-believers labeling us as hypocrites instead of running to the arms of Christ.

[Ironically, I wrote a short article recently about removing the mask to be authentic in faith. Easy to see it in relation to self, but harder to acknowledge that we may be putting the mask onto our children.]

Emily says (and this is where the reference to this bible verse hit me across the head):
"But what about holiness?!  I can hear the protests now. Don’t we want her to be a light in a dark place?
Yes. But telling her to be an example won’t let her shine, it will just cause her to shrink.
She already is a light in a dark place, but here is the part most of us forget when we’re telling our teenagers to be an example: Her light comes from Jesus, not from her awesome behavior."

Maturing in faith can only come from being authentic in that faith, and relying on Him not self. Great displays of fruits and gifts only come from the Spirit, not of ourselves. Striving to be a good example instead of striving to grow can only lead to anxiety, covering oneself with a mask that also covers those fruits and gifts making it harder to shine.

That means, like me, she can own mistakes and put them right, seeking help from the One who gives her the light & gives her fruit. Like me, she will have things that worry her, upset her, challenge her, stress her, scare her. But she doesn't have to pretend. And ultimately, isn't that the better testimony to non-believers -  showing an example, not of perfection but of relying on and praising God? 

My conclusion? My daughter is not going to Honduras to set an example, she is going to humbly serve. Her role will be the same as mine: servant; not "how to be a perfectly behaved model Christian teenager".  I put that worry to rest. 

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