one thing your daughter doesn’t need you to say

In the middle of a radio interview I did last week, the host decided to take calls from listeners. This happens during longer live interviews – the host greets the caller and then hands the reins of the conversation over to me. Might I pause here to point out how this practice evokes equal amounts of panic and excitement into my bones.

I panic because I have absolutely no way to prepare for what a caller might say. This isn’t a problem in normal conversation but on the radio it gets a little tricky. Because after exactly 15 seconds of listening I will be expected to have some kind of “expert” answer which stands in direct opposition to both my personality and the natural way I believe a conversation is suppose to work.

I gag. Still, I realize this is the nature of interviews like this and I accept it as part of the process while I work desperately to avoid ever trying to sound like Dr. Phil by refusing to say statements like “How’s that workin’ for ya?” and “Do you wanna be right or do you wanna be happy?”

Still, there is also something exciting about having people call in. It’s true, there is no way to prepare for what someone might say, but that’s kind of the fun part. There is no way to prepare for what someone might say!

In a way, this takes the pressure off and frees me up to be myself.

So last week when the host opened it up to callers, I got that familiar ache in my knees I always get when I am anxious and also excited. One of the first callers was a girl, a junior in high school.

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After two minutes of listening to her story, it was obvious she was a good girl – dedicated student, obedient daughter, sweet disposition, high anxiety, unrealistic expectations of herself. Her main concern was being a Christian in high school and wanting to be a good example for her friends.

But it was hard, she said, to always be a consistent one.

Then the host turned it over to me.

I made a few observations, told a story about how I could relate – I don’t think anything I said added much to the conversation in that moment, which was fine. This is the downfall of handing over the reins of conversation to an INFJ on a live call – I can usually assess the situation fairly accurately but it takes a lot of time for my observations to reach my mouth.

I tend to just want to ask a question or say, “Hmm, that’s so interesting!”

Which is decidedly not interesting on the radio.

Lucky for me, this particular radio host was deeply invested in the conversation and responded to her in an appropriate way – he told her the worst thing she could do is to try to have it all together in front of her friends.

Instead of trying so hard to be an example, just be honest. “If you struggle,” he said, “say so. If you hurt someone, apologize. Then they really will get to know you and they won’t have reason to call you a hypocrite.”

Brav. O.

When the interview was over, I sat in my room and thought for a few more minutes about the conversation. I kept rolling her words around in my head: “I want to be an example to my friends, but sometimes it’s so hard to be a good one.”

The more I thought about her struggle, the more frustrated I got. I paced my room, made my bed with the excess energy. I thought about what the host said to her and began to think how I would put his response in my own words.

Here’s what I came up with: She isn’t supposed to be an example. Her friends don’t need an example, they need a friend. A real one. An honest one. A touchable one. They  need a friend who doesn’t think she’s better than everyone, but one who knows she isn’t. They need a friend who knows she needs Jesus.

friends

So what about being a leader and setting the example? Isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that what parents and youth leaders tell students all the time?

The more I think about it, the more I believe this well-meaning statement is not only a manipulative way to try to control our daughters’ behavior, but can also be dangerous to their spiritual health. When we tell her to be an example, we may as well just hand her a mask right there – Here. Hide behind this. Don’t let them see you struggle.

I know that’s not what we mean. I know. But it doesn’t matter so much what we mean, it matters what she hears.

And when she hears adults tell her to be an example, she thinks that means she can never mess up, can never have problems, can never just be a teenager with struggles like everyone else.

She might then mature into a woman who believes being a Christian means having it all together, saying all the “right” things, staying a few steps above everyone else.

She may become a person people look up to, but she will never be someone they can relate to.

She may be successful at managing her behavior, but she will always struggle to manage people’s opinions.

She may have a great reputation, but her character will be clouded with bitterness and anger.

She may be a good church-goer, but she will not know how to be a good friend.

This may keep her out of trouble, but it will suffocate her soul.

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.

Do you believe Christ himself has taken up residence within her? Do you trust him with her life – her decisions, her emotions, her relationships? Do you truly believe he goes with her wherever she goes?

If so, then instead of telling her to be an example, how about encouraging her to be herself?

When she is hurt, she can deeply feel it. When she messes up, she can own it. When she hurts someone, she can apologize. When she has doubts, she can voice them. And when she is joyful, it will be from a real place inside her, not a manufactured mask she puts on for show.

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If you have a daughter graduating in a few weeks, don’t be afraid. As she packs her bags for her summer trip or her college dorm, encourage her to leave the mask behind.

One Thing Your Daughter Doesn't Need You to Say - Chatting at the Sky

Believe Christ is in her. Believe she already has everything she needs. And for the love, don’t tell her to be an example. Free her up to be herself – a girl who has the living Christ living inside her.

Need a resource or a gift for the high school or college girl in your life? (Or, let’s face it, for your 54-year-old self?) Consider one of the two books I wrote on this very topic: Grace for the Good Girl or Graceful (For Young Women)Both books encourage women of all ages to let go of the try hard life.

UPDATE: I have written somewhat of a follow up post to this one – since I’ve shared one thing your daughter doesn’t need you to say, I thought it only appropriate to offer 12 things she might need to hear. Let’s call it part two. Ish. Thank you for reading – it is a gift to say the very least.

Comments

  1. says

    Great points! I always tell my kids I’m sorry when I mess up, and I make it a point to let them know that even the best people make mistakes and struggle – it’s part of being human. The main thing is that we love God, that we strive to serve Him and we work to show the world His love through us. That is so much more an “example” than telling them to be an example, if you know what I mean. The emphasis is on letting Christ shine through them, not putting on a mask and letting everyone think you’re perfect when you’re not. Let them know you mess up, that you struggle…but let them know that you have a God Who is there and helps you through it all.
    Julie Moore´s last blog post ..The Marvelous Moms Link-Up {Day3}

  2. says

    So happy to have this insight to help our daughter grow. I am a good girl, and so naturally pass on the good girl torch with all of its burdens and fake perfectionism. We use the “be a good example” phrase all the time. Definitely going to work on breaking that habit. I can see in my own life where it causes issues. WE aren’t the example, Jesus is. And making mistakes that we take before Jesus is really what the world (and particularly our friends) needs to see exemplified.

    Thank you, Emily.
    Trina Cress´s last blog post ..Home, Simplified

  3. says

    Fabulous!! This is just what I tell my girls… and a youth pastor once, when he was setting up “good girls” as examples. Ugh! I think the church can sometimes specialize in an us against them mentality, as if there are some girls who are “good”, and they are expected to be leaders, and then there are the others, who aren’t enough. Praying and striving to teach my girls it just isn’t about them. It is about God and HIm in them… His light and truth shine when they are honest and genuine and seeking, but never earning or status (good girl) seeking.

    God girls, not good girls.

  4. Tara says

    Brav. O. indeed, Emily! This is such a great post. I am sending it on to my 3 daughters and to the other moms and daughters with whom we did your book last summer!

  5. says

    You are so right!!! Thank your for taking the time to share this. You get the good girl thing and apply the grace of God by way of the gospel in the clearest, most practical way I have ever seen! Every time I read your words on this subject, I see things a little better and I get freed to breathe a lot deeper.

    To pretend like I’ve got it together is soooo foolish….I need Jesus and people around me do too. They don’t need me to have it together and always do the right thing, they need to see me always going to Jesus no matter what.
    Victoria´s last blog post ..Once Upon a Saturday

  6. says

    “She isn’t supposed to be an example. Her friends don’t need an example, they need a friend. A real one. An honest one. A touchable one. They need a friend who doesn’t think she’s better than everyone, but one who knows she isn’t. They need a friend who knows she needs Jesus.” This. This Emily is for boys as well as girls. And this needs to be heard by children’s and youth leaders as well as parents.
    So….good!!

  7. says

    Again I repeat; Brav. O.
    This is a mesmerizing piece of intelligent and godly, wisdom.
    Thank you for this. I am sharing it with my grandson who will graduate HS in just a couple weeks. I know how he struggles with being “right” in his walk with Jesus in a secular world.
    Thank you,
    Deborah
    Deborah´s last blog post ..365 / Weeks Two & Three

  8. says

    This is exactly it! Exactly. Oh there is such freedom in what you’ve written here. I wish someone had told me this a few decades ago but I’m so glad that I can share this with my own adolescent girl, one who is showing all the signs of a “good girl” at the young age of 12.

    One of my favorite posts. {I KNOW. I’ve said that a lot, but for real, this is.} : )
    Scooper´s last blog post ..Home Updates: Dresser Turned Entertainment Center

  9. says

    I am dealing with the repercussions of this to this day. Other people struggle to be my friend…to find me to be relate-able and honest. I often feel suffocated by other people, trying so hard to manage their opinion of me and salvage my reputation. It is exhausting. I blame it on my introversion…but much of it {I now see} is this mask I’m trying to wear. Thank you so much for writing these words that mean so much to me.

    I’m an ISFJ and can’t imagine preparing any worthwhile thoughts without significant time — a live call-in show sounds torturous!!
    Laura´s last blog post ..[introducing] two + three

  10. says

    “Her light comes from Jesus, not from her awesome behavior. Do you believe Christ himself has taken up residence within her? Do you trust him with her life – her decisions, her emotions, her relationships? Do you truly believe he goes with her wherever she goes?…..tell her to be herself.”

    my 13 yr old has been pulling away this year. no more talks with mom about friends or boys or much. bought the book for us to read together-but like i said, she’s pulling away. i have been struggling with fear and grief and more fear. spent much of the weekend in prayer for her and for help on how to love her well-not making it about me (she’s not here to meet any needs of mine). this post. these words of yours. continue to settle in my heart Truth. my soul begins to breath again. and i am better able to love her well. Christ in her, Christ in me, both of our Only Hope and our true Light….not our awesome(or un-awesome… anti-awesome…non-awesome??) behavior. thank you emily, so very much.
    melony´s last blog post ..Hope recieved

  11. says

    I think the way we make it OK for our girls to be real, is by being real our own selves. We’ve got to go first. And that’s the challenge, for me anyway.

  12. says

    Thank you! Will definitely share this concept with my daughter. It is so easy to put the weight of someone else’s salvation on them when it is not theirs to bear. Good reminder to not wrongfully burden.
    Karmen´s last blog post ..10 Favorite Things

  13. says

    I needed this. This is pure wisdom right here. As a college student in a new position of leadership, I have been struggling with this concept and praying over it nightly. Thank you for writing down the answer to those prayers! Definitely buying your book.
    Rachel Hillary´s last blog post ..Coping Mechanisms

  14. says

    Hello there! While my children are grown with family of their own and my grands are just getting to the age when they start to think about this, I had to comment on another aspect. I came to know the Lord in 1977, then after loosing my hearing totally due to BOR syndrome, which never knew I had, I REALLY held on to HIM from 1986 and still am today and still awed at the name of Jesus, my Lord. My thoughts: I grew up in main line churches prior to 1977 where “being an example” was “being a good girl”, “behaving properly in all situations. Oh boy, not an easy task for a girl gifted with a romantic, artistic, dreamy, ultra sensitive nature. My mother had her own “demons”, if you will and I have forgiven, yet her calling me “a crybaby”, “living in my dream world” only pushed the me God created me to be so far down, that today as a grandmother, I am finally ready to let the real me show. I still have a problem “crying” when I feel deeply, which is so much of the time. I want to shine for Him as HE created me to be, yet so many who don’t know Him see me as the “drama queen”. Has this world really gone so cold, so hard that to be moved to tears is laughable or a drama queen? It is then that my heart breaks because I feel I am a horrible witness for HIS power. I have a blog, My enraptured Heart, which is my photography of the how I see HIM in ordinary beauty in our world. You see I still struggle, “being good enough to be a light for Him” because of the years of conditioning. Along before HIM in prayer I KNOW I am just where he wants, but wow, put me out there in the world and I still “hear” in my heart the voices of “good example”. So I applaud you for this so needed message of being real in our walk with HIM. Praise the Lord for you my friend.

  15. says

    Amen a hundred times over! I lived the life of the “example girl” in high school and most of the way through college. It comes with no fulfillment because it depends so much on one’s own strength, rather than leaning on the Holy Spirit. My process of un-learning the bad habits still is plagued with trying only to show small doses of the hurts and struggles that I have in life. Thank you so much for the reminder that it is something I need to be aware of when mentoring younger women in my life.

  16. says

    just left our baby girl to zoo college saturday…
    i told her a million things… and i’ve thought of a million more that i could call and tell her… but i haven’t… because all i could do was get here there… and now she has to do the rest. but i do believe that Christ is in her, and that somehow, she does have everything she needs… and if she doesn’t, God will bring her to it. but i want to yell YEs! Yes! to your words, because all she needs to be is herself… and that is enough.

    (and by the way, my girl is a book-hound…and i gave her a banker-size box and told her that was her limit for books… and… when we were unpacking and puting the books on the shelf? graceful. yep. you made the cut! xo)
    dawn´s last blog post ..a weary, wonderful monday…

  17. says

    My husband is a youth pastor. I plan on reading this post to my girls on Friday night. Love it!
    I also think many grown women need this same advice. It is hard to just be ourselves without worrying about being an example of the “best mommy”, “best wife”, or whatever other “bests” there are out there to compete with and make us crazy.
    Jennifer´s last blog post ..Keep Walking

  18. says

    Oh my golly, the teenage girl that still lives within me SO needed to hear this today. And she wishes she could have heard this so many years ago, when her parents told her how important it was to be a good example for her siblings, etc. I am now 53 years old, and have struggled deeply with managing other people’s opinions of myself, of being able to relate to others on a real level, to deal with the suffocation of my own soul, …. in keeping myself afloat in a sea of doubt. Thank you for this, Emily.

  19. says

    Seriously, Emily, every blog post is like a glass of cold water on a hot day. Thank you! I find myself “amen-ing” through each paragraph, tweeting sentence after sentence, and then facebooking the whole thing before finishing! :) So, thank you for your honesty sieved through Scripture. It matters. It’s timely. It works. Oh, and thank you for being “yourself” rather than someone’s expectation or example.
    Rebekah Lyon´s last blog post ..Poppin Joe’s product label, 2012

  20. says

    Amen, amen, and amen. For the love…. Yes! This!

    This is what I wanted to communicate today and you have said it so much more beautifully here. Emily, we all just need to keep saying this, and saying it, and saying it. And the more I say it the more I’ll believe it myself, and then live it, and then encourage other people to live it.

    Your words are often worship to me. I can give no higher compliment than that.
    Eyvonne´s last blog post ..Stop trying to please God

  21. Andrea says

    I’m not sure I agree.
    I have a good girl 16 year old. Straight As, obedient…..the whole nine yards. The last thing I want her to do is to wear a mask. However, the level of spiritual maturity God has grown in her compared to most of her peers is remarkable and quite frankly, a great gift. I do not believe God has made her who she is without some extra responsbility – by way of being an example. We can be examples by being relatable people who handle difficult things biblically, with grace and dignity.

    Knowing and living the gospel should certainly empower girls to live as examples while continually recognizing their need for the Cross. Showing our need for Jesus in everything is the absolute best example.

    Isn’t transparency the key? I do believe it is very possible to be someone people look up to and at the same time be very relatable. I do it everyday with my daughters. By merely letting them know continually any good you see in me is because of my complete and utter dependence on Jesus. If our teen girls point to Jesus as the reason they appear to have it together, they are being both an example and an evangelist in some cases. The bottom line is to never allow them to think they have to do it all right or that they have to appear to be doing it all right. That is is complete opposition to the gospel.

    Someone living a transparent gospel-centered life is the example I want my daugthers to see everyday. And the one living that life……because they’ve chosen to walk the narrow path, haven’t they chosen then to represent Jesus here on earth and therefore be held up as an example?

    • Pam says

      I was hoping someone would write just what you have written, Andrea. One of my daughters made a commitment to the Lord when she was 11 or 12 to consciously be UNLIKE the teenage girls “stereotype”- shallow, snobby, catty, vacant minded, aloof from parents, peer-dependent- and instead be herself, as the Lord led her. She didn’t tell her dad and I this until years later. She had a few good friends, but her choices definitely did not place her smack dab in the midst of the “popular” set. She was, and 16 years later, is an example to others. She is the one her friends who have made poor choices call when they need advice on how to fight loneliness, depression, addictions, etc. Scripture encourages us to be examples: I Tim. 4:12.

      • says

        Awesome, Pam! I think the problem is that nowadays young girls, and adult women are not wanting to sacrifice exactly what needs to be sacrificed to live the Word. Good for you and your daughter-we should look to those who are authentically living the word.

    • Sarah says

      I agree… I like the majority of the article and I’d never encourage somebody to be a hypocrite. But I would encourage a girl to follow Paul’s words to “be an example of the believers.” Which involves honesty, but it should also involve having behavior that reflects Christ. Which is going to be far above the culture around her.

      • Brooke says

        I don’t think what she says here and what you are saying are so different–I think the main point is one’s focus. If you are focused on Christ, you will naturally be an example (or live differently than the world) because of His power at work in you. If you are focused on being an example to others, you are missing Christ and focused on your own actions…being “good enough”, which is never enough. I think that’s the main thing she’s getting at.
        And as for being an example in scripture, we are not called to be an example to the world. We are called by Paul to be examples to other believers–that’s the context in every use of this command, that i found at least (did a quick scan but all 5 I did check out were this context). So unless you’re in a Christian high school, or only have Christian friends, the command doesn’t apply, but the call to be a light very much does. And I only share this because looking back, I wish I had deepened relationships in order to reflect Christ more rather than striving to simply live out my different-ness.

        • says

          Brooke, your thoughts here are helping me think this through. Thank you.

          Emily wrote, “They need a friend who knows she needs Jesus.” I’m pretty sure this is the example every one of us — high school girl, youth leader, mom, every believer in Christ — is called to. To show Jesus to the world by admitting our own brokenness. That’s how He works through us. I think the issue is letting HIM make us the example/light He created us to be rather than taking the burden on ourselves and trying to keep up with the “example” we think we’re supposed to set.

          • Laurie says

            I like this article a lot, but although I agree with the point of it, I don’t think it’s completely correct. We are supposed to be examples and even teach by example. I think the real issue is how we, the church, sometimes define what it means to be a good, honest example. Are we supposed to be fantasy, Mary Poppins examples ” … practically perfect in every way”, like the rich young ruler? Or are we supposed to be examples of humble, truthful, reality that shows our need for dependence on Christ. I need examples in my life who are like that. I need people who are bold enough to expose their needy side rather than be defensive. I need church leaders who are like that,but they’re hard to find. I believe this article does portray what an example should be, but I think we need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater or let the pendulum swing into an opposite error. We need to be examples. I pray that we will let God and scripture define (or redefine) what it means to be one

    • Garritt says

      That was the best reply I have ever heard and I totally agree with you. That was a Biblical response to this article.

    • says

      With all due respect to Emily, I have to agree with you, Andrea. In First Timothy 4:12, the Bible clearly commands the youth to “be an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” I don’t see how we can ignore this and, instead, tell young girls to just do whatever you want, as long as you’re true to yourself. To claim that Christ will do all the shining on His own, is simply not the case. We are only a reflection of Christ, if our actions are Christ-like. We are His hands, His feet, His mouthpiece to the lost. We are called to come out from among the world and be separate. Does that mean we’ll never fall and make mistakes? Of course not, but to discourage mothers from encouraging their daughters to be an example to their unsaved friends is something I don’t agree with.

      • says

        I certainly wouldn’t tell my girls to “do whatever they want.” I’m sorry you heard it that way. But I would encourage them to be who they already are in Christ. I don’t believe Christ does “all the shining on his own” – but as we cooperate with him, put our trust in him, live life with him as we fully are – this!

        It’s a matter of focus, of the heart, of intention – I have talked to a lot of girls over the years who feel the pressure of being an example but they miss the point. Being an example is a great thing to be – but I don’t think we become an example by “trying to be an example.” I lived life that way for a long time and even though it kept me out of trouble, it didn’t change my heart.

        Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Dee. Appreciate the conversation.

        • Will says

          I think what we need to encourage our children, and ourselves, to be is good examples of real people trying to follow Jesus. I think that is what you are saying. I would like to to point out that the pressure of being a good example is both positive and negative. When it keeps you from doing something you should not do, like lying, hurting a friend or smoking, it is a good thing. When it keeps you from being honest about who you are or what you are going through it is a bad thing.

    • says

      My thoughts exactly! Well-said. Wanting to live like Jesus and share God’s word in an authentic way does not mean we think we are “perfect” or that we are “better” than anyone else. It means exactly the opposite in fact. Excellent response.

      • Liz says

        Garritt, sorry, but I don’t think it’s fair to call this a “not so Biblical article”. It’s perfectly Biblical to highlight God’s grace. Yes, we should be examples, but by letting others see the impact our faith has on us, rather than by trying to fake it. People need to know that our good behaviour is the *result* of walking with Jesus, not a way to win our salvation or other people’s approval. As you can see, this has struck a chord with a lot of people. Maybe the article needed some clarifying on what it means to be an example, but that doesn’t make it unBiblical.

    • Evelyn says

      I think that you bring up a valid point, we are called to be obedient to God’s word. But the scripture also acknowledges that we being fully human will never be able to achieve full obedience on our own. Living a Grace filled live is about making Jesus the center of our lives and accepting His atonement for our sins when we fail. If we tell our daughters, sisters, and/or friends (through words or actions) that this Grace comes from our obedience we are not only setting them up to fail but ultimately we are making their behavior/actions lord of their life replacing Jesus who should be the LORD of our life. This can set up women (and men) to fall into traps that will ultimately destroy their relationship with the One True Lord.
      In college I knew a girl who was this amazing woman, she seemed to have it all together. She was that girl who was nice to everyone, who seemed to have this genuine relationship with Jesus that shined into every facet of life. One night we were hanging out and we started praying for stuff that was happening in each others life, and she broke down. She confessed to me that she was a total fake, because she had not been treating her body like a temple. She had read that passage to mean that she needed eat perfectly healthy meals and workout perfectly. She said that growing up she had been told that obedience to the word was an outward sign of your inward relationship with Christ, and because she was not obedient in this area of her life she obviously was just a faker. This was a totally distorted view of what it meant to be a Christian, and it came from some well meaning parent/youth leader/mentor/pastor linking “being saved” with her actions. Being saved doesn’t mean that we will not eventually trip and fall, it means that when we trip and fall there is a LOVING/FORGIVING/HEALING/MERCIFUL/GRACIOUS father waiting to pick us up, dust us off and make us new, all we have to do is ask. Like I said I believe that obedience is a key part of being a Christian, but being a Christian doesn’t mean that we will be obedient 100% of the time, and it doesn’t meant that if we are obedient 100% of the time we are a Christian.

      Emily I think you nailed it. I raised 8 foster daughters and if I taught them to be a Christian meant to be perfect they would have all laughed at me and said then I was out a long time ago. Just a little food for thought.

    • Ed says

      The question, Andrea, is how does your child handle failure – and we all fail? Those who meant well with their “you don’t want to hurt your witness” or “you need to be a light” fail to realize that “good behavior” is not the gospel. The gospel is for those who know they are not good – in fact, those who kept up pretenses of their goodness were the Pharisees. I think the Christian community has done so much harm with the “it’ll hurt your witness” thing that we are known as hypocrites. Where are the people like Paul who saw his own sin as so egregious that he considered himself the “chief of sinners?” Free our children from this horrendous burden and stop training them as hypocrites. Recognize that we all fall far short and that confession to one another and humility are biblical truths that we lack far more. What would it be like if Christians were known as genuine people who acknowledge their struggle with sin – while really struggling against it with all His power?

      • Tabitha says

        LOVE this explanation….. very much. so true…. Jesus spent most all of His “righteous anger” directed AT the religious leaders of the day and showing such mercy and grace to rest of humanity~ yet calling them to “go and sin no more”….which i take as a call to clinging to Him as He transforms us to make us more like Himself~ humbly Holy.

  22. says

    Wow. Thanks! I am so like that girl, and I struggle so much with being a light, and being real. I’m broken, and messed up, and I want that to be real- but Jesus has done amazing things for me, too.
    From another high school girl, thanks.
    R´s last blog post ..for I am with you

  23. says

    As the mom of 5, I am do thankful to have read this today for the sake of my girls AND my boys. This just changed the way I will talk to my kids…just be real. Just be a friend. Wow. So simple yet I had never thought about the negative ramifications of teaching them to be an example. Yes, I still want their friends to look up to them, but not because they are perfect. I want them to be relatable, reachable, touchable…for Jesus to be strong in their weakness. Yes, wow, thank you!

  24. says

    This is very insightful. Sure, I’ve said that, “Be an Example…Make good choices”. As a mother I want her to be an example, not above others, but by making good choices. But, as a mom I also know she will make mistakes. I need to rethink my wording. ;)
    Lisa´s last blog post ..Mother’s Marriage Advice

  25. Sarah Schulz says

    Oh, oh yes. I think this is the first post here (I’m new) that I have to send to my sisters. I’ve been thinking of buying Graceful for the one who just hit college, but she’s so much further than I am into knowing who she is and beginning to reject her masks that I haven’t yet. This, though… this is exactly right. My soul can take a deep breath today–thank you, thank you.

    • says

      It’s a great question and one a lot of people are bringing up.

      From my understanding, 1 Timothy is written to Timothy and church leaders – there is already a deep understanding between Paul and Timothy about what it means to live a Spirit-filled, Christ-dependent life. So when Paul tells Timothy to be an example, he (Timothy) understands what that means in light of the full Gospel.

      When we pull that verse and say it to our teenagers, in my experience, they don’t understand what that fully means. So instead of understanding their life hidden with Christ in God, they instead try hard to be a good example. I don’t mean to say this is always the case, but I’ve seen it and heard it often enough to believe it needs to be talked about.

      When it comes to mentoring and leading younger girls, it seems the better way is to remind them of who they are in Christ, who Christ is in them and the natural result is they will probably be an example. But not from trying hard to be an example because that’s what they’re supposed to do.

      I hope that makes sense, but I am painfully aware of my small words today. Thanks for your comment, Rebekah.

      • Tabitha says

        yep. we get no where from ‘trying”, except frustrated. this is a good, deeper explanation of your original post. Holiness only grows in us as we become utterly face to face with how desperate we are for His Grace Alone to cover. And once we drink DEEPLY of that, perhaps “Example” is not the right world, but the absolute & utter JOY of Christ just literally spills out of all our still broken places. sometimes the most seemingly “Broken” around us, as judged by the church at large, are really the most healed…..because they have indeed ‘tasted and seen that the Lord is GOOD.”

  26. says

    Just.the.truth! I’m a recovering good girl with a bent “be an example” halo learning how to be a good friend and this affirms what God has been whispering lately. Great thoughts to pass on to my daughter and my son. He’s a first born people pleaser and the pressure of being an example is about to break him.
    Marcy´s last blog post ..The day I brought home a baby

  27. says

    Real and reachable and relatable is so much more necessary than setting a perfect example. Be a good person but be a real person with feelings and struggles and the ability to learn from the much needed mistakes. I wish my mother had told me that it was okay to be flawed, I might be less stressed today!
    Mel@TheDizzyMom´s last blog post ..Mama’s Day

  28. says

    I don’t know what I’m about to say, but I know I need to say it.
    This is the very first post that I’ve ever read from you–I found you from browsing around over at Homefries. I have to say that this–this–this is what I needed to hear right when I needed to hear it. So, thank you for that.
    I spent 22 years of my life being that girl who was a good example and did everything the right way and finally, in the middle of my five years at a Christian college, I broke and I couldn’t do it anymore. And I couldn’t go to church and I couldn’t be around people like that. I didn’t want to be right, I wanted to be me. I wanted to be allowed to find out who I am and love that woman and fully become that woman. And it’s been 8 years since I’ve been inside of a church or prayed and worshiped in traditional ways. But in that time, I’ve had the space to learn about me and become me and live my life unashamedly.
    And in all of that time, I haven’t really heard from a voice like yours. I hear from Christians who have it all together or I hear from former Christians who are embittered and have it all together. Either way, everyone has it all together and I can’t relate to that. I’m taking this day by day by day and your voice sounds like you are, too, and I’ll read everything you have to say. Thank you for this big glass of water on a long, hot day.

    • Sarah Schulz says

      That last paragraph, yes, that’s it. I’ve stayed in the church and only recently struggled to be more who I am and less of a “good girl,” but what you say about seeing mostly Christians who have it all together or ex-Christians who have it all together resonates deeply. It’s hard to find people who feel safe to express this sort of thing to. Now I begin to feel that this blog (and not just Emily herself) really is such a safe space.

    • says

      This is humbling for me, Libby. I’m thankful you came over and glad these words seem to be something you were longing to hear.

  29. tori says

    being herself and allowing others to see her need for Jesus will not make managing others’ opinions easier. She will still experience innumerable rebuffs and exclusions. She will not be trusted by those who cannot conceive of such honesty of self.

    In some ways i agree with you, but being one who has been true to self and allowed others to see my weakness, i speak of the above points from experience. i believe that if we speak to our daughters (AND ourselves) about the heart of the matter… that there are times we must behave “properly” regardless of our feelings… but that we must always know our own heart and be true to our Faith therein… by so doing we will BE an example and those who need the kind of friend we are will be drawn to us.

    i don’t know about your church, but in mine the way we teach our girls to be an example is about the heart – rather than just an outward show. THAT seems to be the discrepancy.

    • Liz says

      The whole time I’m reading this I keep think of 1 Tim chapter 4. I agree with you it is not a mask we wear it is a matter of the heart. Working out own salvation, being salt of the earth, and some naturally shy away from deep friendship because they see our lives as different.

  30. says

    I love how you put his answer in your own words. Those are words I need to speak to my daughter even now that she’s married and has two little ones. My sweet, perfectionist girl who loves deeply yet struggles with friendships. Thank you for sharing this, Emily.
    Southern Gal´s last blog post ..Multitude Monday

  31. says

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented on one of your posts before – not sure. However I felt the need to do so this time. I am a preacher’s daughter – thus always “the example.” For many years, including far into my adult womanhood, I thought I had to have it all together, never disappoint anyone, always have the answer, and be “faithful in the small things.” It has only been in the past 4 – 5 years that I began to peel away the mask. Having lost my 12 year old son in 2009, I found I detested the mask. I had been through one of the worst things a parent can face and I wanted to live honestly without hiding my inconsistencies and my flaws and whatever else I found the “need” to cover. After the depths of pain I experienced, I could no longer manage a lot of the “example” behaviors that had been innocently ingrained into me. Vulnerability and honesty are freeing.

  32. says

    Booyah!

    Also. I relate to your comment about getting mental observations to reach your mouth. Oh … yes. It takes me approximately forever to get that answer, swimming around in my head, to actually come out of my mouth (or off the tips of my fingertips). But let me say, I’m glad you took the time to articulate this one on the screen. Thank you; thank you, Emily Freeman.
    jdukeslee´s last blog post ..Eleven Things I Want To Tell My Younger Self

  33. says

    Oh, my sweet friend. So many times I’ve thought, “That’s my favorite post of Emily’s ever.” Honestly, though, I think this one might REALLY be that.

    You’ve done a good job here of relating the fact that IT’S COMPLICATED and IT’S SIMPLE. And both are true. The gospel is actually fairly simple. Living into the truth and freedom and goodness of the gospel? That can be very complicated indeed. We do ourselves no favor by pretending that things aren’t complicated when they are.

    My heart’s cry to mothers of girls: teach your girls that they are beloved. That God loves them utterly and unconditionally, that they are precious in His sight. Teach them that they can love Jesus because He loves them. Loving Jesus is always a place of blessing; He will never fail them. Teach them that they can rest secure in that love. And teach them that you love them, too, as unconditionally and utterly as you possibly can. Teach them that you’ll love them more and more as God gives you grace and strength to do so. Moms of daughters, you may have some very dark days when you’re not a very good example, and so may your daughters. You are not loved any less.

    I am a mom of sons, and that’s what I wish the girls my boys will grow to love–and their mothers–could know.
    Richella at Imparting Grace´s last blog post ..The way Jesus taught us to pray

  34. Brian says

    You’ve obviously hit an important chord that many people needed to hear. I wonder if the problem isn’t specifically with the idea of needing to be an example to peers, rather than with the idea of being an example. Up until now, I’d never heard it put into the context of being an example for peers or classmates. Rather, it’s to be an example for younger siblings. For example, younger siblings will learn to imitate older bro or sister clearing their plate after a meal, or just cleaning up after themselves in general, or responding well in a conflict with a family member instead of yelling “mine!”. Also, Paul said to imitate him as he imitates Christ. So there is some room for being an example. I just think it’s probably unwise to expect high school kids to be examples to their peers as a command “Be an example”. I agree with what you say, let them just be friends. And yet, let them have the confidence to set the agenda instead of always being the follower. Isn’t it better when the kid who doesn’t pick on other kids is the one that gets followed instead of the kid being hurtful being the ring leader?

  35. Sara says

    I can agree in part, but I’m afraid I see the target as a bit different. I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with being an example of what Christ wants. After all, we are told to be ambassadors, to represent Him. No matter what the behavior, we are all examples of something. Here’s what I see: children will follow after our example as examples. If I am an example who is willing to be vulnerable , who is willing to love people as they are, willing to listen and slow to speak, willing to admit my struggles, then my children will also be that to their friends. Whatever kind if example I set forth is what they will be inspired to show as well. So if our children are not the kind of examples we want to see, it’s our behaviors’ fault, not our words’ fault. If you want your girls to love others first, show her how by doing it, yourself. If you want her to obey out of love, show her first how to love. It’s okay to balance parenting with friendship. I think Jesus balanced friendship and authority quite well. Be the kind of friend to your child that you want to see them become. It’s about OUR example, not theirs. Just telling a child to “be a good example,” is a cop out. There are no practical instructions in that. Show them so they, in turn, can show others. And above all, teach them reliance on the Holy Spirit. Teach them how to find the answers they need through prayer and studying the word. Be careful of the pendulum swing. We should be honest about our struggles, but we should never wallow in them, never give them so much attention that the conversations add to the temptation. Is all about balance and loving others. There’s so much here… I guess what I’m trying to say is that if a child feels too much pressure about “being a good example,” it’s not that what we’ve said is wrong, it’s that we haven’t given them the tools to know how to do it.

    • Tabitha says

      very well stated, in genuine empathy. we NEED to be the real deal to and with our children! our kids, esp teens desire authenticity in us, not hypocrisy! of course, of course! But in 1 Timothy 4:12 we are CALLED to be an example. We are CALLED to be “Light” in darkness, we are CALLED to live set apart. Basically WE ARE CALLED! Using any concordance available and looking up “example”, one can see the many places we are urged as Believers to take up this incredible privilege! what lavish GRACE!!!!!! only Jesus in us can do this! it is not a “one- up” or a “i’m fixed and you’re not” by ANY MEANS! pray it isn’t so!!!!! but we can be a REAL EXAMPLE. Sounds like splitting hairs, i suppose, not meant that way at all. Meant to exhort the great Privilege it is to be set apart in Christ, for His Glory and not our pride.

  36. says

    This post… it scares me to death. Because, as the mom of 11-yr-old and 8-yr-old girls, I know it is now that I’m pointing them to Jesus, building the foundations of teaching them to be honest with Him, needing Him always. And that scares me, because I’m in it now, no time to prepare, just living it as a mom who has to truly trust Jesus with their lives. Even now, they have plenty of opportunities to let Jesus shine through their cracks. It is totally a matter of do I trust Jesus with their lives.

  37. Carol says

    Good article, but I wouldn’t cross off the idea of being an example. Paul wrote to Timothy:
    “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

    Being an “example of the believers” is not easy but it becomes easier each day as we take small but consistent steps such as daily prayer and scripture reading; pondering and self reflection that produces genuine repentance. True believers will always find ways to grow in faith. Growth does not mean there will not be struggles, errors or even failures. These things help produce true believers who naturally stand out in exemplary ways. It is a life long journey but we are promised His succor and strength:

    Joshua 1:9: “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

    I have great trust in the strength of the youth of today despite the difficult world they must combat.

  38. says

    I found myself saying “uh huh!” through this whole post. It’s so true. I’m forwarding it to Gracie. She’s starting high school this year (going from homeschooling to high school – yikes). I wish I would have understood this as a student years ago — as a pastor’s daughter that I didn’t have to know all the answers and be the flag waver for Christians, I just needed to keep it real. Struggles and all.

  39. says

    A few weeks ago my daughter–who struggles deeply on many levels–led an unsaved guy friend to Jesus. Afterwards I said, “oh, wow, you’ll have to be an example to him.”

    Then I read your post.

    Then I cringed.

    Then I forwarded your post and said, “I was wrong…” And she read it. And she emailed me a “thanks, mom, that was good.”

    Ahhhh. You just brought fresh air into our world. Thanks Emily.

  40. says

    I don’t have a daughter (I have 2 sons)… but if I ever do… oh, Emily, I want to be your neighbor! Haha. Your words just spoke freedom to the deep places of the teenager in me. I want to cry from freedom. THANK YOU!
    carissa´s last blog post ..metrinome

  41. Dawn says

    I just had to talk with my daughters about being an example. They are talented artists and one is developing anime characters. She brought me an amazing picture of an outfit she designed. I told her it was beautiful, then asked her what the top was going to look like when she finished it. She replied that it WAS finished. The top was completely strapless, something we do not consider modest. I tried to talk to her about the need to reflect Christian values in all we do, and the responsibility to use the talents God has given us in a way that honors Him. All she heard was criticism. Was I wrong to say something? I do want her to be herself, not some clone of what the ideal Christian teenager is SUPPOSED to be, but I also want her to strive to focus her time, energy and talents an ways that reflect her love for the Lord. How do I do that?

  42. says

    “Her light comes from Jesus, not from her awesome behavior.”
    This stuck out to me.
    I think the key is a step further then being oneself… The answer is not to just encouraging young people to be theirselves, but to encourage young people to yield their own will and way of thinking to Christ and let Christ live through them.
    For every mile of road, there are two miles of ditches, one to the left, the other to the right.
    We can all see the danger in a “mask” of pretense and reliance in self to keep it together, but we must also not forget, to be oneself fully is not the answer in itself. “I’m just being real…” Sounds great, but is not an end, it’s a means.
    A means? Yes, a means to draw close to an almighty Savior in time of need. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
    Being vulnerable to God and others in honesty is just the first step, the complete victory comes in finding your strength in a powerful Savior, knowing you could have never overcome on your own.

    Just some thoughts and ramblings…

    • says

      Not ramblings at all, Andrew. You filled in some gaps I left in that post and I wholeheartedly agree with what you say here.

      Be yourself in the most true sense of what that means – as you are completely united with Christ and depend on his sufficiency. Yes! Absolutely.

    • Carol says

      This is precisely what I was saying in my previous post. As we draw nearer to Him, we become an example to the world without even “trying” to be that example. Conviction and righteous living (example) go hand in hand and each one builds upon the other – in continuous circle.

  43. says

    YES. This is something I wish I had read as a teenager, yet still is so needed now that I am in my late twenties. Thank you for writing this post so that I can share it with my younger sister and my younger self. (And also, HI! This is the first time I’ve come across your blog and I just read like 100 posts from your archive and I am basically your official biggest fan now and let’s be friends.)
    Tabitha´s last blog post ..Five years!

  44. neesie says

    Just another voice to add to the throng….these posts and your book are like food for my soul at the moment. I have been thrust into a teaching environment in which my good girl masks are so firmly plastered on my face, I have lost myself and my soul is screaming at me.
    I have felt so alone, and ashamed and confused about how God wants to use me. I thought that this was it, but I don’t think that it is. I am so hung up on being obedient, and serving him.
    So many lies believed for so long, it is excruciating to peel back the layers and see myself as acceptable because I. just. am. Hearing your heart and reading these comments really helps me feel less alone.
    This place means so much to me, Thank you

  45. says

    We’re just entering the teen years here, and as a Good Girl myself, I wish someone had told me this when I was my daughter’s age. Thanks for sharing your heart and your hard-won wisdom.

    And I, as a fellow INFJ, would be mute on a radio show, so BRAVO! I tip my cap to you:)
    Kimberly´s last blog post ..One last hurrah

  46. says

    Great post. With a nearly 4 year-old daughter, I’m a long way from those all important adolescent and teenage years, but I find myself trying to think of ways to instill these things in her now. All to often, it starts with me as an adult. Our children learn from seeing us being genuine, real Christ-followers, not hearing us talk about it.

  47. says

    Sigh. I wish I’d read this in high school. I alienated a lot of people by trying to hide every struggle. A good example is striving for holiness and pleasing God while pointing ourselves and others to the Gospel when we cannot measure up, for those panicking about the Timothy passage. What better example could there possibly be, than an imperfect sinner reaching for a merciful Savior?
    Aubry Smith´s last blog post ..Eden’s Birth Story, and Reflections on Out-of-Hospital Birth

  48. says

    As someone who grew up as “the good girl” I can relate to this girl’s struggle. What I wished someone had told me was that the choice isn’t between being an example and being real. After all, the Bible is filled with people like David and Peter who are examples to us of how to rightly respond to sin and how God can use those lives, surrendered to Him for His purposes. However perhaps the true issue is that we should be pursuing Christ in such a way that we are an example to others of what a life surrendered to Him looks like (regardless of our age). When Paul wrote “imitate me as I imitate Christ” his focus was on imitating Christ, his example flowed from that singular focus. Similarly may our passionate pursuit of Christ prompt others to do the same.

    • says

      Yes, what you say here: “..pursue Christ in such a way that we are an example to others of what a life surrendered to Him looks like (regardless of our age)” You said it – and I will agree – the focus here is Christ, not the “example.”

      In a way it comes down to this: what do we mean when we say “be an example” ?

      It was my impression – in the short time I spoke with her – that the girl on the radio call seemed to think that to be an example meant she always had to have the answers, always had to be doing the right thing, and couldn’t mess up. She felt the burden of responsibility to be an example to her friends.

      You and I might agree that the best examples are those who depend heavily on Christ – in our peaceful moments as well as our sinful ones.

      But in my experience, the girls I’ve talked with don’t see it that way. So when they hear adults tell them to be examples, they don’t have the context that you and I do – or, for that matter, the context that Timothy had when Paul said it to him.

      You’re right, it isn’t a choice between being an example or being real – you can actually be both at the same time. But when we talk to our students (and even ourselves, for that matter) the freedom comes when we focus on the internal reality of our lives in Christ, not the external results of being an example.

      Really appreciate your thoughtful comment.

  49. says

    I’d say that is pretty good advice for adults too. It takes a long time to learn when you don’t start out here…but I believe it is the only way.

  50. says

    This post is incredibly HEALING for me. Thank you so much for these words!! They have set me free, and helped me heal, from a lifetime of having to “be an example.” Thank you, thank you, thank you. So much love.

  51. says

    Amen, Emily. It’s taken months of therapy to realize I have crazy unrealistic expectations of myself, and to know in my heart that God loves ME, not just the things I try so hard to do well. This post helps me to see that I’m placing those same unrealistic expectations on my husband, my kids, my friends… and I need to give them grace and let them be who God made them to be. Thanks for being a friend to so many through your words.
    Amanda´s last blog post ..On the joy of inRL

  52. Alan says

    I remember when a friend observed our family to learn our “secret”. He remarked that whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t from us. I took delight in his observation, because it certainly wasn’t.

  53. Randy LeTourneau says

    My first reading of this was, “oh ya, that is so right on.” Like you, after I read it and thought about it, this occurred to me, you have defined “being an example” as a pretending to be a phony and being unreal and detached. If that is your definition, then certainly that is a very bad thing. But the Apostle Paul’s words ring in my ears, “be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” I believe he was being an example to me and calling me to be an example of him. Now, I want to be an example of a Christ follower that is striving in my weakness, and lifted by His power. Sharing my victories as I do my defeats. Celebrating being more Christlike today than I was yesterday due to His great life exchange. I do want to be an example of one striving for Righteousness, but in a real, transparent, loving, and approachable way. Not as better than any other, but as one “running the race” and “buffeting my body” to be like HIM. Being an example of something or someone bad is certainly not what I want, nor what I want my children to do. However, if they can be an example of a compassionate follower of Christ that is willing to risk living a life that is transparent, then I say that is a good thing and one that Paul calls us to in Scripture. Bottom line, be an example of what you encourage our girls to be in this article.

  54. Stefanie says

    What if I was that girl? The oldest of four girls- always told to be the example for them. What if, now, I’m the grown woman- a good churchgoer, but not a good friend. A good reputation, but filled with bitterness. As a Christian I know it’s silly to think its “too late” for me, but where do I go from here?

    • Sarah Schulz says

      I should probably let other answer this–Emily herself–but…. that was me. Is me. Despairing of finding a rescue beyond the mercy of Christ and the rules I was taught. I’m reading Emily’s book, and slowly beginning to accept that there is more to the gospel than trying to be good, to live up to being saved, and more to being in relationship than being a giver, a caregiver, a self-sacrificer.

      I’m such a beginner. But I know now that there is salvation for us, too. There is grace.

    • Kathy Larson says

      Of course it’s not too late. Like with any big change, start with a small step. First, prayer. Lots of it. Ask God to break your heart. Ask Him for the courage and the humility to be vulnerable, be real, be authentic. Then choose one person (with God’s help and leading) with whom you can be vulnerable, one person with whom you can be authentic. One person you can open up to and share your heart. And intentionally try to learn to be a real friend to that person. Start small. And you’ll look back on it and see that that small step was really a huge one.

  55. says

    Thank you for this post! I wish I had understood this as a high schooler. I was a good girl who never thought I was good enough. I’m a fellow INFJ, and I’ve always had perfectionist tendencies. I’m 26 now, and have realized over the past few years that my perfectionist tendencies and desire to never disappoint people was bleeding into my relationship with God. I’ve realized the importance of examining my motives and being honest with God and friends when I’m struggling. I think you make an important point in your post when you talk about explaining what we mean when we say something like, “Be an example.” It’s so easy to crossover from Christianity into Moralism.
    Allison´s last blog post ..Washed by the Water

  56. says

    Excellent article. I remember not admitting to a friend in high school that I was tempted by the parties she wanted me to go to. She asked me if I didn’t ever want that and I told her I never did. I was afraid that if I told her I did, desperately, desperately did, she would push me harder and I would do things I would regret.

    It wasn’t so much about being an example as keeping my head above water, but I still wish I’d been honest. Because looking back I’m sure that what she heard is, “I do the right thing because I’m a good person. You do the wrong thing because you’re a bad person.” In fact, in the next few years she would say things like that to me and I would insist that it wasn’t true. I never realized that without knowing how weak I was it would always seem like I was just inherently better, instead of showing the difference that Christ makes.
    Melody´s last blog post ..8×10 Print – Jack & The Beanstalk by EverybodyElse

  57. Jana says

    Good points, however, I think when you hear people in the church today reminding you to be good examples, don’t think of it as a negative thing. They simply mean to live as Jesus would and let your light shine in a world that does not know Jesus. Every single one of us have problems. She is honest with her friends and us as her parents, maybe a little too honest! Somethings I really don’t need to know, but I appreciate her wanting to be open book about everything because she values that trust with me. I will share this with my 17 year old daughter, but she knows how to feel and how to search the scriptures and relate to others much more than most at her tender age. It’s just a gift that God has given her how to talk with her friends. She truly listens.

  58. Britney says

    Honestly, those girls…those “perfect” girls, are not an example to me. I’m just an ordinary college girl, relying on Jesus every single day to make it through with an emblem of grace. And I hate to break it to you , those with the good girl perfect example daughters, but they don’t help. They make me feel bad and I can’t open up to them. I think it makes them feel better to feel like an example, but all I know is that my friends and I struggle together and none of us feel above or below the others. We’re just trying our best, and failing, and so calling on God daily to help us.

    This idea that some of us are just doing better than others and therefore we should look up to them, and they should be a shining beacon of hope to us, isn’t accurate. Sure, there are girls that will suck up to them and make them feel like they’re important, but can I go to them and say “I’m struggling not to have sex with my boyfriend”? Can I say “last Friday I really wanted to do drugs and I’m scared next time I won’t be able to say no”? I’ve tried opening up to people in leadership and the response is never encouraging or helpful. It’s all condemnation, smugness, and self-righteousness. That’s the reality out there for teenage and college girls. It’s brutal and if we’re Christians, it’s a painful battle. And maybe I could never be an example. But that doesn’t make me less than. It doesn’t make me inferior to admit that it’s hard. But I’m doing my best. And since that’s pretty much never enough, I’m leaning on Jesus.

  59. Kathy Larson says

    Oh, such WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL words, not just for our daughters or our sons, but for ourselves!! Amen and Amen!!

  60. Murphy Granstrand says

    I resonate with your message. I have been a volunteer youthworker for 35 years. Being an authentic, available & affirming adult is what teenagers are looking for. Those who think we should be cranking out disciples when teens graduate need to remind themselves that it is up to the Holy Spirit in due time. I believe I have a calling to spend time with teenagers and I think I am good at it. I don’t say this for self-glory but only to give you some idea of what I do, with the help of the Holy Spirit of course. Teenagers have been a huge blessing to me and my wife, and I have a wonderful rapport with many. There are times when I do talk about my faith and teens know I am trying to follow Jesus. I’m just trying to give them lots of my time and an authentic adult to share life with. Thanks for your comments & the opportunity to comment too. Best Regards, Murphy.

  61. says

    I absolutely enjoyed this post! As a mom of four daughters and five sons, I really appreciated your response. There is a ton of pressure out there to be perfect in the church and society. As a 45 year old woman and pastor’s wife struggling through perimenopause, I realized half my problem was feeling like I had to be an example. When I allowed myself to just be the beautiful ME God created, my anxiety and panic lifted immensely. I pray your post goes a long way in helping other girls and woman understand earlier and save themselves a lot of heartache.
    http://lifefullyloaded.com/2013/05/14/the-canvas/
    Blessings

  62. says

    “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.”

    Oh my goodness. This is so true and so freeing. We are lights Christ is in us, plain and simple. Therefore, we can then trust in who He is, not in our efforts.

    I haven’t bought Grace for the Good Girl yet, but I’m starting to think I need to…
    Jenn @ A Simple Haven´s last blog post ..Country Drives: Simple and Soul-Filling

  63. Sean says

    Sorry, I cannot agree with teaching that goes counter to the scripture. Paul wrote to Timothy instructing him specifically on what to teach the young people of their day:

    These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (I Timothy 4:11-12).”

    In addition, the scripture tells us that “Christ suffered for us leaving us an example that we should follow in His steps, who did not sin, neither was guile found in His mouth, who when he was reviled He reviled not again … (I Peter 2:21-23).”

    Being an example to others is at the core of being a Christian. Where I do agree is that being an example does not mean being perfect. Being human and showing your faith includes making mistakes. It is how we handle those mistakes that sets us apart from non-believers. In your blog entry you associate being an example with the pressure of being perfect, and I believe that is a pressure that God never intended. Perfection is never taught in scripture as a destination, but as a journey.

    One place where we have failed miserably as a nation is being an example in charity (Love, agape). As Paul said to Timothy, we should teach our teens to be an example in how they live, they things they do, how they talk and act, but most of all in how they love and serve others. When they let their light shine before others, they will see their good works and glorify God in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

    So lets be an example, but not a fake example, a real example of what a Christian should be, being transparent and honest about our faith, honest when we succeed and when we fail, honest on the mountain top and honest in the valley. This will win the hearts of those who are hungry for a relationship with the God of heaven.

  64. Teresa Humphrey says

    Thank you for sharing this. I think that it applies to anyone in any stage of life. I needed it for me right now. But I hope that I will remember it when interacting with anyone else.

  65. says

    VERY WELL SAID IN ALL RESPECTS…..MY LATE WIFE AND I RAISED TWO OF THE MOST ADORABLE YOUNG GIRLS….NOW YOUNG LADIES WITH THEIR OWN FAMILIES…..THEY, EACH, ALWAYS WERE ABSOLUTELY THEIR OWN PERSON, AND HAVE, TO THIS DAY, MADE ME EXTREMELY PROUD….AND WHEN YOU ASK THEM WHERE THEY GOT THEIR DRIVE…..THEY WILL TELL YOU….IT CAME FROM GOD….AND OUR MOM AND DAD !

  66. Paula Barbee says

    Amen! Love this article, forwarded by our youth pastor. Applies to boys too. This is why I cringe when I see parents trying really hard to have “perfect” children!

  67. Lorie N says

    Very good article! I loved it. Please go in and correct the spelling of “assess.” Right now it just says “asses.” :)

  68. marie says

    I am that girl/woman. this post made me weep……….Part of my struggle is feeling like so often people now feel betrayed on some level when Im not the “perfect image” they expect of me. And that they don’t seem to take it seriously when I do try to be authentic. I’ve really been praying for one close friend to be authentic with, that will be authentic with me and that we can find a healthy give and take relationship. Thankfully I do have my hubby who does love all of me, including my imperfections, and that helps me move forward day to day when I feel no one else notices or cares. And of course Jesus..so glad He loves me despite it all and my multitude of failings!!!

  69. says

    Sorry, Emily, I don’t agree with this post, or perhaps I misunderstood, but it seems straightforward, so I don’t think I misunderstood, but I’m hoping I have. I replied to Andrea directly already, but wanted to say here that, with all due respect to you, it seems quite pretentious on your part to proclaim that a girl who is encouraged to be an example may as well have on a mask. I assume that is your true believe, but I simply don’t agree. People who willingly strive to be examples sometimes do so because they are passionate ambassadors for Christ, willing, openly, happily being an example, in word, deed, and conversation. You go so far as to say, regarding the girl who strives to be an example:

    “She may become a person people look up to, but she will never be someone they can relate to.
    She may be successful at managing her behavior, but she will always struggle to manage people’s opinions.
    She may have a great reputation, but her character will be clouded with bitterness and anger.
    She may be a good church-goer, but she will not know how to be a good friend.”

    Those are very strong statements, and I find this bold presumption on your part, of all girls who strive to be an example, more than a little offensive.

    “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” I Timothy 4:12

    • says

      You know Dee, as I’ve read your comment, I realize perhaps a better way for me to word those statements was to say something more like this: “She may become a person people look up to, but she *may* never be someone they can relate to.”

      I’ve talked to a lot of women where it’s true what I say here, but you’re right, it certainly isn’t always the case that one leads to the other. I apologize for the offense.

    • Kay says

      Hi Dee,

      After reading these comments, I want to share my personal view of what Emily was saying:

      I believe she is talking about the pressure OTHER people put on girls to be examples. There’s a difference between the desire coming from within a girl to lead another in the way of Christ than for a parent or another person to put pressure on a girl to do or say what they believe is proper under the guilt of being an example.

      I have experience both. I’ve been convicted by the Holy Spirit to be an example to friends and have seen wonderful things happen, even years later. But I have also experienced heavy pressure by others to do or act in a way they believe is being an example. One is the beautiful freedom of following our Heavenly Father, the other is a stifling journey of following the expectations of others.

      I agree with Emily that parents should trust Jesus working grace in the life of their daughter. If she is a true believer, there is the Holy Spirit inside her. Guide her to listen to Him instead of being that voice telling her what an example should be.

      • Angie says

        Kay, I could not agree more! Dee’s post seems to be a good example of some of thinking I’ve read on here that is denouncing this idea as unbiblical. But the folks (like Dee) who have explained their position more clearly are obviously talking about a more mature perspective on what it means to be an example. But Emily’s post is spot-on – unfortunately, most teenagers don’t have the maturity to interpret an encouragement to “be an example! be a leader!” in the proper context. I am thrilled for the ones that do, but sadly, that is the exception, not the rule.

        I grew up with the constant encouragement from my parents and youth pastors to be an example. And just as Emily described, in my lack of maturity, I turned that exhortation into a checklist of behaviors that an “example” would do. So I faithfully read my Bible, attended the Christian club at my school, refrained from drinking, drugs and sex, and kept a smile on my face. But none of it was an authentic expression of my faith, and none of it was done through resting in Christ’s grace and love for me. It was a white-knuckle journey through my adolescence where I put constant pressure on myself to be perfect so I wouldn’t lose my “example” status. In retrospect, I can see how flawed this thinking was. I was so focused on doing the right things that I don’t think I ever fully appreciated how I wasn’t really an example to anyone! My focus was on my behavior, not on my relationship with Jesus and with the people around me. I had some friends who were in the exact same situation as me, and I realize now we were not perceived as “lights in a dark world” but as goodie-goodies who no one could relate to.

        I fully believe that a key component of our Christian journey is to be an example to those around us. But in a culture that constantly pushes unrealistic standards on our young people, I think it is also godly wisdom to recognize that telling teenagers to be an example is likely to be misinterpreted. By showing our kids HOW to have an authentic relationship with Christ, they will naturally be examples to those around them.

  70. says

    This is so good Emily. I’m not a mom of daughters… I’m a mom of boys and it applies to them too but mostly I’m encouraged because of how it applies to me. Our kids are in public school and there are not many Christians in our school community. It’s a good reminder as I am trying to be in relationship with these other moms, it’s important to just BE (my one word for the year) a friend and quit trying to be an example. Such a profound post. Thank you.
    Suzie Lind´s last blog post ..My Journey as a Women in Ministry

  71. The Classi "Good Girl" says

    I’m graduating highschool in a week and I just have to say this post literally made me cry. I’m the “good girl” you talked about in the beginning; I’ve been a Christian since I was 8, am the one the mothers love, and the one everyone expects to be the personal cheerleader. I love that people look up to me, but last fall I found myself in a position where I felt myself falling apart and couldn’t pull myself back together again. Because I felt like I needed to be the “good girl”, I couldn’t let it show. I was severely depressed for 5 months and I can honestly say they were the worst months of my life. Even today, so few people know about that time period, but as I’ve tried opening up to friends and share that I’m not the perfect Sunday-school girl, it’s amazing to hear how they have similar stories. It’s because we all go through times that are discouraging that we can build each other up and create relationships built on more than how cute we think the other person’s clothes are.

    All this being said, I feel like this was written directly for me; what a fantastic send-off from highschool.

  72. Albert Huizing says

    I work in youth ministry and the story is a good one and one that needs to be heard…..and understood. The reality is that it is both a giod example and honest transparency. Although it is difficult to do, it doesn’t need to be either/or, but it MUST be both/and. That is the challenge….. that is the power – and gift – of GRACE in our lives. Each youth/individual is different with a life of unique situations. The only way they can have support to walk the path of grace is through honest friendships that are tranparent….the only way they can know the direction is through truthful example through friendships. When we learn to step out of our boxes – take off our masks – build meaningful & truthful relationships, then we all will stop flailing our arms in desperation and grasp on to that hand of Grace….. hope this touches at least one searching heart string….of so, then like it so I am encouraged, today!

    • John Boulton says

      I think you’re right, Albert Huizing. I appreciate all this message that was given in this “Chatting in the Sky” and I understand where this person is coming from. But I think what you’re saying, Albert, is along the lines of my own thoughts. This message should be towards all Christians for the most part — we should not be trying to display ourselves as the perfect example, but rather we should truly have an array of gladness and joy about us because we are living our lives for Christ’s sake and with encouragement (Hebrews 10:24-25). So, i.e., try not being the perfect model as much as simply living according to the Holy Spirit and The Word that others will see and want to be a part of it or not want to miss out on. But while this message was leading pretty good, I’m a bit troubled by the final recommendation of “living as yourself”. We see a lot of this already that has even gone the way of gay relationship, or homosexuality, because some, including some proclaiming themselves Christians, truly believe they are right in doing so and have even accepted the false pretense that “this is just the way they are”. The final recommendation should not have been “just be yourself” but rather “keep your direction towards Christ and others will eventually see the goodness in your life or simply miss out”… or something along those lines. But just “being yourself” without guidance tends to always find the same error (Isaiah 53:6, Romans 3:23). We still need guidance. (1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 2:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). It isn’t just a matter of whether the adult trusts in their own child or that the Lord is with him or her; there is also the simple matter that we all, child or adult, need to be encouraged to remain on the path of righteousness; and to live in harmonous joy that is reflective of the love of God.

  73. says

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I have a high school daughter and lead a girls’ Bible study and see this to be so true. In fact, it is this very thing that leads to non-believers viewing Christians as hypocrites because instead of owning our sin and need for a Savior, we mask and hide it. This then pushes others away from “good” girls because they think they can never measure up. So in trying to be a holy and perfect example we actually shun others and inadvertently shun the only One who was perfect for us.
    Thank you for your post!

  74. mari says

    I can’t agree with this post. I get that the spirit of the post is to stop pushing our kids for Christ-like perfection, and to teach your kids that it’s okay to be human with human mistakes and human feelings, but why can’t we teach our kids to do both?

    We should always be striving to achieve Christ-like perfection. Matthew 5:48 says, “Be ye therefore perfect….” If Christ tells us to do it, then we need to do it. Okay, stop hyperventilating. Anyone who knows the gospel knows that it is absolutely impossible to achieve perfection in this life. If perfection were a possibility, we wouldn’t have a need for a Savior. Then WHY did he give us an impossible task??? Because we NEED to always be working to be better. If human beings don’t have that unattainable goal of perfection, then we become content and complacent with where we are at, and we become lazy and idle. Why else would so many people who seem to, “have it all,” be so unhappy? They have nothing else to really work for, and their lives become meaningless and empty.

    With a constant goal of Christ-like perfection in mind, we always have something to be working towards. The knowledge that this perfection can not be achieved in this life takes away the frustration and despair that usually accompanies other types of unattainable goals. Knowing that everything we do in this life will directly affect how we achieve Christ-like perfection in the afterlife helps us to stick with that goal.

    I teach my daughters to be an example and a leader to their friends. I teach them to stand up for what is right, to always love the way Christ loves, and to fight for those who just can’t fight for themselves. I teach them to always consider what God would think of the choices they are making before they make a choice. I teach them that their choices might not always be the popular choice, but that it is better to be in good standing with God than it is to have tons of friends. I teach my girls that as long as they focus on their inner beauty, they will always be beautiful…. though I do teach them that personal grooming and hygiene are important (yes, there really is an age where 99% of females really do look better with a little make up on), but at the same time, it doesn’t take much to look your best. I teach my girls that their very best friends should always be their sisters. I am not here to be their best friend…. YET. I hope one day we can be best friends, and we are friends to a point, but while they are dependent on me, I am ALWAYS their mother first.

    Most importantly, I teach my girls that while they should always be working towards Christ-like perfection, they WILL mess up, they WILL make mistakes, they WILL make bad choices, they WILL fail at some things, they WILL feel negative feelings and emotions, and they WILL commit all sorts of sins…. because they ARE human. I teach them that our Savior suffered in Gethsemane and on the cross for those mess ups, and mistakes, and bad choices, and failures, and negative feelings and emotions, and all their sins, and he did it because he loves them. He wants them to achieve. He wants the best for them. He wants them to be happy…. and so far, they are!

    • The Classi "Good Girl" says

      Absolutely Christ wants the best for us! You’re spot-on. But does he call us to have real relationships with people or to be a perfect, flawless stained-glass window? Being an example is important, but even more so is sharing with people what Christ has done in our lives and how can He do anything if we have it all together? Pretending to be perfect is lying, not being an example. So many Christian teens are pressured to go “be different” and “change the world”, which I agree both are callings of Christians, but don’t put the burden on teens that they must put on the facade of the perfect Christian to the world. Christ wasn’t crucified to save perfection, He was crucified to save sinners.

  75. says

    The author (Emily?) wrote, “Her friends don’t need an example, they need a friend.” Huh? When did being a friend and a good example become somehow incompatible? Since when does being a good example mean NOT being honest or real? Since when does being a good example mean you think you are better than everyone,?? These are sincere questions. This article made some good points but it promotes the most absurd false dichotomy I’ve ever read.

    • Joy Fisher says

      I agree with you, Joel. To insinuate that somehow a person can’t be both an example and a friend, and that anyone being a godly example has to be wearing a mask is just, as you say, absurd! But it seems we’re in the minority here.

      • The Classi "Good Girl" says

        You guys are both absolutely right, but I don’t think she’s saying to not be a good example. What Emily’s saying is that hiding our imperfections is wrong and only serves to deceive others. Being an example is crucial, but we cannot pretend to have it all together. That’s not being an example, that’s being a liar.

    • says

      Yes, Joel and Joy, yes. They are great questions – and you’re right – being an example and being a friend are not incompatible – not at all.

      I realize now what I wrote here could definitely be interpreted as if I think otherwise – as I wrote, I was thinking mainly of this particular high school girl on the radio who seemed to feel the pressure of being a perfect example to her friends. And I simply wanted to communicate to her that trying hard to be an example wasn’t the point. She carried the pressure of not messing things up for Jesus – I know that’s not what it means to be an example, but that’s what she thought it meant.

      I’m not sure adults always realize what their girls *might* be hearing when we tell them to be a good example.

      I admit I am kind of rolling my eyes at myself for some of my wording in the post. I appreciate your perspective here in showing me something that was in my writing that I didn’t realize when I wrote it. Thank you for that.

  76. Terry Farr says

    I think you are very wrong. Her light comes from her, from her good nature, from lessons learned by her parents. This idea that people need a imaginary friend to lead them in life is ridiculous. An adult needs to learn to make decisions on their own, not try to blame their faults on an imaginary enemy (the devil) and their triumphs on the imaginary friend (jesus). People should be held accountable, not blame pretend creatures. a man who shoots his family and says “the devil made me do it.” is just as insane as the man who states “i am a good person because of jesus.”

  77. says

    Another INFJ! I so get you! I’m going to be on a local TV show next week, and I am both excited and panicked at the thought.

    It’s an amazing thing to see our children’s reactions when we are real instead of perfect. My teenage son and I were in a counseling session when I shared about a mistake I had made (a bad reaction to his bad behavior), and my son’s mouth dropped open in shock. Not that the mistake was a shocking one, but that I was able to freely admit that I made mistakes and did not think I was perfect.
    Brenda C.´s last blog post ..April Birthday Finger Food Friday

  78. says

    I love your thoughts here. My only initial “rub” I have is that the Bible does tell youth to “be examples” (1 Tim 4:12) and then also instructs leaders, more specifically pastors, to “lead by example.” (1 Peter 5:3) However, as I’m milling through your thoughts, I wonder if the Bible’s use of the word “example” is closer to what your saying, that is, walk with Christ and then let them see YOU warts and all, be transparent, be vulnerable, let them see your life. And farther away from what we normally mean these days when we use the word “example.” That is, more towards, put on this mask and be a hypocrite. Ok, good, now that you look spiritually “pretty” and “cleaned up” your ready to be an example.

    • says

      Yes, Brian! This is exactly it.

      A lot of people are bringing up that verse and I really appreciate it because it’s true, Paul tells Timothy to be an example. Here’s my thoughts on it -

      From my understanding, 1 Timothy is written to Timothy and church leaders. We can assume that there is already a deep understanding between Paul and Timothy about what it means to live a Spirit-filled, Christ-dependent life. So when Paul tells Timothy to be an example, he, (Timothy) understand what that means in light of the full Gospel.

      My only point (and one I’m seeing I probably failed to prove for some) is that when we pull that verse and say it to our teenagers, in my experience, they don’t understand what that fully means. So instead of understanding their life hidden with Christ in God, they try hard to simply be a good example by their actions and behavior – I’ve seen this lead to a lot of pressure and shame because they are doing all of that in their own strength and not in union with their life in Christ.

      Again, I don’t mean to imply this is always the case but I’ve seen it often enough to where I believe it needs to be talked about.

      It seems to me a better way is to remind them of who they are in Christ, who Christ is in them and the natural result is they will probably be an example! But not from trying hard to be one – but because true dependence on Christ leads to that as a natural (or super-natural, really) outcome.

      I would have loved to explain all of that in the post but when I wrote it I didn’t realize some of the ways people would hear it until after it was posted. Really appreciate your insight, Brian.

    • says

      The Bible says, “Be more perfect like Jesus.” Take up your cross, show others the power of God’s word in you. The Bible doesn’t say, please go out and make mistakes, it says follow the commandments, follow Jesus, live in His example. Mistakes are inevitable, and thank God we are forgiven, IF we repent which requires trying to improve. I don’t teach my children to try to fail. I teach them that God wants us to live like Jesus. Of course forgive, and work to teach others about Jesus, but it’s not about being “allowed to make mistakes”-we made so many God had to sacrifice His only Son so we could have a chance at working towards being better than we tend to be.

  79. says

    Doing what is right is not always popular. What is popular is not always right. I teach my son, that he is an example to his younger sister. We try our best to follow the Bible in our home-it is our first parenting manual-to set an example for our children. They do look to us, and it is our overcoming of our imperfections that teaches so much as well as what we do “right”. We are learning all the time, making mistakes and learning more. I don’t think I would be upset if my daughter or son were considered “un-relatable” by peers who were not living in Christ’s example, or who did not know Christ at all. We live in a “popularity-focused” world these days. If you are not “liked” then you are doing it all wrong. Let’s remember that the MAJORITY of people in Jesus’ world did not like him or think he was ‘relatable’. In fact so many thought he was weird, un-relatable, and threatening due to His beliefs that the ruling power killed Him. I don’t think if we are teaching that Jesus is the Way that we should tell children that popularity is their mission. Faith, love, authenticity, and family are what we teach no matter how many friends or how little they have.
    Jaimi´s last blog post ..We Can Overcome Our Childhood

  80. says

    So many comments! This one hit a button.

    Emily, I shared this post on my Facebook wall and the response has been simply ridiculous. Mostly from parents and I love that.

    This morning I was reading at our local coffee shop (Sola, when you come to Raleigh, I want to take you there) and overheard a teenage daughter telling her mom all about this post. It was like the weight of the world was off her shoulders. Beautiful.
    Kristin S´s last blog post ..WIWW #128

  81. says

    Thank you for this wisdom. I was a preacher’s kid, told “we will be examples,” and it messed me up exactly as you described, for decades. But it’s never too late! At the age of 56 I have indeed learned to be genuine and to welcome God’s grace in my brokenness. Life is so much better this way!

  82. Sarah says

    Thank you so much for this post. It’s a lesson I wish I had learned sooner. I don’t know that my mom told me to be a good example, but it was what I felt like everyone was telling me. From the time I was saved until I was in college I mistook the Christian life to be setting a good example for others. It wasn’t until I saw people leaving their Christian faith behind that I realized that being a Christian wasn’t about me showing Christ to others, but rather about letting Christ live in me and through me. I had been trying in my own power, and it was empty and difficult until I let Christ take over.

  83. says

    Well said. Very well-said. I hope the seeds of the truth you expressed here are planted deep within me so that when my daughter ages, I can encourage her to shine correctly. Thank you so much!!
    Cassy´s last blog post ..Thou Shouldest Have

  84. Eric says

    I think that when I think about encouraging someone to be an example, I also think of them being an example in the way they respond to hurts, or struggles. Being an example means that we are honest during those times, with ourselves, with God, and with others. I have never thought of being an example as being perfect, or hiding our mistakes. I think of being an example as owning our mistakes like she describes. I don’t think you can truly be an example for others and not be authentic and real. People see that as phony anyway, and no one will really look to you as an example. They will look at you as a snob, or judgmental. A leader is honest about the fact that they are flawed, do not have it all together, and need Jesus. When she talks about the advice the host gives to the girl: “If you struggle, say so…if you hurt someone, apologize.” I think that is setting an example.

    So, to sum all that up, I think that it’s not about not saying the words “be an example”, but by clearly defining what we mean when we are telling our kids to be leaders and set examples. Set an example of what it means to be a flawed imperfect person who also loves Jesus.

  85. says

    YES. That is the profound and earth-shattering statement I can give you right now. YES.

    I’m a passionate truth-teller, Emily. I believe in the real, the authentic, the taking off of masks.

    I’m trying to teach my daughter, who is showing so many signs of being a “good girl,” that it is OK to make mistakes and it’s OK to not be perfect because there is no such thing as being perfect anyway. Too much pressure.

    It’s most definitely a process.

    Thank you for writing this, Emily! Wise words!!!
    Natalie Snapp at Mommy on Fire´s last blog post ..A Deep Thought on a Tuesday (Which Mom’s of Boys Will Love) and an Invitation

  86. says

    good gracious alive emily freeman
    that was absolutely incredible. absolutely incredibly beautiful
    if you were my neighbor in that make believe culdesac, i’d drop by & kiss you on the mouth
    incredible
    paige´s last blog post ..the delicate dance

  87. says

    I thought your article was beautiful.
    But my favorite part is that you are an INFJ. And you have an audience. And you’re on the radio.
    Yay!

  88. says

    I like what you say but I don’t think it’s the best advice. First of all if a parent, any parent, tells there child be a good example and then leaves it at that they are not going to know exactly what that means. A parent is supposed to be an example but they are also supposed to have communication with their children. I think many parents today want to give their children some few bits of advice or information and then go about their own day and life. Parenting is a all day everyday thing. Don’t just tell your kids to be themselves, they don’t even know who they are. Talk to them about the mistakes you have made. Tell them about mistakes other people have made tell them about your day. Tell them what Jesus is doing in your life. Tell them what Jesus has done in your life since he saved you. One of the greatest relationships a child can have is with their parent. I love my parents but they put the church and the things in the church before me and my siblings and we never really got to know our parents. Being a Christian is having a relationship with Jesus if my parents don’t show me what it is to have a relationship then I am going to go and look for it myself and it is likely that relationship is going to be a bad one. Just know that a parent child relationship is an image of a God follower relationship and he wouldn’t tell us to be ourselves and then send us on our way he is going to be there every step of the way talking to us and helping us.

    • says

      JD — you made a good distinction. What you’re talking about is the relationship Christ had with His disciples. It was a relationship of sharing one’s life with another in many different situations in life. We are to be disciples — followers and learners of Christ in relationship with Him. The disciples didn’t do it perfectly. Christ had to lovingly correct and show the better way. I think if we’re being disciples with Christ we will be an “example” to our children of the kind of relationships we with need with others. We’re on the journey together even though we may be at different places in the journey and different levels of maturity. Jesus was authentic and He has called us to be real also about our struggles, our needs, our doubts. You were right on about how Christ doesn’t leave us alone on our journey; He is with us every step of the way and so we should be with our children — guiding and cheering them on.

  89. says

    Thanks for being a voice of reason in a world where there often isn’t any easily accessible. This is exactly what I teach my girls, have from birth, and strive to somehow allow myself to do now. I even went so far as to call my blog “ditching the masks” for the same exact reason. In fact, in the effort to carry it on, my daughter and I have embarked upon a huge undertaking and have started her own blog, at 14, revealing to all around her the struggles she faces daily. She lives with Bipolar disorder, amongst other things, and she is blogging her real life, vs hiding behind her mask. I am proud of her and awed by her strength. She is over at http://fracturednotbroken.wordpress.com and hopes to be an encouragement to other teens who struggle with this kind of thing. Mental illness is part of who she is, and she is facing it head on, embracing her “who she is”.

    Again thanks for your message. I appreciate you!

    Christi
    Christi Campbell´s last blog post ..Perfectionism and me

  90. says

    Great stuff! – here’s an additional thought:
    in trying to be herself w/ her friends, what if she just came out and told them that it is hard to be their friend because she feels like she has to set an example for them. They will be so appalled that they will come out and point out the ways that she has obvious flaws that are likely very similar to theirs. I would expect that if she were honest in this kind of way, then they would immediately be getting to know the ‘real her’ – of course they will have to be strong enough to put up with a self righteous little girl for a little while, but if they are really her friends then tehy will be committed to her and will put up with her just like she does with them. By not telling her friends that she feels this kind of pressure, then she isn’t being completely open with them, and will struggle to become intimate.

  91. CCCRex says

    “When I am weak, He is strong”. Great article. I cringe when Pastors preach to ADULTS, that “people are watching us”. My extremely self centered Narcissistic personality disordered mother, who is so far from being a Christian, used to tell me this all the time. She would say thiings like “You never know who you’ll meet when you’re out so you should always look nice talk nice etc etc etc” In other words, she was always worried about self image – that is so unhealthy. But her true behavior was manipulative abusive and ugly behind closed doors with us and her family. If she decided to be real with herself she would be able to expose her weakness.

    We should live our lives worrying ONLY about what GOD thinks of us not other people. People we interact with in the process of our living for only God will see our behavior and that is what will bring them to the Lord. Not fakiness and worrying about how our behavior looks to them.

  92. says

    I liked the start here, and some genuinely helpful things were said. But frankly, this article takes a bit of a wrong turn.

    The fact that you recognize that Christians already are light in dark places indicates that you have the tools to further recognize that being an example is not an option, and saying “You don’t need to be an example” is not the solution. Throughout the Bible, we are taught to follow good examples frequently. And guess what? the examples were human beings too. When Jesus says that the Church is a “city set on a hill” and “the light of the world” and “the salt of the earth,” He also warns that salt which has lost its savour is good for nothing. And He speaks elsewhere of the absurdity of putting a light under a basket. Being an example is an indicative in Scripture—but it most certainly involves a corresponding imperative.

    Now, some of what you did say actually works very well with this: Apologizing when you wrong someone just *is* being a good example. There is no tension whatsoever between being an example and being authentic.

    Okay, maybe that’s mostly your choice of words there. But then you say this: “Her light comes from Jesus, not from her awesome behavior.”

    And who can argue against “Her light comes from Jesus?” After all, Jesus *is* Himself the Light who makes us the light of the world. That’s very good.

    But.

    Then the wedge, the dichotomy again. “NOT her awesome behavior.” And if that just means that she shouldn’t be comparing herself to others and thinking what a good girl she is, that’s great, although that’s not really what the article says.

    But the dichotomy between Jesus over here, and behaviour over there, is a modern invention and undercuts what the Bible actually says.

    Take Galatians, for instance. Paul says says that he is crucified with Christ, but “nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). And that theme underlies all the behaviour-related things he mentions in chapters 5–6. To be united to Christ means to be led by the Spirit means to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, which (as it turns out) is an articulation of the character and pattern of Christ. To say that one’s light is Christ cannot, biblically, take us out of the realm of behaviour at all.

    Granted, we do need correctives to widespread “Christian” perceptions (or at least practice) on this point. For a lot of folks, “godliness” is bound up in a bunch of rules that aren’t biblical to begin with (the old “don’t drink, dance, or chew”). But the answer to false godliness is genuine godliness, not denial of the necessity (or possibility) of godliness altogether.

    There are genuinely godly young ladies (and young men) who are confused and need affirmation, and it is good and necessary to provide it. But such affirmation should stand squarely upon the Scripture rather than imply dichotomies and contradictions where the Bible has none.

  93. Andrea says

    Emily,
    I have been following the comments to this thread since I posted a few days ago.
    I just want to say that the humility and open mindedness you employ while taking into consideration other points of view is beautiful and Biblical.
    I particularly love that you stepped back and made the point that our high school girls perception of what being an example is **perfect?** really is a fabulous point. While as I mentioned in my post, I do believe God has grown my 16 year old to be an example, I absolutely have had to have conversations with her to assure her that does not mean representing herself as perfect – but the exact opposite — stay at the foot of the cross, girls!! And tell everyone you can that you depend fully on Him!
    Again, your responses to what may be perceived as criticism have been inspiring –

    • says

      That is so kind of you to say, Andrea. Thank you for taking the time to say it.

      I wrote this post like any other – on the assumption that most who would read this article are my regular readers who know more of what I believe and where I’m coming from. I wish I could go back and change a couple of lines in it (ha!) but at least it has opened up some (I think) valuable discussion on the topic – even though there have been a few moments I’ve wanted to go hide under my coffee table :)

      I think it’s really beautiful that your 16 year old is an example – but it sounds like it’s not because someone told her she had to be one, but because she understands what it means to depend on Jesus. And to that, I say bravo indeed.

  94. says

    “I can usually assess the situation fairly accurately but it takes a lot of time for my observations to reach my mouth.”

    Love this. I get this. All too well. :)

    My oldest little girl (and she’s a good girl) is 8. The thought of her growing older terrifies me for all the reasons you write about, but of course I’m excited to see her grow up, too. I appreciate this reflection, and wish this is the point of view I’d heard when I (a good girl to the core) was a teen.
    Anne Bogel´s last blog post ..Twitterature (May 2013 Edition)

  95. Heather W. says

    Thank you so much for this article! I have a 7 year old daughter who needs this, but who really needed it today is ME. I am 34 years old and I am still struggling with these issues. It could be written about me. I feel like I don’t have any “real” friends, only those who come around when they need advice. But no one other than my husband that I feel emotionally connected. This gives me some insight on how my actions could be driving others away. Thank you for giving me the freedom to be imperfect!

  96. says

    I’m so thankful a facebook friend linked to this post; now I know about your blog. This post is so good, words fail me. I only it had been written/I read it 20 years ago, when I was a teenager, always trying to be “an example”. The reading of it now, though, is still a timely & deep encouragement to me…and a further reminder to share these truths with today’s teenagers, children, and especially my own daughter (lest she inherit the “good girl complex” from me :-) ). Thank you for what you’ve written.

  97. says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing the work to articulate so well what struck a chord in you. This concept was one my husband and I came to instinctively in our parenting, the oldest of our 4 PKs graduating in just a couple of weeks. My daughter and I were trading shouts of “YES!” every other paragraph. I’ve shared this and seen it re-shared multiple times. Obviously a chord that needed striking good and loud. Thanks again for your voice.

  98. Anonymous says

    Hi! I’m 18 years old, and I would definitely classify myself as someone who strives to be a good girl. I just finished my first year of university and now find myself enormously burnt out from the effort that maintaining said appearance took. This year has been awesome in that living away from home helped me to know God in many new ways, and forced me to take more ownership of my walk. I think, however, that I depended far too much on what I was doing not only to impress the people around me, but to try to please God. I entered into the summer feeling like a bit of a failure because I’d burnt out and not been able to do all the helpful things I thought I should. This article is very refreshing, and reaffirms what my parents keep telling me; I should focus first and foremost on loving and knowing God. Like John 15 says, it’s not up to me to bear my own fruit and make myself good enough, but Jesus is the vine and as I learn to love and obey him, he’ll help me be a brighter light. There’s such awesome freedom in that! Anyways, I just wanted to say thanks, and give a daughter’s perspective on this article :)

  99. Janel says

    Thank you SO MUCH for this. I needed this for MYSELF and for my daughter and son. This was healing and freeing for me. Thank you thank you thank you

  100. says

    I love this so much. Truly this could not have been more timely for me. I have been struggling with the opposite viewpoint of this same problem… I tend to be more apathetic in thinking it is impossible to reach out to even friends… so why bother. Thank you. Thank you!!!!!!!!

    <3
    Fly Mom´s last blog post ..Simplify Week 6 (Multiples)

  101. says

    Thank you for this! As a “Good Christian Girl” who has recently learned to walk in the freedom of God’s good grace, this is so encouraging! I pray that the Lord uses it to free many girls from the bondage of perfection and performance and live to the goodness of simply walking with Christ.
    Lindsey´s last blog post ..Therefore I tell you…

  102. Helena SNOW says

    Wow, Emily… I just read this post and the corollary one, after a friend re-posted them on her Facebook page. All I can say is that these two pieces are some of the best Christian writing I’ve read in DECADES. I’m completely blown away and completely inspired by your plain-talking intelligence. I’ll be subscribing down below and am sure that I’ll be sharing your work broadly as well. Please do carry on!

  103. Nancy says

    I found your post thought-provoking. Just curious how you balance these thoughts with 1 Timothy 4:12. The Amplified Bible reads like this: “Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”

    Friendship? Yes. Compassion? Absolutely. Transparency? Sure. But an example, a pattern, a model? If Scripture says so, then yes.

  104. says

    I think it is interesting that you kept your point in the realm of daughters and women, when I as a former good boy and now a man, can completely relate to it. I grew up with the mentality of keeping a good face and I can remember very specific times where that kept me from opening up to people who could have spoken into my life.

    The funny thing is that I don’t think wearing a mask and locking up your struggles is the same as being an example. I think if we are trying to be a Biblical example we need to look at the Apostles who had to open up to each other and keep each other in check. We see iron sharpening iron. Those are our examples of how to be examples. I think you could take that deeper and look at some of the things the apostles focused their attention on and see the example of ministry they set there, but that might be too long for just a “quick” comment.
    Arel Avellino´s last blog post ..Before I Get There | #3 The pirate girl, the ninja boy, and the really bad short film…

  105. says

    My mother set up the most wonderful habit for me. Against my nature to say “be a great example”…she would always say, “BE A BLESSING!”. How appropriate and encouraging as a child. An achievable goal…a Christ centered goal…an example in and of itself without the pressure of being an “example”. Gotta love a great momma!

  106. Cecilia says

    Hi. I am 11 almost 12 and the oldest of 7 kids. I have always felt pressured to be at least closer to perfect, for their sake. The worst part of being such a good girl, though, is if I make a mistake, people act like I’ve magically transformed into an alien. And if I do something really good (scrub the floor without being asked, ect.) I rarely get recognition ’cause I do it so often. This article helped me a lot.
    Thanks so much!!!!!

  107. AKSTAMPER says

    Your words, though meant for help with children have helped a 43 yr old who was struggling with this very issue this morning. Thank you for sharing! God bless.

  108. says

    I struggle in this area too. I am always trying to dish “out advice” to my friends instead of just being an ear or a shoulder to lean on. I definitely feel like it has put a damper on me gaining true friendships as a result. I totally loved this post and am glad that you were able to make my heart think and feel what your message is.
    Crystal Green´s last blog post ..Making Wedding Memories for All Involved

  109. Nancy Mosley says

    Thank you for this post. I’m currently reading the book, “Freedom From Performing” by Becky Harling (Grace in an Applause-Driven world) and it is so much like that. I’m a 40 something year old mom to 4 children and my daughter is 13 and my oldest son is 14. I realize that I’ve told them to be examples to their younger siblings. But your post and this book have helped me to realize so much that I was trying to hard to do things right and then see myself as one big failure all the time. It is finally “freeing” to come to recognition of what I’ve been doing. I just wanted to recommend this book if anyone shares that same struggle. Thank you again – good reminders!

  110. says

    Thank you so much for this. This is the number one thing I tell my son, the oldest of 3. I’ve desired for him to want to be the leader. To want to be the example. I’ve tried putting such emphasis on this idea. Now my eyes have been opened to the realty of what I’m actually saying to him. This is such a true idea for myslef as well. Also enjoyed the 12 things to say. I’ll be taking a hard look at my words and actions. Thank you again.
    Angie´s last blog post ..Quick post: Have you read this?….

  111. anonymous says

    The points you make are helpful. Of course, we should all strive to be authentic. But, your words would have been more valuable if you had left Christ out of your message. We are not all Christians yet we can all learn to be better people. We do not all believe in God yet we can live a life of which we can be proud. I am always disappointed when one religion, one religious group wants to own the truth. That is a disservice to us all.

  112. says

    I am in complete agreement that our relationships need authenticity! Without it, we don’t have real relationship. At the same time, I think it is important for youth to know it is God who calls them to set the example. It is because of Him, not their parents, that they should be setting it. As a Christ-follwer, 1 Timothy 4:12 was key for me growing up. I knew that this was what God called me to and I think it is important. Like I said, I really appreciate your post. I have three girls. My oldest in entering junior high and I really will take this to heart. However, I will balance your advice with 1 Timoth 4:12 because she is an example. When you claim to be a Christ-follower, others are scrutinizing your behavior because in your very declaration, you are claiming to be an example of Christ. Thanks for the encouragement to balance it all with authenticity and the fact that friendship should be real.

    • anonymous says

      I agree that this post needs some balancing. It is a little scary to me how so many are responding to this.
      My balancing act:
      God calls us to be a light to the world. Let’s not forget that though we “really need Jesus,” (and we do!) God’s grace is there to actually make us more like Him, not to let us “be ourselves.” If by being ourselves Emily simply means to “be real,” in the sense that we don’t want to be stressing ourselves out trying to keep up an image or “be super good” in our own strength, then I agree with that. However, there seems to be this idea that His righteousness will shine in us no matter what we do, as long as we say “Oh, but I need Jesus.” How does this type of reliance on His grace really distinguish us from the rest of the world? Did Jesus use this kind of language? He sure talked about hypocrites and self-righteousness, but He never, ever downplayed the necessity of obedience (see John 8:11 and everything else in red print in the Bible.) Jesus talks about abiding in Him, and bearing actual fruit. (John 15) Living a Christian life doesn’t mean that we are perfect, but it does mean that we are repenting, responding to His grace in our lives, and trying to be true to Him. We can’t just trust that because Jesus is in us, we will magically be a light to the world. We are not being a light to the world if we are giving in to our weakness and saying, “Oops! I’m just a sinner!” As if that is all God’s grace is for. His grace is not only there when we fall; it empowers us to live godlier lives! This is what we were born (into new life) for. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3. I know Emily was not trying to say “don’t worry about living a godly life,” but there is definitely some dangerous theology floating out there in evangelical societies about just how grace works in our souls, and Christians need to be careful.

  113. says

    Emily, Emily….how did you know how I’ve felt for almost 62 years? Not only was I supposed to be an example, but my parents constantly pointed out what a poor job of it I was…..trying, trying, trying to the point of exhaustion. Thank God I finally found out that grace applies to our daily lives, not just to the subject of salvation. Thank you for this breath of fresh air.
    Rachel Williamson´s last blog post ..Why You Are a Nobody on Facebook

  114. B says

    To the folks who think this is unBiblical I would like to chime in. First- no post can cover all the bases- this one is very specific in its intent so of course it won’t address everything. But that doesn’t make it invalid or unBiblical.
    I am a child of a Pastor who was also a missionary and I grew up with MK’s and now am in touch with MK’s who are old, young and in between. I have much ministry to those who were told THEY must be the example. A young woman whom I love as my own has spent most of her life since adolescence trying to measure up to the impossible standard her parents and mostly her father have set for her. She has been self/destructive most of that time and I still don’t know if she will survive. She is one of the most brilliant, loving, influential woman of her generation and very real in her life which has brought many people to Christ because they see Jesus in her struggles. And yet, she cannot get past the message both subtle and harshly overt that she is failing as an example and as a daughter because she isn’t good enough. The damage her father has done may cost this child her life. He lays it all on her. He is arrogant, harsh, critical and pharisaical. But he talks a great story and has had good ministry except as it relates to his family. Which makes him a failure in my book, but it’s hard for me to get over what he does to her and his kids-and the rest of us- he’s related to me. Scripture says ALL our righteousness is filthy rags. So when we set ourselves up as examples we set ourselves up to fail. If being an example is my goal- wow what a mess I will have and a burden I will take on. If my goal is to love Jesus and love those he sends me, then I will have a hope of living is such a way that others will see the difference and find hope. Because I have tried to become more like Jesus, my life is different and it has drawn people to me. Because I am willing to share my struggles and how Jesus has carried me through, I have many opportunities to minister to folks who may never go to church as well as those who do. The Bible says, ‘when I was a child I thought as a child, and behaved as a child. But when I became an adult I put away childish things. The burden we put on young people, especially girls, to be ‘good’ whatever we define that as, means that we give them a huge pack unsuited for a child’s frame. Some children are gifted young and on their own are able to live out what it means to live for Jesus. Most of them cannot. And I hear testimony after testimony of wonderful Christian women who have spent a lifetime in ministry and look so good tell me how they are dying inside. This is wrong. We are not the example, Jesus is. We are not the Saviour, Jesus is. And we are arrogant when we portray ourselves as this wonderful example. Yes, we should encourage our kids to learn skills that they can use to be better. To discipline them so they can grow up to be healthy and useful and purposeful in life. But kids do not have the ability to see the fine difference between striving to be more like Jesus and being a fake goody, goody afraid of being found imperfect. And if ‘what people think’ is the message they get I can guarantee a bad outcome. Teach them that transformation comes through Jesus as does growth and that the closer they draw to him the more they will desire to please Him and the more their lives will become more like Him. Any other way kills their spirits and eventually they will walk away. I have a child whose spiritual growth was crushed by her father’s constant exhortations to read the Bible and pray and ‘be a good girl’ never mind that his adult behaviour was completely unChristlike and continues to be. She wants nothing to do with church, but in his eyes she is rebellious and he did all he could. She was a believer and walked in it until that started but now she is not interested. I know, as the writer said, that she is in Jesus’s hands and I have to let go- but my heart aches for what she is missing in her life. Our example should be that we try to follow Jesus. But we should be careful in how we instruct young people because we may just be training them to walk away. In none of this do I suggest license to behave badly(there’s bound to be someone who thinks that). It is about putting the first things first and then the rest will follow. I will be sharing this article because it is very important and there is much healing to be found in understanding this.

  115. Che says

    I will preface this agreeing with “B” who said it’s hard to cover this in a single post. My first question is: Who are we trying to please, God or man? Whose standard are we called to live under? Is it we parents who tell them to be an example or Scripture? 1Ti 4:12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. So we are called to be an example. But often we fail to tell our kids that being an example DOES include messing up, but knowing Who to turn to when we do. It means knowing our goodness doesn’t come from ourselves, but from Christ’s shed blood on the cross. It means when we struggle, we can admit it and seek help from others. We are an example, whether we mean to be intentionally or not. The world, and other believers, do watch us. But we do not live to please man, we live to please God. Our relationship with Him will be the example. I think that sometimes we confuse “being an example” with “being perfect” and somehow putting ourselves on a pedestal. We do not belong on the pedestal, only Jesus Christ should be there. Our perfection only comes through Jesus Christ, and will not come in this lifetime. We will be perfect when we see Him as He is. Until then, we live. Every day we are an example, and hopefully through all my actions and reactions, a true relationship with Christ is revealed.

    • Liz says

      I completely agree, Che! I think you got it just right when you said that we have confused being an example with being perfect. We are not perfect, but we know the One who is, who lived a perfect life, and who now intercedes for us before God’s throne. And part of being an example is showing where we get our strength from, and helping people understand that they can go there too :)

  116. Kina says

    So much insight and so much to think about and consider. I am one of those girls. I am one that grew up desiring to be an example to my friends and to uphold everything I knew to be right and true. I wanted to be everything my Savior wanted me to be and died for me to be able to be. Because of that understanding I wanted everyone else to have the happiness and peace that came from that kind of living. I was outgoing, happy, and involved. My friendships though were rough. I was often called a “goody-two-shoe,” and told I was judging people. I felt alone a lot of the times. I never felt like I was hiding behind a mask though. I lived what I really believed and that meant I made mistakes sometimes but I fixed them because that is what Christ taught us to do. It was always so frustrating when my friends would eave my side and treat me badly but the moment they were hurting and needed someone to comfort them and buoy them up they turned to me. It was hard for me but they knew who they could turn to. They had someone that they knew where they stood, they stood with Christ and would always stand with them. They didn’t have to wonder if I had changed my ways. They knew they could come to me for an example of how to get back on to the Lord’s path.
    My youth was hard and lonely. I had the comfort of knowing I was a daughter of God and that He was always with me but there was still the desire to have someone tangible, always and not intermittently at my side. But I do not regret being an example.
    The peace and blessings it has brought are immeasurable. I have never felt the guilt of lowering my standards. I have friends from my youth that have expressed gratitude, as well, I have seen the blessing they have received as they have turned their lives to Christ. The joy that it has brought knowing that I was a little piece of their path. I have a husband that I feel has worked just as hard as living a life for Christ and we will be eternally happy with our children.
    As I stood as an example as I was taught I should, some times I only stood with God but standing with God has brought experience, growth, and happiness that I would wish upon everyone. I will continue to challenge the youth I work with and my own children to be an example. With that though I will teach them how as I teach them of Christ. I will share the price they may pay. Most of all I will express the blessing that will come.

  117. Erin says

    Parents should also remember that their daughters may be getting this message from other people in their lives. My parents never expected me to be an example. They encouraged me to follow God and be a friend to other teens around them, but I quickly discovered that because my parents were still together, because they attended church with me, because I got good grades in school my friends expected me to have a perfect life. They did not want to hear about my struggles, I learned to try to be an example from other teenagers without any reinforcement from my parents. It’s important that adults help counter the message that girls can get from their friends.

  118. Holly says

    Very nicely said. I just want to add another consequence of telling her to be an example. When she actually does make a mistake (like drinking too much at a party), she won’t know how to deal with it. She won’t have anyone to go to because everyone would be so shocked to hear that she made that mistake. She’ll bottle it up and she’ll try and try to feel like herself again, but she will know she isn’t the same person anymore. Eventually she will start searching for ways to make herself feel accepted, normal, less like a hypocrite and more like just an average person. When this happened to me, I decided to make new friends – some of which weren’t “good examples” to me. It was easy to share my mistakes with them because they were minor in comparison to how they lived their lives. They made me believe that what I did was acceptable behavior for someone my age and that I didn’t need to be sorry for it, in fact I was weird if I didn’t do things like that more often. I am now pregnant with my second child, my first baby girl, years after all this happened to me. My one mistake of succumbing to peer pressure and drinking too much at a college party led me to a series of mistakes that I believe would not have happened if I could have just told someone my struggles. But I didn’t even believe I could talk to God about it because I had failed Him in a way that I never thought I would. A year ago I saw a counselor to discuss some of this, and she said the word that kept coming to mind as I told my story was SHAME. I don’t want either of my children to feel that kind of shame. I want them to know that I will be here to listen to them without judgment whenever they need me. I want them to know that Jesus loves them NO MATTER WHAT and that He does not expect them to be perfect. I want them to experience redemption.

  119. BESTY says

    Life can be very displeasing especially when we loose the ones we love and cherish so much. in this kind of situation where one loses his/her soul mate there are several dangers engage in it. one may no longer be able to do the things he was doing before then success will be very scarce and happiness will be rare. that person was created to be with you for without him things may fall apart.
    That was my experience late last year. but thank god today i am happy with him again. all thanks to DR AKPAKPA, i was nearly loosing hope until i saw an article on how DR AKPAKPA could cast a love spell to make lovers come back. There is no harm in trying, i said to my self. i contacted him via email: afiamensolutionshrine@yahoo.com. words will not be enough to appreciate what he has done for me. i have promised to share the good news as long as i live.

    BESTY ADAMS

  120. Maria says

    2 Timothy 4:12: Let no one despise your youth, but BE AN EXAMPLE to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

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