I tend to talk about my second daughter a lot because God, through her, has taught me much about myself, about her, and about God’s grace and love. My daughter is just like me times two. She is twice as compassionate, twice as emotional, two times the extrovert. She wants to give and get double affection and she is twice as stubborn when she wants what she wants. She reminds me of myself growing up and, a good portion of the time, I can read her mind because we think the same way. There are two ways that I have found so far in which we are different. First, she thinks more in terms of black and white. Once she knows the rule, everyone should follow it no ifs, ands, or buts. Second, she is bold in questioning why we do things. She is my little Berean.
In Acts 17, Paul speaks of the Bereans and it says “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few” (vv.10–12).
This daughter is now sixteen and in the past year, she has been in a transition period of taking ownership of various positions that we hold. As a child, she obeyed us and held to our positions because we said so. She trusted that we were right in our beliefs and held to “children, obey your parents, in the Lord: for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). However, as she is taking ownership of her beliefs, she has asked “why” many times. At first, this offended me. But you have to understand that for me growing up it was not acceptable to question my parents, my teachers, my pastor, or any grown-up because they “knew” more than I did. I could see discrepancies in their beliefs and I could see hypocrisy. With adults, it was more “do as I say, not as I do.”
As our family began to become Reformed, I began seeing how much I did not know. My husband and I made sure we were being as the Bereans and encouraged our children to do the same. I knew it was important for us to be Bereans, but it was not until I spoke with a mentor a couple of years back that I became okay with my fourteen year old questioning why I did certain things.
We do have a few ground rules our daughter must honor as she questions our positions. First, she has to question us respectfully and with the right intent. Second, we submit to Scripture. Third, if she disagrees with our application of what we see in Scripture, she will still submit to our understanding so she can be honoring to mom and dad. By allowing this, we have been able to foster great conversations. I believe she has a heart truly committed to God’s Word and is not giving lip service to us until she is out of our home. Our daughter has asked some very good questions and she has caused us to have an answer, or to find the answer in Scripture. This exercise has given her confidence in knowing that her beliefs are hers to own, based on Scripture.
A great application and result of our little Berean being a Berean has been in her position papers. A graduation requirement for our children is that they produce about twenty-five position papers. Each child researches Scripture, commentaries, and Christian authors and then writes papers that communicate the foundations of what he or she believes. When my daughter first started these, a couple of years ago, her position papers lacked substance. The information was there, but it didn’t have that ownership I mentioned earlier. Her papers of late have had a tremendous amount of substance, and her growth in her understanding the faith is evident.