An Update on Discipling My Daughter and a Few Things I’m Learning

Erik Cooper —  July 18, 2011 — Leave a comment

A few months ago, I wrote about my daughter’s 12th birthday. About our plans to make this entire year her gift. A year of growth, new experiences, and deeper relationship with me, her mom, and God. It made beautiful prose. And I meant every word.

I promised to keep you updated on the unfolding journey, the successes and the challenges. And as much as I dream of hoisting the pastor-dad of the year award, I feel more like the Women’s Word Cup soccer team (beyond the obvious fact I’m not a woman, that is).

Great passion.

Valiant play.

Not quite the desired outcome.

She has been to Honduras (huge bonus). Connected with a few random mentors (impactful). And we’ve opened a few sporadic, deeper conversations (great start). But overall, I give us a C-. We haven’t caught stride. Time to regroup for the next round.

What’s the new strategy? Glad you asked.

I’ve spent the last few years dissecting the systematic approach I’ve always embraced towards spirituality, God, and the Church. There’s so much about it I hate. So much about it that easily becomes self-preserving, power-wielding, and abused. We turn God into a system of rules, processes, and behaviors, because that’s so much easier to comprehend. To put a leash around. To control.

It’s taught people things about God that just aren’t true, and I don’t want to pass those things along to my daughter.

But like the angry fundamentalist’s uncanny ability to wholly define everything by it’s abuse, I subliminally backed away from all intentionality, organization, and planning like I was John Lithgow and they were Kevin Bacon. As if anything I pre-decided to do couldn’t be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Structure can become an idol.

Strategy for the future can keep us from intently listening for today.

Over-planning can play to our sinful desire to control.

It can also bring beautiful things to life that would have otherwise remained buried in a junkyard of good intentions.

If I’ve confirmed one thing about myself in the last 6 months, I need a plan. Consistent activities and goals to drive towards and execute. I’m just not that good off the cuff. In the moment.

Can that be abused? Absolutely. Can it become self-serving. You know it. Am I chancing rote repetition and lifeless activity? That I am. Could I miss God’s voice for today in a myopic journey towards what I’ve already pre-designed. Without a doubt.

I might also create something beautiful. And in this case, her name is Emma.

What about you? How have you seen strategy and structure create both life and death? How do you manage the tension?

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