But My Father Isn’t Like Your Father!
Posted March 16, 2010
We recently received a very long email from a very intelligent and industrious young woman. We thought her question was an important one, and are posting a short portion of her email (edited for brevity and discretion) and our answer.
Dear Anna Sofia and Elizabeth,
…My father is someone who I love very much, but he does not know how to utilize my energies and although he tries to do what your dad does (even listens to the tapes, watches the movies, etc) he does not breath life and vision into our family! I am naturally a very vision-oriented and goal-setter type of person, and this is very difficult for me. I love being at home more than any other place, but my father has not showed much of an interest in utilizing my talents, or really caring if I am part of his vision or not.
…my father failed to breath life into what I was doing and make it important. Sure he would thank me, but …by the time I finished, I was disgusted deep down with all the time I had apparently wasted. …I must admit I put my foot down and angrily retreated from helping him.
…I am someone who MUST be continually challenged by what I do, or my life becomes so meaningless and worthless that I scarcely can get out of bed in the morning. And my father, I feel, has failed in bringing this into our home. I have tried countless times to own what he does…but I end up getting frustrated with his lack of organization and when I try and fix it, he and I are both perfectionists and leaders, so we clash. Then I try and do things his way, but his way makes absolutely NO SENSE to anyone but himself (I am sure you have heard of people like this). My mom and I are often at a loss. After many of these episodes he just started cutting me out of what he does, instead of trying to find a way to make it work. Also, what he was having me do was in NO WAY challenging…I still enjoyed it and was happy to do it, but like I said, I feel my mind getting dull and sleepy when I am not challenged, so I need challenge at some point in my life, and my father does not provide it.
…I do think generationally and largely! And I know my father does too, but he allows life’s cares to choke what his dreams and visions are, and along with them, my hope fades…. Until I wake it again with things that I make happen! But not my dad.
…I guess my question is this: If my father is not providing the vision and structure that I need, and I begin providing it myself, is that wrong? I cannot MAKE my father do what your father does for you all! So what then? As I said before, I have no great ambition to just GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! By no means. I just have a need to be always be challenged in my daily life, and my home oftentimes does not provide that for me. No one in my home knows how to do excellent bookkeeping, prepare taxes, or find a good real estate deal. …I must say that in my heart of hearts I wish my home provided me with so much challenging and visionary work, that I had no time for anything else. Sometimes my soul longs for it exceedingly and I am angry at my father for not providing it for me, as yours has for you.
…Please God, I will marry a man who will give my daughters something to live for every morning! I say this with no anger or bitterness at my father (at least, not right now) but with firm resolve: I don’t want any other young woman to have to go through the heart-ache I have gone through, and still go through.
Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing back from you sometime. Please pray for me in the meantime, that I would treat my father with respect, no matter how little I respect him in so many issues these days… Thank you.
… After talking and praying at length about the best advice to give you, we will cut straight to the action. You are clearly a strong-minded young woman, and we believe you’d prefer hearing straightforward, hard counsel to sugar-coated reassurance that won’t help with the problem. We will be responding to many of your very honest, frank concerns in similar honesty and frankness — so please read on with an open mind and heart.
After reading your email many times, we have a number of concerns about problems that will affect more than your relationship with your father; we’re concerned about the kind of relationship you’re preparing to have with your future husband. You have a wonderfully enthusiastic, visionary attitude about your future marriage and children — but we are concerned that you are allowing habits and attitudes to creep into your life that will damage your ability to respect and help your husband.
Our first concern is that, for all your attempts to help your father, your focus appears to be more on yourself — what will stimulate you, what will challenge you, what will teach you new skills, what will use your gifts — rather than on what will fulfill his dreams and use his gifts. The latter is what being a helper is all about. It sounds, though, almost like you want him to be your helper in a sense — someone who will give you encouragement and a feeling of accomplishment and help you meet your goals by providing you the work you want to do. There are a lot of daughters out there that desperately want to help their fathers …but only on the condition that they provide for them the kind of work that they wanted to do anyway. This is why so many daughters are frustrated with their fathers. It’s not that their fathers don’t have ideas for things to do; it’s that the daughters aren’t satisfied with those things. What is really your goal here? Your success or your father’s? And are you planning to change your focus when you get married?
We understand (and share) your desire for challenge and stimulation. It’s a good desire. But you need to use this strength to be an asset to your father and not a demanding, high-maintenance burden. By all means use this strength and desire to “do excellent bookkeeping, prepare taxes, or find a good real estate deal” and come up with all kinds of ways to be fruitful at home, as long as you have your father’s blessing in doing it and he doesn’t have something he’d rather you do instead — or better yet, in figuring out ways to help him out where he’s lacking. If your family has no expertise in a certain area, by all means be the one to develop that expertise to better serve your family! This is something we Botkin siblings have to do all the time, and it’s the way our family expands our bases.
Which brings us to our second concern: that you are relying on your father to provide you with things you are supposed to provide for yourself:
A reason to get up in the morning and something to live for every day
Daily challenge and stimulation
Incentive and motivation
“Breathing life into what you’re doing and making it important,” and “keeping your excitement up about what you’re doing”
Your relationship with the Lord, and your own character, perseverance and faith, should be the source of all these things. You can’t rely on another person to provide these things, and you will only make yourself frustrated by doing so.
Part of what may be fueling these expectations is our Third Concern: that you are comparing your father with other fathers.
Comparing what God gave you with what God has given other people is a way of judging God and what He has done. It breeds bitterness; it was the sin of Cain, which made God say to him, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Gen 4:7)
When we measure our fathers against what we imagine other girls have, they’re always going to come up short. Comparisons are often based on presumptions, which are usually wrong. You say, “I cannot MAKE my father do what your father does for you all!”/”I am angry at my father for not providing it for me, as yours has for you,” but this is based on a presumption of what our father does. It sounds like your father is a big-idea visionary, as is ours. Your description of his personality, his eccentric organization habits, and especially the fact that he doesn’t have time to give specific, daily instructions or follow-up encouragement, sound all too familiar to us. Our father does tell us the projects he wants to work on, but he has to rely on us to figure out what to do each day, how to help him in his goals, how to teach ourselves the skills we need for that, and to keep ourselves motivated.
Because we (us, our mother and our brothers) want to help him, we figure out how to make his objectives a reality, we give him encouragement, we try to take up slack where he is stretched too thin, and we try to free him up to think about bigger things than the burden of meeting all of our needs. We do this because we share his vision and have made it our own, even when we don’t fully understand it. This is only possible for girls when they:
1. Trust God to lead through fathers, not daughters; and
2. Know they are commanded to honor their father’s leadership.
Which brings us to our fourth concern: that you are not trying to honor your father.
You close by saying that you desire to “treat my father with respect, no matter how little I respect him in so many issues these days…” and perhaps you believe this will fulfill your obligation to honor him. But the Bible is clear that mere lip-service doesn’t count as honor: “…not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.” (Colossians 3:22)
We are going to be most blunt on this fourth point, as this is the most serious of all our concerns. Throughout your email you betrayed the state of your heart in statements like these: “…he does not know how to utilize my energies…he does not breath life and vision into our family!”,”he failed to breath life into what I was doing,” “he repeatedly hurt me by seeming to discount my efforts for him,” “he failed in bringing this into our home,” “he allows life’s cares to choke what his dreams and visions are,” “he is not providing the vision and structure that I need,” “my father does not provide it,” “his way makes absolutely NO SENSE,” “I cannot MAKE my father do what your father does for you all!” “I am angry at my father for not providing it for me, as yours has for you.” etc.
We fear for you, that you have been desensitized and seared your conscience to the point that you think this derision is acceptable. When Scripture commands that we honor and obey our parents, it doesn’t give any conditions and provisos in case our fathers don’t seem respectable to us. It’s not an option. To make the statements above, you clearly do not honor him in thought, and you did not honor him in deed (your object was not to cover for your father’s supposed weaknesses, like Shem and Japheth did for Noah, but to expose them.) You say you love him, but you talk as though you despise him. Don’t let anyone make you think that that is normal or acceptable — Scripture calls this attitude accursed. “Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deu 27:16)
Consider that the same God Who made that statement specifically chose your father for you.
Please, please repent and apologize to your father for each of these four things, and anything else you have done in the past to dishonor or grieve him. You still have time to correct these wrongs and mend your relationship with your father. For your sake, your father’s sake, your family’s sake, and your future husband and children’s sake, you must — so that they don’t have to “go through the heart-ache I have gone through, and still go through.”
It’s good that you love to be challenged, because being the daughter of a man like your father or ours is a huge and stimulating challenge — one that will require a lot of self-motivation and talent for making things happen and getting things done. Here is a big challenge for you: Firstly, you must love and honor and cultivate respect for your father. Second, you must seek your father’s heart and vision. Third, you must be able to come up with ways to use your gifts to make your father’s vision a reality, without him telling you what to do.
We know our advice has been tough, but it should give you more real hope than a “you’re doing fine, just pray and hang in there” message. We actually believe a lot of the difference between a frustrating, grievous situation and a joyful, fruitful one is in your hands — if you are willing to do what it takes. It will call for dramatic changes to your attitude and approach; but a dramatic change is the only thing that will yield a dramatic improvement to the situation. You said, “I really do want your advice and I so want to do the right thing!” and we believe that. We will certainly be praying for you, that God will give you the grace and the strength to do the right thing.
Thank you for reading and considering what the Lord put on our hearts to tell you, though it has not been easy to write this. Do write if you have any further questions!
Love in Christ,
Anna Sofia and Elizabeth
It’s Here: Father To Son — The DVD Release
Posted October 10, 2008
The Botkin family is pleased to make available one of our most significant products ever: a 6-part DVD series on the father-son relationship, titled “Father to Son: Manly Conversations that can Change Culture.” Click below to watch the trailer:
Fathers need to talk to their sons in manly and specific ways about the duties of Christian fatherhood. This series of informal conversations between Geoffrey Botkin and his five sons provides fathers and future fathers with a simple example of manly discussion about the pressing issues that weigh on young minds. Each of the five episodes tackles an age-appropriate discipline of manhood and how it is developed side by side with fathers.
The set also includes the bonus DVD “How to Talk to Your Sons” and over one hundred pages of discussion material and study guides in easily-printable PDF files.
Go to FirstPacificMedia.com to order now, and take advantage of our special introductory price of $60 (save $10)!
Posted August 19, 2008
We are proud to announce our family’s latest project: “Father to Son: Manly Conversations That Can Change Culture” — a six-part DVD series on the father-son relationship, coming this Fall.
We’re moving into the post-production process right now. We consider this to be one of the most significant productions our family has ever embarked on. We’d appreciate your help circulating the news about this exciting new series! Please also feel free to send us your marketing ideas. Your prayers, help, support and ideas are always welcome!
How to be a better daughter to your father
Posted June 17, 2008
This Father’s Day, we and our father would like to suggest 10 Ways a Daughter Can Bless and Honor her Father.
Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. — Eph 6:2,3
1. Be grateful for your father
Gratitude is the beginning of honor. Fill your mind with gratitude for all that your father has done for you, beginning with giving you life. Consider
all that your father sacrificed to be a father to you, and the responsibilities that weigh on his shoulders. Think of him as the man chosen by God out of all the souls on earth to be a father to you, because in His infinite wisdom, He knew that you and he would be the perfect father and daughter for each other. Study to understand how this is a peculiar blessing to you both.
2. Appreciate his strengths
All fathers, whatever their level of maturity, have strengths. Be quick to notice them, appreciate them and praise them. You may have to discipline your mind to correct old thought patterns — train yourself to think of your father’s qualities before his frailties.
3. Pray for him
All fathers also have weaknesses. When you notice your father’s frailties, think of them as things to pray about, not things that annoy you. In addition to this, you should ask your father what he would like you to pray for him. This shows your father that you are serious about helping him and that you are dedicated to seeing him become the kind of man he should be. It can also help him think about his faults and how to overcome them.
4. Be content in his protection and provision and leadership
Don’t panic if your father makes a decision you don’t agree with. Have faith in God’s ability to lead through your father, imperfect though he is,
knowing that God will bless your obedience.
You can help your father by being different from the average girl who is never content and pressures her father to give her a more “normal” life. Some fathers are afraid to lead their families into more biblical paths because of what they know would be their daughters’ response — “No, Dad, that would make us look too different, and all my friends think I’m really weird already.”
You can also help your father by letting him know that he has a daughter who wants to give and not take, and isn’t thing-hungry. Some fathers can’t focus on leading their families spiritually or on fighting the Lord’s battles because they have to work themselves to death as wage slaves to satisfy their wives and children, who are clamoring for more things.
When husbands and fathers know they can depend on their wives and daughters to be content and confident in their leadership, it gives them the confidence to be more peaceful, more visionary, more entrepreneurial, more full of faith, and more bold in their leadership.
5. Ask him to help you pray for your weaknesses
Your father isn’t the only one who’s not perfect… Let your father know that you desire his help and prayers for your character, and be humble enough to tell him what faults in particular you need help with. …and ask him what he thinks you need help with.
6. Repent and confess any sins against your father, if necessary
Think back on past interaction with your father, for either unconfessed grievances of yours, or unforgiven grievances of his. Examine yourself for any bitterness you may be harboring against him.
Many girls have lamented to us that their fathers are not involved in their lives and refuse to offer guidance. In some cases, the reason fathers become afraid to “interfere” or “intrude” in their daughters’ lives is because their leadership and guidance have been pushed away in the past. If this is your story, repentance is called for. But it’s not enough to merely repent in your heart and then expect your father to automatically reciprocate; you need to confess your error and ask him to forgive you, and then you will need to demonstrate in word and deed that you have repented, that you have given him your heart, and now seek his guidance.
7. Communicate with your father
Build the kind of relationship with your father that involves a lot of comfortable communication between the two of you. Develop habits of talking together about everything. So many problems daughters have with their fathers could have been solved by talking freely, deeply and frequently all along — by talking about issues before they become “issues.”
Go ahead and initiate the communication yourself. Our father says it is often difficult for men to know how to reach their daughters, and it’s helpful when their girls come to them with a seeking heart. As Deuteronomy 32:7 says, “Ask thy father, and he will show thee.” It’s a father’s duty to tell, but it’s our duty to ask.
8. Give your father your heart, learn his ways and delight in them
Proverbs 23:26 says, “Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways.”
The heart, called “the seat of the affections,” is the source of all passions, desires, loves, interests, likes and dislikes, convictions and opinions. Our hearts and all that they contain need to be surrendered to our fathers, someday to our husbands – and ultimately to God – to be molded and directed. You don’t need to give your father a perfect heart. Give him an imperfect heart, and talk to him openly about your struggles and your weaknesses.
How do we let our eyes delight in our fathers’ ways? We should begin by wanting to really understand who our fathers are and why they do the things they do and think the things they think. Develop an interest in the things that are important to them, and the battles they are fighting.
Again — initiate. Don’t wait for your father to come down to your level — step up to his.
9. Treat your father with respect and humility even when it’s hard
No father will be consistently honorable and respectable in his daughter’s eyes. What do we do when our fathers aren’t behaving like Christians (or aren’t Christians)?
In times when you may have to make an appeal to your father, make sure your words and manner solidly reaffirm your respect and loyalty. Your father will be more likely to hear you if he knows he can trust you to honor and not defy him.
Of course all earthly authority is limited, and there are biblical grounds for disobedience to an authority who’s trying to play God. A father’s unbiblical demands may be impossible for a daughter to obey, but they do not negate her duty to be respectful and honoring. Remember the attitude of young David as he continually appealed to his insanely jealous and murderous father-in-law as “My lord the King.”
10. Remember that your relationship with your Heavenly Father is the most important thing
The ultimate goal in all our earthly relationships is to please our Eternal Father, the Father to the fatherless. Whatever kind of father the Lord has given you, remember that it is to honor the Lord that you honor him. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments — all of them — including the commands to honor our father and mother.
This is important to Him. Remember why God sent John the Baptist: “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.“
Authoritative Parents, Adult Daughters, and Power Struggles
Posted May 14, 2007
We received a letter recently asking about the balance between a father’s authority and a daughter’s independence. Knowing that this question is a common one among girls making the transition from childhood to adulthood, we have decided to post our response to this family.
Dear damsels thinking yourselves in distress,
Your parents have both written to us to ask us our advice and encouragement on your situation (parents and maturing daughters striving to understand the balance between authority, liberty, maturity, submission, and responsibility.). What we would mostly like to do is share some of our thoughts on family dynamics in a household of adults.
Many stay-at-home girls believe that, as they become adults, their fathers’ jurisdiction over their lives will lessen. They feel that, in order to mature into individuals able to think and act for themselves, they must be “liberated” from another’s input into their lives. This is because we’re drowning in a culture that doesn’t understand what the Bible says about individualism vs. unity, autonomy vs. authority, or license vs. liberty.
Dear girls – don’t be afraid of losing your “individual personhood” or the ability to think for yourself, and don’t think that those are the signs of an adult. Any two-year-old girl has a mind of her own and most certainly thinks for herself. Every woman knows her own mind – it’s part of being Eve’s daughters. It’s not a sign of maturity to struggle for autonomy – that’s toddler stuff. The sign of our maturity and adulthood is when we willingly submit ourselves to God-given authority and therefore to God Himself. This is a struggle, and it requires strength, wisdom, responsibility and spiritual maturity.
Here is the difference between a child and an adult: a child has to be told what to do. An adult should have the intelligence and maturity to take the responsibility to pro-actively look for ways to further the father’s vision. From a child, a parent can’t expect much more than obedience. An adult son or daughter in a household should have a lot more to contribute to the family mission than mere obedience. An adult daughter, raised well by conscientious parents, will be able to think, will know how to live sensibly, will be discerning and self-controlled and self-disciplined, and will be wise and have understanding that may, in some areas, exceed that of her parents.
The sign of maturity isn’t that we simply “obey” our parents’ commands, but that we understand deeply what our parents’ hearts and goals are, and can anticipate and even exceed what they expect of us. A mature, adult daughter who deserves her parents’ trust most certainly isn’t the one who says, “I’m not a child anymore, Dad! I’m an adult! I’m old enough to decide for myself when to get up, and it’s not something you have authority over anymore!” (Literally, “I’m mature enough to demand my own way, and throw a tantrum and threaten to run away if I don’t get it!”) But she also isn’t the one who says, “Ok, ok, Dad, I’ll get up when you tell me to.” The mature daughter is the one that takes the initiative and says, “Dad, what time would you like me to get up? I know that spending time with your family before you leave for work is important to you, and I love that about you… so how can I help make it happen?” This is one thing that makes us different from mindless automatons with no wills of our own (which some girls seem mortally afraid of becoming.)
Once we’re adults, we shouldn’t always need to ask our parents what they want us to do, but that’s not because we shouldn’t care what they want; it’s because our judgment should be grounded in an understanding of their ultimate desires. However, Proverbs tell us that it’s a sign of wisdom to seek counsel from others wiser than ourselves. Even the most mature adults still make mistakes, which could have been alleviated through “a multitude of counselors.” (Proverbs 11:14)
As we become older, we shouldn’t become more independent of our families; we ought to become more involved with our families. After all our parents’ years of investing in us, we finally have something substantial to contribute to their mission. Now is when we need to throw ourselves, our minds, our skills, our gifts, our passions, and our identities behind our parents’ success. (For a parable about the duties of those under authority to carefully steward the best interests of those over them, see Matthew 25:14-29. To those girls who have unbelieving parents: for an example of a young believer dedicating himself to the success of the pagan authority God placed over him, see Genesis 39:1-6, and for an example of another discerning young believer who understood his duty to zealously advance his King in everything except his unbiblical decrees, see the book of Daniel.)
In our household, five of our seven children (all unmarried and living at home) are adults; four of us are in our twenties. Three of us have written books. Four of us have begun our own business. Two of us have our “own” ministry. Five of us speak at conferences. All of us have education and expertise in areas that exceeds that of our parents in multiple areas. But we don’t use these facts as an excuse to “outgrow” our parents. We use these things as tools to advance our parents. To build on their vision. To establish their authority. To proclaim their names in the gates. We all have taken our father’s vision and made it our own. This knitting together of our minds, hearts, and gifts has forged us together into one powerful weapon for Christ’s glory and Kingdom. Together, we are ten times more fruitful and effective than we each would be, separated from our parents’ unifying vision.
Giving glory to our parents, of course, isn’t our ultimate goal. We do all this for the purpose of giving glory to God. We only invest time in developing those gifts that will render us most useful to our Creator and King. This means dying to ourselves; it means sacrificing our personal interests and agendas. Ultimately, it means losing our lives so that we may find them. But that is the Christian life.
We need to see the liberty inside this grand vision, rather than looking for license outside it. Instead of repining all the things we may have to give up (e.g. “my life,” “my space,” “my time,” “my dreams,” “my schedule,” “my way,” “my friends,” etc.), we should say “good riddance” to useless, selfish, autonomous “adulthood,” and mature into loving the joy, productivity and adventure that is life in a Christian family unit.
Communicating with our fathers
Your mother mentioned that communication is an issue. This is an issue in every family, including our own. Women need to have a realistic understanding of how men – even the best men – communicate. It’s not the way women do. It’s not the way women expect them to or want them to. Every father has a hard time knowing how to communicate with his daughter. But there are ways that a daughter can help her father communicate with her.
Observation one: Daughters often need to initiate, especially at first.
Observation two: Daughters need to be really, really careful about the tone in which they pour out their hearts to their fathers. A father’s protective, shepherding instinct will make him naturally feel that every problem distressing his daughter is his fault. Daughters have a tendency to think sharing her heart = dumping all her frustrations and burdens and emotionalism and accusations on the shoulders of her poor dad, and then feeling even more emotional and distraught when he responds by acting bewildered and defensive. This doesn’t actually nurture the father-daughter bond.
Observation three: A father can’t communicate properly with a daughter he cannot fully trust in. His heart can’t fully trust in you until he knows he has your hearts.
Giving our hearts to our fathers
You’ve probably heard many times that you need to “give your heart to your parents.” What does it actually mean to give your parents your heart?
The heart, called “the seat of the affections,” is the source of all passions, desires, loves, interests, likes and dislikes, convictions and opinions. Proverbs 23:26 says, “Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways.”
God wants our hearts and all that they contain to be surrendered to our parents – and ultimately to God – to be molded and directed. Making yourself vulnerable in this way requires Trust. You must trust your parents, that they ultimately desire what is best for you, and that they are qualified to lead you and guide you simply because they are your parents chosen by God to raise you.
It also requires Faith. Faith that God will lead you through your parents, imperfect though they are. And faith in God’s promised blessings for your obedience.
When your parents have your heart you will truly “delight in their ways.” You will love what they love, hate what they hate, and desire their approval and company and even “think their thoughts after them.”
This is called “seeking after the hearts of your parents” just as King David was “a man after God’s own heart.”
Similarly, your parent’s hearts should be able to trust in you, as it says in Proverbs 31, “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her…” This means that they will have confidence in your obedience, when they are watching and when they’re not, that you will demonstrate loyalty to them and to every thing they have taught you, in what you speak and do, in public and in private.
“My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life…” Proverbs 6:20-23
Preparation for Marriage
Don’t be impatient for Prince Charming to rescue you from your father’s “heavy hand,” thinking that once you’re married to your perfect husband, your authority problems will vanish. It’s folly to think it will be easier to respect and submit to a husband than a father.
We’re not ready to consider ourselves eligible for marriage until we’ve learned to trust an imperfect individual with our lives. To communicate with a man, which will always be a struggle. To submit to an imperfect man’s “whims” as well as his heavy requirements. To order our lives around another person. To accept the burdens a man places on us cheerfully. To esteem and reverence and adore a man whose faults we can see clearly every day.
These are things we will face every day as wives, just as we face them every day now as the daughters of our fathers. We need to practice now, trusting our heavenly Father to lead our earthly fathers, and our earthly fathers to lead us, even though we know they’re not perfect.
Dear girls, if you have a father who wants to be your Christian authority and protector, and lead you in paths of righteousness, you are three of the most blessed girls in America. Most the girls who write to us after having read our book beg for help because their fathers still don’t have the vision, and aren’t really comfortable with their daughters trying to live the biblical model at home; or that their fathers don’t have their own businesses and don’t have anything for their daughters to do; or that their fathers are indifferent to them, and uninterested in their lives. You have a father in a million. Let him know how grateful you are for him.
We hope this email will be helpful. If you have any more questions for us, don’t hesitate to send them!
God bless you and your family.
Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin
Providential Fathers, Victorious Daughters
Posted February 8, 2007
A Report on the 2006 Father Daughter Retreat
By Sarah Zes
“Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.” Proverbs 31:29
Something wonderful is happening in our day. In families and homes across the nation, the Lord is turning the hearts of fathers to their daughters and the hearts of girls to their daddies. Nowhere was this more evident than in Pine Mountain, Georgia during the weekend of March 31-April 2 as nearly five hundred fathers and daughters gathered for Vision Forum Ministries’ 2006 Father and Daughter Retreat.
The lovely scenery of Callaway Gardens was a perfect complement to the beautiful picture of providential fatherhood and virtuous daughterhood displayed throughout the weekend. Even the other guests at the Mountain Creek Inn noticed something extraordinary about the abundance of loving fathers and doting daughters, and many inquired as to the cause of this cultural phenomenon.
“Hearts turned toward one another is evidence of Christ: it is a sign of the gospel,” said VFM board member and father of three daughters, Scott Brown, regarding the sovereign and gracious work of God described in Malachi 4:5-6. “This passage is extremely encouraging. It means that God will do something in the hearts of His people that is not happening in other hearts.”
This message of changed hearts was cultivated throughout the retreat as fathers and daughters began their time together outdoors with enjoyable activities designed to strengthen the unity and trust between them. In one competition, pairs of dads and daughters developed skills to work as a team by each using only one hand to tie and untie knots together. In another contest, the fathers and daughters learned to coordinate their steps as they ran together in stride in a three-legged race. The last activity was a living lesson for the daughters of the incredible importance of listening to their father’s voice and obeying his commands as he directed them blindfolded through an obstacle course.
After the unity games, everyone enjoyed a delicious picnic dinner on the grand lawn of the inn, complete with picnic baskets and red-and-white-checked blankets. Families continued to fellowship together for dessert during an irresistible ice cream social indoors.
After the meal, the opening session of the retreat began in the convention center of the inn. Scott Brown led fathers and daughters in memorizing Proverbs 24:3-4, laying the foundational principles of wisdom, through which houses are built; understanding, by which they are established; and knowledge, by which they are filled. Doug Phillips, VFM president and father of three daughters, then introduced the men and girls to a self-conscious, deliberate view of fatherhood and daughterhood, forged on the anvil of biblical living. Men were exhorted to be Psalm 127, 128, and 78 fathers, and daughters were encouraged to be Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 ladies, with the particular aspiration of verse 29 of Proverbs 31: to be virtuous, set apart daughters that “excel them all.”
The night continued with rejoicing in the wonderful aspects of the father/daughter relationship, as sets of volunteers were called to the stage to participate in different tests. The first contest demonstrated the practice of fathers wooing and winning the hearts of their daughters. The second game was to test how much they knew about each other. The third activity was designed to aid in training daughters to serve their fathers.
The first evening of the retreat ended with a Christian love story for fathers and daughters entitled The Princess and the Kiss, read by Doug Phillips. The simple yet profoundly important message was that it is a sacred and holy mission of fathers to protect the purity of their daughters until marriage.
Saturday was a particularly meaningful day for the fathers and daughters as they were encouraged by several keynote addresses, testimonies from young ladies, and a special high tea and time to explore the gardens together. The morning began after breakfast with a message from Scott Brown regarding ways that fathers turn their hearts toward their daughters. This is accomplished by helping them nurture holy affections, rather than a desire for the trivial entertainment of the world; helping them protect their purity; helping them fulfill a biblical calling; and helping them find husbands.
“Fathers need to prepare their daughters to be wives who are under submission, helpers to their husbands, mothers, keepers at home, and domestic entrepreneurs,” exhorted Scott Brown. “There is a real danger in raising picky, un-pleasable daughters who are unable to follow an imperfect man. We have no business raising wimpy ‘prima donna’ daughters.”
The next session was entitled “A Vision of Victory for Fathers and Daughters,” in which Doug Phillips expounded on the necessity of fathers having a multigenerational purpose in their families and fulfilling their roles as leaders, protectors, and visionaries. “The vision of a godly man sees four generations down the road,” explained Doug Phillips. “What I do—the choices I make—will affect my great-grandchildren. Life isn’t about me—it’s about Christ. None of us is given the luxury of comfort.”
The morning was concluded by heartfelt messages from fathers and daughters who shared the ways the Lord had worked to unite their hearts together. Father of three daughters and VFM board member Jim Zes spoke briefly about his journey as a father consumed with his business to a father who turned his heart to his family. His middle daughter, Rebekah, 25, then shared with the daughters the story of how her heart had been drawn away from her father’s house and how the Lord restored it back, with the blessing of peace. She warned the girls that they are all vulnerable, and pleaded with them not to repeat her mistakes but to learn from them. If they are careful to guard their hearts from selfishness, pride, and discontentment, and to encourage right relationships in their families, the result will be a God-ordered, peaceful life, she said.
“Oh, be careful what seeds are being sown in your young heart, for seeds will soon grow into plants. Do not foster a weed-bed of vice and feminism, but cultivate a flower-garden of virtue and womanly excellence. Where is your heart? Is there peace in your father’s house Are you, as a daughter, bringing glory to God?”
Jim Zes’s youngest daughter, Hannah, 22, then spoke to the girls about what life as a daughter in her twenties at home looks like. She gave examples of ways in which she and her sisters serve their father, and encouraged the girls to love being at home. “We as daughters have the privilege of bringing beauty and order into our father’s house. The attitude of your heart will have such a great influence on those in your home.
“Many girls think that the only way they can have an impact on society is to go out of the home and witness to the lost. Well, let me tell you: the greatest impact you will ever have on society will happen right from within your father’s home. It is there where you will be doing greater warfare against the wickedness of our culture than anywhere else, and that is because the very action of a daughter dwelling contentedly in her father’s house is a strike against the lies of feminism. It is there where you have the wonderful privilege to serve your father and make him great.”
The final speakers of the morning were Scott Brown and his daughter Kelly, 21, who related the ways in which he had prepared her for marriage. With a grateful heart, Kelly shared how her father had shepherded, guided, encouraged, and invested in her important truths. These lessons included that no one gets a perfect father, yet daughters are still called to submission; the importance of guarding a daughter’s heart; the security of her father’s love; and the cultivation of thankfulness for every season and contented trust in the sovereignty of God. Kelly encouraged the daughters to embrace their father’s protection and authority; to give their hearts to their fathers and be devoted to him; to have affections for holy and truly beautiful things, especially for God’s Word; and to see marriage as a gift—as a blessing from the Lord, which comes in His timing.
The next event of the retreat was a Victorian high tea, where fathers and daughters, in their best suits and dresses, enjoyed all the delicacies and fineries of this elegant tradition. After the satisfying and enjoyable time together over tea, the fathers and daughters then had several hours of free time to walk through gardens at Callaway and fellowship with other families, many taking the opportunity to visit the renowned Butterfly Conservatory.
On Saturday evening the fathers and daughters gathered together once more to hear a special message by Geoffrey Botkin and his daughters, Anna Sofia and Elizabeth. The Botkin ladies, who had delighted everyone with their skillful harp playing throughout the conference, were joined by their father on the guitar for an entertaining song to start off the session.
Anna Sofia, the elder daughter of Geoffrey Botkin, then spoke on “How to be Your Father’s Arrow, Ambassador, and Princess.” She explained to the girls their duty to bring honor to both their earthly father and heavenly Father, by their public and private example. To help girls understand the importance of this duty, she compared it to that of a princess, reintroducing the traditional definition and condemning Hollywood’s destructively shallow definition.
“A princess is a royal noblewoman, a ruler’s daughter or wife who honors all aspects of her inheritance and discharges her duties with grace and royal bearing, serving her people and leading them to positions of greater blessing. She recognizes that all thrones must be established in righteousness and that she must defend the faith and strengthen the morality of her people by her public and private example. In this generation, that is starving for examples of femininity, modesty, and true princess-like behavior, we must be the examples.
“A girl can be her father’s arrow and a cultural leader while under her father’s roof and protection, by setting an example of something which is almost a thing of the past: virtuous daughterhood.”
Elizabeth, the younger Botkin daughter, shared with the girls “How I Learned to Be Helpful to My Father.” She emphasized that daughters can be helpful to their fathers no matter what kind of fathers they have, no matter how old they are, no matter what their fathers do for a living. She urged the girls to actively search for ways to make themselves helpful, including being delightful to their father; learning to love the unique blessings and challenges which come from being their father’s daughter; and equipping themselves with the skills to help their father in his interests-ordering their priorities around the goals of their father.
“We can’t afford to sit and wait for our fathers to drop big, impressive projects into our laps. It’s also not helpful when we demand that our fathers give us something to do-instead, we should demonstrate a willingness to do whatever they ask. There’s more to helping your father than helping him in his business; sometimes helping in small ways has a greater effect.”
Geoffrey Botkin then spoke on “Providential Fathers: How to Father Victorious Daughters.” He expounded on the seven foundational elements of a godly home—a godly dynasty—upon which the victorious daughter can actively build her life and faith: 1) Confidence in a commitment to lifelong providence; 2) A comprehensive understanding of all of Scripture; 3) Evidence of a maturing father in a delightful relationship with a maturing wife; 4) Serious discussions about Christ’s Kingdom; 5) Preparation for marriage by learning to be tough, entrepreneurial, and full of faith; 6) Affectionate instruction in sensible living; and 7) A long-term vision for multigenerational family life.
“The greatest blessing you will ever give your daughter is a bequest you give her from childhood: character and wisdom used in the shepherding of souls.”
As the retreat drew to a close, the fathers and daughters were given the opportunity to share their hearts during a time of testimony and praise. Many fathers spoke of how they were encouraged, motivated, and thankful for what they had learned during the weekend, and others pledged their unfailing love and protection to their daughters. Many girls thanked their fathers for bringing them; others shared how the Lord had changed their heart toward their dads; and several daughters publicly gave their hearts to their fathers.
The 2006 Father and Daughter Retreat ended with an exhortation by Doug Phillips for fathers to righteously bless their obedient daughters, and for daughters to seek out the blessing of their fathers, as well as a reminder for daughters to walk strong with Christ and persevere in the faith; have a dynamic life purpose; be established in a godly marriage; and keep covenant with the God of their fathers.
May the Lord continue to raise up providential fathers and victorious daughters in our day!
This article originally appeared on www.visionforumministries.org. It is reprinted here with permission.
Sarah Zes has the blessing of being the eldest daughter of James and Kathleen, and finds her mission in serving them and advancing their vision.