Hair color isn’t all that important to me, but to my kids, it is! Their African genes have given them beautiful kinky-curly hair that needs extra TLC. Thanks to YouTube, I learned how to care for their coils with a strict regimen of co-poo, oils, butters, sleep caps, protective styles and… did I mention oils?
My daughter prefers a protective style called Yarn Twists. She spends a lot of time choosing her next yarn color. Unlike his sister, my son wears his hair ‘out’. He has spent years growing his hair into a fun fro. Recently, he asked to frost the tips of his hair. I wanted to scream, “No! The chemicals will ruin your hair.” But I didn’t. Instead, I drove him to the salon. I realized that taking him to dye his hair gave him a sense of individuality and control, and it reinforced the message that I care about him. On the day of his first salon experience, complete with a seat in the astronaut-helmet-looking hair dryer, my son left with a dirty-blonde fro and a blazing white smile.
Despite the importance I place on haircare and the importance they place on hair color, I’ve learned that hair, natural or colored, is not the most important thing—it’s a minor thing.
Jesus made this point clear when He accused the pharisees of being white-washed tombs (Matthew 23:27-28). They were majoring on the minors, more concerned with how spiritual they looked than how righteous their hearts were. Jesus took on that battle for our eternal good, because He cares more about the state of our hearts than anything else.
Before they grow into humble human beings who look to Jesus as their Guide, I must teach my children truth and show them how to apply it. I must first look to Jesus as my Guide.
Jesus guides me gently. He cares about what I care about which makes it much easier for me to listen when He shows me my sin and instructs me to change.
Following His lead, I am learning to lead my children gently. This looks like asking a lot of questions (best done over food) to understand what they really think about a subject. It looks like privately and lovingly pointing out sin, even when it’s inconvenient (like in public). And it looks like celebrating with them when the issue is truly just a preference (like coloring hair).
Lovingly discipling our children starts with being interested in them which looks a lot like being interested in what interests them. Just as we receive God’s gentle guidance more easily when we are sure of His love for us, so also our kids receive our discipling guidance more easily as we lovingly show them we care about the details in their lives.
Over the years, my discipleship-parenting style needed tweaking. In the end, it looked like driving my son to a hair salon.
Does your discipleship style need some humble tweaking today?