Training Her to Face the World
About the Guest
Jonathan and Wynter Pitts want their four daughters not to be afraid of the world. That's why they are grounding them in the truth of God's Word. The Pitts realize that if their girls believe the Bible is true and live it out, they will be marginalized by the world. So they are preparing them to suffer by teaching them to lean on the Holy Spirit. They share how their parents modeled a love and enthusiasm for sharing the gospel with others, and what they are doing as a family to do the same.
Jonathan and Wynter PittsJonathan Pitts is an author, speaker, and the Executive Director of the popular Christian broadcast ministry The Urban Alternative founded by Dr. Tony Evans. Jonathan lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Wynter, and their four daughters. Wynter Pitts is the founder of For Girls Like You, a ministry to girls (age 6-11) and their parents, that includes a quarterly print magazine, journal, and other print and web resources. Wynter has a passion and drive to introduce young girls to Christian v...more
Jonathan and Wynter Pitts want their four daughters not to be afraid of the world. That’s why they are grounding them in the truth of God’s Word.
Training Her to Face the World
Bob: There are two mistakes that parents can make when it comes to their children and technology. Mistake number one is to introduce technology and offer no supervision or guidance. Mistake number two is to think you can somehow hide from it. Jonathan and Wynter Pitts are taking a different tack.
Wynter: Really, it’s training her and walking through what it looks like for her to be responsible with this device that she has all the information available in her hand. But “What does that look like?” We can’t avoid it—cell phones are there, social media is there, technology is here—so we are working on training her to how to do that responsibly. We are the first generation that has to do that.
This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday June 20th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. How we interact with technology, especially with our daughters—
—just one of the subjects we are going to explore today with Jonathan and Wynter Pitts as we talk about raising girls. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. There was a metaphor / a word picture that you used with your kids, as you were raising them about what their relationship with their peers and with the culture was going to be. You used to talk to them about whether they were going to be missionaries or going to be a mission field; right?
Dennis: Right; we actually taught a sixth-grade Sunday school class, where we gave all the participants in the class, on the next-to-last class, to choose whether they wanted to be, as they moved into junior high and high school, whether they wanted to be a missionary or a mission field. I had 60/70 kids in my class.
By the way, we have a couple of guests here in the studio with us. Jonathan and Wynter Pitts join us again—authors of a book, She is Yours—a book for parents of daughters. They have been great guests this week. Thanks for being on the show and welcome back for another one.
Jonathan: Thanks for having us back.
Wynter: Thanks so much.
Dennis: In my class, I would seat the child facing two doors. On one door was written “Missionary.” On the other door was written “Mission Field.” There was nothing between the child and being a mission field—they could walk right to the door, open it, and go out. To become a missionary, however, we had stacked tables, desks, chairs—
Bob: It was an obstacle course?
Dennis: It was an obstacle course that they had to crawl in and around and through just to get to the door to become a missionary.
You know, Bob, you start thinking about it—what are kids at a church / what are they going to do?
Bob: They know the right answer; right?
Dennis: They know the right answer; so they are going to go through the missionary door, and they are going to climb all the way through it.
I think after—in doing that for four years, so I had like 250 kids—there was one / one young man, who said: “I’m not ready to be a missionary. I am going to be a mission field,” and he got up and walked through it. I went over; and I hugged him, and I thanked him for his honesty; because in the end—and I haven’t tracked with him; I don’t know where he is in life right now—this was about 20 years ago—so I’d be—
Wynter: He’s probably a missionary. [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes; he’s probably a missionary, because he was honest enough with God and with himself to make that choice.
But our children need to be raised today—you guys are raising four kids to have an impact on their world. How are you going about that in helping them to push back against the world, but also to go on the offensive?
Wynter: Just raising them to not be afraid of the world, which means that we can’t be afraid of the world for them—
—which means putting them / setting them up to be different—to be the ones that don’t look like everybody else, and don’t sound like everybody else, and the ones willing to stand up and say, “This isn’t right,” or all those things. It’s easy to say we want our kids to do that, and it’s hard to watch them actually do it.
As you were telling that story, I was thinking: “You know, as parents, we say: ‘Oh, God, use my kids. Use them to impact Your kingdom,’ but when that starts to happen, that can make it a little bit afraid, as parents.” What we talk about a lot in that section—about her relationship with the world around her—is really the prayer of: “God prepare me for the journey You have. As I am doing the work of pouring God’s Word into her, and making sure she knows Your love and the peace that can come from walking with You, at the same time, prepare me.”
I remember watching one of my girls in church on a Sunday. The youth pastor calls for a volunteer—and he didn’t really say a number—he just said, “We need some volunteers.” As you can imagine, a gazillion kids ran forward; they all just ran forward. One of the first ones up was my daughter. She ran and was just so excited. I could see, from the back of the room, how excited she was to get to the front. She was standing there with all these other kids—you know, maybe about 70 kids. He looks down and he is like: “Oh, we only need six. All the rest of you—only six kids stay up; the rest of you all need to go back.”
I watched my daughter, who I saw was one of the first—she would have counted as one of the first six kids. She was one of the first kids to turn around and run back. In that moment, I should have been proud—like: “Oh, good job, Kaitie! You just did what you’re supposed to do.” But I had a moment of just flesh, where I felt like: “No! You were one of the first kids up there. This is your chance to get the donut”; you know? “You go forward!” [Laughter]
God really convicted me—of just: “You know, if I’m saying I want her to be selfless, and I want her to able to stand in the world, and I want her to be able to stand for Christ and to do these things, I’ve got to be willing to watch her suffer and to watch her do those things.”
Even in that moment of just watching her be the first kid to turn around, she was doing exactly what we had been teaching her to do; but realizing that, as her parent, I can’t only pray that God uses her and helps her to impact the world; but I have to be praying, “God give me the strength to allow You to do that.”
Dennis: I think that’s a good prayer. I also want to applaud that you’re preparing your daughters to know how to suffer; because if they are going to be courageous in this culture, they will suffer for doing what is right. This is not some kind of cakewalk of following Jesus Christ. He told us that a servant was not greater than his master and they crucified the Master.
Bob: Jonathan, you recognize, in this culture in particular, if your daughters are going to live their lives like the Bible calls them to live their lives—if they are going to believe that what the Bible teaches is true about gender, about sexuality, about marriage, about premarital sex—I mean, I could go down the whole list—
—I pick on sexual issues, because they are so prominent in the culture today. But it could be things like lying, or stealing, or all kinds of things; right? If they are going to live that out, they are going to be marginalized; they are going to be punished.
To raise daughters, who are ready to face that and go, “Okay; I know that’s coming, but I’m going to live for Jesus and not for the approval of my friends,”—that‘s a hard task for parents.
Jonathan: I’ll say—I remember the distinct moment in my mind, at the dinner table, where I’m talking: “What it looks like to live for Christ,” and realizing I need to be training my girls for suffering. There’s a verse in Joshua—I think about Joshua taking the children of Israel into the Promised Land, and realizing what they were going to face—much suffering / I mean, death; all kinds of stuff—and God says, “But I commanded you, ‘Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’”
Strength and courage—the only thing that’s going to give us strength and courage to face the giants and face all the stuff that’s coming into our lives—as believers, we know that it’s coming—is knowing that God is with us: “Emmanuel”—you know, Jesus is with us wherever we go. That’s, really, what we’re trying to convey. I don’t think we can give them enough—we can train them, we can grow them up in the Lord, we can give them Scripture—but ultimately, it’s going to be God with them, through the Holy Spirit, empowering them to live courageous lives and lives of strength in the face of who knows what.
Wynter: Because we can teach them to be afraid of the suffering or we can teach them to rest in the promises of God because of, you know, with the suffering. We can’t just say like: “You’re going to suffer,” “You’re going to suffer”; but we will say, “God promises you peace; God promises to be with you.” Our way to fight against what is happening in the culture is to give them the promises of God.
Bob: The issue, though, is loneliness. I remember—was it Ashley, who, in college or high school—
Dennis: Yes; high school.
Bob: She felt very alone; because she said, “This is who I am,” and all of her friends said, “Well, you’re no fun; we don’t want to hang around with you.”
Dennis: She described—coming home from school one day, she described that all of her friends were standing around her, as she was standing on a wall. They were pulling and tugging on her, trying to get her to come down off the wall and be with them. She was describing the loneliness, Bob. I’ll tell you—it’s hard!
That’s why I appreciate, Wynter, what you said about—first of all, courage has to start with the parents; because you’re going to watch your children go through difficult times. It’s our second nature, as parents, to rescue them. But the reality of it is—if they are going to take a stand, as Bob was talking about, around the issues they’re facing today, they will feel pain.
Jonathan: I would also say—because I was one of those kids that fell off the wall a couple of times; like I wasn’t a perfect kid, growing up—I wanted to fit in; I wanted to matter to my friends and all that—I’m just thankful for God’s grace.
I just remember a few distinct moments, specifically in college. I remember, one morning, waking up and just thinking to myself: “What have I done? Why am I where I’m at?” I just remember God’s peace and grace coming over me in a way I’ve never felt before. I think that’s the same thing we need to extend to our kids—because some of them are going to fall / they are going to fall at some level—but just helping them understand the grace of God that helps them get back up and get back on the wall.
People ask: “What’s your testimony? What’s your story?” My testimony: “I’ve tasted and seen that God is good,”—that’s my testimony. I don’t have like this: “I was a drug addict and God saved me.” Literally: “I tasted God’s goodness!” Thankfully, I had parents that would just force feed it to me, as much as they could, in a gracious way.
Jonathan: And then I tasted life apart from God. It was just bitter—it didn’t even taste good—it wasn’t. I just think we have to give our children that as much as we can—just a grace-laced life, where they can taste of God’s goodness.
Dennis: Wynter, you had a mom who modeled what we’re talking about here—of being on the offensive.
Wynter: Absolutely. I didn’t see it when I was ten, eleven, twelve, [and] thirteen; but now, I look back, and she was just a faithful woman and just rested. I was raised in the inner city—Baltimore, Maryland. My father was addicted to drugs; she was raising my brother and me. She just rested in God’s love; and continually just loved out of a place, where she knew that her life—who her life belonged to.
I can remember times—when, you know, things just looked like: “You need to fighting,” “You need to be fighting back,” “You need to be doing all these things…”—that it looks like society would be telling her to do to try to get ahead or to be—you know: “…to fight back [against] the people that had hurt her,” or “…against her,”—all these things—and she never did! She just loved them and served them.
Now, I will look back—and I’m like: “That was a harder road to walk—to love, humbly, the people around you that are causing the pain and the suffering in your life.” Yes; I’m just very grateful for her faith.
Bob: You know, we talk about standing firm / being courageous—Joshua 1—children, who are strong and courageous, knowing that the Lord is with them. There are currents in this culture that will pull them away, but there are subtler things that are causing our kids to lose focus—things like materialism / things like being defined by the activities that you are involved with.
As kids get older, parents—we can fall into this trap that: “My kids have to have this,” and “My kids have got to be in that,”—that can ruin our kids; can’t it?
Jonathan: Yes! Pretty early on, we had our four girls. You know, there are a plethora of activities that call on your children. In our culture today, we feel pressure to have to do youth soccer, and have to do “Club This,” and have to do “Lesson That.”
One of the things we decided is that: “Our kids are going to do one activity at a time. We’re not doing this rat race of activities and trying to keep up.” What’s beautiful about it—we were kind of forced, because we only have two cars and there are only two of us—and we can’t go in four different directions. [Laughter]
It sort of made it easy.
But we’re realizing, as we peel away from some of the things that the world says we need to have, that God has given us a much more rich life and family because of it. We get to actually focus our time serving. One of the things that we’ve done, as a family—we actually served at an after-school program in south Dallas for about five years with our kids. We’d take our kids with us to this after-school program. We didn’t think we could be valuable—with our two-year-olds and, at the time, six-year-old and eight-year-old/nine-year-old—but God was allowing us to experience life with these other people that had very great needs.
We wouldn’t have been able to do that if we are in all of these different activities. At some level, we all, as believers, need to be pulling back from the things the world says we need to have in order for God to show us what we actually should have and actually find joy in.
Bob: And I love the fact that you’re saying: “In the middle of determining activities and involvement, think about service and ministry; and get your kids pointed in that direction early—
Bob: —“so it’s not just ‘What can I do that will be fun for me?’ but ‘How can I start, early, learning to pour my life out for others?’”
Wynter: I think one of the things that I always think about—or that we kind of raised our family around—is the idea of Kingdom vision. That looks beyond what feels good to us in the moment: “What is it that God is doing in the long term?”—whatever that is—whether it’s our kids in school or these neat opportunities that our kids get—not “How did that do for you?” “What certificate did you get?” and “How proud I am that you did that,”—“Although I am very proud of you for doing those things, but who is impacted because of the decisions you are making?”
The more that you ask yourself those questions, you kind of line up where your priorities are, and where you want to spend and where you are spending the majority of time as your family: “Who’s being impacted by the actions and the things we are doing?—is it just our family?—are we just benefitting from doing these great things in our own home?—or are we impacting the world the way Christ would want us to?”
Bob: Anybody who knows your pastor knows that Kingdom vision is a big theme.
Your pastor is Dr. Tony Evans. This is something that he has said to the church, and written about, and talked about—having a Kingdom-minded approach to life is a very different approach to life; isn’t it?
Jonathan: He would call it the “Kingdom agenda”—that God wants to have say-so over every area of your life—as an individual, as a family, as a church, or as a society. We need to be putting God first and bring Him into every one of those matters. There is nothing that lives outside of the Kingdom.
Bob: And when God’s Kingdom agenda conflicts with the kingdom of their world, how do you help your kids say, “I know the world looks fun, and exciting, and tempting; but this is where we need to be anchored”?
Jonathan: I think it goes back to what we said a little bit earlier—just giving them a vision bigger than what they see in their hand in terms of what the world offers; because what God’s offering is so much bigger and so much more, long term.
Bob: “I’ve tasted and seen.”
Jonathan: “I’ve tasted and seen that God is good,”—yes!
Wynter: And practically speaking, sometimes, it’s just to say, “No,” to them: “We’re doing this; and no, you can’t do that right now, because it doesn’t line up with what we’re doing as a family.”
Bob: But all of us want to see our kids thrive; so when our kids come home, and they say, “Can I try out for the play?”—I’ve been there; right?—as a parent, you go, “I’d love to see my child thrive in that environment, enjoy it, and do well; and that would be cool.” But there’s a cost to that—and measuring that out and saying: “Is it better that they thrive?—and yes; it may be a little tense for a while, when their schedule gets crowded up, and the tests—they can’t study and they can’t get their lines—I mean, I know that dilemma and that dynamic: “I want to be on that sports team,”—yes; so how do you do this?
This is where, as moms and dads, we need to be prayerful. We’ve got to be wise and we’ve got to have, what you guys have talked about, which is the long view—a vision—not for “What is my child going to be pleased with next week?”—but “What is my child going to look back on, five years from now, and say, ‘Mom and Dad made the right decision there’?”
Jonathan I think we have to walk with a confidence, like as we pray and as God shows us what needs to happen and what doesn’t need to happen.
I think we need to walk with a confidence that our kids are going to be okay; God cares about them more than we do. In making this decision, sometimes, it hurts to say: “You can’t do this,” “You can’t do that,” but we have to have confidence that God cares more than we do.
Dennis: You are training your children to go on the offensive—the problems and the challenges keep coming; however, and they are in—you held out your hand, a second ago; I thought you were going to refer to a cell phone. These devices, right here, are coming at our children with incredible intensity and velocity. How are you managing this data deluge that the children are enduring every day? What are the boundaries that you guys have for four daughters, ages fourteen to eight; is that right?
Wynter: Yes; one, we are doing our best to model using our cell phones properly; so limited amounts of time on the phone. There are certain things we have—like no phones at dinner. For us, only our oldest has a phone at the moment.
But even that—because if she sees that we are constantly on the phone—well, the same way, where she sees us in God’s Word, that’s a priority. If she sees us constantly on our phones, that’s our priority. So just being mindful of that, for ourselves; but for her, also, just putting in—we have some practical things in place, in parental guides and things like that on her phone.
Then really, it’s training her and walking through what it looks like for her to be responsible with this device that she has all the information available to her in her hand. But what does that look like? We can’t avoid it—cell phones are there, social media is there, technology is here; so we are working on training her to know how to that responsibly. We are the first generation that has to do that.
Dennis: I know a young man who was seated in a locker room. A friend of his—this young man was a junior in high school—one of his friends walked by and said, “Is your cell phone on?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “Turn your airdrop off, now!” He said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “Turn it off now.”
Later, he pulled him aside and explained there was a deluge of photos of young ladies that had been sent by boys who dated them to all the guys in the school. If you had your airdrop on, on your phone / your mobile device, you were going to see an incredible number of images.
As parents, you are raising daughters, who can be tricked and deceived by guys. This is a dangerous era that we live in and one that young ladies really need to be trained so they can avoid the danger.
Jonathan: Yes; you think on one end, you have this protectionism that says: “I’m not going to give any phone. I’m going to try to limit them from technology. They’re not getting anything.” On the other side of that, you have complete freedom and license, where, you just give it to them—you know, you just walk away. I want live in a place / be in a place, where we can be in the middle—obviously, with trust—further empowering them with the things they need—technology/whatever—responsibly.
I think about being in high school—cell phones weren’t even around when I was in high school; at least, not like they are now—the big old cell phones. But I remember going over to a buddy’s house and pornography was on his TV. I had to make a choice in that moment. There’s this reality that we cannot avoid every situation. Your airdrop—your airdrop might be on one day, and it just comes in. We just need to be at a place, where our kids, even when they are faced with some of those things, they know what God wants / they know what the enemy wants; and they are able to make a decision to choose what God wants. If they don’t have that, we’re going to have issues regardless.
Bob: You know, Dennis talked about the passage in 2 Corinthians 5 that says we are ambassadors. The Bible uses another description, where it says we are “strangers and aliens”—this world is not our home / this is not where we belong—we’re not going to live here forever. We need to remember this.
This is kind of the metaphor I think of for myself. I get a chance to stay in hotel rooms, and those hotel rooms are nice and have amenities; but I don’t go in and start remodeling the hotel room, because I’m just there temporarily.
I’m there, waiting for the fact that my home is back in Little Rock; and that’s where I am invested.
In this world, we want to be good citizens / we want to be ambassadors, but we shouldn’t spend a whole lot of time focused on “How do we make this life the best life it can be?” Our focus ought to be “How can we get ready for eternity, where we are going to live forever?”
Dennis: —and equip our children to know how to handle the issues when they come. I just want to pick up on a couple of words, Bob—that you said. You said we were to be strangers and aliens in the world, not strange aliens. [Laughter] Christians ought not to be strange. I like to say: “If I’m strange because I’m a Christian, it wasn’t because Jesus Christ made me strange. I was strange before I became a Christian.”
I think these are days really where we have to equip our kids to be shrewd as serpents, harmless as doves, and know how to relate to an increasingly depraved, selfish—and can I say it?—evil—evil world that wants to seduce us. Your assignment, as parents, is to really pick up a book like what Jonathan and Wynter have written and receive the teaching of some folks ahead of you a couple laps of the race and be better equipped for what you’re facing.
Bob: The book is called She Is Yours. If you have daughters, even if you have boys in the house, this is a great book for you to read to know how to connect, heart to heart, with your girls. You can order the book from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order. Again, it is She is Yours: Trusting God as You Raise the Girl He Gave You. Call 1-800-358-6329 to order—that’s 1-800-FL-TODAY—or order from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com.
There’s another resource I want to mention to you. It’s something our team has put together for the summer months for families. It’s called the Growing Together devotionseries—it’s a free download. We’ve come up with some ways for you, as a family, to interact around four different themes over the next four weeks. These are easy-to-do devotional ideas, and thoughts, activities—things to read together. Again, it’s all free; you can download it from us at FamilyLifeToday.com.
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And we hope you can join us back tomorrow when Jack Alexander is going to be with us to talk about generosity and what we can do in our own hearts and in our children’s lives to become more generous people. That’s a good goal to aim for; isn’t it? I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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