Dad, I realize that I may be treading on sacred ground here as I provide suggestions about what I believe it means to be a spiritual influence in your daughter’s life. Please understand that I am approaching this subject with the greatest reverence.
I am not seeking to dictate or dominate because I realize that spiritual beliefs and practices are a very personal thing.
But I would like to propose some ideas of what I believe it means to spiritually lead your daughter. This is not only based on my experience, but also from first hand information I’ve received from girls and young women over the past 35 years who have shared their hearts with me about what they would like more of from their dads.
Here are some practical things that you can start doing today in order to engage your daughter spiritually:
- Let her see you engaging in your own spiritual practices. Because more is caught than taught.
- Pray with her about things going on in her life, which means that you’re asking her questions about her life, boys, school, work, commitments, friends, activities, etc. (I know that dads often are intimated by the idea of praying, especially out loud. Truth: you don’t have to be perfect at it. Let your daughter see you try, even if it’s awkward. It’s okay to say just three sentences in prayer…your daughter will be impacted by you praying over her and with her because it’s your heart that matters).
- Reveal your own questions about spiritual things. Let her know you have questions about God, the Bible, theology, church practices, etc. while demonstrating that asking questions is normal and healthy. Find answers to her questions and make it fun to search for answers with her and on your own. Make it a creative process to find answers. Then report back on what you find.
- Write out a prayer for her in a note, through a text, or an email.
- Open up about what you’re learning from the Bible…or a book or study (not in a way that preaches at her or has hidden statements to convict her. This is about you sharing what you are personally gleaning spiritually in your own life. Be vulnerable and honest).
- Share how God is convicting you. This one may be harder to open up about and one where discretion obviously is warranted, but if you let your daughter know how God is speaking to you, followed with modeling the fact that you are listening and responding, this will go farther than any lecture you can ever give her.
- Tell her what God is doing in your life. Talk about answers to your prayers.
- Ask her what she believes. Listen, learn, and no lectures. Ask questions to draw her out without necessarily sharing your beliefs at first because if this is new for you to dialogue about spiritual things, it may take awhile for her to open up honestly. Wisely choose your words without lecturing. Take an interest in her beliefs and look through her eyes. Seek to understand her.
- Go to a Christian/spiritual concert with her by one of her favorite artists.
- Attend her church with her or invite her to yours. Talk about the sermon afterwards.
- Sing worship/spiritual songs with her and listen to the lyrics that touch her spirit.
- Ask her to share about a spiritually significant time in her life. Then share one of yours.
- Buy her a book on a spiritual theme. Read it with her. Share what you both learn.
Investing in your daughter’s heart spiritually is a key part of being a dad who leads. And though the majority of men I speak with disqualify themselves from spiritual leadership for one reason or another, I implore you to be a dad who goes against the norm as a statistic-breaker by being a father who intentionally invests in this way.
Think of it as taking the initiative to lead her spiritually in the same way you approach sports. As you step up to the plate with the bases loaded (a.k.a. there’s a lot of pressure on you), it’s your turn at bat. If you put your whole body into it and swing hard, the rest will take care of itself. You just have to push past your fear and do it.
Start today by choosing one action item from the list above and the rest will fall into place.
Your confidence will build as you see the positive impact in your daughter’s life…and yours.
(If you would like to print a free pdf of the 13 prompts in this blog, called “The Baker’s Dozen for Leading Your Daughter Spiritually”, just click here.)
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