Thursday, January 10, 2008

Serving Your Father vs. Serving God

While I was doing some research for various ideas this morning, I stumbled onto post by the Botkin sisters (most of which appears below). By the time I had read half of the lengthy post, I was quite irritated and started writing as you can see below :).

Excerpts from: ~Authoritative Parents, Adult Daughters, and Power Struggles~
Italics are original article by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin

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.”

Why must parents come first in the Botkin’s minds? Everything in the following article is parents first, God later.

“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.”

Okay, I really do not have any problems with the beginning of this, until you get to the last few words “and have understanding that may, in some areas, exceed that of her parents.” My first thought is yes, we should be able to always have a gift from God that enables us to know something a little more than our parents. Ingrid loves history and Latin; she loves to stump our family with history questions and funny Latin phrases. I am a student nurse, so that automatically makes me the “medical encyclopedia” of the family. Whenever my family has a twinge, burn, or sprain, I am always the one that diagnoses their ailment. It can get quite funny at times: “No, sorry Ingrid, your arm will not heal from its sprain for 4-6 weeks, and it may take up to 6 months.” :) It should be expected that a child, as soon as he or she starts to learn, that they will learn something that the parents do not know. I love and respect my parents, but to put it bluntly: Parents do not know everything there is to know in the world! In fact, no human being knows everything. God is the only one who knows everything there is to know! The Botkin girls make it sound like you are sinning if you happen to get a little smarter than your 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 while ago, my dad wrote me a note that said what his goals were for Ingrid and me when we grew up. Some of them were that we would have a mature faith, be a wife and mother, serve others, and never be afraid to say what was right. I treasure that note and as I look back, it has nothing selfish about “serving me and your mother” or “giving up what God wants you to do to serve me.”

“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.)”

Well, maybe the Botkin girls like to get up at the crack of dawn, but please let me stay in bed until at least 7 am! (Unless I have to leave for clinicals at a hospital at 6am). Even my dad loves to sleep in when he is off, I do not think it is necessary to shave or dress your father, or be up early to serve your father. To put it bluntly (in fact, I am hardly ever blunt; just ask Ingrid) why does it matter? If I want to be mature, all I have to do is ask my dad what time he wants me to get up in the morning?? If I asked my dad (at the age of almost 19) what time he wanted me to get up in the morning, he would start laughing. I should know by now! :)

Where do the Botkin girls come up with such ridiculous words, such as “automatons”? The first word I thought of was robot (which is correct-why can’t they just say robot?), then I thought of auto-matrons, as in an automatic robot matron that does whatever her husband says. I do have one thought: if you are not mature enough to know what time to get up (and that may just be an example on the Botkin’s behalf-but a poor example at that), and you must ask your father… you are a “mindless automaton”!! I save my precious conversations that I have with my dad for much more intelligent topics. :)

“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.”

So: according to the Botkin’s, for our parents we are “to build their vision, establish their authority,” and “to proclaim their names in the gates. (bold added for effect)” Where do I begin?!? 1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. (bold added for effect)” According to the Bible (not Botkin’s) we are to build God’s vision, establish God as the supreme authority, and proclaim His name to everyone around us! Is that not a brave and magnificent task?

Has no one in these “serve father” groups ever read the Gospels? Jesus left his earthly father and mother and preached. His disciples left their families too. In Matthew 8: 21-22, “Another disciple said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead'." Matthew 4:21-22 says, “Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”

“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.”

Okay, this sounds promising, but wait… the look at the part about “dying to ourselves” again. If we die to ourselves and give up what we want to do in life, then we are following God, according to the Botkin’s philosophy. This makes little sense when you look at the big picture. As Ingrid says, “God gave all of us talents and abilities. If we sacrifice them, what do we have left to serve Him with?” I searched the entire Bible at, with the words “serve”, “father”, “children”, and “daughter.” I never found a verse that said “children must serve their father and/or parents, I did find:

“And ye know that with all my power I have served your father.” ~Genesis 31:6~
This is in the story of Jacob serving Laban for his daughters Rachel and Leah. If you know this story as well as I do, you know that Jacob served Laban 7 years for his daughter Rachel. Laban was dishonest and gave Jacob his other daughter Leah instead. Jacob did get Rachel as a wife, about a week later, but as a result, he had to serve Laban for another 14 years. I don't think that that is a great reason to serve your father.

“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.” Joshua 24:14 KJV. There are many verses just like this one in the Old Testament about serving the Lord, not the fathers.

If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” John 12:26 KJV. These are Jesus’ words! We are to follow and serve Jesus to honor God, who is our heavenly Father. Of course, through following Jesus, we are also blessing our parents and honoring them.

“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.”

Jesus said “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10: 37.
If we are to serve the Lord, then we are to do what He wants. Sometimes, that can be through our parents, but sometimes it is thinking outside the box! I have my own schedule when school starts, but so do my homeschooled siblings and my parents. I am not being “selfish” if I am following my plan that was designed by God, not by my parents. My time is precious to me; when my homework and studying are done, I love playing games with my siblings, doing paperwork for my dad, cleaning something for my mom, and talking with Ingrid. I have my own “dreams,” but why should not we have dreams? Do the Botkin girls “dream” of getting married and having children? I do, and there is nothing wrong with that!

In fact, the more I think about it, it is really the fathers who are being selfish. They are blocking their daughters from following God by teaching them to be automatons.

“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.”

This is a lie. It never says this in the Bible, so it sounds like more Botkin philosophy. I have not given my heart to anyone (yet!), and my dad still trusts me that I am not going to do something morally wrong and against our Christian faith.

“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.”

The Botkins put the Proverbs verse there to make you think that "Oh, it's in the Bible... so I have to do it." But they don't put the second part of the verse, because in the bible, it's a comma-- not a period that ends Proverbs 23:26. Verse 27 states, "for a prostitute is a deep pit and a wayward wife is a narrow well." You have to read a verse in context sometimes to understand the full meaning. It seems that this verse is trying to say that you need to guard your heart and your emotions against sinful behaviors.

Two other verses that stuck out as I read Proverbs 23, were 15 and 19.
(15) "My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad;" (19) "Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path." It seems that these verses are speaking more to purity and intelligence.

“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.”

I love in this part how “God wants” something, but then you must “surrender to parents,” then surrender “ultimately to God.” Why are the parents first? I have given my heart to God, not to my parents. I try very hard to trust Him every day in His plans for my life. Last year, when I was waiting to be accepted into my nursing program I prayed, “Dear God, if it is your will, allow me to be chosen for this nursing program. If you want me to be a nurse, I will follow your plans for me and what you want me to do with my life for you.” It was a humbling and trusting prayer, I prayed it daily, sometimes more than once a day. Finally, when I was accepted, I felt God’s assurance, that I was following his plans for me. Jeremiah 29:11 says “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.” God has wonderful plans for our lives; we must follow Him and Him alone!

I feel so sorry for girls who are stifled by this teaching. We are also designed by God and have varying purposes, but if we just trust our parents to do what they think is best, we are not taking initiative and acting as adults.

“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.”

Back to above, why are girls taught to follow parents and not God? The Botkin girls say “God will lead you through your parents” where in the Bible does it say that??

“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.””

The thought of not having my own opinion in any matter is shocking. :) Can you imagine believing that your parents are right about everything and that you will be so taken in that you “love what they love, hate what they hate, and desire their approval and company and even ‘think their thoughts after them’.” The Bible says in Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That means parents and children alike! It seems that the Botkins and other families have set up their parents as idols to worship and adore.

This is called “seeking after the hearts of your parents” just as King David was “a man after God’s own heart.”

“So Jesus is supposed to be after Joseph’s own heart?” Ingrid was rather irritated when I read her the above. :) King David was “a man after God’s own heart” this has nothing to do with “seeking after the hearts of your parents” which, by the way, where is that in the Bible? In Acts 13: 20-22 it says, "After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king, and he [God] gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. After removing Saul, he [God] made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my [God’s] own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’.” It is misleading to quote verses meant for glory and honor of God and to then twist them and give them a new meaning to support your article and beliefs. Just read Jesus’ words in Mark 9:42 "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.”

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."

That Proverbs 31 verse is referring to a wife’s heart being with her husband…not with the parents! I am so sick of people taking verses out of context! The above verse in Proverbs 31 has nothing to do with giving a girl’s (or child’s) heart to parents.

When I read the above article, I was astonished. Why are people following and listening to the twisted teachings of the Botkin girls? God told us to in Exodus 20:12 to “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” That verse does not tell you to serve your father! The Bible also tells us to serve the Lord numerous times: in Deuteronomy, Joshua, Psalms, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Ephesians, etc.... When Satan is tempting Jesus in Matthew 4:10, “Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’”” (from Deuteronomy 6:13). Jesus understood the importance of serving God, not men. Colossians 3:23 states, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” It is one thing to “serve your father,” but it much more important to serve God! He should always come before your parents and His word should not be abused as to suggest otherwise.


Works Cited:

“Authoritative Parents, Adult Daughters, and Power Struggles” by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin. Accessed on January 10, 2008, from: