Growing Into a Woman of Character
About the Guest
Jaquelle Crowe joins her father, Sean Crowe, to talk about connecting as a family. Sean shares what he and his wife did to help Jacquelle grow into a woman of character. They focused on the law when Jacquelle was younger, but also made sure she understood grace and saw it lived out. Jacquelle talks about her dad losing his temper and how her parents were quick to confess when they made mistakes.
Jaquelle Crowe FerrisJaquelle Crowe Ferris is the author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway, 2017). She’s also the co-founder of The Young Writers Workshop and lives in eastern Canada. You can follow her on Twitter.
Jaquelle Crowe and her father, Sean Crowe, talk about connecting as a family. Jacquelle talks about how her parents were quick to confess when they made mistakes.
Growing Into a Woman of Character
Bob: Many parents will tell you that navigating their children through the teen years can be a lot trickier than raising them when they are young. Sean Crowe says there’s a reason for that.
Sean: In the earlier years, it’s so easy; because you are focusing a lot on obedience. Of course, we can’t understand grace unless we understand law. So when they are younger, you focus a lot on the law; but when they get older, and when their relationship becomes their own relationship with the Lord, then you’ve got to make sure they understand grace. That’s a challenge.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, October 17th. Our host is Dennis Rainey; I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll talk with Sean Crowe and his daughter Jaquelle about the challenges they faced when Jaquelle was going through her teen years. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Have you ever heard of Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy? Have you ever heard of that?
Dennis: Not recently.
Bob: I’m looking at this list of books: “Eleven Books I Love” from Jaquelle Crowe—it’s in her book, This Changes Everything—I know a lot or these books; I mean: Valley of Vision, The Chronicles of Narnia, Holiness of God—
Dennis: Right; right—I got all of those.
Bob: And then I get to Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy.
Dennis: Let’s find out what it is!
Dennis: Jaquelle, what is that book about?
Jaquelle: Oh, you guys have to read that book. It’s actually a book that was written for young adults. It is a book about this pastor’s kid that goes to this very small community in Maine. He meets this girl, Lizzy Bright. They start this friendship that is kind of forbidden; because at this time, there was a lot of racism going on.
Lizzy Bright was a black girl, and the pastor’s kid was a white boy.
Jaquelle: A lot of—a lot of biblical truths, I think, are communicated in this book. It’s a good one!
Bob: When did you read this?
Jaquelle: Ooh, maybe when I was 15/16?
Dennis: The name of the book was—again? There are going to be people who—
Bob: Lizzy Bright and the Buckminster Boy, by Gary Schmidt. Fifteen/sixteen—can an average fifteen-year-old read this?
Jaquelle: Oh, yes, yes, yes! It was written for young adults.
Bob: Oh, okay; it’s YA fiction.
Jaquelle: Yes, sir.
Bob: I’m using the cool term.
Jaquelle: You’ve got the lingo down.
Bob: YA; that’s right!
Dennis: So we have Jaquelle here in the studio, along with her dad, Sean.
Bob: Yes! Sean, you came in earlier to be a part of this dialogue. We thought, “We’ll just have you stay around.” It’s nice to have you joining us as well.
Dennis: It’s not just having you stay around—[Laughter]—you are eyewitness to a lot of what we are talking about—and we want to talk about this dating relationship thing.
Dennis: Yes, I think—
Sean: That’s where you—that’s where you want to start?
Dennis: No, no! We’re not going to start with that; we’ll get to it!
Sean: Oh, you’re just going to hold that over me now.
Dennis: No; no!
Bob: Sean is a Pastor in Halifax.
If people live in Halifax, and listening to FamilyLife Today—they’re invited to church this Sunday; right?
Bob: What’s the name of the church?
Sean: Gospel Light Baptist Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Bob: And that would be L-I-G-H-T? I just wanted to make sure!
Sean: Yes. Really, you have to do that too? [Laughter]
Bob: You didn’t name the church; right?
Sean: No; no!!
Bob: And you wouldn’t have picked Gospel Lite?
Sean: No! I wouldn’t have! [Laughter] See, you need to understand, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, there’s lots of lighthouses.
Sean: So there is Lighthouse Baptist Church, and there’s Gospel Light Baptist Church—it’s all about the lighthouse.
Dennis: How about changing it to Gospel Bright Light? [Laughter]
Sean: There you go! There you go! I mean, we are called to be a light for the gospel; you know.
Dennis: Jaquelle has written a book called This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years.
Earlier, we talked about how teens today need coaching, training, encouragement and discipleship in their relationships. That begins, obviously, with their relationship with God and who they are in Christ. Secondly, it moves to their relationship with their parents; and third, it also moves to their siblings.
And you shared about how you and your brother are as different as night and day, but you guys have a lot of fun together.
Jaquelle: Yes; it’s true! A part of why we have this great relationship is because we’re different. But I do think siblings that are alike can also have a great relationship.
Bob: I’m just sitting here, as we’ve been unpacking all of this—the themes that we’ve been talking about: identity and relationships—those are two of the four core themes that you and Barbara address in your book, The Art of Parenting. That the two that we haven’t dived into are the theme of mission—and how to train a child to live on mission—and then character.
Sean, what have you and your wife done, as parents, to try to help Jaquelle be a young woman of character?
Sean: Yes; well, I mean, for the most part, what we have done is—we’ve tried to live that out for both of our kids. We want them to see what a person of character looks like.
As you said, I’m a pastor. What we often talk about: “When it comes to being a pastor, it’s all about character. When you look at 1Timothy 3, Paul addresses the character of the leader.” What we’ve tried to do is—we’ve tried to be an example to our kids of godly character. But also, and probably more importantly, is to teach them from the Word of God what true godly character looks like.
Dennis: And Jaquelle, how would say they’ve impacted your character, just looking back over the past now 21 years?
Jaquelle: Well, I think, one big thing—and it’s a big part of being a godly pastor—is the issue of integrity. That’s a big area that I see in both of my parent’s lives. I also see faithfulness in the small things. My dad pastors a pretty small church and has been involved in a lot of just ordinary discipleship that nobody sees/nobody knows about and faithfully plodding away at obedience. And then just purity is another area that my parents have modeled well and talked to me well about. There are a lot of other areas, but those are just a few.
Bob: Here’s the thing about trying to raise kids of character. It can be easy for us, as parents, to want to mold behavior through behavior modification rather than trying to raise kids, who from the heart, have the character of God built into them. Lots of times, as parents, we just want the behavior—we just want our kids acting right—and whatever makes that happen, we’re fine with that.
Sean: Yes; there’s no question—it’s much easier to focus on the obedience than on the grace. I think, especially for Jaquelle’s mom and I, one of the most difficult parts of parenting has been in the later years. In the earlier years, it’s so easy; because you are focusing a lot on the obedience. Of course, you can’t understand grace unless we understand law. So when they are younger, you focus a lot on the law; but when they get older—as you talked with her before: “When their relationship becomes their own relationship with the Lord, then you’ve got to make sure that they understand grace,”—and that’s a challenge!
Dennis: One of the things that you and Diana did was—you explained who God was too. And that really is at the heart of the character issue. Once you know who God is, you can become like Him.
Sean: Yes; absolutely. If you don’t understand who God is, then how can you understand the gospel? Then you do just end up in moralistic therapeutic deism.
Bob: Jaquelle, do you remember recognizing the difference between just doing the right behavior and having it come out of your heart—because this is what you wanted to do—and not just because you wanted to please your parents?
Jaquelle: I do. I was around a pre-teen when I really, kind of noticed this switch or made this switch for myself—that I realized that obedience to God wasn’t something that I did so that I could be saved—but that’s what being a Christian was all about / but that obedience was something I did because I was saved. Because I loved God so much, I wanted to read His Word; I wanted to pray. That should flow out of the heart—just so in love with Jesus and so compelled by the beauty of the gospel—that I should want to do that for myself.
Bob: If you look at the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness—all of these virtues—we can probably fake that for a season—you know, a couple of days; maybe, if you’re really good, you could go two or three weeks. But when it’s coming from inside of you, not just something you’re trying to fake—and I don’t mean fake in the sense that you’re being a phony—this is—you’re just trying to act it out rather than it coming from inside of you. That’s not going to work for a young person or for a grown-up; is it?
Jaquelle: No; absolutely not. I think young people, especially—we are attracted to authenticity. We want people to be real, and we want to experience something real. That’s why I think we have some of these teenagers, who buy—or say they are buying into a faith that is not real, and then they get out of the home, and they are like: “Oh! This wasn’t my faith, so we’re not—we’re done with this.”
It’s the teenagers who actually encounter who God is for themselves—that are saved by this authentic faith—that spend the rest of their lives just sold out for this message.
Dennis: A good bit of how character, I think, is formed is—as parents live out their lives in front of their kids—and as Barbara and I have had to do with our kids: get down on one knee, when they were little, and look, eye to eye, with them and confess how we just made a mistake and name it. The kids had seen it—had seen what had happened—and to ask them to forgive us for getting angry, for being short, for not being the kind of parent we needed to be.
Do you recall a time—that you can tell, here, on the broadcast—when your dad, pastor of the church—who is a great man; I’ve already heard a lot; I’m impressed, personally—but every great man—we’ve all failed.
How has he passed on character to you by sharing his failures and letting you in on the interior of his life and where he struggles?
Jaquelle: Oh, Iknow that I can answer this; because this is something that we’ve talked about a lot—that they were not perfect and that they were willing to ask for forgiveness. I can think of a couple of different occasions. [Laughter]
Bob: So, give us one. [Laughter]
Sean: I can think of something from two days ago.
Jaquelle: Okay; what?
Sean: The other morning, when I got up.
Jaquelle: Oh, yes!
Sean: Yes! She remembers right away!
Jaquelle: Okay; so he got a message on his phone that just—it was not a great message. He woke up; he looked at it—it was the first thing—and it immediately set him off. He came downstairs. My mom and I were down there. He just was clearly very frustrated and just spoke harshly about this thing. We were like: “Whoa! You need to go back to bed!” He was completely off; he did not speak kindly to us. We were just like, “Okay.” Then, what?—
Sean: —not even.
Jaquelle: Yes; he was like: “You know what? I was not kind; that was not right. I ask both of you for forgiveness for how I responded to this frustrating message and how I spoke to you.”
Bob: Sean, we had a guest on FamilyLife Today, who said something that was one of those moments, where I went, “That’s profound!” and it just stuck with me. He said, “Most Christian parents today are teaching their children how to be sin avoiders and sin concealers instead of teaching them how to be sin confessors and sin repenters.”
He said we’re raising kids who—the message is: “Stay away from that; and if you do it and I find out about it, you’re going to be in big trouble,” rather than: “Look—I’m going to fail; you’re going to fail. When we do, here’s how we get right with each other and right with God…”
This is something I think moms and dads need to grab onto this and go, “We need to change the atmosphere around here in our home.”
Sean: Yes; I remember a point in my life, where this became so real to me and it changed everything from that point on. It was a time when Jaquelle’s brother, Travis, indicated that he thought that his mom and I didn’t sin. It was a very young age. For me, that just blew me away; because I didn’t sin in the same way that he sinned. I mean, I think, at that point, he was—I don’t know—5/6/7/8?—something like that.
From that point on, it became very clear to me that I had to make sure my kids knew that I sinned, and that I confessed of sin, and I repented of sin. Because we see that from parents / we see that from pastors—that we think we have to put on this aura that we are perfect / that we have it all together; and we don’t. We need to be authentic.
Bob: I felt that when I was raising my kids—I felt: “My job is to model godliness for my kids”; right?
Bob: “I need to let them always see me being godly and never see me being ungodly, or they’ll somehow go, ‘Oh, okay; he’s not as godly as he says he is,’ and they’ll abandon the whole thing.”
But a part of godliness is confessing your sin; right? “If we say we have no sin we lie, but if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness.” Our kids need to learn that; we need to model that for them.
Jaquelle: Kids can sniff out hypocrisy very quickly.
Dennis: You think?!
Jaquelle: I think so.
Dennis: I think you’re right. Barbara and I wanted to make sure our kids, not only knew how to live the Christian life, but also how to handle their failures; because we knew, in their lifetimes, they were going to have to face their failures a whole lot of times because we faced a bunch ourselves. I think kids need to see and be coached by parents—not to go sin on purpose so he can model how to do it—but when you do find you have done it, you own it!—you say: “You know what? That wasn’t appropriate. I did sin against you.
“I want you to remember your dad as someone who tried to model a Christ-like life; but at the points when he didn’t, he owned it, and he confessed it, and he asked for forgiveness; and he waited for people to process long enough to grant their forgiveness”; because sometimes the wound we can cause, as parents, can be deep.
Bob: Jaquelle, Psalm 127 says that children are like arrows. You are familiar with this verse—you’ve heard this before; right?
Jaquelle: Yes; I am.
Bob: The assignment moms and dads have is to craft that arrow so it will fly toward the right target at the time you release the arrow, which can be a painful release. Sean, just get ready for the pain that will come—when that moment—because it sounds like that might be sneaking up on you; okay? [Laughter]
My question is: “How have your parents helped you develop a missional mindset, so that you go: ‘You know what really matters?—what life is really all about is advancing the Kingdom.’”
Jaquelle: Well, I think the biggest thing is—again, I have seen them willing to do that. I alluded before that we made some very big moves—from western Canada to Texas / from Texas to eastern Canada—because my parents were absolutely compelled by obedience. And they were like: “You know what? As much as we loved being near family / as much as we love our friends here, we believe that Jesus is better. Our lives are not about us; ultimately, our lives are about doing what God has called us to do,”—so that.
The other thing is just challenging us. I think we have pretty low expectations for a lot of our kids and teens these days.
Dennis: I really agree with you.
Jaquelle: Okay! Good!
Dennis: I don’t think we are challenging our kids to nearly a high enough standard or to a great enough mission.
Bob: How old were you when you read Do Hard Things?
Jaquelle: I believe I was 11!
Dennis: Wow! [Laughter]
Bob: Okay; right! It was instilled into you early that: “Look; you can do more than your peers can do,” and “Life is about more than just your happiness.”
Jaquelle: Absolutely. Just this idea that young people need to have this rebellious stage / that young people need to sow their wild oats—it’s just not true. If we call young people to a higher standard, they will rise to it. We undersell our young people. They can do so, so much more than we expect.
Dennis: On the nose! [Laughter] What do you think about that, dad?
Sean: I think, unfortunately, sometimes we treat our young people like second-class citizens. You know, it is as though we have big-people church and then we’ve got youth group.
Dennis: We’ve got to babysit them; yes, right.
Sean: We’ve got activities and youth group. For her mom and I—and for us, as a church—we’ve just never had that philosophy. We believe that: “If you’re in the Kingdom, you’re in the Kingdom,” and “If you’re in the Kingdom, you have a mission. That mission is to go and make disciples and to make the glory of God known to this world.” Why would we want to undersell that? I mean, that is the greatest mission you could ever be involved in.
Dennis: I mentioned earlier that Barbara and I just finished our work on a book called The Art of Parenting that goes with the video series by the same name. We talk about—a whole section of the book—about mission. I just, yesterday, read the section on “Releasing Your Child.” I read it and I go: “Man, this is stout! This is really hard.”
And this is the truth—I almost backed down and started going: “I need to find a way to soften this a bit, because I am really challenging parents to take this seriously; and as they pull their arrow back, go for the bulls-eye. Raise them to follow Christ, and do the hard thing and represent Him in the next generation.” I didn’t—I didn’t change a word—
—but it is tough stuff.
I think parents today need to realize—one of the reasons why we’re seeing young people rebel is because we haven’t given them a high enough mission. They’re not preoccupied with some noble calling. They’ve settled for the lure of lesser loyalties—there are plenty of those around in the world today. So call your kids to follow Christ. Do what Sean did with his son and daughter and raising them to hit the bulls-eye.
Bob: Yes; although you’re a long way from releasing your son—at least, longer away than the release with Jaquelleis going to be—now, you’ve told her that release means she’s got to live within 50 miles from mom and dad; right? [Laughter]
Sean: No; we haven’t told her that. I think, when you use terminology of “release,” I think the important thing to realize here is neither her nor her brother ever belonged to me in the first place. I’m merely a steward; right? Her mom and I have to remind ourselves of that every day—that they don’t ultimately belong to us; they belong to God.
Our desire—I mean, we have to fight against our own desires/our selfish desires—what we want. It is terrifying to consider the fact they are going to go, but we just pray that we have prepared them for that so God can use them.
Dennis: Sean, there is nothing quite like walking down the aisle with your first-born daughter. I did it!
Sean: Yes; there’s lots of time for that! [Laughter]
Dennis: And placing her hand in the hand of a man and going, “I must be smaller; he must be greater.”
Jaquelle: Oh, here we go. [Laughter]
Sean: Yes;I think I’ll be ready for that in, at least, a decade. [Laughter] At least, a decade or two, I’ll be ready.
Jaquelle: Good to know!
Bob: Jaquelle, if you were sitting with a 15-year-old today—and you could emphasize one over-arching message with that 15 year old—who is going: “I go to youth group. I love Jesus. I want to follow Him. I’m in this.” But you look and you say, “I don’t know that you’re really fully in this.” What would you say to him?
Jaquelle: I would just say that: “Jesus has no half-hearted followers, so your faith has to make everything in your life different. And what that means is that you will find true joy. You can be preoccupied with all these lesser loyalties—you know, there are a lot of things competing for your worship right now—but there is only one thing that will give you the satisfaction and joy that you are looking for to sell your entire life out for the sake of Jesus.”
Bob: It sounds like a parable from Matthew 13 about a pearl—
Jaquelle: —of great price.
Bob: —of great price, where you leave everything to buy the pearl.
Jaquelle: That’s right, because you know that the pearl is the thing of ultimate value.
Dennis: And that’s where we started earlier, with Jaquelle, on the broadcast.
Bob: Yes—back at the beginning.
Dennis: “Treasure Christ: He is the great value.”
I want to thank you for writing the book, and I want to thank you for coming all the way from Nova Scotia!
Bob: —and bringing your dad.
Jaquelle: Oh! That’s right!
Bob: Thanks for bringing your dad too!
Dennis: And way to model how a dad protects his daughter!
Sean: Well, thank you.
Dennis: No; that’s a great statement you’re making. May God’s favor be upon you as you continue to birth that church and do something spectacular for a country, a province, and a city that need Christ just like a lot, here, in America do.
Bob: And the next time any of our listeners are in Halifax, I hope they’ll attend Gospel Light Baptist Church—or whatever the new name is. [Laughter]
Sean: I don’t think they’ll be a name change any time soon. [Laughter]
Bob: We’ve got copies of Jaquelle’s book.
Dennis: I haven’t even thought that, Bob.
Bob: The book is called This Changes Everything. You can go, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com to get a copy; or you can call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to order Jaquelle Crowe’s book, This Changes Everything. The number to call is 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, I think most of the moms and dads, who’ve been with us, listening to this conversation today, would agree that what we have been talking about is core—this is what really matters. I mean, you go out 20 years from now/30 years from now and ask, “What’s most important?” You’ll look back and say, “The time I invested / the work I invested in helping to mold and shape my children’s lives, that’s what I’m proudest of / that’s what I’m most grateful for.”
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Now, tomorrow, we are going to talk about the challenge facing young women in this culture today—single women— when it comes to the issue of sex. Juli Slattery is going to be with us to talk about that, along with our own Michelle Hill, who is a single woman. We’ll have that conversation, and I hope you will tune in as well.
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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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