• facebook
  • instagram
  • twitter
  • mail

Celebrate the Differences



  • One is hyper organized, moderately controlling, quick to ask forgiveness, and genuinely compassionate with others.
  • The other is charming, a rock solid friend, super fun, and is not ashamed to give out a hug when it’s needed.
  • The third one has a deep desire to be a good friend, is a strong and vocal leader and reminds us all the most of her mother.

These are my 3 children in a nutshell. So many different qualities, and so many easy to assume futures. I understand birth order, but I don’t buy it entirely. Just because my middle child is funny and gregarious, doesn’t mean he can’t grow up to be thoughtful and sensitive. My first-born is classic in so many ways, but I don’t want him locked into that ‘first born syndrome’ his entire life.

I believe that God can and will shape my children in ways that their ‘birth order’ will not make sense of.

Here is how I protect their differences, while waiting with expectancy about what they are still yet to become.

Celebrate them. I celebrate what they are today. It’s so easy to talk about what’s ‘wrong‘ and ‘needs fixing‘ in their lives, but I work hard as a father to celebrate the greatness I already see. My daughter is so gentle with her baby dolls, and while I know that is not a guarantee that she becomes a great mother; it’s ignorant to pass up the opportunity to talk about how that compassion towards an inanimate doll could be a gift of compassion developing somewhere in her heart.

Stay undecided. What they’re good at today, may not be what their good at tomorrow. Vice versa that as well. There is the obvious, but there is also the ‘just under the surface’ stuff there as well. Sure, my 9-year-old struggles with multiplication. But does that mean he will struggle with all math the rest of his life? Of course it doesn’t. It breaks my heart when parents tag their kids giftings too early. Let them breathe, let them grow and then learn to …

Dream with them. Never stop asking questions, “What do you want to become?” I use my questions to talk about things they’d want in a future spouse, what parts of the country they’d want to live in, and where certain jobs and careers could take them.

As a parent, it’s my responsibility to help my kids grow, learn, dream, and become the adults God wants them to be. I want them to hear God’s voice, respond to that voice, and then depend on Him to carry it out. It all begins with just letting them grow.

They don’t belong to me anyways, right? I have a suspicion God has much bigger plans for them then their mother or I could ever have.

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.