We parents are charged with teaching our children, and I know Laura and I have taken the responsibility very seriously.

But as I reflected on another birthday celebrated by one of our daughters, I realized again how much they are teaching me.

Let me tell you about Ella, who turned 15 May 3. A few months ago I wrote about her sister and described her as fierce. I’m inclined to use the same label for Ella (WHERE does this quality come from?!), but I realize a second word describes her even more perfectly.

Ella is confident.

1. Confident Freedom

Ella lives with a whimsical freedom. I seldom see her undone by her circumstances. She approaches life with a can-do spirit that doesn’t stop to think about obstacles and isn’t undone by self-doubt. She assumes she can succeed at any task she decides to tackle. And she does!

She taught herself to sew on a sewing machine. As a grade-schooler she learned how to play the flute before the school offered band. She taught herself to play the guitar by watching a YouTube video. She excels in her studies. She’s winning at golf.

If she wants to do something, she figures out how to do it without stopping to consider that it might be impossible or difficult. The first option doesn’t occur to her. The second doesn’t stop her.

And she has zero fear in front of people. The more people who show up to watch her play golf, the better she plays.


2. Confident Determination

Some of this may come naturally. Some of it could legitimately be called talent. But something more is happening here. She works at what she wants.

For example, she took golf lessons throughout the off season this year so she could challenge another couple girls for a position on the varsity team. Stay tuned. She is willing to outwork to earn her spot. I’m guessing Ella will prevail.

I see Ella figuring out how to do whatever she wants to do. She studies and practices. Confidence is different than cockiness. Arrogant people think too highly of themselves and then blame others when they fail. Ella simply bears down and learns how to accomplish what’s in front of her. “Why shouldn’t I be able to do that?” she asks. And my answer is, “Just keep working and being who you are. I believe you’ll succeed!”


3. Confident Worship

She has a relationship with Jesus like nobody I know. As a teenager she has childlike faith. She’s confident in who Jesus is. She believes without reservation that Jesus can do what he says he will do. The worship leaders at our church are often saying, “Worship is not just music.” Ella lives that.

Her favorite song is “How He Loves,” the song she sang when teenagers led our worship several weeks ago. I was on the other side of the world, sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane watching our worship online. And I melted when I heard her sing because I know she means what that song says. As I wrote in my happy-birthday Facebook post to her: “I love your heart for worship and how you have this innate sense of the presence of Jesus in your life.”


The Confidence Challenge

From Ella I’m remembering the value of confidence. Not confidence in myself, but assurance that God will bless and strengthen and help. There’s a freedom in that that allows the believer to move forward and tackle every task. I’m writing all of this not just to brag about my daughter but also to challenge myself—and my readers. Thanks, Ella, for teaching me that confidence is the way to live.