These days, parents feel the need to get their children involved in sports, music, and a variety of community activities in order to expose them to various experiences. They do this to help their children find their gifting.
According to freedictionary.com, a gifting is "something bestowed or acquired without being sought or earned by the receiver or a special ability or capacity; natural endowment; talent." We know that God is the giver of these special abilities, but sometimes they can be difficult for a parent to help their child discover. Here are a few tips that might help.
Limit time on television, social media and video games. When media time is limited, kids have to look for other things to do. At first you may hear the all too common, “I’m bored!” or “There’s nothing to do.” I always responded to this by reminding my children that I, in fact, had too much to do and would be very happy to share the load. This spurred on instant creativity! If I had given in to the pressure to let them play video games all day, the environment for creativity would not have been so rich. When given time, your children will fill it experimenting with different things.
Notice what activities your children return to time and again. These are the things that delight them. Take special care to note things they are willing to spend hours perfecting without your admonishment. When my oldest son was in junior high, he told us he wanted to be a professional football player. I asked him how often he practiced, and he said he didn’t practice at all. I told him maybe he should spend some time practicing before making that decision, because the proof of passion is the time spent growing it. Where we spend our time is where our passion is found. Needless to say, my son is not a professional football player.
Once you have located a passion, consider offering some special help in this area. Go to the library and check out books on the subject. Sign up for a class, or get set up with a sports team. Rather than insisting that a kid be on a sport’s team in order to see if they are talented or enjoy it, let their passions direct your offers. Offer encouragement as they explore through trial and error. All learning is valuable- even discovering what is not a good fit.
Encourage your children to give their gifts to God and He will increase them. One of my sons showed an interest and talent for video editing and directing at a very young age. He and my other two children would spend hours producing films, creating some of the best childhood memories they have. We always encouraged the kids to use their gifts for God first and opportunities would chase after them. Soon, as a junior higher, my son was editing video clips for the children’s ministry at church. This eventually led to a full time job in the media department at church, thus validating the scripture that says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).
Take the time to know your children and listen to them. In the midst of my son’s amateur film-making career, I overheard him call a font gorgeous. Who calls a font gorgeous? I remember tucking this tidbit of information away. Time and again, he continued to point out textual art. Finally I suggested to him that perhaps his interest was broader than film and included visual arts and graphic design. Fortunately, this discovery was made just before college, and was a wiser choice for him to pursue his passions.
Connect the dots your children cannot see. Sometimes, we are too close to a situation to be able to see clearly. My daughter was a Theater/English double major at a Christian college. She had co-written several worship songs with a friend, and wrote several monologues for our church's Good Friday service. She had also played the lead role in several productions at school. Thinking about her vast array of talents, I mentioned to her one day that she would be a tremendous Director of Creative Arts at a local church. She was shocked. She said she never thought of that before. She could not see how perfectly qualified she would be for such a position because she was too close to the situation.
Lead your children to discovery; don’t push your agenda on them. Don’t make statements, ask questions. Ask questions like, “Have you ever thought of…?” Don’t say, “You should be a …" Trying to transpose your passions on your kids is not healthy for you or them and will only lead to disappointment all around.
A scripture our family has often discussed comes from Psalm 37:4 – Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. It may seem overwhelming to help your children discover their gifts, but let God lead. When we make God our greatest desire, He will place inside of us the desires that will lead us to the center of his heart for us.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Rev. Deb Koster