Kids, Talents, Gifts and God

Kids, Talents, Gifts and God- Parenting Like HannahEver heard of Bezalel? He is the center of what I think is one of the more interesting passages in the Bible. (Exodus 31) We don’t know much about him before this passage other than he was one of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness with Moses. About the time of the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai, God instructed Moses to build a tent of meeting – a tabernacle.

Enter Bezalel. Apparently, God “filled him with the Spirit of God. I (God) have filled him with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts. He can make beautiful patterns in gold, silver and bronze. He can cut and set stones. He can work with wood. In fact, he can work in all kinds of crafts.” (NIrV)

I think that is amazing! We don’t know what gifts or talents Bezalel had before God filled him with the Holy Spirit and all of these gifts. All we do know is that once he received them, he used them to do what God wanted him to do – build the Tabernacle.

The next part of the chapter is even more interesting. God says he gave ability to the skilled workers to do what he needed them to do in order to complete the Tabernacle. Evidently, these people already were considered skilled in some sort of craft. Yet it appears God gave them an extra something – talent, skill, inspiration – we aren’t really told many specifics. This extra giftedness though allowed them to complete tasks that were important to God.

Did you know your children (no matter what you may think some days) have one or more talents? It may not be one of the obvious, sometimes showy talents valued by society, but your child has one or more things he or she was born with the ability to do better than the average person. I think this passage and the one about the talents in the New Testament, also give us a picture of a scenario where God can sometimes give us a little extra something to enable us to do things He wants done in His Kingdom.

So how do we prepare our children? What do we teach them about gifts and talents? How do we help them be ready when God wants them to use their gifts for His service? I am sure there are entire books written on the subject, but here are a few things to consider:

  • Consider childhood as a time of exploration. Being able to use your gifts for God usually means you need to know what your gifts are. The best way I know for children to discover what those gifts may be is by trying a lot of things. This is not the time to spend tons of money on buying everything needed to pursue a talent or gift. Look for opportunities for your children to experiment with different gifts for free or at a very low cost. Companies like Home Depot often give low cost workshops for kids to try new skills and see what talents they may have. Scouting and other clubs often try many different things during their meetings. Yard sales and dollar stores often have low cost kits to give children a taste of something. At this stage, don’t get bogged down. Let your children try lots of different things. Start looking for evidence of a possible talent and your child’s passion for the activity.
  • Recognize your child’s passions are a part of giftedness. I believe God places on the hearts of His people a passion for using the gifts He has given them. Your child will naturally develop more passion for some activities than others. Passions may change and shift over the years, but usually a pattern or grouping occurs. When this also lines up with some talent, this may end up being your child’s area(s) of giftedness.
  • Realize you can provide the tools, but ultimately it is your child’s responsibility to fully develop the gifts God has given him. Once your child has discovered areas where her possible gifts and passions align, the real work begins. Even the most naturally gifted person almost always needs instruction, mentoring and often some sort of tools or supplies to fully develop to their God-given potential. You can buy a piano or art supplies and pay for lessons, but ultimately your child is going to be the one who decides whether or not to pursue developing the gifts God has given her. You can encourage, but in my experience pushing too hard on gift development often results in the child walking away from the gift without developing it or worse yet losing passion for the gift.
  • Take money out of the equation. It breaks my heart when I see parents steer obviously gifted children and teens away from their gifts because they “can’t make a living that way”. Economics aside (sorry, I know quite a few people who have made quite a bit of money with their art), your child needs to develop those God-given gifts for service to God. What many parents never consider is that the child can use his gifts to make a huge impact on the world for God even if he never makes a penny from those gifts. To me gift development and use is a totally separate conversation from how your child chooses to make a living.
  • Separate competition from giftedness. Too often children and teens are encouraged to use their gifts to compete with other people. While there is nothing inherently wrong with competition, there is a huge warning that needs to be heeded if your child competes. Do not allow the competition to convince your child her gifts are not worthy to be used for God. As an artistically challenged person, I want to cry every time someone who has more artistic talent than I do refuses to help with a project because they are not “talented enough”. Even though I reassure them they have plenty of talent to complete the task at hand, they differ because they never made money with their talent, they never won a prize or they know someone even more talented than they are. Sometimes “better than average” talent is what God needs for something. He doesn’t always need someone as talented as Monet to do what He wants done artistically for the Kingdom. Encourage your child not to compare the level of his giftedness to others and to use the talents he has developed when God needs him to use them.
  • Remind your child that just like everything else we have, ultimately our gifts belong to God. Your children can use their gifts for enjoyment and/or for incomes and careers. They should constantly be looking for ways to use those same gifts to serve God. There are lots of ways to use any gift God has given your children to serve Him. Encourage them to be creative in how they use their gifts for God and be willing to think outside of the box. They may be amazed with the ways God can use them over the years.
  • Remember your child’s gifts are from God and are because God has a plan for your child. You do not get to pick what gifts your child is given. You should not force your child to attempt to develop gifts you wished you had been given or you wish you had developed thoroughly. You have two jobs in this area as a Christian parent. First, to help your children find what God gifted them to do and develop those gifts, regardless of your desires. Secondly, to continue to develop the gifts God gave you and use them in service to God. It is never too late to develop the gifts God gave you. If you never discovered or developed your own gifts, jump in and experiment and develop gifts along with your children. Just remember, you may all have very different gifts and you each should follow the path God laid out for you – not force someone on a path another person has chosen for them.

I would love to have a conversation with Bezalel and those skilled workers. I wonder how it felt to use their gifts from God in such special ways. I wonder how they used their gifts to serve God after the Tabernacle was completed. I don’t know what they would say, but if you help your children develop godly attitudes about their gifts, you may one day get to hear the wonderful ways God has used them to serve Him with their gifts. And in my experience, those are some of the best stories I have ever heard!

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Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19 NIV)