Have you ever wished you had some gift from God you don’t have? Personally, I would love to be able to compose music and have an awesome singing voice. God however, to this point, has not put a single original song in my brain and I am learning to be content with just a passable singing voice.
Now, I could get really obsessive about those musical gifts God didn’t give me. I could become envious of those who have those gifts and make them feel guilty about using their gifts instead of allowing me to show them I am almost as gifted as they are in those areas. I could whine and complain, beg God, force others to pretend I have those gifts or even convince myself I have gifts I clearly don’t have. Or, I could focus on the gifts God did give me. I could develop them to their fullest potential and find all kinds of creative and fun ways to use them in service to God.
Unfortunately, I think we are subtly teaching our children that instead of focusing on the “page” or gifts and opportunities God gave them, they should compete with others to have the “best” gifts. There are a couple of messages our children are learning, which frankly I think are lies satan is promoting to undermine the Church.
- The lie that some gifts are better or more important than others. I find it interesting that even though there are multiple scriptures about all parts of the body being equally essential, we still send out the strong message some gifts from God are indeed better or more important than others. Don’t believe me? Hang out around a “superstar” preacher and then the person who fills the communion cups. Watch who comes up after service to the “worship leader” and who celebrates the people who kept the nursery. When we perpetuate this lie, we encourage our children to reject their own special gifts and chase after gifts or opportunities God may not have given them.
- The lie that leaders are better than servants. This lie is actually two wrapped into one. First, Jesus made it abundantly clear when he washed the Apostles’ feet – leaders should be servants first. Unfortunately, our culture is obsessed with power and that has spilled over into the church. Elders should have the most servant hearts of anyone in their congregation. They should put others before themselves. People from the world should mistake them for the “lowliest” people in the congregation, not the leaders. The second is that being a leader is more important than being a follower. A quick look at the scriptures saying elders will be held accountable for their flock should be enough to convince most of us, being a follower may not be so bad after all.
- The lie that the type or number of gifts God gives a person translates into how much God loves and values that person. Sometimes I think we miss the point of the parable of the talents. We get all excited about the five talent guy and look down on the guy who buried his talent. Somehow we get caught up in the number of talents and miss that the story is actually about whether they used the talents they were given to expand the kingdom, not the actual numbers involved. A child who has only discovered one talent is no less loved and valued by God than the child who has found ten talents God gave her.
- The lie that it is okay with God to be distracted by the gifts He gave others. If I am so distracted worrying about composing and performing – the musical gifts I wasn’t given, I am probably ignoring the gifts God did give me. What opportunities to serve Him am I missing? What godly adventures will your children miss if they are so obsessed with what they “can’t” do, they never fully develop the gifts they do have? It’s like being given a birthday present, looking at the giver and saying “No thanks, this isn’t what I wanted. You can take it back.” The giver would be rightfully hurt and angry and I wouldn’t be surprised to find God feels the same way when we aren’t happy with the gifts He gave us and our children.
As Christian parents, one of our goals is to help our children develop to their full God-given potential. This includes helping them discover and develop the gifts God gave each one of them. Teaching them to focus on the “paper” God gave them, will also help them reach their full potential to serve God.