One of my favorite things about New York City is the niche stores you can find everywhere. Want anything, and there is probably a store somewhere in the city that sells every variation of that item ever created. Last week, I found this great store in Chelsea Market that had bins of all types of different spices and teas.
The store took great pains to carefully label each bin with the name of the spice or tea it contained. Some spices look very similar to each other. If you have ever mistakenly substituted cumin for cinnamon in a recipe though, you understand how important it is to know exactly which spice you are buying.
Kids are like that. Your children may look nothing alike or they may be identical twins. Regardless of how much they look like you or your spouse or some other family member, each child was created by God to be unique.
In our selfish world, we often try to shrink God and His power so we don’t have to obey Him. Unfortunately in doing that, we tend to throw out all of those verses that make it clear God has counted every hair on the ever growing and changing body of your child. It means we throw out the verses that talk about how the same God who knows each of your kids that intimately also has plans for them to do good works, to worship and obey Him and to share their faith.
It takes away those verses about each Christian being a different part of the Body – each with a different role to fill. Each of your children was given unique gifts by God based on what He knows they will encounter in life – opportunities He will give them to serve Him and challenges they may face. Yes, your kids may have some overlap – but even identical twins raised in the same home environment have differences – no two people will ever have exactly the same life.
Sadly, many parents rob their kids of this uniqueness God gave them in an attempt to recreate their own lives. Children are often forced to develop talents God didn’t give them, participate in activities for which God gave them neither talent nor interest and even bullied into colleges and careers that may or may not have actually been God’s plan for that child.
Want children who are joy-filled, productive Christians living in their sweet spot where their interests and gifts meet? Then help them discover who God created them to be. Teach them His commands and principles thoroughly, so they will know whether something is from God or from Satan. Help them find and develop their gifts and talents. Encourage them to live their lives through the “God lens” – making decisions and choices the way God would want them to make them – following the paths He lays down for them.
When you catch yourself trying to convince your children to do something they are clearly uncomfortable doing, stop and do a gut check. Is this really for their “own good” or are you pushing them to do what you wish you could have done? Are the talents they are developing really their talents or are you forcing them to participate in activities the popular kids are doing? Are you showing them the way towards God and the paths He has laid for them or making them rebel against God because they mistakenly think you are pushing God’s agenda when it is really your own.
Helping your kids become who God wants them to be will help them be prepared for what God knows will happen. When you push your children away from God’s plans for them, you leave them vulnerable to being unprepared for what is ahead on their journey. You keep them from living the fulfilled life God had planned for them, potentially forcing them into a life of drudgery doing things they hate and living a life God did not create them to live. You may just find helping your kids become who God created them to be, might just add joy to your own life as well.