One of the saddest things to watch is a parent trying to force one of their kids to have a career or participate in an activity for which it is obvious their child has no gift or interest. The dynamic not only makes the child miserable, but puts an unnecessary strain on their relationship. If pushed too long and too far, the strain can often cause irreparable damage, as either the child rebels in the opposite direction or submits to a lifetime of what they believe is pure misery.
God creates each person as an individual. Your children may have some characteristics from you, some from your spouse and some from some distant relative none of you have ever even met.
God also gives each of us one or more gifts He knows we will need to serve Him in the opportunities He will give us during our lifetime. One or more of your kids may have a gift that appears uniquely unlike any other given to others in your family.
God also knows each of your children will have experiences and opportunities that the rest of your family will not have. Some of these may be good and others not so much, but each will be a part of whom that child becomes.
So how can you avoid forcing your child into following your life plan instead of becoming who God created him or her to be? First let’s talk about what shouldn’t be in anyone’s life plan if they are truly trying to become who God created them to be.
1. God’s plan won’t include sin. God is not going to want your child to do something that requires lying, stealing or other sinful things. Since God says we must also obey any laws that aren’t in direct conflict with His commands, this would also eliminate anything illegal.
2. God’s plan won’t expect your child to be rude or disrespectful. Just because your child was created to be introverted, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t answer someone respectfully when they ask him a question. Just because she is an extrovert whose tendency is to have a voice that carries (which will be useful in her gift of teaching), doesn’t mean she can talk at the top of her lungs while people are trying to sleep on an airplane. Kindness and self-control are crucial in learning how to use our gifts to serve God. Your kids will need to learn each of their gifts taken to an extreme can become a negative and how to use them in positive ways.
3. God’s plan won’t be selfish. While it’s not sinful to use your gifts and passions from God to serve Him and as a career, there can be a line that should be avoided. When something your child does well and enjoys begins to become all encompassing, be careful your child is not beginning to build an idol. When the activity begins to drown out God and other relationships, when responsibilities are ignored to participate in it, when it is becoming the center of your child’s life instead of God, then some serious discussions and changes are needed. In our culture, we may not carve idols, but absolutely anything can become an idol if it resides in the position in our lives meant only for God.
In the next post, we will discuss ways to help your children discover who God meant them to be and the good works He has prepared for them. While you are waiting, look carefully at each of your children. What clues do you see to whom they were created to be? Are they headed towards God in those areas, or are they already having issues with one of the pitfalls mentioned in this post?