In his book, 9 Things You Simply Must Do, Henry Cloud tells the story of two little girls. The details have been played out in homes all over the world with both sons and daughters for centuries.
I won’t share the actual story and ruin the book for you, but the gist of it is this. Two children are born, blessed by God with similar gifts and passions. In one home, the child is encouraged to explore and develop each gift and passion as it becomes evident. In the other home, the child’s dreams are often redirected or worse yet mocked as being useless or frivolous.
The girl who was encouraged, grows up to be successful in a field that ties all of those seemingly random gifts and passions together. She loves what she does and can serve God with those gifts and passions as well as make a living. The other child never fulfills her God given potential, because her parents direct her into choices that are not a match for her gifts and passions. She hates her job and for our purposes has no idea how God has gifted her to serve Him.
God gives each child potential. That potential includes one or more special gifts He wants them to use to serve Him. Some kids seem to know at least one of these gifts from early childhood, while others may have to experiment with several things until they find their gifts.
Christians often get confused by the spiritual gifts listed in Corinthians. It’s important to remember there are many gifts that were used by God in the Bible that we would call talents. Those are usually easier to identify and develop in young people. The spiritual gifts usually become more obvious as young people use their talents to serve God.
Your kids need your help finding and developing their gifts from God. God doesn’t give you a vote on whether or not you believe that gift is useful or important. God knows why your child needs those particular gifts. You don’t. Don’t second guess or try to over rule God. Teach your kids to see how God directs them to use those gifts to serve Him.
Sometimes parents try to overrule God because they are afraid. In the original story, the parents overruled the child’s love of drawing and artistic ability, fearing she would become a starving artist. The parents in the other family, encouraged their daughter’s love of art and found it was actually combined with her love of math and building things and she became an architect. Which, by the way, is a very well paid profession for many.
You don’t know the future like God does. You can’t begin to know for sure how He will use the combination of gifts and talents your child has to serve Him. In many cases, there may also be an intersection between their occupation and their personal ministry. When you attempt to down play your child’s talents and passions, you are in effect second guessing God blindfolded! That rarely works out well for anyone.
Have faith. Pray. Lean into the gifts and passions God has given each of your children. Help them uncover and develop them. Help them notice opportunities God gives them to use those talents to serve Him. Constantly remind them God has planned good works for them to do before they were born and some of them might involve using these talents.
If they don’t develop them or miss seeing the opportunities God has given them to serve Him, they will miss a part of Christianity that happens when you fully serve God with all of the talents and passions God gave you. And you will miss the blessing of watching your children serve God with all of their hearts, souls and minds in the ways God created them, doing the good works He has planned for them in advance.