Have you ever tried to tell someone something very important to you, only to realize they haven’t really paid attention to anything you have said? It’s incredibly frustrating, and causes many of us to avoid sharing with that person again in the future.
Or have you asked your kids to do something and realized they said, “Sure!” without even hearing what you actually asked? When it happens multiple times a day, it can make even the calmest parent want to scream.
What does your child absolutely love to talk about when he or she has the chance? Do your kids have a hobby that they participate in every free minute? Do they ask for supplies for an interest for every gift giving occasion? Chances are these are your child’s passions.
Now if you have had a child for very long, you have learned childhood is often about rapidly shifting interests and passions. Actually, that’s great because it is allowing your kids to experiment with lots of different possible gifts from God. Often, it’s not until they actually try something that they may find they have a talent for it.
In Top Tips for Teaching Kids About Empathy, we shared some basic tips for teaching empathy. To really raise empathetic kids though, they need a lot of practice seeing the world in different ways. (This is in no way an attempt to water down God’s Truths, rather to understand relationship dynamics caused by different points of view.) Fortunately, there are a lot of fun things you can do to help your kids begin to develop an empathetic heart.
When I train mission teams, I usually ask them what their goals are for the experience. The most common answer is to “love them like Jesus”. To “be the hands and feet of Jesus” is really just another way of expressing the same idea. When pressed what those expressions look like in the “real life” mission experience, I have yet to have a young person be able to articulate what they need to actually do to fulfill what they consider their mandate. This is not only sad, but a bit scary. Undefined, those teens will believe they have “been the hands and feet of Jesus” no matter what they did or did not do.
Nick Vujicic attempts in his latest book Be the Hands and Feet to help readers understand in more practical terms what being “the hands and feet of Jesus” really means. Full disclosure – I am a huge Nick Vujicic fan. His way of viewing his disabilities through the lens of God and not man is not only refreshing, but I have personally witnessed the positive effect his message has on children with special needs and their families.
One of the hardest things about this ministry is seeing all of the wasted potential in the church and in the lives of children and teens. God gives each of us potential to make an impact on the world by serving the church and others and sharing our faith. Yet much of it lies untapped for a variety of reasons. Most are living lives that are a mere shadow of what God had intended for them to be.
Those who reach the potential God gives them have some of the richest, fullest lives I have ever witnessed. They know their purpose. Their lives have meaning and their connection to God is strong. Their faith allows them to cope with the problems of living in a fallen world with grace.
So, what do you need to do to help your kids reach their godly potential? These tips should get you started.