5 Top Tips for Helping Your Kids Find Their Gifts From God

Christians who never discover, develop and use the gifts God has given them to serve Him are missing out on an aspect of the Christian life that helps them better understand their purpose in life and in God’s Kingdom. Using those gifts to serve God can also make one’s Christian walk richer and fuller.

Sadly, the vast majority of Christians still have no idea what gifts God has given them. We need to break the cycle by helping kids and teens discover, develop and use their gifts. Starting your kids with the knowledge of their gifts will help them do those good deeds God has planned for them during their lives.

The problem is most churches start by trying to help people find the gift they may have on the list in Corinthians. The process gets quickly muddled as we struggle to define those gifts and determine which of them God may still give today.

For several years now, Teach One Reach One Ministries has tried to make this easier for everyone involved. Our premise is that just as God gave artisans special gifts in Exodus 31 to build the Tabernacle, He gives people today concrete gifts they can use to serve Him.

These more concrete gifts are easier for people to discover and develop. They are easier for people to find ways to use them in doing good deeds God may have planned for them to do in advance. Those gifts in Corinthians should then become more apparent as we use the more concrete gifts to serve God.

There are some things you can do to help your kids discover their gifts from God.

  • Take a survey. We have developed two separate free gift discovery tools for you to use. One is for children, while the other is for teens and adults. Both ask questions to help reveal potential areas of giftedness.
  • Follow their natural interests. Kids are interested in a lot of different things over time. Unfortunately, many parents don’t allow kids to fully explore their interests. After the family invests a lot of money on the first interest the child expresses, parents often force the child to “follow through” and stick with the activity long after the child has lost interest. It is natural for kids to have shifting interests. It is the way older children and teens explore their world, just like babies crawled and touched things. Invest the minimum amount of money in a new interest for a time until you are sure it’s a match. Set up participation so your child doesn’t let down others if they lose interest and move on to something else. Allowing your kids to follow their interests as they change can more quickly lead them to find what God wants them to do. Sometimes things learned in pursuing temporary interests are useful later in the ultimate gift.
  • Encourage experimenting. Cheap kits, YouTube class videos, library books, free or low cost trial classes, family church friends and others can give your kids beginning experiences in an area to see if it indeed might be an area of giftedness. It’s important to remember there may be some things your kids love to do, but are never really good at doing and that’s okay. With continued practice, God may still be able to use that gift in some way. If not, that gift may be part of how your child practices a Sabbath type rest during his or her life.
  • Take advantage of opportunities. Sometimes God uses experiences and other people to help us discover our gifts from Him. Service projects, mission trips, children’s and teen ministry classes and activities are some possible places for your kids to have experiences or meet people who can give them clues as to their possible gifts from God. This ministry has its roots in my teen years listening to missionaries and helping a young mom teach a children’s Bible class.
  • Don’t give up until you have helped your child identify at least one of their gifts from God. It seems like some kids know almost from birth they are gifted in a particular area. Others may struggle for years (even with the tips above) to finally find their gift. Don’t give up. Consider more out of the box gifts like organizational skills, conflict resolution skills and others. They may not be as obvious as artistic talent, but God can use those gifts as well.

Taking the time and energy to help your kids discover, develop and use their gifts to serve God will help them have a better understanding of their role in life as a Christian and as part of the church. It is that added piece to their spiritual foundation that will help them become faithful, productive Christians. It is a very precious gift you can give your children.

This Week’s Christian Parenting Challenges

Social media outlets are limiting access to more and more posts from non-profits like Parenting Like Hannah. We don’t want you to miss our daily Christian parenting challenges and their tips and encouragement.

We have decided for now, we will re-post the challenges for the previous week each Friday. You may want to tackle them during the weekend or post them on your refrigerator and using them for ideas in the coming week.

To make it easier for you, we have listed them by the original date they posted, but you can use them on different days or do several in one day – whatever works best for you. (The content is copied directly from our social media posts, so some of the wording may appear a little out of context.) We are hoping delivering the challenges to your email in a printable format will give you a helpful, new resource to use in parenting your kids towards God.

Monday: There have been a lot of things about our COVID world that are frustrating. Sometimes frustration can lead to unhealthy choices…even sinful ones. If you or your spouse is struggling with substance use/abuse, abusing your children physically or emotionally, experiencing depression/anxiety/suicidal thoughts, or you are having severe marital issues or anything else harmful or frightening…please reach out for help. People in ministry can still be reached by DM, email or phone. Don’t suffer in silence. Get the help you need now. If the first person you ask doesn’t respond, keep asking until someone does. You are not meant to handle this alone. God gave us the Church in part for community to help in stressful situations. Reach out to your church family for the help you need.

Tuesday: Your summer plans for your kids may have been changed, but to what? What can you do this summer to help your kids achieve your number one priority for them – spiritual growth? If that isn’t your top priority or you aren’t sure how to help them grow spiritually, we can help. Search past blog posts or go to our main ministry website www.teachonereachone.org for ideas.

Wednesday: Did you realize you probably aren’t seeing everything we post on Facebook to help you? If you go to our website and sign up for the newsletter you will receive no more than four emails a week from us – three new blog posts with tips, ideas and encouragement…and starting this week, a summary of our daily parenting challenges you can use each day in the coming week to give you a daily Christian parenting boost. So head to pwww.parentinglikehannah.com and sign up today!

Thursday: This container has all the ingredients for a wonderful pasta dinner. What, however, are the ingredients of a strong faith foundation for your kids? Check our blog this afternoon for some important basics. In the meantime, feel free to share what you think are some important things kids need for a strong faith foundation in a comment below.

Friday: We live in a world that loves to keep us anxious. Teach your kids how to manage their anxiety through scripture, prayer and godly pursuits like hobbies and exercise. If not, they may turn to less healthy or godly ways to manage their fears.

Summer Replacement Activities to Help Kids Grow Spiritually

As COVID strategies continue to develop and change, there is a strong possibility the summer activities in which your kids normally participate may already have been cancelled, delayed or dramatically altered. This may mean your kids will spend more unstructured time at home for part or all of the summer.

Don’t worry! In general, this can be an excellent development in the lives of your kids. Most kids are over scheduled to the point where their activities are hurting them more than helping them – especially spiritually. Extra time at home can also mean more time for you to be engaged with your kids – and that’s great, too.

What about that tendency young people can have to get into trouble when they aren’t occupied? Firm, but loving limits and consistently applied consequences for violating them will often almost entirely eliminate that problem.

If you want to engage your kids in some meaningful activities this summer that will also require minimal exposure to COVID, here are some great ideas to get you started.

  • Fun, hands-on engaging academic review activities that are connected to Bible stories in meaningful ways. Our Teach One Reach One Ministries website has tons of free activity ideas that will help your kids learn or review academic skills in foreign languages (created for ESL, the activities would work with any language), language arts, math, science, health and even sustenance and survival, while also learning Bible stories.
  • Family or individual service projects. We have lots of free service projects ideas online that connect serving others to Bible stories in meaningful ways. Created for groups to do, many can also be done as is or scaled back for individual young people or families.
  • Family Bible devotionals and activities. Search for family devotionals on Parenting Like Hannah and you will find plenty of free family devotional ideas to keep you busy all summer long.
  • Gift discovery, development and use. Many craft stores are offering project ideas and sales on materials to encourage kids to try different arts. You can also find YouTube video lessons on music, crafts, cooking and a variety of other potential areas of giftedness. Try them together and you may find some new gifts, too. Once your child has identified a gift, find online ways to encourage development of the gift and search our service project ideas to see if they can use that gift to serve others and share their faith in some way.
  • Explore apologetics and other ministry films and videos. Our church supplies its members with free access to Right Now Media, a group that has quality videos on all sorts of Christian content by many of the most popular speakers. If your church doesn’t offer it, you can look into an individual subscription or find some of the content on other sources. Even Netflix or Amazon Prime have occasional Christian films listed. Your kids probably won’t want to watch these as much as they will want to screen a secular streaming service show, but throwing one of these into the mix for family viewing from time to time might interest them more than you think.
  • “Old school” activities – with a twist. Try chalk paintings with cornstarch and food dyes, container gardening from scraps, low waste cooking or cooking through a famous chef’s cookbook. Or go straight old school and teach your kids jacks, four square, hopscotch and other summer classics. If you do these with your kids occasionally, you can strengthen your relationship in ways that will make later spiritual discussions more well received.
  • Look for God in His creation. Go on a nature hike (where they are allowed), lay on blankets in your yard and watch the clouds drift by or star gaze. Grow flowers or vegetables and share the results with others while admiring them as they grow and produce beauty or food (or both). Go rock or shell hunting. Feed the birds. Point out the variety and complexity in God’s creation.
  • Read great books. Encourage your kids to read, read the same books at the same time as your kids or read to them during a resting time. Of course the Bible is the best, but don’t forget Christian books like those by C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel, Francis Chan, David Platt and more. There are fiction and non-fiction options and many classics have special versions for kids and/or teens. (We will share a list of some of our favorite non-fiction books for older kids and teens some time in the next week.)
  • Find fun ways to exercise together. If you can’t get outside to exercise, P.E. With Joe on YouTube is a teacher and family favorite of many. It makes sense that we can serve God more easily when we are healthy. You and your kids will find many other benefits from exercise, healthy eating and ample sleep.
  • Learning and practicing spiritual disciplines. Scripture or prayer journaling, Bible study, scripture reflection, scripture art, prayer walks and more are great ways for your kids to learn how to stay connected to God the rest of their lives.
  • Learning Christian life skills. Godly conflict resolution is a lot easier if you know the steps of productive conflict resolution. Good stewardship is easier when you understand how to make a budget. We have lots of free Christian life skill lessons that were written for use with teens, but could easily be adapted for use with elementary aged children as well.

So take advantage of this old school summer. Do some things with your kids that will help them grow spiritually while they are having fun. It may just end up being your best summer yet!

7 Key Components of Your Child’s Faith Foundation

As a Christian parent, you want your kids to have strong faith foundations. That strong foundation can help them avoid temptation and grow to become faithful, productive Christians. Yet many children raised in “good” Christian homes have faith foundations so weak, they crumble at the first stressor.

Part of the problem is we don’t have enough discussions about the specifics of what kids need to build a strong faith foundation. As a result, many parents are left to guess what their kids need or praying the church is providing their kids with everything they will need spiritually.

No matter how great the children’s and youth ministries are at your church, they just don’t have enough time with your children to give them everything they need spiritually. Even if your kids are enrolled in a Christian school, they won’t get everything they need. There are rare exceptions, but strong faith foundations are usually the result of a lot of intentionality from the child’s Christian parents. (Studies are showing young people need about 14 hours of spiritual content from active teaching, independent study and conversations and experiences every week to have a strong spiritual foundation.)

So, what exactly are the things your child needs you to help them with so their faith foundation will be strong?

  • Bible knowledge. There are over two hundred Bible stories and thousands of verses outside of the context of a story. Your kids need exposure to all of this content – either through active teaching or independent Bible study. Churches will give your kids exposure to about ten to twenty percent of that content. Your kids will need your help learning the rest. If your kids are exposed to very little Bible content, they are trying to live life without having read God’s instruction manual. Your kids will struggle to live the life God wants them to live if they have no idea what it is or how to do it.
  • Application principles. Application principles are taking a Bible story, figuring out the lessons God wants them to learn from the story and how to apply those principles to their daily lives. Without this piece, Bible stories are just interesting stories with no real value (in your child’s mind). Your children need your help learning how to understand what they read in the Bible and how it should impact their daily lives. They will need help molding their character, words, actions and ultimately hearts to be the Christian God wants them to be. You can teach them how to find the principles independently, but they will still need your help and encouragement in applying them to their daily lives.
  • Christian life skills. Many of God’s commands and application principles have skill sets attached to them. These skills must be taught to your kids in order for them to more easily obey God. Christian life skill training should include things like godly conflict resolution and stewardship skills like budgeting and giving, amongst others.
  • Gift discovery, development and use. God has given each of your kids at least one gift to use to serve Him by completing the good works God has planned for your child. Your kids may have different gifts, the same ones or a mixture of overlapping and unique gifts. They will need your help discovering, developing and learning how to use their gifts to serve God. For some children, this will come easily, while others will struggle for some time just identifying their gifts.
  • Critical thinking skills. While this overlaps other areas we have already discussed, we are beginning to separate it out because it is an area often neglected in a child’s spiritual education. Critical thinking skills are used when your kids think more deeply about what God has to say. It involves reflecting on scripture, but also apologetics – knowing how to defend their faith to skeptics and how to share their faith with seekers. It also involves analyzing more critically the faith challenges they will experience in the world and clearly seeing the logical fallacies or weaknesses in arguments against God that sound as if they contain sound logic and wisdom.
  • Servant leadership skills. Your kids may not grow up to be official church leaders, but they should have the servant leadership skills that will help them lead others to God. They need to learn how to effectively serve others and share their faith. Many also need to learn how to lead others with a servant heart and not the secular leadership model that is often toxic, because they will hold leadership positions in their church, company or community now and/or in the future.
  • Hospitality. This is another area we are beginning to separate from the others because of its vast importance. The Bible is full of examples of people being hospitable to others. In fact, God commands His people to show hospitality. Not surprisingly, studies are showing hospitality is a key component in the Christian homes who raise kids to be faithful, productive Christians.

Are you overwhelmed yet? Don’t give up! We have so many free tools to help you. We have daily challenges to encourage you. Providing your kids with the things on thIs list is the very best way to help them get to Heaven. It will take lots of intentionality and hard work, but it needs to be your top priority. It is the most important gift you can give your kids.

The Family Conversation You Need to Have Now

In many places, COVID restrictions are starting to ease. Before your options of what to do with your family’s time return to their pre-COVID levels, your family desperately needs to have an important conversation.

Try to find a time and place where everyone can relax. This conversation is so important, you don’t want to rush it in any way. For some families, this conversation may actually be broken into several conversations over the next few weeks.

Here are some of the questions your family needs to ask and answer honestly.

  • What was our life like before COVID?
  • How did COVID change our lives?
  • What did we like better in our COVID world?
  • What did we miss the most from our pre-COVID world?
  • How did the extra time at home as a family change our relationships with each other?
  • What was the best part of spending more time together?
  • What was the worst part of spending more time together?
  • In what ways did our faith get stronger during quarantine?
  • How did we struggle spiritually during COVID?
  • If we could keep one thing from our COVID experience and include it in our life going forward, what would it be?
  • What was something we used to think was important, but COVID has taught us was more of a time waster or negative influence than we realized?
  • What is one activity from our pre-COVID world we could eliminate to give us more family time together?
  • What is one thing we can do while we wait for a post COVID world that will help us grow:
    • spiritually
    • mentally/academically
    • emotionally
    • as a family team
  • How can we serve others and share our faith right now and moving forward?

Taking the time to have this important conversation can help your family become the Christian family God intended for you to be. It’s definitely worth your time and effort!