Recently, a mother I didn’t know was frustrated with her child’s need to constantly talk. It was causing issues at school and at home. She was clearly frustrated – and to some extent understandably so. When I shared that I believed her child’s talkativeness was also a gift from God, everyone in the conversation looked at me as if I had three heads!
I went on to explain, that with guidance, her child’s stumbling block could be developed into the gift God meant it to be. This bright, talkative child could be great at evangelism. She was comfortable talking to strangers – about anything apparently – and knew how to keep a conversation going. With some guidance and training, she could use her gift from God as it was meant to be used. Not to get in trouble for talking in school, but to serve God by telling everyone she meets about Jesus, with ease and giftedness.
After that exchange, I began thinking. What other traits do children have that adults find annoying or troublesome, but are actually clues to the gifts God gave them? With guidance, teaching and coaching, these same traits could be used to serve God. It took some creative thinking, but here are a few more ideas to get you started.
- Quietness/shyness. Have a child who frustrates you because he or she is so quiet and shy? Perhaps this child’s gift is listening well. Anyone in ministry can tell you the world needs more Christians willing to take the time to actively listen to others. Helping this child perfect the art of listening well and teaching the child basic emotional and spiritual first aid skills can mean this child is valuable to any ministry.
- High energy. Does your child leave you feeling exhausted from his or her boundless energy? There are a lot of ministries that are frankly grueling and require a lot of stamina from those who serve in them. Mission work in low income countries, urban ministry, youth ministry and others may be at the top of the list. Help this child find ways to use that boundless energy to serve God – starting now.
- Fastidiousness/hyper organized/particular about where their things are placed. These children are often given by God to parents who have an opposite view on organization! Many, if not most, ministries are in desperate need of volunteers who can organize them. Whether it be schedules, projects, supplies, book keeping or one of dozens of other organizational type tasks, your child can be taught how to use these traits to make ministries more effective and impactful.
- Seems to constantly get into trouble in unusual ways. Believe it or not, this could be the sign of a very creative child. Ministries often need people who can think outside of the box and help them find creative solutions to problems that are hampering their ministry. This child just needs encouragement to use that creativity for good, instead of for getting into trouble!
- Takes things apart without warning or obvious purpose. This child is probably analytical by nature and may also have a gift for building, repair work on anything and everything, architecture, engineering, medicine and other similar areas requiring an understanding of how things work. Many ministries need people talented in these fields – especially in low income countries. Help your child find what interests him or her – not just in taking it apart, but in putting back together or creating.
- Bossy. This child is often a born leader, but struggles with the servant part required by God. Encouraging leadership skills, while simultaneously helping this child develop a servant heart can help mold a future ministry leader or one who leads others to Christ with ease. (In some cases, this child may also have the gift of teaching.)
This list isn’t extensive. There are other troublesome traits that can be clues of God’s gifts to children. The next time your child’s trait annoys you, stop and think. How could this trait be trained and molded so it can be used to further God’s Kingdom? Then help your child change that troublesome trait into the gift it was meant to be!