What Is Your Child’s Godly Potential?

Christian parenting has one main goal – your descendants spend eternity in Heaven and help lots of others get there, too. Below that are two important goals that will help your kids reach the over encompassing one. The first is helping your kids build a strong, unshakeable faith foundation. The second is to help them reach their godly potential.

So what exactly is godly potential? It’s not specifically mentioned in the Bible as such, but there are quite a few scriptures that allude to it. Among the most familiar are perhaps Luke 12:48 (“To whom much is given…”) Matthew 25:14-30 (Parable of the Talents) and 1 Corinthians 12 (Functions of members of the Church), but there are many others.

In short, God gives each of us – each of your kids – a slightly or vastly different potential in several areas. Our focus is not to be on who may have the “better” potential, for everyone has the potential to serve God. Rather it should be on developing and using our – or in this case, your kids’ – full potential to serve God.

So what are some of the components of your kids’ godly potential?

  • Gifts and talents. Spiritual gifts are often difficult to understand and apply to kids and teens. Instead, focus on the more concrete talents with which God has blessed them. As your kids develop and use these gifts to serve God, the spiritual gifts will most likely become more evident. Don’t just focus on obvious talents like artistic ability or public speaking. Your kids’ may have gifts like organizational skills, the ability to easily engage people in conversation or other talents we may not automatically connect to serving God, but which God can use.
  • Opportunities. God will give each of your kids different opportunities to serve Him. Some of those opportunities may be exciting, while others will seem more mundane. A few of the opportunities will involve all of your kids, but most will be specifically designed for each child and may vary greatly. All, however, are good works that God planned specifically for each of your kids to do in service to Him. And some of those opportunities will begin appearing when your kids are very young. Teaching them to recognize and take advantage of the opportunities God gives them to serve Him will give their lives meaning and purpose.
  • Knowledge, wisdom and discernment. In order to reach their godly potential, your kids will need to learn and understand what is in the Bible. They will also need to discern how to apply God’s wisdom to their lives. If your kids are in school, you are probably already aware that different kids have different capacities for learning, comprehension and application. God understands that, but He also expects each of your kids to do their very best to learn, understand and use the things He wants them to know.
  • Personality, character traits and resisting temptation. Each of your kids has a slightly or incredibly different personality. That personality can impact how much they struggle consistently having the character traits God wants them to have. Their personality can also impact which things tempt them and how difficult it is to resist certain temptations. This does not, however, mean any child is incapable of having the character traits God wants them to have or will be unable to resist temptation. It just means certain aspects may be more difficult for some of your kids than for others. Those who struggle need to be encouraged to continue working towards becoming who God wants them to be.

When you look at this list, what is the potential you see in each of your kids? Be careful to avoid underestimating their potential. Remember, they are still growing and changing. God may have many plans for them, but helping them build that strong faith foundation and developing to their full godly potential will help them be ready for whatever God has in store.

Christian Parenting Challenges #12

Spring is in full bloom in Atlanta. The beauty is balanced by our Spring tornado threats. Hopefully, you weren’t impacted by dangerous weather and you are starting to see signs of life in your area. Here are this week’s social media challenges.

Monday: From far away, these all just look like white flowering trees. If you look closely though, the blooms are unique and so are the trees. Your kids are very different, too. They all need some of the same things, but even those they may need in different ways. You have to get up close and spend a lot of quality time with them to really know what they need to become who God created them to be. Otherwise, they will only get a fraction of what they needed to reach their full godly potential.

Tuesday: Most people claim they don’t have family devotionals because they don’t have the time. A study found the average person spends 1800 hours in a non COVID year watching content, like tv or Netflix. If you read the Bible to your kids 15 minutes a day, it only takes 90 hours a year. Let that sink in for a minute. What are your true priorities?

Wednesday: This new book is a great tool for explaining to your kids the overarching story of the Bible and how all the pieces fit together. It also explains some of those puzzling things like why sometimes Jesus tells people he healed to keep quiet and other times to tell everyone. She also shows the amazing richness of scripture in stories like the feeding of the 4000 and why there might have been those seven baskets of leftovers. Encountering Jesus in the Real World of the Gospels by Cyndi Parker

Thursday: My urns had started looking a little haggard after years of minimal care. So I pulled everything out and started at the beginning again. Sometimes in parenting things seem to be going haywire. Going back to the basics can get things in order more quickly than trying to figure out the tangle in its current state.

Friday: Father’s Day isn’t until June, but kids need their dad to be engaged in their lives every day. Christian parenting isn’t just the job of the mother. Dads need to be in the trenches with them, actively pointing their kids to God.

Christian Parenting Challenges #7

It’s been cold and snowy for much of the country this week. Spring is just around the corner though. Here are this week’s social media challenges to encourage and inspire.

Monday: Thankfully, there are no written tests in parenting! It’s important to stop periodically though and examine whether your parenting techniques are getting the results you had hoped. If not, find mentors or books to give you better strategies. Don’t wait until your kids are adults. Reflecting as you go can help you make crucial changes as quickly as possible, avoiding potentially negative long term consequences.

Tuesday: A friend of mine just put out a cd with classical music for people who are melancholy, to encourage reflection and healing. Did you know music has an impact on your kids’ moods? Sometimes a few peppy tunes will put everyone in a better frame of mind. Worship music can help teach your kids scriptures. Playing music in your home has lots of positive purposes. So crank up those tunes!

Wednesday: Sure it’s cold where you are, but it’s not too early to start growing seeds with your kids. Old plastic take out containers (with clear lids) make great greenhouses. Growing things is great for teaching your kids about God, and working with them on their patience, perseverance and responsibility. The resulting flowers or vegetables can also be used to serve others. Even if you don’t have a yard, you can move the plants to pots. (We even grew cucumbers in a pot on our deck last summer!)

Thursday: Many kids enjoy experiencing something new or different. To them it’s interesting and fun. They may not be excited about trying these chips, but many of the stories in the Bible are awesome to kids! Adults forget how amazing these stories are because they have heard them so many times. Kids haven’t though and these stories are new and interesting. Your attitude should be excitement in being able to share these stories with them for the first time. And don’t forget all of those short obscure Bible stories they will probably never hear at Church. God wants them to hear those stories, too.

Friday: Is your home a Philippians 4:8 home? You don’t have to have a lot of money to surround your kids with things that are good, pure, lovely, positive, etc. Life is full of negativity, your home doesn’t need to encourage engaging with dark, negative content unnecessarily. You may just find the joy in your home increases as you fill your space and time with positive things. What are some things you do to be a Philippians 4:8 home?

Parenting Challenges #6

Valentine’s Day is this weekend. Have fun showering your kids with lots of extra love! Here are this week’s social media challenges.

Monday:This man is famous for taking trash and turning it into art. It only makes sense that your kids, being created in God’s image, will also be creative. Unfortunately, their creativity is often stifled, making it difficult for them to discover their gifts from God….and find creative ways to use those gifts to serve Him. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to encourage your kids’ natural creativity. Just allow them to play with a bunch of safe, random objects and see what happens.

Tuesday: What’s in a name? For fans of this Canadian chain, they know what to expect…even if they find one in Scotland! So what does it mean when your kids take on the name Christian? It’s more than a name, for sure. What does God expect of His Christian people? What does the world think when they see the name Christian? What does God want us to do as Christians that will cause others to want to learn more about Him? These are all important questions your family should regularly discuss.

Wednesday: If you live near an ocean where these live, you’ve probably taught your kids to be careful around them to avoid getting hurt. Have you taught your kids how to avoid being hurt spiritually? They need to be taught how to recognize temptations and how to avoid sinning when tempted. Otherwise, they are much more likely to get hurt.

Thursday: This is a sidewalk in a city I visit. The optical illusion can make the sidewalk appear uneven. Sinful pursuits can have the illusion that they will make your kids happy and popular. And they may for a time. Ultimately though, those sins can and will hurt them. Sometimes immediately. Sometimes much later. Sometimes when it’s too late. Whenever possible, helping them understand some of the reasons why God may want them to avoid those will help many. For others reasons don’t help because it’s an issue of their heart towards God. They will need to learn to trust God, their King, and want to obey Him, before they will attempt to avoid sins.

Friday:Different kids have different needs. Basketball is a priority for this family, so they made sure each child has the goal they need to practice appropriately. Each of your kids will need some of the same things to grow spiritually and reach their full potential. Because of their personalities and varied gifts from God, they will also each have special needs to become the active, productive Christian God wants them to be. It takes time to discover and provide those things, but it’s the best way to help your kids reach the full spiritual potential God gave them.

What’s Your Parenting Tone?

Have you ever heard someone say “I love you” in a way that sounds more like “I can barely tolerate you”? If so, then you understand the impact tone has on what we say. As a parent, you may have even said to your kids, “It’s not what you said, but how you said it.” You are probably working with your kids on the tones they use with others, but have you given much thought to the tones you use when parenting them?

Children can be particularly sensitive to tone. They may not have enough life experience to know that when daddy is grumpy after work, it is more about his job than them. Since kids tend to be naturally a bit egocentric, they will take what they infer from a negative tone used consistently and begin to apply it to how they define themselves.

Now, I’m not about to say that you can never be firm with your children when they are rebellious and disobey you. What I will say is that when a parent who generally uses a warm, loving tone with their children does use a firm tone, the children pay close attention. On the other hand, parents who are consistently harsh with their children are ignored after a time.

James 1:19 doesn’t specifically address tone, but the advice can be applied to tone. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger when communicating with your kids. Use warm, loving tones as much as possible. Avoid sarcasm, which is easily missed by children. Remember, your tone for correction can be firm, but still loving.

Don’t forget, the tone you intend may not be the tone that is heard. Some children are more sensitive than others. Kids who are never yelled at by their parents will call a slightly raised voice yelling. The personalities and current moods of your kids can impact how your kids interpret your tone. If they are hungry or tired, their interpretation will be more negative than when they are well fed and rested.

Not sure how they perceive your tones? Have them do an imitation of you in different situations. (If you can’t laugh at yourself, don’t try this!) or ask your spouse or a friend who is around when you interact with your kids what they think. You can try asking your kids to describe your tones, but they may not have the vocabulary or life experience to do so accurately. Instead try asking them if what you said was music, what kind of music would it be.

Tone is only one piece of your communications with your kids, but it’s an important one. Working on a tone that will be heard and heeded as loving and helpful, will make your parenting journey a lot easier.