Tips for Helping Kids Open Their Gifts From God

Kids love presents. There is something exciting about tearing off beautiful wrappings and finding a surprise meant only for you. Your kids may not realize God has given them gifts, too. You’ve probably taught them everything they have is a gift from God, but have you taught them about the personal gift or gifts God has given them?

When discussing gifts, many churches focus only on the spiritual gifts given to Christians mentioned in Corinthians. Often those conversations are more confusing than helpful…especially to young people who haven’t been baptized yet. What churches often miss is the discussion on the more concrete and easy to understand gifts or talents God gives everyone to use to serve Him.

When the Tabernacle was being built, there is an interesting passage in Exodus 36 about some of the craftsman involved. It seems God gave certain people gifts or larger portions of gifts needed to build the Tabernacle. It’s these gifts of talent that are easiest for your kids to understand. We know from the parable of the talents that each of your kids has at least one gift from God to use in serving Him. Your mission as a parent is to help your kids discover, develop and find ways to use those gifts to serve God.

Since the first task is opening or discovering those gifts, what are some good ways to do that? Here are some of our favorite tips.

  • Observe your kids carefully. What do they like to do in their free time? What do they like to read about? What lessons are they begging to take? What raw talent are they already exhibiting? Often the talent God gave a child is obvious from an early age. There seems to be an inborn passion for using that talent and even small children can show the beginnings of talents. Watching your kids carefully can give you clues to their possible talents. (Note: Not all interests and passions are tied to actual talents.)
  • Think outside the box. Most people think of talents as obvious ones like artistic or musical talent. After they have gone through the list of those half dozen talents, they assume no talent is present. Intelligence, organizational skills, and other less obvious talents are also from God and need to be developed and used to serve Him. You can search for our past blog posts with a long list of these gifts.
  • Give them opportunities to experiment. Give gifts of kits that allow kids to experiment with different gifts in a rather affordable way. Many craft stores and places like Home Depot are known for offering free or low cost classes that allow kids to try out possible talents.
  • Encourage them to read about their interests. Your public library probably has books on a variety of topics to let your kids explore by reading about more complex talents before investing large amounts of money in lessons or resources. If your child is fascinated with glass blowing, for example, reading a book may help him or her understand whether actually blowing glass would be something they might really enjoy and have a talent for doing.
  • Take them to demonstrations. Some talents are regularly demonstrated. Back stage tours can help your kids see the work involved in developing and using a talent. Many art shows, historic and educational sites and specialty trade shows like cooking shows have live demonstrations. Often those observing are allowed to ask questions. Most demonstrators love answering the questions of kids and may even let them experiment.

Helping your kids discover, develop and use their talents to serve God is one of the most fun parts of Christian parenting. Spend some time this year helping your kids unwrap their gifts from God.

Service That Actually Changes Your Kids

Christian parents usually give their kids opportunities to serve others as part of their spiritual education. Serving regularly with your kids is a wise thing to do if you want them to grow up loving their neighbors, serving those in need while sharing their faith and living their faith on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the ways we often engage them in serving others doesn’t have the impact on them it could.

Studies have found that when young people serve others through mission trips and the like, any spiritual growth is often small and not sustained over a long period of time. Serving others as a family can have the same results, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Making a few changes can mean your kids experience real, sustainable spiritual growth as a result.

Here are some things to make sure you include when your family serves others.

  • Talk about why you are serving. Just saying your family is trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus or love others like yourself isn’t enough. Take a close look together at the ministries of Jesus and the disciples found in the Gospels and Acts. Have real discussions about why God wants His people to serve others. Talk about the ways serving others point people to God and how you can enhance that by sharing your faith with those you serve. If your kids don’t understand the true, deep significance of serving others, it becomes just another family activity which can be omitted on a whim when they are older.
  • Focus on empathy rather than sympathy. Sympathy can have an element of pride attached to it. Empathy attempts to understand the thoughts and viewpoints of others. Your family doesn’t have to agree with or condone ungodly attitudes or actions, but you can understand why those you are serving may (in some instances) have made those poor choices. It can also help to understand the stories of those you are serving. What is daily life like for them? What struggles do they encounter? Empathy also tries to find things in common with those being served. Finding commonalities makes it harder to be prideful and easier to become passionate about sharing the Gospel message as you serve.
  • Include your kids in the planning and execution of your service. Your kids will be more invested in participating in something they helped plan. It’s also great experience that will enable them to plan and execute ways to serve others independently when they are older. Even toddlers can participate in aspects of the planning process by giving them two acceptable options for some part of your service and allowing them to choose which one you will use.
  • Make serving others relational. I’m not suggesting you refuse to donate to the various collection drives, it’s just they won’t have the same impact on your kids as developing relationships with the people to whom those items will go. Find ways to help your kids make relationships with those they serve. Long term involvement in the lives of the same people can have the best long term impact, but taking your kids to help deliver the items others collect can at least give some relational aspect to your service. If meeting the people is impossible, try reading a book written to develop empathy for people in similar circumstances.
  • Encourage your kids to work on their own spiritual growth as they serve others. Serving others can be a great opportunity to work on godly character traits like patience, perseverance, kindness and more. Ask your kids to pick a character trait with which they struggle and be intentional about improving in that area while they are serving. It can help if they memorize a theme verse they can repeat while serving to remind them of their goal.
  • Spend time on reflection. It took me awhile to fully appreciate the value of a time of reflection after serving others. The lessons you think your kids learn from a service experience may be very different from what they actually learned. Talking about the experience and asking them questions about their perceptions can give you opportunities to correct misperceptions and add insight in ways they may have missed. You can also reflect on the ways you would do things differently should you ever serve in that way again. Reflection is the piece that can help make spiritual growth sustainable.

Regularly serving others with your kids is one of the best things you can do to help them start to put together all of the pieces of their faith. Making these tweaks can make the potential spiritual growth from those experiences meaningful and sustainable.

Fun Family Gratitude Activity

How good is your family at expressing your gratitude to God for His many blessings? Now, how good is your family at expressing gratitude to those around them? There’s a fun activity you can do to help you and your kids be more observant of those deserving your thanks and make it more likely you and your kids will express their gratitude.

Start by having your kids design a gratitude “card”. Make it small enough so you can print several to a sheet of paper, but large enough so your kids can write a sentence on the back of the design. You may want to print on card stock to make them more sturdy, but regular paper works fine, too. If you don’t own a printer, your kids will just need to produce multiple versions of their artwork!

Now comes the fun part! Brainstorm a list of people they can thank. Maybe a neighbor who always asks them how they are doing in school. Or the mail person for bringing them their favorite magazine. Your list can be as long and creative as you would like. Then on the back of each card, you can write, “Thank you for…” and complete the sentence. For pre-writers, you can write the sentence and have them illustrate it.

Then deliver them! Afterwards, talk with your kids about the responses you got. Point out that these people didn’t necessarily expect thanks, but were so pleased and encouraged when they were appreciated for their efforts.

Make it a habit for each of you to carry some of these cards with you wherever you go. Fill them out in real time and give them as soon as someone does something simple for you. You can even make it a fun “competition” and see who in your family can thank the most people in a day or week. Over time, your family will get in the habit of noticing the things others do for you and thanking them for it.

Does Your Child Have One of These Gifts From God?

Christians often get bogged down trying to figure out which of the gifts on the list in 1 Corinthians God gave them. It’s one of the reasons kids and teens are rarely taught about discovering, developing and using the gift or gifts God gave them to serve Him. It’s little wonder they often believe there’s no place or purpose for them in God’s Kingdom.

It’s easier to instead focus on the gifts God gave people in Exodus 36 to do the work He wanted them to do in the building of the Tabernacle. Even kids can understand God gave them gifts of talents they can use to serve Him. It’s concrete, easy to understand and biblical. Those spiritual gifts in Corinthians often reveal themselves as we use our other gifts to serve God.

Some kids seem to be born knowing what their gifts are. Others discover them naturally as they explore the world around them. Some, however, will struggle and believe God didn’t give them a gift. We know He gave every child at least one gift. The problem is that we often lack the creativity to see those gifts and help young people figure out how to use them to serve God.

Here’s a list of possible gifts to get you started. Go over the list with each of your kids. Use the quiz in the last post to help you focus your search. Then have fun helping your kids develop and use those gifts to serve God!

Ability to Focus, Accounting, Adaptability, Athletic Ability, Audio Visual, Automobile Repair, Analyzing, Art, Asking Questions, Building, Computer Coding, Cooking, Counseling, Crafts, Wood Working, Decorating, Detail Oriented, Drama, Editing, Emotional Intelligence, Encouragement, Enthusiasm, Faith Sharing, Fashion/Clothing, Generosity, Greeting/Outreach, Networking, Human Resources/Talent Identification, Humor, Imagination, Intelligence, Juggling, Listening, Marketing, Math, Medicine, Mercy, Music, Organizing, Photography, Problem Solving, Public Speaking, Research, Risk Management, Science, Self Control, Service, Social Media, Stewardship, Teaching, Time Management, Typing, Video Production, Writing

Fun Quiz to Help Your Kids Discover Their Gifts From God

Do your kids know the gifts God gave them to serve Him? The truth is that you may still be struggling to figure out what your own gifts from God may be. Often if churches even address giftedness, they use the scripture in Corinthians about spiritual gifts and a long inventory to “help”. Often, those exercises just leave people more confused than ever and teens and kids are often excluded entirely from the conversation.

Why not make the entire exercise a bit more concrete and practical – easy enough to use with even relatively young children? We suggest that instead of starting in Corinthians, you show your kids Exodus 31. In this chapter, it discusses how God used what we call the “secular” gifts or talents of various individuals to build the Tabernacle. It also explains how God gave certain individuals a little extra bit of talent so they could do the work well.

Then read to them the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. Although there is more than one way to interpret this parable, it is acceptable to equate the money “talent” with what we now call talents or gifts. Point out that each person received a different number of talents, but each received at least one talent. Note that the master was only upset with the man who didn’t do anything with his talent at all.

Explain to your kids that God gave each of them at least one talent. One of their jobs as a Christian (or future Christian) is to find, develop and use their talent or talents to serve God. To get started, ask each of your kids to answer the following questions:

  • What classes or training have they had that have taught you anything that might be considered a talent? (These can be at school or extracurricular classes…even one time classes.)
  • When someone compliments you, what are the two or three attributes they most often mention?
  • What is your favorite class in school?
  • In what class is it easiest for you to make a good grade?
  • What jobs (if they are old enough) or volunteer work have you done in the past?
  • Which ones did you enjoy the most and why?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What type of non-fiction books (or YouTube videos if they watch instructional ones) do you enjoy the most?
  • What are some things you do well, but don’t necessarily consider a talent?
  • If you could learn or try something new, what would it be?
  • What is something you love doing (or would love to do), but don’t feel as if you would do it well?
  • If someone asks you for help or advice, what is it that is most often asked of you?
  • After your child has answered all of the questions, look at the answers together. Is there a pattern? Is there a particular gift already demonstrated? Is there an interest that might also indicate a gift if they are given opportunities to develop it? Don’t limit yourself to more obvious gifts like artistic talent, teaching talent, etc. In our next post, we will give you a list of more subtle talents that God can use as much as the more obvious ones.
  • Taking the time to help your kids discover, develop and use their gifts to serve God is the beginning of their understanding their place and role in God’s Kingdom and the good works He has planned for them to do.