Empowering Your Child
Have you ever lied to your child? When I was growing up my mom and dad told me what I now consider to be a lie. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t do it intentionally. And, they didn’t do it to hurt me. In their defense they were actually trying to motivate me to take initiative, to work toward goals, and to accomplish great things. What they actually told me was this, “son, you can be anything you want to be.” Hearing this from my mom and dad really was motivational. I loved basketball and baseball and wanted to be a professional in both sports. I was pretty good too. It didn’t matter how much I “wanted” to be a pro athlete it just wasn’t going to happen. And, I thought about becoming a doctor at one point but making good grades in science became a hindrance. I even had a notion that I might end up being a famous country singer. Turns out you have to be able to play more than four chords on the guitar and stay on pitch through an entire song. Unfortunately, my parents were wrong. I couldn’t become anything I wanted to be.
But, I could become exactly what God had designed me to be. And I did. My parents didn’t see it when I was little but as I got older they did begin to see in me certain abilities, passions, and areas of giftedness. These were seen in my personality, my interests, and my attitudes. They noticed in me a desire to serve God. They encouraged me and empowered me to pursue my passion. As of today, I’ve been in the ministry for 37 years.
As I was growing up my parents empowered me to try a variety of different things. I expressed my interest through sports, music, art, writing, travel, and, of course, church. As I became a teenager they challenged me to use my gifts to serve others by helping in kids worship, cutting the grass at the church, assisting in Vacation Bible School, playing drums for the youth choir, and through coaching children’s sports teams. I was empowered by my parents to spend time with wise adults who lived in our community, to be a leader among my peers, and to take part in student camps and mission trips. I was a young man that wasn’t great at any one thing, but I became good at several different things. And, it’s the same today.
So, even though I’ve never packed out stadiums as a professional athlete or famous singer, I have become exactly what I was designed to be, a minister. I am so glad that my parents not only encouraged me along the way, but also empowered me to explore who God was designing me to become.
How can you empower your children to use their God given talents and abilities? First, you need to be their example. Are you using all the gifts and abilities that God has given you? Second, pray that God would reveal to you the passions and gifts that He has given your child. And third, empower them to enjoy and experiment with the giftedness that God reveals.
Learning to empower kids isn’t complicated. You simply guide them to discover their interests, set some goals, and teach them to be dedicated to consistent improvement. Then you move out of their way and cheer them on with optimistic enthusiasm.
By the way, this process takes a few years. Be patient, pray, and trust God no matter what.
Pastor of Families, Westwood Baptist Church, Alabaster, AL