Everybody can be something to somebody
It’s been said that education is wasted on youth. When we’re young, all we want to do is get out of school. Yet once we’re grown and entered into the workforce, many of us wish we could go back to school.
And I won’t even start on the similar sentiments when it comes to napping…
Yet we seem to take a backwards approach when it comes to discovering our God-given gifts to make a difference in the world.
So often, too often in fact, kids are made to feel like they cannot make a difference until they’re all grown up. They’re told they’re too young, too little, too naive.
I beg to differ.
It is exactly that child-like faith that not only enlivened Jesus, but inspired him to say:
Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. – Matthew 18:3-5
The imagination of a child is not only priceless, it’s endless. Children see possibilities without barriers. They are not impeded by the negativity and self-doubt that so often stops us in our tracks before we even get started.
And I hate to say it, but we as parents are often the ones who plant those seeds of doubt within our kids.
But if tomorrow is not guaranteed, why not start helping our kids uncover their God-given gifts and abilities today?
This doesn’t mean your child needs to become the next 18-month old waterskier or toddler spelling bee champion.
What is does mean is that you need to tune in to exactly what it is that makes your child unique (and if you have multiple children, I can guarantee you that each of them will have a unique gifting!).
We all tend to feel like everyone already knows everything that we know, which is why we often hesitate to share it. And even though we may not fully comprehend what each of our God-given gifts are from an early age, that doesn’t mean we have to wait until our kids are grown to start uncovering them.
After all, we don’t have to try to be everything to everybody, but we each possess a unique talent or capability that can make a difference in somebody’s life, even if just one.
I’ve read of kids starting lemonade stands to help end child slavery.
I’ve heard of children asking for donations to be made in lieu of bringing gifts for their birthday party.
I’ve seen families cutting down the number of presents they give each other at Christmas so they can ‘adopt’ a less-fortunate family and buy them gifts instead.
This sentiment is echoed throughout one of our family’s favorite DVD’s, The Legend of the Three Trees. In this timeless retelling of the classic folktale, three distinct trees dream of becoming great. Even though their dreams don’t seemingly come true at first, their lives each intersect and interact with Jesus Christ—in His birth, ministry, and ultimate sacrifice.
In these experiences, the trees learn that God has a special purpose for each of them. While this tale is especially fitting with Easter right around the corner, I’ve found it encouraging the whole year through.
The Legend of the Three Trees reminds me to remind my own children that more often than not, it doesn’t take much, it just takes something.
After all, you can never finish what you don’t start.
So what kind of parent are you going to choose to be? The kind that presents the limitations of a dream or the kind that fosters the dream despite challenges?
When a child gets in touch with their God-given gifts, they learn to find their way in life regardless of what life throws at them. They learn not to define themselves solely on their circumstances. They learn that ‘who they are’ is not based solely on ‘what they do’.
Regardless of whether you’re the parent of a newborn or a soon-to-be graduate, it’s never too early, or too late to help your child see their God-given gifts!
How do you help your children to discover and make use of their God-given gifts?