Spiritual gifts and love languages are so important but I often underestimate them. A while back I did a post on love languages. More importantly, on how I was unknowingly using my husband’s love languages against them. The same can be said with spiritual gifts. Ever since, I have been focusing more on what my family member’s spiritual gifts and love languages were. If I knew what they were, I could do a better job of building them up and encouraging them. While it is easier to figure out my spiritual gifts, I was having a hard time figuring out what my children’s were. This is a guest post from Darla Noble about how we can help our children discover those spiritual gifts and it has been so helpful to me!
Whenever I have the privilege of teaching Christian parenting classes, I open every session by reading Deuteronomy 6:4-9 which says:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
It doesn’t get much plainer than that, does it? As parents we are commanded by God to raise our children to know God. To love God. To honor God in all ways.
Another way to say it is this: We are to raise our children knowing they are on loan to us from God; raising them so that they can be returned to Him someday in favorable ‘condition’.
Part of doing the ‘parent thing’ in a Godly manner is helping our children discover and use their God-given talents or spiritual gifts. Just like we teach them how to use the bathroom like a big boy or girl, how to drive, how to mow the lawn, how to cook, and how to handle their finances maturely, we need to help them discover what their God-given talents are and help them learn to use their spiritual gifts for His glory.
But how? How do you go about helping your children discover their God-given talents, i.e. spiritual gifts or natural abilities? We’ll talk about that in a minute, but first let’s talk about how not to do it.
Don’t tell your children what their talents and spiritual gifts are.
In other words, don’t decide for them. Just because you want your child to sing in the children’s choir doesn’t mean they should.
Don’t assume your child’s spiritual gifts are the genetically-linked (the same as yours).
Like Psalm 139 says, we are all created uniquely special. We’re the only one of our kind.
Don’t assume all of your children will have the same God-given talents and spiritual gifts.
I have four children and all four are different. They all have servant’s hearts and are the first to step up to offer assistance to those in need. But one is far more gifted in the area of hospitality than the others. Two are teachers, two are not. Two are shy. Two are far more outgoing. Only one is musically talented like I am. Two are prayer warriors. One would go without so someone else wouldn’t have to.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Don’t compare your children and don’t expect the same from each of them.
Now let’s get to the list of ‘dos’ because there are several ways you can help your child grow in their relationship with the LORD while learning how to serve Him.
Involve your children in ministry right from the start.
My husband spent thirty years in law enforcement; meaning he worked a lot of shift work. And that means he wasn’t always available to watch the kids when our ladies group met once a month (and for other similar events). So what did I do? I took them (my kids) with me.
Thankfully my sisters in Christ didn’t mind. It helped that my kids were well-behaved, but they truly didn’t mind them being there. In fact, whoever the hostess was usually asked if I would be bringing them because they wanted to be sure to have a special treat of basket of toys ready for them.
The extra attention the kids received from multiple generations of women in the church was special to the kids and the women, but that was just one of the benefits derived from involving the kids in our ministry meetings. By ‘having’ to come with me the kids also:
- Learned to serve by doing behind the scenes things like cleaning the church and setting up for VBS
- Brought joy to elderly people in nursing homes they wouldn’t have otherwise
- Formed life-long relationships that were (and still are) much closer than they would have been by ‘just’ going to the same church
- Received encouragement and mentoring that helped bring their talents and abilities to the forefront
- Learned compassion, selflessness, and Christ-like love by seeing it in action
Taking my kids to the ladies ministry meetings wasn’t the only way we involved our children in ministry at an early age. We also:
- Did service projects and ministry projects as a family
- Supported missionaries by sending letters and care packages
Children really do learn what they live, so when they live ministry, they will learn ministry. And when given opportunities for ministry they will naturally gravitate toward the things they feel called to do—things that utilize their God-given talents.
Listen and watch.
What do your kids like to do in their spare time? What do they talk about? What are they good at outside of a church setting?
Even if they aren’t ‘traditional’ or ‘churchy’, they can be used for God. Remember: God equips each of us with everything we need to do His will for our lives. So if you are equipped to do something (with a God-given talent) you can do it for God.
Take your cue from them.
When you provide opportunities for your children to serve and encourage them to look for ways to serve the LORD, they will gravitate toward those things God has gifted them to do. And you need to let them.
Helping your children discover their spiritual gifts is part of your job as a parent, but it is also part of your job as a Christian—to encourage and lift others up in the LORD.
About the author – Darla Noble is a mom, grandma and author who has been writing Christian non-fiction for over 25 years. She has published several books and also writes regularly for Faithisland.org, where she shares inspirational articles about faith, prayer and the raising the next generation of believers.
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