Written by Guest Contributor, Katie Nguyen
Do you want your child to be happy? I know that is an easy question, but let me ask it this way: What are YOU doing to ensure your child will be happy when they grow up? As parents, we all do our best to encourage, discipline, educate and nurture our children to the best of our ability. All of these are important, but if you want your child to grow into their full potential as an adult, there is one thing you MUST do: Help them to discover their purpose.
Purpose seems like a tricky thing. We all have questions like, what are we here for? What should we do with our lives? What’s the best way to live? People have been preaching and writing and selling their ideas to finding purpose since the beginning of time. Let me save you time and money and turn you to the Bible.
The Bible says we are all here to love our God and love others (The Great Commandment). What greater act of showing that love is there than praising God for the talents he has given us and by using those talents to serve others? (1 Corinthians 12)
How do we teach this value to our children, in turn giving them purpose and future happiness? Here are five ways to get you started:
- Stop telling your child they are good at everything.
We all love our children tremendously, and in our eyes they excel at all they do, but if we falsely impress on them that they are good at EVERYTHING we are doing them a disservice. If we teach our children to believe that they are good at singing and soccer and gymnastics and science and writing and dancing and painting and acting… (you get the message) they begin to feel the pressure to be good at everything. Their focus becomes so diluted that they don’t have time to hone in on the few gifts God has uniquely given them. God created each one of us to be different. Each of us has unique gifts.
“But it is one and the same Spirit who does all this; as he wishes, he gives a different gift to each person.” 1 Corinthians 12:11
- Help your child discover what really makes them tick.
We have to remember to allow our children to tell us what they enjoy. We have to set aside our expectations and aspirations of what we want them to excel in and look for the spark that God has put in them. When are they happiest? Is it when they are reading? Dancing? Playing a sport? Singing? Give your child a variety of things to try and when they find the one thing that they are passionate about, embrace it and encourage it.
- Offer opportunities for your child to use their gifts to serve others.
God gave us our unique talents to serve others. It is important to teach this value of service at an early age. It’s also biblical:
“The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all.” 1 Corinthians 12:7
At the bottom of this post is a chart to help you translate your child’s talents/gifts into acts of service. It’s just to get the ideas flowing. Have fun with your child thinking of ways to help your child serve.
- Teach your child to appreciate other people’s gifts.
Our daily lives are full of competition. Sports, TV shows, social pressures…they all bombard your child every day. Take the time to remind your child that God made each person different and that it’s something to be celebrated. A child that can celebrate another’s successes and differences will have healthier and happier relationships as they grow.
“There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service.” 1 Corinthians 12:6
- Live by example.
This one is the most important of all. Before we can ask our children to embrace their talents and use them to serve others, we have to do it ourselves. Do you know what your God-given talents are? Do you appreciate and embrace those talents? How are you using those talents to serve others? The chart below may help you too.
Katie Nguyen is the author of The Kangacoo Blog, a faith-filled blog that encourages us all to love each other a little better. Katie will soon be releasing her first small group study for parents to do with their children to teach them to shine their God-given light. Don’t miss the launch! Join her email list and follow Kangacoo on Facebook.