Parents are a child’s earliest influences, and perhaps even the strongest. Over the years, various studies have shown that parents play a significant role in the overall development and well-being of children, ultimately impacting how they turn out as adults. However, in a survey of over 700 Christian youth aged 13-19 for the Whole Life Inventory (2016), we found that only 4 in 10 of them expressed that their parents had a high impact on their spiritual development.
As parents, are we fully utilising our God-given opportunity to encourage and enable our children to achieve their fullest potential, purpose and calling in life? Here are some points that you can discuss with your adolescent children.
Only 4 in 10 Christian youth felt that their parents had a high impact on their spiritual development.
Emphasise that Everyone is Called
At some point, every Christian — including you and me — will doubt if they’re doing the work that God has called them to; and our children will too. So it is important to equip them with the understanding that in some aspects, we are all called. Regardless of their career choice, they are called to work in some form or another (Exodus 20:9), submit their work to God (Colossians 3:17), and reflect God in their chosen place of work (Colossians 3:12).
As you discuss these vital aspects of God’s calling over their lives, guide your teen in creating their own personal mission statement. While this may be refined over the years to come, articulating a personal statement will help your teen examine their values, and make wiser decisions in line with their belief system and what they would like to achieve in future. Some questions that your teen needs to think about are:
- What are my top 5 priorities in life?
- What are the values most important to me?
- How can I make a significance in the key areas of my life? (I.e. family, friends, church, school etc).
- What are my personal goals? Identify 3 short/medium-term and 3 long-term goals.
A personal statement will help your teen examine their values, and make wiser decisions in line with their beliefs and long-term goals.
Help Your Teen to Discover their God-given Talent
How much of our parenting journey is spent considering and praying about our children’s specific areas of talents and abilities? While each child is deliberately, fearfully and wonderfully created to achieve a unique purpose, it’s too easy for us to lose sight of this bigger picture in the pursuit of more immediate goals, such as better examination results or getting into top-tier schools. While these are not bad goals in themselves, we must be watchful not to spend a disproportionate amount of effort to merely get ahead of other kids in class.
How much of our parenting journey is spent considering and praying about our children’s specific areas of talents and abilities?
A fulfilling and meaningful life is measured by how significantly we make an impact on other people’s spiritual journeys and awakening, and also on the world around us (Romans 12:4-6) — not the number of tests aced. In addition to spiritual gifts, we can pray for discernment of the talents and abilities in our children, and ask for wisdom to cultivate these. Encourage your teenager to uncover their natural areas of ability by considering these points:
- When do I feel most successful? Are there specific instances, big or small?
- What are the abilities that feel most natural to me, and seem to come quite easily?
- When do I feel most fulfilled?
Challenge Your Teen to Pursue Excellence in their Calling
As adults, we know that identifying natural ability and then exercising it to fulfil a greater purpose for God’s glory are two separate matters. Encourage a culture of excellence in your home, so that your teen will be prompted to hone their skills and pursue their God-given calling wholeheartedly. Constantly spur your child on with the reminder that the work we do is unto God and not Man (Colossians 3:23), setting them on the path to give their best in their pursuits. Encourage your teen to take time out of their busy schedule to pray, reflect and ask themselves:
- How do my current pursuits add to and further my ultimate calling?
- What are the areas that I am currently struggling with?
- What are 3 things that I can do right now to better my talents?
Encourage a culture of excellence at home to prompt your teen to hone skills and pursue their God-given calling wholeheartedly.
Living out our God-given calling on a daily basis is certainly a challenging prospect. However, God calls us to courageous living, rather than comfortable living! With your encouragement, affirmation and prayer, your teen will learn to walk closer with God, trust fully in Him, and live out the unique purpose that they were made for.
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