“Living for Jesus” is officially the last post in our series on raising kids to learn biblical life stewardship.
We started off with MINE ~ Teaching – and Learning – True Stewardship. We’ve covered:
- Relationships: Teaching the Art of Relating
- The Heart: A Heart is a Terrible Thing to Waste
- Time: Teaching Stewardship of 86,400 Seconds
- Money: In 3 parts, beginning with Show Me the Money!
- Belongings: Drowning In Stuff
- The Body: A Temple to the Lord
Let’s finish up by talking about teaching kids to steward the spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, and heart-bent the Lord has given them. In the beginning, stewarding these gifts primarily falls to the parent, however, we can help our kids identify and live out their gifts for Christ.
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Growing up in church, I heard a story numerous times that I could never fully understand. A woman, desiring a child more than anything else, pledged to give her first child to the Lord. God gave her a son, and at the first available opportunity, she made him a coat, packed him up and shipped him off to live in the Temple. She visited him once a year, bringing him a new coat. God subsequently blessed her with more children, and the boy grew to lead the nation of Israel.
This story outraged me. How could Hannah (1 Samuel Chapter 1) give away her child? How could she make such a foolish vow? How did poor little Samuel feel about being given away? How could the Lord honor her “gift”?
Then I came to Christ. No longer just an unsaved “Christian”, I became a follower of Christ – committing to Him my entire life, to do with as He wishes. Jesus became my all in all, my only hope.
One of the first things the Lord dealt with me on was my understanding of Hannah’s story. Slowly, lovingly, He peeled my fingers from my children. I came to understand that my kids belonged to the Lord. It is only through a gift from Him that I am allowed to steward their young lives, to guide them to Christ. I’ve given my whole life to Jesus, and that means my babies as well. Regardless of how God uses my children’s lives, where He takes them, or how their service of Him subjects them to trials and hardships, it is my heartfelt desire that they follow Him all the days of their lives.
I have only come to this more mature, godly view of parenthood through struggle and study. (I know… I’m selfish to the core). However, as I walk with Jesus, as my relationship with Him grows, as my joy in the Lord daily increases, I can’t wait for my children to experience the same joy and depth of relationship. I can’t wait for them to walk with Jesus as I do. I pray daily that they will increase His kingdom, serve Him well, and be mighty warriors in His name (yes, even my girl!).
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In striving to help our children serve the Lord to the best of their abilities, how do we start? What can we do to help?
I think we start by observing. What are our kids naturally good at? How do they relate to the world around them? What natural talents and skills do they display? In what ways do they enjoy serving others?
The best way I’ve found to observe these natural giftings is to allow my kids exposure to a variety of input. We allow them to pursue their interests and passions in their free-time (limiting their media usage helps them have free time), we look for opportunities to serve (see more about serving as a lifestyle in Born to Serve: Teaching Love in Action). Through watching my kids grow, I can begin to see where God has gifted them. My goal is never to steer my children in a given direction. My goal is to help them develop the areas they can use to God’s glory.
Once kids have come to Christ (and we pray and work with all we have to see that they do), they are in-filled with the Holy Spirit and receive the gifts of the Spirit the Lord has chosen for them. There are a number of different doctrines and ideas regarding spiritual gifting. I would advise you to study the Scripture, and consult with a godly pastor in order to form a good understanding of spiritual gifting. Some of the gifts of the Spirit clearly identified in Scripture are:
Prophesying (Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12: 8, 1 Corinthians 12: 28)
Serving (Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12: 28)
Teaching (Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12: 28)
Encouraging (Romans 12:6)
Giving (Romans 12:6)
Leadership (Romans 12:6)
Mercy (Romans 12:6)
Wisdom (1 Corinthians 12: 8)
Knowledge (1 Corinthians 12: 8)
Faith (1 Corinthians 12: 8)
Healing (1 Corinthians 12: 8)
Miracles (1 Corinthians 12: 8, 1 Corinthians 12: 28)
Discernment (1 Corinthians 12: 8)
Tongues (1 Corinthians 12: 8, 1 Corinthians 12: 28)
Interpretation of Tongues (1 Corinthians 12: 8)
- Administration (1 Corinthians 12: 28)
Once we’ve identified our kids’ talents, abilities, heart for others and spiritual gifting, we can strive to enable them to develop those giftings for Christ. We can teach to their strengths, give them biographies of individuals with similar giftings, and help them exercise their spiritual muscle.
I don’t want to choose a path for my kids. I certainly don’t want to close doors for them by neglecting teaching essential skills in areas in which they may not be gifted. However, I do want to help them identify ways in which they are uniquely fitted to serve and glorify Jesus Christ. That’s my mission – to point my kids to Jesus, and to help them serve Him.
How do you teach to your children’s giftings? How do you identify their gifting? Any advice for the rest of us?
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is a freelance children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr., Pockets, Devozine, Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey and in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.This post is linked to Raising Mighty Arrows.