by Lisa Hamel
Growing up I had a talent. I also had the personality type that loved to be the center of attention. Couple those things with a love for Jesus, and I had an entire church telling me that someday I would change the world with my gifts. I would be a household name! Sunday morning often ended with a line of people telling me how great I was. It was all meant as encouragement in the right direction but gifts can be tricky things……. You see, somewhere along the way I began to believe that in order to be me, I had to be and stay amazing. This faulty thinking led to some tough lessons for me.
Because of my own journey, I want to raise kids who know who they are regardless of what talents they have or lack; regardless of what comes easily or difficult for them.
So here are a few things I’ve found helpful along the way:
1. When your child excels at something or has a success, ask them how it makes THEM feel instead of what you thought about it. This makes it less about you and how you want to form them into a certain image, and more about their own internal thoughts. “What do I think about myself?”
2. Show appreciation for your kids’ talents and gifts, and wonder with them about how God wants to use them. “Wow, God sure gave you a great athletic ability. I wonder how He wants to use that to bring glory to Himself? How do you think He might use you and your gifts?” Asking questions like these will help you understand where their hearts are and where you may need to gently lead them. For the kid who seems to be “ordinary” - call out the beautiful parts of their heart/character in appreciation. If you can’t think of anything, ask God to help you see what He sees. We need stable, steady people in this world and there is nothing wrong with a child who has those qualities. In Jesus - they can shine like stars! (Philippians 2:13-16); (James 4:10)
3. Tell your children who they are. My amazing friend Sabrina taught me this one. Everyday tell your kids to remember who they are. For us, it’s - “Child of God. Man of Character. World Changer.” Everyone is being told they are something. Instead of telling your child they are talented or even telling them it’s OK that they are mediocre, tell them the only truth that matters. While they were still sinners, the God of the universe gave His life for them. The world will be yelling through a megaphone - trying to tell them who they are. We have to put in the truth. It won’t happen by default.
4. Remind your kids that His strength is made perfect in weakness! (2 Corinthians 12). The once starlet who was suppose to change the world with her talents ended up spending the last 15 years quietly living hidden in Jesus as she raised kids, helped her parents and struggled with anxiety and depression. I should also mention that her shy younger sister now leads worship to thousands and her low profile brother also has a huge following for his art. God uses who He chooses! And it is often the unexpected kids in the family who have the greatest impact. So my friends, please know that there is nothing wrong with marveling at the gifts God has given your kids. Just remember where they came from!