Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Way

Remember when you were a child people started asking you what you wanted to be when you grew up? This of course was to refer to what job or career path you would like to take. A child may or may not have any thoughts or ideas about these things, but God was thinking about it long before they were ever born.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Since God has already thought about the plans He has for our kids, then we should also be thinking and praying about it. The bible even tells us to train them for it.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

The Hebrew word used for "way" in this scripture, is derek. Vines Bible Dictionary defines it like this. Path, road, highway, manner, conduct, condition, destiny, undertaking. This word connotes how and what one does, a manner, custom, behavior, mode of life. Derek is applied to an activity that controls one, one's life-style. It can signify the overall course and fixed path of one's life, or his "destiny".

So how do we begin training them for what God will call them to when we don't know what that call is? In addition to teaching them to love the Lord with all their heart, we need to study them to learn how God is equipping them. We should seek to discover the things they love the most, the things they are naturally good at, and the things they are naturally drawn to. These will be used in the skills and talents that God is developing in them to equip them for His plans.

Ask your kids questions about the things they love. Not vague "What do you like? and What's your favorite color?" questions but focused questions like "What do you like better x or y?" They will enjoy the focused attention and interest you have in them while you do this, and you will learn how God is shaping them. Keep a journal on them to document what you discover. Don't discount anything no matter how insignificant it might seem to you at the moment. Everything has a purpose.

For example, my middle grand-daughter has always been drawn to tiny things. I began noticing this when she was about three years old.
  • Once as we were walking to the car, she stopped in her tracks and squatted down to intently watch an ant that was walking across her path on the sidewalk.
  • On another occasion, she found a very small bead on the floor. She picked it up and exclaimed with delight, "Look! A little ball! There's a little hole in it." Then she studied it intently for several minutes. Knowing how inquisitive she she is, I could just imagine the questions she was wondering at that moment. "I wonder what that hole is for. I wonder if there's anything in that hole. I wonder what I can put inside that hole. I wonder how it got there."
  • One day we played the "What do you like better?" game and one of the questions I asked her was "What do you like better, big or little?" Her answer - little. Next question - little or tiny. Her answer - tiny.
Since then I have discovered through her painting, drawing, and speech that she adds a lot of details. Her draw toward things tiny is the indicator of her attention to detail.

As you discover more about the way God is equipping your children, you can then begin to train them by providing the supplies that will encourage growth in those areas. Not to over do it. It's not necessary to go out and pay for expensive music lessons if your child shows an interest in an instrument. The next time you are purchasing a gift for that child, make it an age appropriate guitar or drum set. If they love painting, get them some basic artist supplies. My youngest grand-daughter loves things on wheels and technology, so for her birthday I got her a remote control truck. My oldest grand-daughter has a great love for animals so one year I got her a Zoo Vet computer game. These will be the tools that will help them to hone the skills God is developing in them.

As they begin to think about what they want to "be" when they grow up, you will be able to point out some of the skills and talents God has given them and encourage them to ask Him what He has in mind. When they reach an age where they are thinking more seriously about their career path, you will have trained them in the way they should go and can present them with a journal filled with information that could help them take the next step.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

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Irritable Mother said...

My son's birthday is next week and I have been wondering what to get him. (It's so tricky right after Christmas, when all of his "wants" have been fulfilled...) But you're giving me ideas with this post. Thanks!

B His Girl said...

I think most of the time we can things/patterns emerging in our children as they grow. What to do with those things is sometimes difficult, especially as they reach the teen years or at least that is my experience. One day when Megan was very young I ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. I wanted her to say 'Doctor' because she is incredibly bright. She said, "a really good person." I felt convicted by her answer. I pledged that day to let go of my thoughts and embrace her heart strings. She is now in college and is looking into the medical field. She wants to use her gifts for medical missions especially in Honduras. That is where her heart has connected. I think God who I was not walking with at the time was letting me know the 'what you are' is not as important as 'who you b'. Forgive the grammer: ) B

RCUBEs said...

Great tips sister Edie. It's great to discover the kids' talents at an earlier age. I always tell my son to commit all his ways or plans with the Lord and nothing will go wrong. [Prov.3:5,6]. I wanted to be an Architect when I was little, then, a writer, then a doctor, then became an Orthopedic Nurse, then...where did the Lord bring me? Correctional Nursing..."We can plan all we want but it's still the Lord Who directs our steps[Prov.16:9].

But what a great way to discover all the God-given talents at an earlier age! And be trained to the right direction...It clears the confusion! Have a great day sister Edie and may God continue to guide you and protect you!

My ADHD Me said...

I Love This!

I wish I had read it 18 years ago.

Kelly Combs said...

Very clever, Edie. You are definitely gifted in this area. You have given me lots to think about. My oldest wants to be a librarian (book lover!) and the youngest is definitely lots arts & crafts, as well as physical stuff. She says she wants to go to West Point because that is the school where you get to run and climb the wall. (Her daddy is greatly encouraging this as a graduate of the Academy himself.)

Heart2Heart said...


I agree with you that looking at our kids natural desires and tendencies to take part in their activities gives us those critical clues you have so accurately captured here. I love Max Lucado's take on it as well in the Cure For the Common Life and helps parents decipher those same clues in how we can inspire and encourage them in those natural areas.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Barb said...

So glad to see you here, Edie. I've been away for awhile, and my, haven't you been busy! I've really enjoyed this new blog.

Stacy Wittkamp said...

Having 3 kids who are now in college, I have seen their career paths emerge. It never ceases to amaze me how God orchestrates circumstances to guide them in the direction He wants them to go when they remain open to Him and follow their hearts. I have seen God use "interests" to mold character and those character traits have steered them toward specific careers.
Good thoughts!

Sharon@JoyInTheTruth said...

Thanks, Edie.

One of my regular prayers for our children and our parenting is that we will be faithful in nurturing the gifts, talents and "ways" that God has put in their hearts and lives. I so don't want to miss the boat on that! Only by His grace....


Warren Baldwin said...

Good thoughts about how to parent, nurture, and direct our kids in the path God has for them.

From the Heart said...

Where were you 46 years ago? I could have used this great insight that you have written about guiding your children. However, both of mine have done well and are doing the thing I believe God led them into. I did pray for them - a lot!!!! and I believe He answered my prayers. There were some rocky times but again God brought us through it all and has kept His hands on both of them. I will have to start praying for my grandchildre (not that I haven't already) but more fervently. I don't get to see them often.

God has gifted you in so many ways.
Love you,

Kathy S. said...

Great post Edie, I am thankful to have read Chuck Swindoll's book, "Bringing Up Your Child" when the kids were little. He emphasized being a "student of your children". I love that!

Late in my parenting I discovered "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Ted Tripp. LOVE IT! Excellent book about nurturing and instilling genuine love for the Lord in your children.