Designed for a Purpose

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We’re at a place in our parenting where we are seeing how uniquely gifted and skilled each of our children/young adults are as individuals. Two of our three are in college. The oldest will graduate from John Brown University next year. What looked like an arrow being shot toward a medical position caught a strong wind and is being redirected to a yet unidentified target.

This is pretty common among 18-22 year olds who enter into school without having ever really answered these two questions; Who am I? and Why am I here? As followers of Christ, we’ve brought up our children in a Christian home but have always taught them that they have to own their faith if it’s ever going to transform THEM. Our faith in their lives will do them no good when “life happens”. And, along with that, based on my own life journey, we’ve strongly encouraged them to explore their interests and abilities as those given to them by God for a purpose. Not simply to earn a living but to live abundantly. Both of these questions are fodder for great material which I will explore throughout the life of this blog. For now, let me go a little deeper on the question about being “purposely made for God’s glory”.

Graduation day from Richfield High School some XX years ago (ok, vanity aside…31 yrs to be exact) was a memorable day. I remember walking on the floor of the old Met Center (where the old North Stars, who were stolen by Dallas, played—no bitterness harnessed here 😉 ) as one of nearly 700 classmates. It was the pinnacle of my life to that point. Didn’t care about tomorrow and was only looking forward to the party that night. However, tomorrow did come. And, I was ill prepared for what it brought or what I brought to it.

Math always came easy for me. Without any further prompting, testing or counseling, it was an easy step for me to consider a math oriented major at the University of Minnesota. I was accepted into the U of M’s Institute of Technology to pursue an engineering degree. There was only one problem: I lacked passion or vision for that career path. After two semesters I flamed out. Now what? Well, I decided to pursue a childhood passion; radio broadcasting. Long story short, I worked at a small station in Alliance, NE for three months before things fell apart. Ultimately, I went back to playing to my aptitude and not my passion or interests (ended up in Accounting).

How does this affect my parenting/coaching my kids in this arena? God’s design of their aptitudes, passions and interest must supersede my plans for my kids. Only the Creator knows how His creation should work to their 45_chariots_20of_20firefullness. Therefore, I’m encouraging my kids to take some of the multitude of tests out there that help them uncover the things they already innately know about themselves, i.e., what makes them tick. Eric Liddell, the speedy Scotsman portrayed in the movie, Chariots of Fire, made this statement that summarizes my thoughts on the issue of being fit for God’s purposes: “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” I believe all of us can say that about something. Maybe it’s not running and maybe you won’t be able to make a living at it. But, when you know what it is, you can direct your path accordingly and you’ll be more satisfied and effective.

Though I didn’t make it in radio for the long haul, I came to realize that when I participated in activities that allowed me to use my God-given creativity, I was more energized and excited about life.  Let me encourage you, dads, to help your children (at the appropriate age) figure out how they are wired. I’m still trying  to help my son figure this thing out. The major tests that they can take (you should take them too to help you discuss it with them–we did and it’s a lot of fun for the family) are the DISC and the Meyers-Briggs. There are variations of these tests and many more available online and in-person for more in depth validation.  We’ve also read a book called, The Power of Uniqueness by Arthur Miller Jr. and Bill Hendricks.  In addition to finding out how you were wired for work, you should also take one or more of the Spiritual Gifting tests around, like the Network Spiritual Gifts test.

By helping your child find out what they were “fearfully and wonderfully made” to do, you will help them to see how they can best be used for God’s glory and in their God-given strengths.

SOUND OFF: What have you done to identify your passions and interests? How have you helped your children work in their strengths and build them for a lifetime of serving / working in them, either vocationally or avocationally?

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