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And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:52 NIV
I placed my daughter on a plane with strangers heading due east across the Atlantic to Uganda. Luckily for her, the organizer limited parental good-byes to the church parking lot where I choked back fears and sobs.
She’d been born for this—appointed in my womb for this day—I knew it full well. She befriended the needy since kindergarten and shared the gospel during childhood sleepovers. At age fifteen she announced her call to go to Uganda after two weeks of summer camp. I pondered all these things in my heart. Like Mary mothered Jesus, I didn’t quite understand.
God appoints all of us to a specific purpose – one that corresponds to our heart’s deepest desire – in order to advance His kingdom on earth.
So, as parents, how do we recognize and nurture God’s call in our children’s lives?
Watch. Notice which unique interests, talents or causes repeatedly piques your child’s attention as they mature. These serve as clues to how God wired them for His purposes.
Encourage. Allow your child to explore their interests, God-given talents or causes within safe boundaries such as, writing stories, entering art competitions, volunteering at VBS, taking a mission trip with your church youth group, or serving the elderly.
Discuss. Ask questions. Many times peer pressure persuades children to try things just to fit into the group. It’s important to listen to their heart and discern a passing interest from a heart-call. Try not to dismiss their request as foolish or premature. Instead, keep communication lines open, especially if you’re uncomfortable with their choice of interests (ex. foreign missions, working in the inner city or a soup kitchen, etc). Remember, God does the equipping and although some of our children’s choices may seem crazy dangerous, we need to keep an open mind.
Pray. Seeking God’s will for our children’s future works best on our knees. We lay our parental fears and concerns at God’s feet when we’re alone and when we pray alongside our children, we show them we love them and we’re for them.
Walk. Watch for God-portunities, (especially if you’ve been praying for confirmation) and teach your child how to walk into these opportunities as an act of obedience to God’s call on their lives. This is the hardest part of parenting because God will call us to give Him control of our children’s lives.
Do you see God’s DNA running through your child’s veins? Can you see those insatiable desires, interests or causes they carry? Are you willing to nurture God’s kingdom purpose in their lives? What does that look like for you?
Father God, help us parents recognize and nurture your call on our children’s lives. Give us the courage to help them dream God-sized dreams from infancy and to give you control of their lives.