Chapter Four of 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child's Potential is devoted to discussing how to discover our child's purpose while maintaining an eternal perspective.
I can't stop thinking about Zan's story of teaching a class and using maps to learn about a certain area of the world. After the class she asked a student to help her fold the maps. Zan folded one in the time it took her helper to fold ten. She asked him how he did it so fast. He replied, "You gotta fold 'em the way their bent." He had taken a few seconds to study the bends in the maps before folding them. Zan worked against the the folds.
She said that our children are like those maps: "We must fold them the way they're bent."
Proverbs 22:6 says, "Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Chuck Swindoll says that verse could read, "Adapt the training of your children so that it is in keeping with their individual gifts or bents- the God-given characteristics built into them at birth. When maturity comes, they will not leave the training they have received." We should be students of our children so we can work with them the way God created them to be. (pg. 69-70)
Further in the chapter Zan continues by saying that we should "always be watching our children to identify their true passions." Whether these passions turn into vocations or not, is not the point. "God can use our children's gifts and abilities, their strengths and passions, to display His glory to a watching and needy world." (pg. 99)
Something that struck me was her thought that we also need to help our children discover their gifts and develop them so they can use them to benefit the church and society. Yup.
Our four oldest children play soccer. Our fifth child is a natural gymnast. Where did that come from? She can't stand for more than a few seconds without performing a cartwheel, handstand or the likes. It's the way God made her. She was recently invited to join the team at our local gym. So now the decision is, "Do we let her spend hours at the gym, and a significant sum of money, on her 'bent'?" After reading this chapter my inclination is to say, "Yes," although with some reservation as she is only eight years old. I'd love more insight on this! Comment anyone?
This chapter was jam packed with ways that parents can guide their children to discover their purpose. As I've I said about this book before...you should read it!
Are you working with your child(ren)'s bent? What is the race that He set before each of your children?