Have you ever wondered what God may want your children to be when they grow up? Today AMBrewster shares a practical tool he and his mom created for Christian Parents that will help them guide their children to God’s will for their work.
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On our last episode two episodes we’ve been talking about God’s will for your kids.
Now, when people discuss God’s will, they generally mean one of two things:
God’s revealed will is all that He’s shown us in His Word. Some people call it His perfect will or His moral will. It’s founded on our participation with the Gospel, and it deals more with who He wants us to be than what He wants us to do. When your children are the right people, they will do the right things.
But, you know what’s funny? Too many people care very little about God’s revealed will. They’re more interested in what school God wants them to attend or what person God wants them to marry.
Those questions are not directly answered in Scripture, but I believe all the principles we need to answer those questions are there. In fact, I just returned from a week long camping trip with my guys from Victory, and I told them the same thing: I can’t think of a single decision that has to be made that we cannot find necessary principles and commands in Scripture to answer them.
Now, I know that’s a big claim, but — Lord willing — by the time we’re done with this study, you’ll be able to guide your children in the same unshakeable conviction that they can know they’re glorifying God in their decision-making.
So, the first two episodes were all about God’s perfect will for you and your kids — please go back and listen to those if you have not yet heard them. I’m really passionate about this . . . if you’re more interested in helping your kid pick a college than you are helping them be the person God wants them to be then you are doing them an eternal disservice.
I can categorically say that it won’t matter if your kids gain the whole world if they lose their souls.
Then once you have that foundation, the next three episodes are going to focus on discerning God’s sovereign will for your kids.
Now, please understand. I am not claiming to speak for God where He is not clear in Scripture. I am also not to going to tell you that all of your kids need to be dental hygienists.
But I do want give you a tool that my mom gave me and that I’ve further modified for the purpose of helping your child discover God’s will for their occupation, and — by extension — what field of study or training they should pursue. I call it The Insight Tool.
It all started back in 1998. I was 18 years old and was faced with the reality that I would be attending Bob Jones University in the fall, and I had no idea in what I should major.
I remember it all so clearly. I was standing at the dining room table and my mom was in the kitchen, and I was flipping through BJU’s list of majors — feeling utterly perplexed by the options — and I asked my mom, “What should I major in?”
Now, before we get too far, I want all you parents of young children to stick with me. I’m going to teach you over the next two episodes what The Insight Tool is and how to use it, and then I’m going to give you some modified ideas for how to use it as when your children are small and as they grow. How much better would it be for them to have these answers before they’re staring down the barrel of a college education or impending occupational decision?
And we also have to understand that it was cliche back in the 90’s for young people to backpack through Europe trying to “find themselves.” But there’s nothing biblical about that concept. Listen, if you believe it will glorify God to backpack through Europe, great! But no Christian should need to “find imself.” We have our identify in Christ, in His Word, and in our DNA.
My parents had done a fine job showing me who I was supposed to be in Christ and in His Word, but I don’t remember having any conversations about how to know specifically who God had created me to be in my DNA.
And, I don’t know if my mom made it up on the spot or if it was something she’d encountered before or had been thinking about for a while, but I remember her handing me the Tool I’m going to hand you today.
And you know what? I wish I still had the one I filled out. I really do. I have no idea what happened to it. I probably just threw it away after I made my selection, but I remember many of the things that were on it, and it’s amazingly uncanny how accurate it was. I encourage you to have your kids keep them. It might be exciting years later to see how accurate it was.
So, what’s the tool?
Here we go.
Our tool consists of four lists. Now, the lists are important, but being able to interpret the lists is even more important. So, today we’re going to talk about the lists, and next time I’ll teach you some principles for interpreting the lists — because if you can’t understand them, what good are they?
Now, I made the observation that God has written our identity on our DNA. I’m not suggesting that by unraveling our kids’ DNA we’ll know who God wants them to marry, but I am saying that God is right this moment creating them to be who they need to be now and who they need to be in the future.
Most of us are familiar with Psalm 139:13-16, "13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
I believe these verses are the foundation stone for the doctrine of personhood. Abortion is the taking of a real life — plain and sinful.
If you’ve ever had an abortion and are looking for healing, we would love to help. We’re not here to shame anyone, but we are here to proclaim God’s Word.
When the mother’s egg is fertilized with the father’s sperm, God is actively in the process of knitting us together. Even before we’re completely woven, God sees our unformed substance.
And the really exciting thing is that in this discussion of God crafting us in the womb, David brings up the idea that God had already recorded “the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
And though we don’t have access to that specific book, we do have the ability to see the work God is currently doing in our lives. That is the foundation of The Insight Tool.
So, that it’s core, here’s it’s parts: And I do suggest they complete these lists in this order.
1. The first list your children will need to make is a list of what they don’t want to be. For example, on my list I wrote that I didn’t want to be a doctor or engineer or scientist.
We’ll talk about the importance and implications of each list next time. However, for now, just know that this should be their shortest list. They don’t have to get too specific or take too much time on it.
For example, there was no reason for me to write down that I didn’t want to be a heart surgeon, pediatrician, general practitioner, etc.
The second list is going to be much longer.
2. The second list is everything your children like.
For this one, the more details the better. This list can be really long. Honestly, the longer it is the better it is.
Do they like soccer? What about ice cream? Are they passionate nappers? Do they love knitting? How about music?
This list can be filled with activities, foods, entertainment, experiences, ideas — whatever your children like.
Now, how passionate do they have to be for it to end up on this list? Well, I don’t think they’ll take the time to right it down if it’s not at least a little important to them.
Again, we’ll talk about purpose and interpretation later, but — for now — don’t limit them. Let them go to town on this list.
3. The third likely won’t be as long. This list should be about their personal experiences.
I may like the idea of skydiving, and that can be on list two, but I shouldn’t write it on this list unless I’ve actually gone skydiving.
Have your children been on a sports team or in a musical group? Did that team or group win any awards? What classes have they taken? What certifications do they have? Did they ever go on a mission trip, teach a Sunday school class, help in the nursery?
Did they ever paint a picture, kayak a river? What about camping, odd summer jobs? Mundane experiences or grandiose experiences are allowed. They should even include the difficult experiences like breaking an arm, sitting at the bedside of a dying loved one, restarting a grade, and any physical handicaps.
Again, this list should be as robust as possible, and I find the most kids struggle with this one because they only want to write down the ones that seem interesting, unique, or significant. They often miss the service opportunities, work experiences, educational times, and times of pain and hardship.
4. This list is all about their dreams. What do they want do? Where do they want go? Who do they want to be?
This list is different from number two because these ideas tend to be bigger and more significant than mere likes and dislikes.
And that’s it.
One Tool for insight into your children.
Remember the core idea?
God has been actively working in your child to make them who they are today. God uses everything — He uses every person we encounter and every experience we have to mold us into the specific version of His image that He desires to use to glorify Him.
Now, as I mentioned two episodes ago, the foundation of being in the center of God’s will is partnering with Him in the Gospel. When we have a relationship with Him, then and only then does Romans 8:28 come into play. Only those who love God and are working toward His purposes have the promise that all things will work together for our good — our good being conformity to the image of Christ.
James 1 tells us the same thing. We can rejoice in temptation, trial, and tribulation only when we’re responding correctly to it. Only as we allow God to use it to mature us and make us steadfast do we experience the joy of knowing that our lives are meaningful.
These lists acknowledge the fact that God has been doing something in their lives and is currently doing something in their lives. And those experiences can be instructional when it comes to understanding why God has us on this earth.
And that’s what we’re going to look at next time.
But before I finish up, I need to deal with two things:
1. Potential List Issues
A. Regardless of their level of obedience and submission, unsaved children are at a disadvantage. This doesn’t mean their lists won’t work, it simply means that they will interpret their lives and experiences differently than they should.
The Bible tells us that when we’re unsaved we’re blind and incapable of truly understanding spiritual realities. This means that unsaved kids will struggle with the first, second, and fourth lists in particular because they deal with personal desire. An unbeliever’s personal desires may be similar to what God has for them, but since they’ll be selfishly motivated, cannot be trusted.
The third list may be affected as well as the child may be selective in the experiences and activities they want to record. It may also be less than helpful if your child has deliberately tried to avoid the beneficial experiences they’ve been offered.
Again, God is still at work in your child to bring them to Him. He’s still equipping them and giving them experiences that He wants your children to submit to Him. The lists have value, but they will be harder to interpret.
B. These lists work best for children who — for the most part — have been living at least average Christ-honoring lives. This means that born-again children who have been struggling with rebelliousness, double-mindedness, and carnal living will experience the same difficulties with their lists that unsaved kids may face.
We’ll talk more next time about how to overcome these issues when you enter the interpretation phase of The Insight Tool, but for now I would suggest you add input and encouragement where necessary in order to help your child’s list be the most productive it can be.
C. Really smart kids may see the destination before they finish the lists. This can be a problem if they consciously or subconsciously decide to craft a list that points in the direction they already want to go versus revealing who God is creating them to be.
Dictators and Doormats may experience this temptation more often.
D. Joker and Judge children will face the temptation of not including enough detail. They may want to speed through the list, miss the important things, and think they’re done because they recorded a handful of items. You’ll have to parent your child through this.
Hopefully, if they’re Jokers or Judges or Dictators or Doormats for that matter, you’re already actively parenting them to becoming Ambassadors. This can be one more part of that process.
However, from the standpoint of making valuable lists, it’s almost pointless if your child doesn’t give a lot of detail.
Again, we’ll talk about how to work through these potential issues new time, but I want to move to the last observation — the one for those of you whose children are still young.
2. Young Children
The younger they are, the fewer details they have in their lives. I wouldn’t suggest doing this for children younger than five.
And, if they’re younger than thirteen, I wouldn’t make a huge deal out of it.
But this concept can be very helpful from two points of view.
A. We need to know our children in order to parent them well. I believe that more often than not we parent like practical atheists.
Sure, we use God’s Word in our teaching and correcting, but the “mundane” aspects of their lives are seen as coincidence, chance, and happenstance.
But the Truth is far more beautiful. God is working in your children. When you live with that reality, you can take your parenting to a whole new level.
Instead of trying to distract your two year old from the scraped knee, you can teach them to glorify God with it.
Instead of passing off your child’s love of animals as a phase, you can see it as a facet of the person God’s creating them to be.
And any time you choose to be intentional and premeditated in your parenting, you’re choosing the more Christ-honoring route.
The second point of view is this
B. You can create life experiences for your child knowing that God will use them to equip your child for life.
Now, please understand that I’m not suggesting some cultural experiment in social programming, and we all already do this to one degree or another.
If basketball is important to you, you’ll going to teach your children to play. If music is your passion, you better believe they’re going to learn an instrument.
But when you see these years as an equipping stage, it should motivate us to want to give our kids more than just our favorites hobbies and passions.
Take your child to that nursing home. Get them involved in sports and music. Encourage their academic endeavors, but don’t discourage their practical experiences like learning to change a tire, mow the lawn, or do the dishes.
Is there an optional verse memory opportunity at church? Encourage them to do it.
Is there a discretionary field trip? Sign them up.
It’s not going to hurt, and we may never know how God will use these experiences to make your child a sharper tool for His glory.
An obvious caveat of this is that we should never unnecessarily overload our children. We still need to be wise and loving, but I believe that too many of us are excusing our children’s selfishness and laziness because they’ve convinced us they’re too busy.
Alright, by way of review: The Insight Tool is designed to help you better understand who God wants your child to become by understanding who God’s been creating your child to be today.
The Tool has four parts — which will be nicely listed out for you on today’s Episode Notes at TruthLoveParent.com.
On our next episode, I’ll teach you the basics of interpreting your children’s lists and making sense of all the bullet points.
And please share this episode with your friends. This will be especially helpful for your friends who’s children are juniors and seniors in high school.
And lastly, I want to thank Matt and Sonja for their faithful support. Matt and Sonja are two of our Patrons who may be some of our most outspoken supporters.
I met Sonja at the ACBC conference last year, and though I’ve never met Matt, I’m super encouraged by his passion for TLP.
If you’re interested in what it takes to be a Patron, you can click the link below, but whatever you do, don’t feel intimidated.
You can become a Patron for just one dollar a month. And lest you think it’s not worth it — trust me — every bit helps.
God has a specific will and purpose for your children, and He’s actively at work in their lives to prepare them for it.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could help them understand His purposes?
To that end, I’ll see you next time.
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