Today AMBrewster teaches Christian parents how to interpret The Insight Tool. It’s an extremely helpful parenting tool for Christian parents designed to reveal who God’s creating your child to be.
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If you did not listen to the last episode, then you need to stop this one and check that one out first. This episode will mean nothing to you without episode 160. Of course, I also encourage you to listen to the whole series which started in episode 158.
But, if you’re returning and ready for Part 2 of helping your children discover God’s will for their occupation, then I’d appreciate it if you’d consider reviewing us on iTunes and/or Facebook. Your reviews are a huge blessing and an important part of growing our Truth.Love.Parent.
Thank you in advance for what you’re going to do!
Alright, so today I want to teach you to the basics to interpreting The Insight Tool.
First, let me say that this particular episode will not have any specifically biblical principles beyond the admonition to be wise and discerning and to know our children.
Second, we must understand that interpretation is subjective. There’s a difference between being a translator and an interpreter.
Translation is taking words from one language and putting them into another. Interpretation deals with explaining or telling the meaning of something. It deals with ideas, not hard and fast details.
The point is, interpretation is not as strict and regulated as translation.
We’re not going to translate your children’s lists into a definite life calling or specific job choice. What we’re going to do is look at the basic philosophies of interpreting who God is creating your child to be.
We’re going to discuss the basic principles, then we’re going to look at some interpretation hurdles, and end off applying these principles for those of you with young children.
1. Let’s look at the basic steps for interpreting your kid’s lists.
And, please understand, these principles are basic. The more you know about the Bible, personality, counseling, communication, anthropology, and psychology, the better you’re likely going to do with this.
But don’t fret. You should be able to lay a solid enough foundation to help your children find the right trajectory in life. And if you’re interested in taking The Insight Tool to a deeper level, we have a program called the TLP Mentorship Program that can assist you further. I’ll include the link in the description.
A. Alright, step one: open a spreadsheet on your computer and start collecting your children’s line items into categories. I suggest using a computer for its extreme ease, but if you’d like to go old school and use a pencil and paper . . . more power to you. Just be careful that you don’t skip steps to avoid writer’s cramp or to hurry the process.
Likely some of the line items may fit into more than one category. For example, your child says they want to work at Panera Bread — that could be lumped with other food-related items, but it can also be grouped with the service industry and business.
Again, each child is going to have a unique list with different categories and groups, but if you pay attention, you’ll see the overlaps.
Also, each of the four lists may be slightly different, so in a minute I’m going to step you through each of the four lists and give you some things to consider for each.
B. Once you’ve categorized the line items, you need to give special attention to the longest and shortest categories. The longest category will likely tell you about the trajectory your child might go in their occupation or in their hobbies.
In high school, my list included poetry and writing and reading and communication. Yes, today, poetry is one of my hobbies, but I’m a writer and author.
The martial arts was on my list too. I had my own martial arts school for a while, and I still use it and teach it every year.
But the main items on my list dealt with relationships and working with people. Any of you who know me understand that counseling is my life.
So, here’s the important thing to remember. Most kids don’t like work. So, you may have a teenage guy whose list is filled with stuff like mountain biking and rock climbing and skateboarding. That doesn’t mean God’s creating him to be in the X-Games.
We have to be able to differentiate between something a person likes to do as part of their life and something they will do with their life.
I think we give our kids a lot of bad advice when we tell them to do things they love. It’s not that the advice itself is bad, it’s that our kids don’t love the most worthwhile things. Instead, we should teach our children to love what they do . . . whether or not that thing is work or play.
We have an episode all about how to teach your children to love the right things. It’s episode 137, and it comes right before how to train your children to obey.
It doesn’t matter that my child likes to dissect animals, that doesn’t necessarily mean God wants him to be a brain surgeon.
C. Pay close attention to anything that reveals a lack of desire for the things of the Lord.
Whether it’s saying they don’t want to be a missionary or a lack of any spiritual emphasis at all in any of their lists, that’s a problem.
That’s why I started with episodes 158 and 159. Above and beyond everything else, God expects us to live for His honor and glory and to achieve His purposes on this planet.
When your child’s lists are complete, if there a few to no line items talking about God, His Word, the church, telling others about Christ, ministry, relationships, mentoring, or serving, then there’s a definite problem.
God is the sole center and purpose of our lives. We were made by Him and to Him and for Him. That is the reality of life. The Christian life, church, and life-on-life ministry is not an option, it’s a command. If our kids view it as an afterthought or as a negotiable element of life, they are headed in the wrong direction.
D. Look for tensions, contradictions, and missing information.
Let me give you an example of a tension: your child may have way too much of an emphasis on playing and hobbies.
Another example may be that your Dictator child carefully crafted her lists to point in the direction she wants them to point.
And example of a contradiction is when a child talks a lot about food, restaurants, and cooking, but categorically says they would never want to work with food. That’s something to investigate.
And missing information are the things you know your child should have included in their lists, but either forgot or chose not to include.
I worked with one boy who said beyond a shadow of doubt that he didn’t want to be in any occupation where he would have to communicate. And he always talked about wanting to be in the fashion industry. The thing was, when he made his lists, there was a ton of stuff in there about communication and nothing about the clothing industry.
2. So, with those four considerations in mind, let’s step through the four lists and talk about things for which to look on each list.
1. On the “Don’t Like” list, I often find ministry, food service, blue collar, and certain white collar jobs like doctors and lawyers and teachers, government jobs, etc. Don’t overanalyze this one, just group them into categories.
Let me tell you why this is helpful, though. One of the last lists I did, the young man said he didn’t want to do a number of jobs that all had the same things in common. He didn’t want to be responsible for another’s safety. These included: doctors, firemen, police, full-time ministry, a pastor, a teacher, and social services.
This was very interesting insight into his soul. Take note of interesting things like this. There are two things that should be red flags to you: 1. When your child says they don’t want to be involved in ministry (whether full-time or not), and 2. When they don’t want to do something that you can tell right away lines up perfectly with their skillset or personality.
This always reveals a heart that is not attuned to God’s realities. These are symptoms of a child who potentially isn’t born again, is double-minded, or is ignorant of God’s will for their lives.
I’ve encountered children who said they didn’t want to be parents solely because they hated their home life. Some kids would be wonderful teachers, but don’t want to because they have a bad attitude about school. Many children have said they don’t want to be in ministry because they really didn’t have a heart for God.
Now, I’m not saying that every person needs to be in traditional full-time Christian service, but it does mean this: Consider all the people in the Bible. They represented a ton of occupations. There were farmers, fishermen, kings, prophets, prostitutes, teachers, scribes, shepherds, tentmakers, and many more.
But rarely did their occupation mean anything.
Peter’s occupation got in the way of God’s will for his life.
Paul’s tentmaking was barely a blip in God’s plan for him.
Lydia’s business selling purple pales in comparison to her love and ministry to the church.
David’s kingship only mattered as he was submitted to God and worked toward His purposes.
And how many prophets and priests and scribes and teachers of the law are condemned in Scripture because they were doing seemingly good things in the wrong ways for the wrong reasons?
My point is this, we too often see our occupation as our purpose in life.
Listen to me carefully . . . it . . . is . . . not.
Your job doesn’t define you. Your relationship with God does.
Your job is merely another tool God wants you to use to glorify Him.
When children say they don’t want to be involved in ministry or the church, they don’t understand God’s will.
We’re all theologians. We’re all called to be preachers and teachers. We’re all commanded to make disciples. We’re all told to one-another and minster and serve.
That’s why I’m inviting Jessica Mair back onto the show to talk with us about rearing a child who knows how to serve. Stay tuned for that episode, it will be awesome.
2. Alright, moving on to list number two. This is usually the longest list; it details your child’s likes and interests.
Now, don’t be put off by the length, the more information the better.
Put the items into categories that make sense. Don’t forget that many items may easily fall into more than one category.
This list has the potential to reveal what God is in the process of creating your child to be.
Now, we mentioned last time that an unsaved child or a rebelling child (often the same thing) will likely have desires that do not submit to God’s will. Just because a kid wants to be a drug dealer does NOT mean that’s what God wants.
But God may have gifted him with an eye for business or entrepreneurialism. Perhaps he’ll be good at management or sales.
Or maybe he’s just an addict who wants a quick buck. That’s where your ability to interpret these lists will be better than mine in some regards. Your insight about your child should be helpful in distinguishing at a glance what I would have to ask very precise questions to discover.
In this list, I like to lump anything dealing with relationships and people into the same category as the specifically spiritual items on the list. Many children may have a desire to serve others but not use biblical terminology to express it. I see relational line items showing that they potentially enjoy living out the one-anothers for which God created us all.
Again, check out the longest and shortest lists. They may reveal things about your child you never realized.
3. The third list is about their life experiences. This is the list that reads more like a resume. It may be long or short depending on their age and the number of activities and experiences you’ve afforded them.
This list tends to be very straightforward and factual, so be on the look out for missing information.
One individual with whom I worked left out all of her musical experiences. She was a fantastic musician, but she loathed much of it because she felt her parents forced her into it.
That defiantly reveals a huge heart issue.
Again, don’t forget that most kids tend to leave out the following things from this list:
My point it this, these lists are only as valuable as they are accurate and detailed.
4. And the fourth list is actually the newest of the bunch. This is the list where your kids write down their life dreams and aspirations.
The first three lists indirectly reveal who your children are, but this last list gives them a place to directly expose their dreams.
However, as much as they may enjoy it, I’m not going to say this list is inconsequential, but if you’re not careful, you can give this list way more importance than it deserves.
My son is eleven, and I rarely ask him what he wants to be when he grows up. To be honest, I think asking your child that question is really foolish. I find you get much more beneficial answers when you ask, “What does God want you to be when you grow up?”
That question focuses them on the truths we learned at the beginning of this study — that God has significant expectations for who are kids are.
However, I have asked my son from time to time what he thinks it might be cool to do when he gets older. Notice that I word it that way to give him the idea that it doesn’t really matter what he wants to be, but I am curious what his interests are.
Now, it might sound harsh to say “it doesn’t really matter what he wants to be,” but — again — we need to think maturely about this concept. So you ask your five year old what he wants to be, and he wants to be in the army. Whether that idea seems like a good one or not, the reality is that it’s motivated by massive amounts of immaturity and a significantly underdeveloped understanding of Who God is and what His expectations for life are.
Now, please understand, I’m not saying that going into the army is a bad thing, but I am saying that when I repeatedly ask my kids what they want to be, 1. I’m giving them the false impression that what they should do with their life has something to do with their immature desires, 2. That what God thinks isn’t as important as what they think, and 3. We’re setting them up for failure because it’s so easy for a child to fixate.
They get a cool idea in their head and that latch on to that. Sure, some kids grow out of their childish fancies; at one point my daughter wanted to be a bear hunter or a butterfly. But you have no idea how many young adults are still barreling down the trajectory they set as a gradeschooler.
So, anyway, I ask my son what he thought it might be cool to do, and he says he wants to be a spy or an actor.
Now, if I put a ton of importance on that, I could be tempted to pave my son’s way to being an actor or a spy. And for some reason we do this as parents. Our kid says they want to be a doctor, so we throw them in the only preschool in town that’s for aspiring doctors.
Why do we leave those kinds of decisions to our kids?
I get that being a doctor is a noble calling, but have we considered that perhaps God doesn’t want my child to be a doctor, and perhaps I should consider discovering what God wants my child to be.
So, my son wants to be an actor or a spy. Is there anything valuable I can glean from that revelation? Sure! It shows who my son is — how he thinks.
Both of those professions involve pretending to be something you’re not. That makes sense. Children love make-believe, so that’s not surprising at all — especially because it’s my son, and he’s been pretending his whole life.
Also, as I parenting through this conversation, I turned the discussion to things of God, and when he considered the immensity of the calling God has for His children, my son came to the conclusion that his initial desires paled in comparison to the desires God had.
Not only that, but after carefully considering the life of a spy — the lies, the danger, the whole purpose of their jobs — he decided that that wasn’t the life for him.
Okay, now I knew this would happen. There’s so much to say and so little time in which to say it.
We have three more observations to make.
1. Let me tell you why it’s important to fill out the lists in order.
It’s really just a set of psychological stepping stones. If the child started with the last list, that might easily set limitations around her other lists. She may consciously or subconsciously compile her lists to line up with what she already wants to do.
The first list lets them clear their minds of the unnecessary. The second list lets them have fun and is more important than the others, so we want them to enjoy the process. This third list may start feeling tiresome to certain children, so this one was designed to be easier to fill out. Then the fourth list — which carries less weight — is often an enjoyable experience.
There are other reasons the lists are in this order, but I only wanted to explain that it is valuable to have your children work on them one at a time in order. Sometimes, I only tell the child about one list at a time to keep them focused on the task at hand.
Okay, I appreciate your patience. I have only a couple more points to make. First, we’ll talk about how to deal with the four issues I introduced last time, and we’ll close by applying all of this for those of you with young children.
2. The four issues from last time were these:
A. Regardless of their level of obedience and submission, unsaved children are at a disadvantage.
B. I also pointed out that born again children who are double-minded may have the same issues with their lists that unsaved kids do.
I mentioned that this doesn’t mean their lists won’t work, it merely means the interpreting them becomes more challenging.
Did they write down trustworthy passions? Have they been too influenced by the world and sin? And regardless of the answers to these questions, we know that if they’re unsaved they can’t understand spiritual things and won’t necessarily care to truly glorify God with their lives. And the double-minded children aren’t much better off.
Interpreting these lists will take time and care in order to not make a big deal out desires that are selfishly motivated. We never want to encourage our children down a trajectory that leads away from God.
C. The third observation was that the really smart kids may be tempted to craft a list that supports their desires. We’ve already talked about this some, but I remember talking with a young lady who — after choosing her college — said, “I hope God likes my choice.”
Well, if that’s not putting the cart before the horse, I don’t know what is.
For children like this, it may be wise to give them one list at a time. You could even not tell them the final purpose of the lists if you’re concerned they may give into this temptation.
D. And then we talked about children who are lazy and who don’t do a good job with their lists.
Honestly, at that point you have bigger issues with which to deal. There are no tools that are going to prepare that child save God’s Word and His Spirit.
But, The Insight Tool can be very helpful in showing your child that they’re not ready for the world. Their inability to fill out a few lists can be used to illustrate their self-worship, but how to parent them through that is for another discussion.
I do plan to spend some time talking about how to parent lazy children in the future. So, Lord willing, that will be a blessing to you.
3. Now, let’s finish up by applying these concepts to younger children.
My earlier example about my son should be instructive when it comes to interpreting your child’s passions. But consider the following:
A. Any time your child expresses dislike for something, you need to see that as more than a mere preference. It’s an outworking of his character and a potential indication of how God’s working in his life.
My parenting philosophy is this: if my child has a preference for one thing over another, that’s okay. But if my child shows dislike toward something, that’s not okay.
Biblically speaking, the only thing we’re allowed to hate is sin. I believe we’re not careful enough with the concept of “dislike.” Things we dislike are — more often than not — things with which we’re discontent when they come into our lives.
Discontentment is a sin.
B. Any time my child expresses enjoyment or passion for something, I need to see that as more than a mere preference. It too is an outworking of his character and a potential indication of how God’s working in his life.
But again, she may enjoy helping in the kitchen because it feeds her lusts for praise. He may love getting “A’s” in school because of the applause he receives from his teachers and parents, or the control it gives him over others. She may want to be a cheerleader because of the attention she receives.
Those types of responses reveal an issue in their character. We parents must not be freckle-level parents. I know it’s an overused analogy, but our kids really are like icebergs. When we casually view their seeming good choices and assume those choices are growing from righteous motives, we’re being naive at best.
C. As I mentioned last time, we now understand better how important our kids’ life experiences are. We must look at each park trip and educational video and book and music lesson and moment spent sitting on the counter while I cook as divine equipping times.
Most children view learning as something that happens at school. My wife and I teach our kids that learning should happen all day long, every day.
Remember the core concept of Sanctified Sustainability — God hates waste. When we waste our time and resources brainlessly experiencing life, we’re not redeeming the time.
And the last consideration is D. Any time my child shares their dreams and aspirations, I need to see that as more than a mere preference. It’s an outworking of his character and a potential indication of how God’s working in his life.
The key on which to focus is that everything my child says and does is important because they’re revealing who they are. And every experience they have is important because God is using them to equip her for life. And because these concepts are so important, I need to parent the deep realities of my child’s desires and experiences. I mustn’t merely view them as coincidence, accidents, or unimportant details of life.
I know the idea of interpreting a list like this with no previous practice may sound daunting, so don’t forget that we have the TLP Mentorship program. Whether it’s our free “25 Days to Becoming a Premeditated Parent” course or any other projects we have at TruthLoveParent.com, the Mentorship program connects you with one of our counselors who will step with you through the project. They’ll provide feedback, accountability, and all the assistance you need.
We want your child to know God’s will just as much as you do, so we’d love to help with that process. Again, I’ll include that link in the description.
And on our next episode we’re going to talk about how to make decisions. What car should your child buy? Who should they marry? What school should they attend? Should they eat that second cookie?
I believe all of these questions can be answered to the glory of God based off principles in His Word.
Don’t miss that episode as we finish up this five-part series in helping your children discover God’s will for their lives.
And don’t forget to share this episode with your friends and tell them about Truth.Love.Parent. and swing by Taking Back the Family to download today’s free episode notes.
And lastly, I want to thank our dear friend Cara for being a consistent supporter of this ministry. Just a week ago she sent me this email, “I am BEYOND grateful for the ministry of TLP. The messages on the podcasts speak directly to my situation time after time, and I know I am becoming a stronger ambassador parent each time I tune in. THANK YOU!!!!! I recognize that Satan’s trying to hold onto what he thinks he’s got and, on a good day, I can firmly say, “Get behind me Satan” with all the authority given to me in Christ Jesus!! But on not so good days it’s easy to KNOW I can say that but harder to act on that knowledge. These are the days especially that I appreciate the podcasts. They are short enough that I can listen to the same ones multiple times and they reconnect me with the God who is always by my side-even when I don’t realize it because my eyes are clouded with tears. Thank you for helping me to keep my self pity in check and my eyes on the cross.”
If you love TLP as much as Cara does, please check out our patreon page to learn more about how you can partner with us as we glorify God by serving families all over the world.
Listen, there’s no need for God’s children to have to find themselves or to wander through life without purpose. Decisions don’t have to be traumatizing or paralyzing.
God’s will is clear, and His Word gives us everything we need for life and godliness.
So, I’ll see you next time when we discuss how to teach your children to make decisions in life that glorify God.
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