Growing up in church, I heard a story numerous times that I could never fully understand.
A woman, desiring a child more than anything else, pledged to give her first child to the Lord. God gave her a son, and at the first available opportunity, she made him a coat, packed him up and shipped him off to live in the Temple. She visited him once a year, bringing him a new coat. God subsequently blessed her with more children, and the boy grew to lead the nation of Israel.
This story outraged me. How could Hannah (1 Samuel Chapter 1) give away her child? How could she make such a foolish vow? How did poor little Samuel feel about being given away? Why did the Lord honor her “gift”?
Then I came to Christ.
No longer just an unsaved “Christian”, I became a follower of Christ–committing to Him my entire life, to do with as He wishes. Jesus became my all in all, my only hope.
One of the first things the Lord dealt with me on was my understanding of Hannah’s story. Slowly, lovingly, God peeled my fingers from my children. I came to understand that my kids belonged to the Lord.
It is only through a gift from him that I am allowed to steward their young lives, to guide them to Christ. I’ve given my whole life to Jesus, and that means my babies as well. Regardless of how God uses my children’s lives, where he takes them, or how their service of him subjects them to trials and hardships, it is my heartfelt desire that my children follow God all the days of their lives.
I have only come to this more mature, godly view of parenthood through struggle and study.
However, as I walk with Jesus, as my relationship with Him grows, as my joy in the Lord daily increases, I can’t wait for my children to experience the same joy and depth of relationship. I’m eager for them to walk with Jesus as I do. I pray daily that they will increase His kingdom, serve Him well, and be mighty warriors in His name (yes, even my girl!).
Part of helping our kids grow to serve Jesus in all they do is rightly stewarding their abilities and–once they are saved–their spiritual gifts.
Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it clear we are not saved by works, but by the undeserved grace of God:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
I love that, directly after Paul tells us we’re saved by grace through faith, and that it is not the result of works, but a gift of God, he tells us that we are designed to work for God. Verse 10 says:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
If our kids are created in Jesus for good works, then as parents who love Jesus and love our kids, we want to help them walk in the good works they were created for.
While spiritual gifts are reserved for people who have been saved by grace and who are infilled with the Holy Spirit, everyone has been given natural talents and abilities.
We can identify the natural talents the Lord has given our kids by observing them.
- What are our kids naturally good at?
- How do they relate to the world around them?
- What natural talents and skills do they display?
- In what ways do they enjoy serving others?
The best way I’ve found to observe these natural giftings is to allow my kids exposure to a variety of input.
- We allow them to pursue their interests and passions in their free-time.
- We limit their media usage to allow them have free time.
- We look for opportunities to serve.
As I watch my kids grow, I can begin to see where God has gifted them with talents. My goal is never to steer my children in a given direction–my goal is to help them develop the areas they can use to God’s glory.
Spiritual Gifts for Children
Once our kids have come to Christ–and we pray and work with all we have to see that they do, they are in-filled with the Holy Spirit and receive the gifts of the Spirit the Lord has chosen for them.
The purpose of the gifts of the Spirit is to edify and strengthen the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:14-20, ESV, we read:
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The Lord has gifted each believer–child or adult–with spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit that fit them as a specific part of the body of Jesus Christ.
As parents, we want to help our kids identify their gifting and work within it.
Spiritual Gifts in the Bible
There is debate in the church over whether the miraculous gifts–like healing and speaking in tongues–have ceased. Scripture does have regulations regarding the use of miraculous gifts, and it would be wise to study that further.
Some of the gifts of the Spirit clearly identified in Scripture are:
- Serving (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:28-31)
- Teaching (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:28-31)
- Encouraging (Romans 12:6-8)
- Giving (Romans 12:6-8)
- Leadership (Romans 12:6-8)
- Mercy (Romans 12:6-8)
- Wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8-11)
- Knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8-11)
- Faith (1 Corinthians 12:8-11)
- Healing (1 Corinthians 12:8-11)
- Miracles (1 Corinthians 12:8-11, 1 Corinthians 12:28-31)
- Discernment (1 Corinthians 12:8-11)
- Tongues (1 Corinthians 12:8-11, 1 Corinthians 12:28-31)
- Interpretation of Tongues (1 Corinthians 12:8-11)
- Administration (1 Corinthians 12:28-31)
Once we’ve identified our kids’ talents, abilities, heart for others and spiritual gifting, we can strive to enable them to develop those giftings for Christ.
We can teach to their strengths, give them biographies of individuals with similar giftings, and help them exercise their spiritual muscle.
I don’t want to choose a path for my kids. I certainly don’t want to close doors for them by neglecting teaching essential skills in areas in which they may not be gifted. However, I do want to help them identify ways in which they are uniquely fitted to serve and glorify Jesus Christ.
That’s my mission–to point my kids to Jesus, and to help them serve him, and love others.
How do you teach to your children’s giftings? How do you identify their gifting? Any advice for the rest of us?
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