Encourage your children to reach their full potential
“So Pat said unto the young men of Arlington, ‘How long will you delay going in to take possession of the ice cream from thine refrigerator, which the Lord hath given unto you? Provide three men from thine house, and I will send them out that they may seek frozen goodness from throughout the freezer. You shall write a description of the frosty flavors with a view to your inheritances and then come to me with spoon in hand.’”
Recognize this Bible story from Joshua 18? I did change it (a little), but the principle is the same. Seven tribes of Israel had not taken possession of good things the Lord God had provided.
Joshua demanded, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?” Why were the men of Israel hesitant? Well, maybe because they were guys, and sometimes guys find it easier to take possession of the couch than of the land our Lord gave us.
Note verses 4-9 state “describe” and “write a description” six times! Why did Joshua tell the men to write down what they saw? Ladies, you already know this answer: Joshua told the men to write it down because they were guys.
About forty years earlier Joshua was on a twelve-man Special Operations Group invading Canaan. The mission went badly, with ten of the twelve operators giving wildly inaccurate reports. This time Joshua wasn’t letting the team spin up any bogus facts about giants in the land (see Numbers 13). Something about writing down the truth keeps a man sane.
Fast forward 3400 years to my family after a recent home school semester ended and my sons responded with great joy to the Call of the Wii. Until their heartless father proclaimed, “Nope! You shall make the best of your summer days!” Then, for about the fiftieth time, I told my sons the story of squandering my B.C. (before Christ) life and the film music calling the Lord gave me. For about the fiftieth time, my sons pretended to listen. So, I took desperate measures. I wrote it down.
Cracking open a fresh deck of 3×5 index cards, I scrawled crazy phrases like, “Learn to whistle loudly” and, “Attend Boy Scout camp.” I inked insane ideas like, “Earn driver license” and, “Listen to stories of naval heroes.” No mention of calculus or dissecting anything. I taped the vision cards on the back of a door. Twice a week I called my sons to the door and reviewed their vision cards and a life beyond Wii.
Ephesians 2:10 reads, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
“Walk in them.” Not “struggle” or “thrash futilely.” Dads, if you or your child question why you were created, visit Ephesians 2:10 before leaving on the journey to “find yourself.” You’ve already been found.
So dads, how do you find out which “land” the Lord has promised to your children? Well, paying attention is always a good move when working with your children. I remember my six-year-old daughter Halley turning her head to talk with me while continuing to play a complicated piano piece. I was never able to do that! So Halley received the land of piano lessons.
Leadership expert John Maxwell says, “Over the course of an hour-long dinner conversation you can almost always identify what makes another person tick by asking three simple questions:
- What makes you cry? That is, what burdens your spirit or weighs heavily on your heart?
- What makes you sing? What activities bring you joy?
- What do you dream of doing or becoming?
Dads, I’m guessing you can ask three questions while eating with your child. When your child answers, write it down.
In the book of Revelation, an intriguing phrase appears twice, in 7:17 and 21:4: “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” From the verses’ context, it appears these are not tears of sadness after an oppressed life on earth. Rather, these are tears of regret from a life that was not invested wholly in the Lord. I don’t want my children having regretful tears. I want them to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master.” (See Matthew 25.)
So I tried it. I asked the questions. I watched my children. I discovered the needs for dance shoes, music lessons, art supplies, hero books, Legos, camping gear, and toy soldiers. I even wrote it all down. Because I am a guy.
If you have a moment, please send an email to ImperfectFather@Gmail.com. I’d love to read stories of your children’s talents and how you’ve helped them pursue those talents.