Helping you grow closer to God
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About this series
This Christmas, how do you give your children what money can't buy? We all desire to give gifts of significant value, but what does that really look like? What “Priceless” gifts can we give? In this series, Chip unpacks 5 key areas that tend to make or break our children and gives solid biblical insight and practical steps for managing those 5 important life skills. As a parent, or grandparent, you want to give your child every advantage in life. A “Priceless” Christmas gives you the tools to help your child develop godly character and important life-skills. Your life, their lives, and the lives of generations to come will never be the same.More from this series
A Priceless Christmas. What do you give your kids that money can’t buy?
I’ve been working very intentionally for the last twenty to thirty years of helping them learn to suffer well, gift number one.
Started very early with all of them to teach them to manage their money biblically. Those three jars: Giving, spending, saving. We have gone to great lengths to help them make wise decisions. At times giving them rope and letting them make bad decisions and get the consequences. At other times when they weren’t mature enough, setting some boundaries where I was the worst person in the whole world. “What do you mean I can’t date that person?” “What I mean is you can’t date that person. No.” And in the midst of it all we learned the gift of teaching that failure is never final, that we were made and created to receive and to give grace. And we’re all going to blow it, we’re all going to be on journey.
And so many of those other lessons tie into this one because this is where, you’ll learn in just a minute, you and those that you’re trying to help, especially your kids, spend and will spend the great majority of all their life.
And so, the priceless gift you want to give your kids is teach them to work unto the Lord. Open your notes, if you will. I want you to follow along because I have three or four questions I want you to ponder and kind of think about. Think of the implications of these questions.
Question number one is for you as a parent or a parent to be: Are you excited about where you work and what you do for a living? Or maybe what you’re studying. Are you excited about it? Do you have this sense that, “Wow! I love what I get to do in terms of my vocation.” Yes or no?
Question number two: Do you sense God has made you for the work that you are doing and that He is pleased and you’re deeply satisfied with your present vocation? Now, that’s a loaded question and please hear me. This doesn’t mean that every day it’s like, “Oh, I just love going to work,” okay?
But, I mean, you’re deeply satisfied. It doesn’t mean it’s, please don’t, it may be very hard, some very satisfying, great things are hard. But it’s satisfying. You feel like, “I was made to do this. I’m improving at this, I’m good at this, it makes a difference, God is pleased. I feel called to this job.”
Third question: Do you realize that not counting eating and sleeping, most people will spend about seventy percent of your life at work? Is that crazy? I mean, take a week, one sixty, let’s take a hundred and sixty-eight hours. Now, I know everyone doesn’t sleep eight hours, but you probably should or close to it.
So, seven times eight, fifty-six is gone. You ought to spend at least an hour three times a day or some of you it’s not this long but then you do other things with it. So, let’s just give twenty-one hours a week to eat.
And then twenty hours a week is just upkeep, right? Well, you subtract those basic things, you’re not doing anything other than just maintaining your life, it leaves you with about seventy-one hours left in the entire week. And I don’t know anybody that works under fifty.
Fifty over about seventy-one, it’s roughly about seventy percent of your waking hours you’re going to work. You’re going to be at a “job.” Your kids are going to work. Teaching them what work is all about, teaching them how to work, making sure they don’t do a job that simply is just geared toward financial return instead of doing what they were made to do is critical for a parent.
So, I want you to open the notes and as we’ve done in each time, I want to give you a theology of work, what’s the Bible actually teach about work? And then I want to give you some really practical beginning principles about how to pass on the priceless gift of teaching your children how to work unto the Lord.
First of all, work is a calling, not a job. The Latin word for “work” from the early days is “vocation.” And your vocation, we think of that as just your job, you know, “I’m a lawyer or I work in construction or I’m a software engineer or I’m a stay-at-home mom.” And we think of that, “That’s my job.”
But the Bible is, “calling,” the word “calling” or “vocation,” it had the idea that God made you with certain gifts, He has designed you to do certain things, and so you are called. So, you could be called to be a plumber, you could be called to be a pastor. You could be called to work with your hands, you could be called to work with your mind.
But God has created you and probably more importantly He has created your kids with a set of gifts and with a design and a calling on their life that’s not just career or a job, it’s a vocation.
And when God looks down from heaven at a pastor or one of your kids, the pastor, that’s just his calling and they have a calling and God doesn’t think that pastors or missionaries or full-time Christian workers’ calling is any more important or any more spiritual than each one of us.
The danger when we think about jobs in our culture is twofold. One, I hear parents say things like this, and please hear me, the motives on this one are great. “Well, Mom, I don’t know exactly what to major in. I don’t know what to do with my life.” “Oh, it’s okay, honey, I just want you to be happy. Happy. Happy. Honey, this is your seventh year in college that your father and I are paying for. We really do want you to be happy, but you do need to make up your mind.”
God’s goal is not for your little boy or your little girl to be happy. Happy is from the root word for “happenings.” Happenings are about circumstances. Circumstances change. God wants your children to have great joy, not based on happenings.
But if you unconsciously, out of good motives, want your kid to be happy, they may end up starting a job or getting in a vocation that will not be at all what God designed them to do because some of what God wants us to do is hard, and it’s difficult, and it requires preparation or more training. And most of us, when we face those things, it’s like, “That doesn’t feel happy. We like easy! We like ‘now.’”
The other extreme when it comes to our calling is instead of happy is we evaluate everything over here on the end of, “Well, you may really like that, but you’ll never make any money there. You’ve got to have a vocation, you’ve got to have a job that really pays. And it needs to pay really well.” Why? Because you have to have a lot of money. Well, why? So you can have a lot of things. Why? Because you can, well…you’re asking too many questions.
But unconsciously you’ve got to realize that most of us unconsciously are pushed to have our kids either be happy or make money. What you need to say is, “No, no, no.” They may make money, they may be happy, but what you want to do is, “How do I help my child discover their God-given calling?” He has a vocation for your kids.
Second in our theology of work is that all work is sacred – 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “In whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,” the apostle Paul says, “do all for the glory of God.” There is no sacred/secular in the Bible.
There is no, like, “I’m reading my Bible and it’s spiritual and now I get in my car and go to work and it’s unspiritual. A hundred percent of everything is spiritual all the time. All work is sacred. You build foundations, it’s sacred. You create software, it’s sacred. You create messages for God, it’s sacred. It’s all sacred because you were designed to do it. And God is pleased with work that’s done unto Him.
I probably learned a lot from my parents who had a great work ethic but early on I went to school and then there was a bricklayer. And when I was in summer school or when I needed a job, he would let me do some work with him.
And I was trying to discover my calling and as best I knew, I was supposed to be a basketball coach so I went to school to be a basketball coach, I majored in education, then I majored in psychology, then I went to grad school, and I traveled around and played a lot of basketball and tried to get around great coaches.
And I was in between coaching jobs and my bricklayer friend says, “Well, why don’t you work with me for a few months?” And so, I mixed mud for him and we did a lot of chimneys and foundations.
And I’ll never forget, if you know anything about construction, you lay these footers and these big trucks come in, they lay all this stuff. And he’s the guy with all the skill and I’m the skinny guy bringing him all the blocks, all day. I will tell you what, it’s the hardest work I’d ever done in my whole life.
And we’d work for about two and a half days and he had the, he was checking it and got the level on it and we were up about three or four high and we were about two-thirds around, and Dave, I’ll never forget, I remember him looking and he looked again, and then he went down to the corner. Bam! Bam! Bam!
And he starts knocking, “Dave! Dave! What are you doing? We spent two and a half days doing this stuff. What are you doing?” He said, “Well, it’s this much off.” I said, “Well, is that out of code?” “It’s out of my code.” I said, “What do you mean, ‘It’s out of your code?’” He says, “I don’t do this for them; I do this for God. Every foundation, every chimney, everything I do is for an audience of One.”
And I said, “So, Dave, let me get this right, okay? Because I’m not, I’m new at this Christian stuff. So, you’re telling me that we’re going to waste two and a half days of money, it doesn’t really violate code, but it’s just a little bit off, and you’re going to do it over because you’re working for God? I just want to get this clear.” He goes, “You got it.” “Okay.”
Now, I’m, like, twenty-one years old, I’m thinking, “He’s nuts.” And here I am, thirty years later, and I thought, “That’s how I want to do my work.” See, who you really are is what you do when no one is looking and the way you do it when you know there wouldn’t be any consequences.
What I found was a man who understood, he had a vocation. He wasn’t a bricklayer, he wasn’t a mason, he was a worker of gifted hands for God and he would do it unto the Lord. That’s what I wanted my kids to learn.
Our work, third, is to flow from God’s unique design and purpose for our lives. It’s maybe one of the greatest verses in all of the Bible. It follows after the verse about how God has saved us by His grace, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that is not of yourselves. It is a gift of God. It’s not a result of works, lest any man should boast.” That’s Ephesians 2:8 and 9. “For,” there’s a reason, “for you are His workmanship,” literally there, the Greek word is, we get our word “poem.” P-O-E-M. Poem.
You are His craftsmanship, you are His workmanship, you are His masterpiece, you are His tapestry, you are His work of art, you are His sculpture, “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which He has prepared beforehand, from the foundations of the earth, for you to walk in it.”
God made your kids with a kind of personality and the way their mind works and they way they process information and some that are artistic with their hands and others that figure things in their mind and others that can look at an open space and just, their mind, they can see the building there.
And for others, who can solve problems and others who, with almost little training, can take an engine apart. And other people just the kind of skills where if people are having a problem and to them it’s easy and they can sit down with this person and this person and get it resolved.
Your children have a design that’s hard wired in their DNA and God wants them to discover the vocation so that they work in alignment with what He made them to do and when they do, He gets glory and they get joy.
That’s the purpose of life is to discover what you were made to do! See, what the world says is, “You are what you do.” So certain jobs have more prestige. You are what you do. You are a, you fill it in. And therefore, we give you more money because you are…
And the Bible flips it completely around and says, “No, no, no. What you need to do is you are whole in Christ, you were made to do something and when you do that for the glory of God, there’s a joy that will well up inside and a satisfaction.”
Because it’s just like, it’s like a hammer hitting a nail. Or it’s like a saw that is made to cut. When the right tool is doing the right job, there’s alignment. That’s what God wants for your kids. That’s what He wants for you.
I did a pretty significant study, I had a friend who was at Baylor University doing grad work and he did all this extensive research and he sent me this book on all this research about the workplace in all of America, just all these different institutions and sent me all this stuff. And I ended up making a series out of it.
But it’s crazy, like, sixty-eight percent or seventy percent, don’t quote me because I’m just sort of remembering, but it was like this astronomical, two-thirds of all Americans are dissatisfied and frustrated with their job. They have a TGIF mentality.
Basically, they go to work simply to make enough money to keep living the same way they’re living. The other thing the research showed is a lot of people go into professions to make a certain amount of money because that’s what they thought would make them happy.
Well then what happens is they make that certain amount of money that creates a lifestyle, now they have a lifestyle that requires this much money, but they don’t like doing it but then they feel like, “I can’t get out of it because I really am made to do this but it doesn’t pay very well!”
Do you understand the moral responsibility you have as a parent to help your kids discover, here’s the question, what did God make them to do? What did God make them to do? Not what other people think, not how it reflects on you, what did God make them to do? Because work is a calling, all work is sacred, and our work is to flow from God’s unique design and purpose. The Old Testament roots here are Genesis 2:15. This is before sin! You talk to some people, you’d think that work is sin. I mean, let’s get to heaven so we don’t work.
There’s going to be a new heaven and a new earth and guess what you get to do on it: you get responsibility and you get to work! Before sin entered, God said to Adam, “We’re co-creators, we’re co-regents, I want you to develop, I want you to subdue, I want you to make beautiful things. You are made in My image! I want you to use your hands, use your mind, name the animals. I want you to make beautiful, beautiful things. I want you to be creative because you’re made like Me.”
That’s God’s desire for all of us. But your kids need a lot of coaching to get there. The biblical profiles are Adam and the apostle Paul. Here’s this beautiful place. Cultivate it, make it happen, go for it.
The apostle Paul, I love this, in Acts 20:24, you might jot that down. I have this on my desk. There are very few verses I read every, single day but this is in the center of my desk when I get up every, single morning. My wife gave this to me on June 21st, 2001. This is the apostle Paul. He says, “My life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus,” and then he gives his job description, “the work of telling others the good news about God’s wonderful kindness and love.”
Boy, I read that every morning, “My life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus.” What job did He assign you? What job has He assigned your kids? See, when you help them discover that, by the way, they’ll be successful, why? They’re made to do it.
The New Testament command is Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.” Whatever you do! If it’s a thinking job, if it’s a hands job, if it’s a cleanup job. The perspective of work that you want your kids to get is that there are no menial tasks. Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as a gift unto the Lord, not unto men.
Now let me give you, just before we go on, let me give you four, it’s not in your notes but you can jot these down. These are just real practical ways to help your kids learn to put Colossians 3:23 into practice.
By the way, there are certain verses every child needs to memorize. Obviously, basic ones on salvation and basic ones on prayer. But you need to have them memorize one on suffering, one on decisions, and one on work. And this would be a good one.
But here are four specific things: When they’re young, give them jobs growing up. I mean, two years old, let them help set the table. Three and four years old, let them help you make the beds. Five and six-year-olds, they make the bed on their own. Seven and eight-year-olds, they get to help in the kitchen. Nine-year-olds get to take out the garbage.
I mean, give them jobs, give them jobs, give them jobs, more and more and more and more. And by the way, this is what’s amazing. When they get older, they don’t want to work at all. When they’re little, what do they always want to do? “Can I help you? Can I help you?” What do we tell them? “No.” Why? Because it’s a hassle! Right? They mess everything up!
But they want to be with you. All that study, all that stuff that you’ve been hearing about self-esteem, you want your kids to have great self-esteem? Self-esteem doesn’t come by sitting on the bench of some, little game and getting a trophy at the end, saying, “You’re a winner.”
Self-esteem comes by confidence of you learning to accomplish certain things and overcoming challenges. The way you learn that is by responsibility. The way you get responsibility is you get jobs. Little kids who say, “How do I do it?” “Well, well the forks go here and here. Okay now you try it. Great job. Good effort.”
And then later on, what, they get older, right? By ten or eleven, they don’t want to take out the trash. They don’t want to help with anything. Well, then you’re going to teach them discipline through work.
I remember my one son, he had the gift of forgetfulness. Seriously. He was sincere as he could be. And his job, I mean, like everyone had their jobs, and like, his job was the trash every day. And every day he would forget and so, you know, I fell into the bad parenting patterns that you all know don’t work but I did it too. Nag, nag, nag, nag, nag, nag, get upset, get upset, get intense after you’re upset. Never works.
And so finally, after trying everything, I said to my youngest son, I said, “Son, you’re having trouble remembering to take out the trash. It’s the only job you have when you get home, correct?” “Yes.”
“Okay, I’m going to help you.” “Oh, thanks, Dad.” “Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m home at five thirty and at five thirty, when I walk in the door, if the trash is done, you get to eat supper. If the trash isn’t done, you get to skip supper because I want to help you learn the self-discipline of learning to take out the trash.”
I mean, this is like, we’ve done this nineteen times. And sincere, “Dad, I’m sorry I forgot! I forgot! I forgot!” Substitute homework. Calling. Get it, parents? Does anybody have a job where, if you don’t follow up, don’t follow through, don’t call in, don’t carry things, that they don’t keep paying you and ask you to go take some other job? All of us, right? Where do you think your kids are going to learn that?
And so, of course, I knew what was going to happen. I don’t know if it was planned, it couldn’t have been because Theresa is too merciful. So, we had pizza and that was as real treat in those days. We could rarely afford, you know, anything special.
And so, we’re all sitting down, and so I said, “Oh, Ryan, is the trash?” “Oh, I forgot, Dad!” I said, “Oh! I am so sorry.” See, I’m not down, I’m not nagging, I’m not upset. “I am so sorry. Ryan, you can be excused.” “Well, what do you mean?” “Well, remember what we said? You’re not going to eat tonight.” “Dad, it’s pizza!” I said, “I’ll bet you remember the trash tomorrow.” “But, well, Dad, Dad, Dad, I promise, I promise.” “No, no, you don’t have to promise anything. It’s okay. Tomorrow…”
And then, of course, Theresa, you know, we’re clearing the dishes, “Should I give him a piece?” “No.” “Well, don’t, shouldn’t he get something?” “No. He will not starve to death. He’ll learn.” He forgot twice. And it’s amazing the self-motivating grace kicked in when we provided some loving consequences. So, number one, give them jobs.
Number two, feed them responsibility. Feed them responsibility. I see parents that are totally worn out, putting all the things here, doing all, you got kids at twelve, thirteen, fourteen, why should you be doing all the laundry? Why shouldn’t they do their own? Why are parents shaking kids, “You have to get up! You have to get up!” They’re fourteen, they’re fifteen years old. Buy them an alarm! If they miss, they miss. If they miss the test, they miss the test. If they get a low grade, they get a low grade.
You are way more committed to their success than they are. And what they feel is pressure from you. What you want is kids that can get up, that are self-disciplined, that work well, that handle responsibility, not necessarily have high SAT scores. But they’ll get great scores if you teach them.
But here’s what we do, we take care of everything for them. I’ve seen parents completely harried while the kids are playing video games. “Hey, dinner almost ready?” And I’m thinking, “What’s wrong with this picture?”
Third is require excellent work and help them develop a work ethic. Yes, this sounds crazy but you know when you have them vacuum because they help vacuum, right? They clean out the garage, they clean their room, and you do the deal where, you know, kind of lift up the rug and you realize, “Hey, you didn’t do under the rug.”
And they say, “Well, no one looks here.” You say, “Are you doing this for people or for God? He sees everything.” “Oh, Chip, you’re pushing it too far.” Well, maybe. I would say when I look at my children probably one of the greatest links to all their success in every job is you know what they learned at home? They learned how to work, and work unto the Lord.
And they learned, some of them had to learn it doesn’t have to be so perfect, so you had to help them. And others had to learn, “That’s not close. Do it again.”
Number four, help them to work for an audience of One. It’s about attitude. And often they’re not going to have a good attitude early on. Help them begin to say, my kids heard this verse until it was coming out of their ears. “Oh, yeah, I know, Dad, it’s an audience of One, work unto the Lord.” That’s right. Because someday you’re going to be an engineer unto the Lord, or a musician unto the Lord, or a mom unto the Lord, or a construction worker unto the Lord, or own your own company unto the Lord.
And you know what? If you learn early on that this is His and you do it unto Him, there’s a level of excellence and a level of integrity that your actual work will be a testimony for God because I will tell you, most people do their work and what they’re trying to figure out is, “How fast can I get it done? How little can I do? And how much can I get paid for doing as little as possible?”
And when you don’t work like that, you stand out. When Christians work like that, what a testimony. So, the priceless gift you want to give them is learning what you were made to do. That’s the gift you want to give your kids. Learning what you were made to do.
What I want you, as you listen, I want you to think, “I’ve got some plans to make for the New Year. One of my plans, one of my priorities needs to be, ‘How am I going to teach my children to work unto the Lord?’”
And the only way to do that is you need to figure out what their design is. You need to understand, “How did God make them?” They’re wired! They’re intricately made, they’re wonderfully made, they are wonderful. They may not be like you at all! But I will tell you, they are exactly the way God wants them.
They have certain spiritual gifts, they have certain passions, they have certain aptitudes, they have certain personalities, they have already had some experiences that some have been great, some have been not so great.
And so, what you want to do is you want to figure out, “What’s the SHAPE of my child?” so that you can put your arm around them and coach them toward the thing that He has made them to do. Does that make sense?
So, I’m going to give you some ways to do that and some resources. Helping them discover God’s calling for their life involves this SHAPE. The “S” is for spiritual gifts. What are theirs? Do your kids know what their spiritual gifts are?
My youngest son didn’t like to work, that’s Ryan, but I will tell you what. He had this uncanny spiritual gift. From the time he was nine or ten years old, I still remember, there was a window outside of our garage. We turned a garage into a bedroom.
And outside was a window and I was doing a little work in my boys’ bedroom and I could hear through the window. And Ryan is, like, eight or nine years old. And this is a neighbor kid that’s, like, eight years old. And Ryan is articulating the gospel as clearly as Billy Graham has ever said it. Nine years old!
And then he turns to this little eight-year-old and says, “Are you ready to receive Christ?” And the little kid bows his head and I’m thinking, “Man, are you kidding me?” Now, he didn’t like math, he didn’t like science. But I saw he had a spiritual gift. By the time he was ten years old, “Ryan, you’ve got to get ready for school!” “I’m not done with my quiet time yet! I’m reading the Bible! It’s too interesting!”
Now, I didn’t have that problem with all of my kids. But he had this, and then I remember when he was a senior in high school. He had led four of the six guys on the volleyball team to Christ and then he invited them over. And they would have a Bible study and our house was pretty small so there was nowhere to go. So, Theresa and I would go back in our bedroom. And I can still remember, I put up the pillows and, you know, paper thin doors, and we would lean like this and we’d listen to Ryan teach. And I’d be thinking, “Where is he getting this stuff? I mean, he’s not getting, I mean, I didn’t know that!”
But what I understood was he hated school, it helped me later on, understand why he needed to work for a year so he could learn some discipline, but he needed to go to a school, I mean, he read C.S. Lewis, he read, I gave him theology volumes and he would read them and write reports for me. But he didn’t do his homework. He was completely unmotivated in school.
But you start cooperating. Did I keep working with the school stuff? Yes. That’s why he had to work for a year. I made him pay for his first semester. You’re thinking, “This guy is so heartless.” Well, I had six years in a row of him not being faithful to do what he said he was going to do in school. Again, remember? Manage your money well. It’s not my money.
I told him, “Ryan,” I said, “your first semester is going to be about ten grand. What I know is you have never put two six weeks together for the last six years. So what, if it’s God’s money and I put ten grand down and then you blow it in college, you’re disappointed, I’m sad, ten thousand dollars of God’s money is gone. So, you can work for a year, save eight or ten thousand dollars, you pay for the first semester. If you do okay the first semester, then I’ll chip in and then we’ll go with college stuff.”
And that’s what he did. I mean, the guy began acing Greek! But he only had to take, like, three or four, he went to a Bible school, he only had to take, like, three classes where there was English, Math, and something.
And he, of course, classic, he procrastinated until his senior year, he didn’t take any of those classes but he needed them to graduate. So here is this kid that “can’t study, undisciplined,” he goes in, gets three books, figures out what’s in them, studies for three weeks and CLEPs out of all three classes.
See, your kids are designed and motivated certain ways. You want to cooperate with that. Help them discover their spiritual gift. His obviously was in the area of teaching in the Bible.
Second is “Heart.” Where is your passion? Your desire? What do they dream about? What are your kids’ passions? And, by the way, don’t spiritualize everything. I had one son early on, it was music, music, music. It had me crazy. There was a band in our living room, then there was a band in the garage, then there was a band in the van, then a band moving on, you know?
And we didn’t have… I was committed not to go in debt and we had very little money, but I saw this passion and this gift growing and growing and growing and I’ll never forget, I went to our worship pastor at the time. His name was Dana, a very good friend, I said, “Dana, we got this old clunky, bad, bad piano that they stick and my son, I think there might be some gift here and I want to cooperate with it.”
And he convinced me, he said, “Pianos increase in value. It’s a lot like your house, if you get a decent one.” So, I still remember, it was, like, five thousand dollar Yamaha piano.
And I remember when my son came home. And he wrote his first song on that. And now people are singing that kid’s songs all around the world, all around the world. And for Christmas, after twenty-five years, we shipped that piano and he has it in his studio where he and the likes of Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman and Reuben Morgan and all these guys that write all these worship songs, they hang out together, why? Because you discover where their passions are and then you cooperate with it.
And that’s, see, that’s our job. We’re coaches. We’re helpers. But it’s not so they land this job and go to this school and get these grades so that it reflects we’re good people. Our job is to help them figure out what God made them to do, not what will make us look good. And, by the way, that’s really subtle. I’m not down on anybody, I felt those same pressures.
Third is their aptitude. What are they good at? What are they good at? I remember early on, if you haven’t’ seen the little book, StrengthsFinder, if your kids probably are twelve, thirteen, and up… I remember when Annie went through that and, wow, you could see what her strengths were. This is what she’s good at. And then you begin to gear. Let’s let them major and do things that they’re good at and how they’re made.
Same as with personality. How are they wired? How do they relate to people? I mean, you could take the DISC test or the MMPI. There are so many resources and many of them are online and they’re free. But do you ever think about this as a parent?
Some of you are employers and you’re in business and you do all these tests to figure out: would this employee fit in this job. What about your son or your daughter? Why don’t you give them some tests?
Why don’t you meet with them? Why don’t you observe them? Why don’t you start keeping a little journal with each one of your kids and say, “This is what they’re good at. Here’s their aptitudes. Here’s what I think their spiritual gifts are.”
You want to create a grid where you’re like this coach, you’re this student of your son or your daughter and you’re watching this masterpiece develop and what you want to do is learn more and more and more and more and then align that masterpiece so they do what God made them to do.
“E” is for Experience. What have they done well, and they enjoyed? What have they done well, and they enjoyed? Ask them. Go out for a cup of coffee or a coke and just ask them, “What have you done that you think you’ve really done well that you’ve really enjoyed?”
And so, then you get their SHAPE, you begin to see their spiritual gifts, their heart, their aptitude, their personality, and their experience. And then there will be some times where they’ll have some big decisions. And they’re just like us, they’re just people, so they’re pulled.
And they’re pulled this direction or that direction so as a wise counselor, what you want to do is you say, “Well, this is your SHAPE,” you remind, we always need someone in our life that pulls us back to, “This is who you are.” Because all of us are tempted to take the job where there is fame or ego or money or applause and, by the way, if a job brings that, fine! But a lot of people are doing jobs for the wrong reason and then, if you’re not made for it, you don’t like it.
I remember Annie, shortly after college, had an opportunity to work for two different organizations. One was a startup where she would get to shape things, lead things, and kind of have a lot of responsibility, make it happen.
The other was an organization that was huge and very well known and it would have been a real feather in your cap to get to work for that organization. A very, very high-class organization. And she wrestled with that.
And, you know, those are times too where, as a parent, you step back and say, “You know, pray about it. I’m glad.” But what I remember was thinking, “This is her personality, these are her strengths, she’s going to be about the seventh person down on the pecking order in that organization and the smaller startup, she’s going to get to shape it.
And it was everything I could do to not tell her what she ought to do. Ooh, that’s so hard. But I kind of stepped back and just tried to remind her, “Okay, how are you wired?” I mean, this is part of the Ingram tradition and it’s not all good but when they step in a room, they want to say, “This is the way it goes.” And that’s good and bad.
But what you don’t want to be, you don’t want to have this leadership gift inside of you and feel like you’ll just never have a chance to exercise it. So, for you and for especially for your kids, figure out the design. And then get aligned with it.
She ended up taking the job with the smaller organization, moved up quickly, shaped things. It was really exciting to see. Why? Because she was made to do that.
Second, encourage them to get honest, wise counsel about who they are and where they fit to move forward. Who are they? Wise counsel. You want the children’s pastor, the youth pastor, the parent they look up to, something in their areas of interest, you want them to get wise counsel, in a multitude of counseling, there is safety where they ask questions and can ask someone, “What should I do?”
I remember my son, Eric, really didn’t know what to do with his life. And he took one class, he took one class in biology and they studied the skeleton and the human body and he came and he said, “Dad, this is, it’s unbelievable! Do you realize how God has made the body?” And I said, “Well, not really. But it’s pretty cool.”
And I remember there was, Diana Roberts was a physical therapist and she offered to let Eric volunteer. And he began to volunteer and see how the human body worked. That was pivotal to him becoming a physical therapist. He loves it. He’s been exploring and seeing how he could repair rotator cuffs and ACLs and people that have had hip replacements and seeing where they couldn’t walk, where they get to walk. And he gets to be hands of healing.
Third, help them be willing to move out of their comfort zone to fulfill their divine purpose. And I would add, “and yours.” Sometimes you have to say, “You really do need to take the AP courses because you’ve got what it takes and I know it’s harder.” Sometimes you need to say, “You know something? I know you kind of like it here and all your friends are here or all your friends are going to that school. But you know something? That’s really not what’s best for you. You’re not designed for that. You’re just caving into peer pressure.”
And sometimes God will take you out of your comfort zone. My one son came to me in the middle of college, said to me, “You know what? I’m called to do music, I hate school, I’m getting nothing out of it, God’s called me to be a musician, that’s what I’m going to do.”
What? Both parents were schoolteachers, I was a schoolteacher, education is, like, sacred. And I remember saying to him, “Well, son, you know,” here was the honest dad was, “Probably won’t make it in music. Few people do. You need to have a good backstop. So, get a real job and then if the music thing works out, fine.” So, I was sort of couching that. And I still remember, we were in the kitchen and I can tell you right where he’s standing in the kitchen, picture behind him, and I’m over here in front of the refrigerator.
“Hey, Dad! Who is the person who said, ‘Follow your dreams! Step out! Make a difference! Dream big dreams!’” “I don’t know, I don’t remember that person.” You know? And, I mean, he had literally quoted, like, one of my sermons. And he goes, “If I, hey, Dad, I, you know what? I can go back to college. I’m motivated. But this is what I want to do with my life.” And I remember saying, “You know, you’re a grown man. If that’s what you’re called to do,” and we did.
Now, he drove a muffin truck trying to figure out how to make things work for about six months and kept music and he eventually went back and he decided that he would finish out that little bit of college. And then, he did crazy stuff. He just moved to Nashville and everyone said, “You know, there are bus boys that are better musicians than you.” He goes, “I know that. But this is what God called me to do.” And he drove a UPS truck and he sold t-shirts out of the back of things and he just, and had this little gal that would do whatever, I’m more impressed with Culley than I think I am Jason, to follow him.
But there is a point in time where we need to stop asking, “What’s the most secure place for our kids and what’s the most financially best decision they can make?” and start asking, “Life is short. What did God make them to do? And am I going to cooperate, helping them discover what God made them to do?”
The world screams, “You are what you do!” And God says, “No, the truth is, do what you are.” The message, the life message is, “You were created to work.” Isn’t that great? It’s good! You’re created to work. Help them discover their Ephesians 2:10 calling.