Friday, January 23, 2015

When I Grow Up

Since there are times when either Thomas or I have to be at work instead of with the kids, we have started using particular language when we describe what Mommy or Daddy are doing.  Instead of just saying, "Mommy has to go to work," Thomas suggested that we use the language of "Going to work to help people," or "Going to work to help make the world a better place," so that the kids get the idea that we don't just go to work for the sake of work, but that there is meaning behind it.

We are both fortunate to have jobs that we enjoy where we can use our gifts, and this is something we would love for our children to actualize in life as well.  But we also believe that it's important to have ways of using and sharing our gifts outside of the workplace as well.  We know our jobs aren't the place where we will fulfill our entire need for meaning, even though it feels great to know that what we do in our places of work is meaningful.

In the long run, it doesn't really matter to me what Esme and Reid end up choosing as careers, but what I do want them to grow up learning and knowing is that they have gifts to share and I hope they find a way to use those gifts to bless others.  I want them to know there are lots of possibilities in the world and that there are lots of things they can do to use their gifts.

A colleague of mine recently promoted an upcoming class on discovering spiritual gifts by using the illustration of two clusters of grapes.  The one grapevine had just a few, shriveled grapes hanging from it, but the other one was bursting with grapes, many hidden underneath those that were more visible.

She said that when we think about our gifts, many of us think it's like the grapevine with just a few grapes...we often think we know what our gifts are and even tell ourselves that we don't have a whole lot of them.  But, she said, when God looks at us and our gifts, God sees the cluster of grapes that is practically overflowing.  Some of the gifts we have we don't even recognize, but they are there, waiting to be discovered and used.  This is what I want Esme and Reid to grow up knowing and believing.

With this in mind, when I came across the following activity, I wanted to pass it along.  It is a great conversation starter and is an opportunity for both children and adults to discuss what they'd like to be when they grow up-- or in the years to come-- and why, to share what they are passionate about, and to highlight their God-given gifts.

     1. Say this prayer aloud to begin:
O God, keep our hearts and minds open to your plans for our lives. Help us use the skills and talents you've given us for your good in the world.  In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
2. Invite family members to take turns saying what they want to be when they grow up—or in the years to come—and why.  Be sure to listen carefully to what each person says. And be sure to include adults in the conversation; a person may not be in his or her "dream job" today and may have dreams of being a nurse or a pilot or a missionary.

While it's true that some of the dreams revealed may not be feasible, the discussion may still inspire adults to take those art classes they've always wanted to take or prompt a first-grader to sign up for a basketball camp.

3. Take time to identify some of the gifts (skills, talents, abilities) that God has given to each family member to use each day. How might these gifts shape plans and dreams for the future?
  • Who is good at science, math, cooking, organizing, cleaning?
  • Who can sing or play an instrument?
  • Who is caring? Who is a good listener? Who can give wise advice?
  • Who loves to be outdoors? Who can swim or throw a ball?
  • Who can build things? Who understands how motors work? Who is good at solving puzzles?
4. Consider what practical activities, training, or education might help you achieve your dreams.

5. Plan to repeat this "When I Grow Up" conversation from time to time because interests change and different God-given gifts are revealed and realized. Plus, it's fun to use your imaginations and dream. Parents can help set an example for children as they pursue goals and are flexible in their goals. Affirm how many kinds of work and professions are significant and valuable.

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