A funny story my daughter loves to tell as an adult occurred when she was in middle school. A teacher told the classroom if they didn’t behave, their parent would have to come sit with them in class. The purpose of the threat was to encourage the students to straighten up, because what middle schooler wants their parent sitting with them in class? My daughter.
She thought long and hard about what she could do that would be just enough trouble for them to call me. She was an excellent student. However, she preferred home to crowded places, one friend to play with than a group and the familiar rather than a new experience.
I was the exact opposite of my daughter when I was younger. I loved new experiences, never wanted to be home and my grades reflected the constant distraction and busyness of my days.
Parenting her could be challenging for both of us. I had many misses and moments of bad parenting. I needed to adjust my way of thinking and help her build authentic, grounded confidence. I knew God created her to be exactly who he wanted her to be, not what I or the world wanted her to be.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared us in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10
Today, my daughter works in a public school as a speech-language pathologist helping young children find their voice and how to communicate their needs. God developed in her an empathy and love for children facing hard things.
We have a responsibility to recognize the strengths, anxieties and uniqueness of the children in our lives, so they may become who God designed them to be.
Jesus highlighted this in his ministry in the diversity of who he selected to follow him. Every individual God called to do something brave was unlike anyone he had called before. Often, the person was uncertain whether they could pull off what God wanted them to do, but they did it.
As you guide, teach, mentor or parent a child this school year, consider how God has gifted them and how he might be able to use them. How does he want you to nurture their strengths? How can you help them be mighty and brave? When you or your child has doubts, read 1 Peter 4:10-11 together.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:10-11
Written by Dr. Amy Curtis, senior director of counseling for Buckner International.