I had a fight last week with one of my daughters who pushed her brother and then wouldn’t own up or apologise. She was so stubborn that I had to send her to her room whilst I calmed down.
Back track 11 years to when we had her dedication at church. Whilst it was a good celebration my wife and I were a little disappointed to receive only one prophetic word: they saw her standing on a battlefield after everyone else had given up and gone home. It was an image of perseverance.
As I calmed down I realised that her stubbornness was the immature form of her gift of perseverance*.
So when I spoke to her again, I called out† who she was going to be “You know you are going to be someone who keeps on going when everyone else has given up. You are going to do great things for God because of this,” but then guided her from where she currently was, “but you can also use this great gift that God has given you to keep resisting when you should say sorry.” She grinned sheepishly. The atmosphere had changed, she saw who she was going to be and in light of that apologised.
As parents it’s all too easy to see bad behaviour as just something that needs to be stamped out and by doing so we can then crush the very gifting God has given them.
We need discernment to see if it is an immature form of a godly gift.
We can see Jesus do this with his disciples – they were constantly clamouring for being first (Luke 9:46-48;22:24-26) but Jesus didn’t rebuke their desire for being first, instead he redirected it. Greatest means being a servant, greatest means welcoming those you see as “less”. Their desire for being greatest was an immature form of their gift of leadership.
Here’s a summary of some immature forms of a godly gift that I have discovered so far:
- daring/naughty – apostle
- bossy/wants to be first – leader
- speaks out inappropriately/black or white opinions – prophet
- gives things away carelessly – generosity
- stubborn – perseverance
- overly sensitive – compassion
- unrealistic expectations – faith
- dreamer, nonconformist – creativity
- critical or fault finding – discernment
- fussy, easily put-out, doesn’t like disturbed routine – administration
If you have others to add to this list then I would love to know – please comment below.
Also as parents we shouldn’t despise the days of small beginnings (Zech 4:10) – that is we shouldn’t look down on a fledgling gift. For example when my eldest son was about 5, he overheard my wife and I discussing that we were short on money. He went to his piggy bank and brought us some of his pocket money. It was such a small amount, like 5 pence, and at that time I’m ashamed to say that I thanked him but refused his offer as it would make no difference. But by doing so I crushed the beginning of his gift of generosity. As parents need to humble ourselves enough to accept help from our children. As parents we want our children surpass us – not remain below us.
It’s only by God’s grace that I later recognised his gifting and let him give his pocket money away. He gave a £1 to a friend’s dad who had lost his job. He gives money to the homeless. He buys sweets for his siblings. He saves up so he can buy Christmas gifts. By encouraging his gift of generosity I have found that I want to keep up with him and so he has spurred me on in the faith.
Father, open my eyes to see beyond my frustration. Help me not to crush my children’s immature gifting but give me wisdom to help redirect them towards their calling. Help me to humble myself to learn from them and be transformed as a result. In Jesus’ name. Amen.