The perfect gift. Lots of gifts. Gift ideas. Shopping. Hiding. Wrapping.
Everyone is in the giving spirit this time of year. It’s All About those Gifts! Especially for our own children. I tell you what: when you have 6 kids, getting gifts for JUST the kids can be overwhelming, confusing, and sometimes stressful!
As I think about all I want my kids to have, my mind strays to the intangible. Gifts that are purchased, or even made, no matter how loved or cherished will one day be worn out, cast aside, or even thrown away. That is the nature of the physical world. However, there are gifts that we can give our children that will last for eternity. They will serve them well throughout this life, never being outgrown, AND into the next! They do cost. They cost forethought, and time. They require us to be Purposeful in our daily interactions with our kids. In the end … “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, his workmanship will be evident, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will prove the quality of each man’s work. . .”
One of the most important of these gifts to me is …
The gift of Purpose
God is clear that we were thought of from the beginning of time.
Ephesians 1:4-5 “Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.”
Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you”
Ephesians 1:11 In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.
2 Timothy 1:9 Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.
We each were created by God with a specific purpose in mind. If for some reason, we do not fulfill that purpose, no one else can fulfill that purpose.
You see it everywhere you look. People wandering aimlessly through life. You see it in the guy on the street corner with the sign. You see it in the addict who has alienated everyone who loves them. You see it in the housewife, who has ripped down her home with her own hands for some moments of fleeting pleasure. And you see it in the executive who is at the top of his game, who has everything money can buy him. And ultimately, you see it in that person who couldn’t see the need to live one more day. All of these scenarios are heartwrenching. Purposeless knows no classes or barriers, it affects people everywhere. It sometimes comes through following one’s own carnal desires. Sometimes, it comes from not knowing one has a purpose. Sometimes, one knows they have a purpose in their head, but it isn’t strong enough to penetrate their heart and their whole being.
It is our job to instill that sense of Purpose It is our child’s job to fulfill that purpose.
The world constantly beats down on our kids from every angle, from a very young age. They are not smart enough, fast enough, pretty enough, good enough. They are too fat, too ugly, too slow, too dumb, they are failures, they are losers, they can’t succeed. It is a full-time job to instill an urgent sense of purpose in them that will be able to withstand the onslaught of the world
In every day, in every way let your kids know that you know they have a purpose and that you expect them to fulfill it. Let everything you say and do speak this to them. If they fail at something, let them know that is just a step in the succeeding. No one does anything perfectly the first time. Even when you are specifically called by God to do it, and you are equipped with all the gifts you need. There is always a learning curve. Failing is ALWAYS part of succeeding. It does not mean you are a failure, it means you are one step closer to succeeding!
How do we go about instilling a sense of purpose in our children?
So, we know God has a purpose for each of our children. We know we want them to know it. Know it not just in their minds, but know it to their very core. A knowing so deep and permeating that nothing the world says or does can take it away. How do we do that? Here are three ideas to get us started:
- Speak it! Tell them. Over and over again. “God has a purpose for your life”. “God created you for a purpose that no one else in the whole world can fulfill”. “God planned you with a purpose since Before the beginning of the world” and on and on. Constantly seek new ways to convey this to them. Speak the words, write notes, make signs and plaques, put a billboard in their room! Speak these truths to them over and over again, at all times of the day. Every day. No matter what happens to them, through hard life lessons, when they seem to fail at something, when they choose wrong, and even when they are on top of the world and everything is going their way. Speak it to them. Leave no room for doubt.
- Actions. Let your actions speak purpose into their life. Let them do things, give them opportunities to walk in their gifts and callings. This may sound lofty and not practical, but in reality it is simple. What are they interested in? What is their heart tender for? What are they good at? What are their desires? When God created us with His purpose, he instilled in us gifts and desires to fulfill that purpose. These are our guides. Nurture these in your child. Obviously, we have a carnal side, too. All of us. Teach your child how to know which desires are Godly and wholesome. Philippians 4:7-8 can be of good help here. Memorize it. Together, as a family. Is it noble? is it true? is it just? is it pure? is it lovely? is it of good report? is there any virtue in it? is it praiseworthy? If their desires, gifts and the tugging of their hearts are for something that follows these guidelines, then it is a safe bet that they are on the right track. Let them try things that are impossible. Facilitate their learning in whatever direction they are being called to. This is possible in very small children. Even a 3 or 4 year old will have an idea to bake cookies for an elderly lady from church, or to give a blanket to a homeless man. Encourage this, and when they are older your mind will be blown by the things they come up with!
- Expectation. Expect your kids to do great things! Here, I am not talking about setting goals for them to be doctors, or wall street tycoons. We are talking about instilling in them a sense of purpose unique to them. Sometimes, it is easy to think of our children as “just kids” This is not true, necessarily. The fact is that they are persons. Persons created by God with a purpose! His Purpose. They are not ours. They are His. We have the sobering job of raising them to know Him, and to instill in them that He has a specific purpose for their lives. Not to decide for them their direction, but to facilitate them in their endeavors that will fulfill that purpose. Know this. To your very core. In the thick of things your expectations will show. Make sure you expect them to live up to their purpose! Notice, everyday, how they are growing in their purpose, then talk to them about it. It may just be that they controlled their temper when their brother pulled their hair! Let them know you saw their self-control, let them know that is growth, let them know they are on the right track, let them know that what they are doing and how they are growing is a necessary step to fulfilling a big picture. They cannot fulfill their purpose without conquering the little demons, so it is a BIG DEAL! Let them know by your words and actions that being a winner isn’t about the small victories, it’s about how you get there. Losing doesn’t make you a loser. It makes you one step closer to winning!
We don’t want to put pressure on our kids to be something they are not, but rather a joyful expectation of the hugeness of God’s plan and purpose for them.
There are no physical or mental limits when we know we are created for a purpose. Instilling a sense of purpose is just as important to me with my 2 kiddos with Down Syndrome as it is for my ‘typical’ children. If God created them with a purpose, there is nothing that can stop them in fulfilling that purpose. I want to take the boxes that the world wants to put them in and throw them away! They can do anything their hearts desire, because God created them with that heart and that desire. He doesn’t make mistakes. I want all of my kids to have a sense that they can do anything they set their sights on. No matter what life throws at them, no matter what their specific personal challenges, they are created for a Purpose! By the Almighty God. There is NOTHING that can come between them and that purpose!
Fulfilling our Purpose is a lifelong journey! Finding ones purpose is a joyful endeavor. It is what we are created for, and we can’t be happy without it. I want to make sure I have my kids set firmly on this path.
What about you? Do you have ways that you have used to instill a sense of purpose in your children? I’d love to hear about it.
Other posts on Intangible Gifts: