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Helping Your Children in the Discovery of Their Mission

From a FamilyLife Today® broadcast, a list of ideas to help your kids think missionally about life.

Helping your child think missionally

On the February 21-22 broadcast of FamilyLife Today, Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine mention ways to help your kids think missionally about life. Here is the list, from the Rainey’s newest book, The Art of Parenting.

Here are some ideas for helping your children to discover their mission:

1. Evaluate your own life.
Are you a person on a mission? How would you describe the mission God has given you? Are you excited about fulfilling God’s mission, and are you talking about it with your children as you do life together?

2. Ask God to give you discernment to spot your children’s gifts, abilities, passions, and burdens—their “missional DNA”—as they begin to emerge.
Begin to rough out a picture of who they are and what they truly seem to care about. What lights their fire? Start a digital diary where you can enter ideas and observations about your child’s talents and passions. It may take a while, but the “missional DNA” will begin to emerge.

3. Affirm and encourage your child when you see him or her operating in what appears to be a sweet spot of his or her gifts and wiring.
This will become increasingly important during the awkward years of adolescence when nearly all teens need someone speaking truth to them. Don’t be surprised if your child has difficulty believing it.

4. Use a date night with your spouse to sharpen your inventory of your child’s life.
Discuss what each of you are observing in your child, and talk about how you can better develop your child’s gifts, talents, and passions.

5. Live your own life “on mission.”
Talk about what your mission is at the dinner table, as you run errands with your kids, or perhaps on a date with your child. Talk about your passions, your dreams, and how you’ve developed your mission over your lifetime. If possible, consider inviting your child to join you in executing your mission. If you are looking for additional reading material on this subject, dig into Dennis’s book Choosing a Life That Matters and Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life.

6. Fan the flames of your child’s dreams.
Perhaps ask, “If you could do anything in the world and couldn’t fail, what would you do and why?” Or read this quote from A. W. Tozer at the dinner table and discuss: “God is looking for those with whom He can do the impossible—what a pity that we plan only the things that we can do by ourselves.”

7. If possible, use testing services as children move into their middle teens and beyond.
This was invaluable to us in presenting an objective view of one child’s gifts and motivations. Ultimately, it helped us know how to encourage and motivate that child.

8. Encourage and affirm small and big steps of faith.
Stepping up and out in faith to use a gift can feel very risky to some children. Memorize Hebrews 11:6 with your children and applaud them when they show initiative.

9. Teach how to process failures—and that they are not final.
Don’t rescue children from failure; it may be one of the best tutors in their lives. Study men and women who failed. For example, Thomas Edison failed thousands of times before he ultimately succeeded in inventing the light bulb.

10. Be a person of faith, too.
We had to deal with our fears when our son came home from college and said he wanted to go live in Estonia, the former Soviet state, for a year and help introduce students to Jesus Christ. He worked with students at Tallinn University in Estonia’s capitol.

You may be surprised to learn that parents are the number one reason college graduates don’t go into the ministry—Christian parents block their kids from going. Personally, we wouldn’t want to be the parents blocking one of our children from doing what God had called him or her to do!

11. Pray with and for your child, for the fulfillment of God’s mission for his or her life. 

12. Read Ephesians 2:10 as a family and assign an older child (a teenager) to lead the family in a devotion about it a couple of weeks later.
Then talk about how each would apply that passage of Scripture to his or her life.

Do the same with Matthew 6:33 and Matthew 28:19-20. Note the context of this latter passage, where Jesus gave His Great Commission as He spoke His last words to His disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

13. Discuss this Ethiopian proverb at dinner:
“The feet take a person where one’s heart is.”

14. Assign one of your childrento read Katie Davis Majors’s book Daring to Hopeand then give a report about it to the family.
Tighten your seat belts, for this is quite a story of faith by a remarkable young lady.


Adapted from The Art of Parenting, by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, copyright © 2018. Used with permission of Bethany House.

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