Empower Your Teen to Follow His or Her Dreams
- Friday, September 23, 2005
Help your teen find interests and passions. Encourage your teen to take advantage of any opportunity to try various activities to discover what he or she likes. Ask your teen to write a list of activities he or she has pursued since fourth grade in the realms of school, home, church, community, and work. Then have your teen rank each activity according to how positive or negative the experience was.
Pray together, asking God to open your teen’s heart and mind to what He wants to show him or her as your teen reflects on this list. Ask questions such as:
"Is there a pattern or anything these events have in common?"
"Are some of the activities things I’d like to pursue more?"
"How can I begin doing more of these kinds of activities?"
"What kinds of qualities, talents, character traits, and skills do these activities require?"
"Do I have some of these qualities and traits?"
"Are any circumstances or events missing from my worksheet? If so, what are they, and why might they be missing?"
"Are there any activities that I’ve never done before, but I’d like to try?".
Discern your teen’s spiritual gifts. Understand that these gifts aren’t the same as natural abilities. Rather, spiritual gifts are abilities that allow someone to perform specific tasks beyond the realm of human skill. They’re given only to believers in Jesus Christ, and listed in the Bible.
Pray, asking God to help you and your teen recognize the spiritual gifts that He has given your teen. Then have your teen learn by getting involved in situations where he or she has to depend on God’s Spirit to get something done in projects both inside and outside your church. Ask people with whom your teen works on these projects to give you both honest feedback about what gifts your teen may or may not have.
Identify whether your teen is left-brained or right-brained. Understand which side of the brain is more natural for your teen to use – the left side (which handles sequential, logical, rational thought) or the right side (which is in charge of creativity and feelings). Know that some experts recommend that each person try to spend at least 70 percent of his or her waking time operating from the hemisphere that is most natural for him or her. Help your teen counteract pressure from school or elsewhere to adapt away from his or her natural preference and spend more time and energy on activities that reflect that natural preference.
Discover whether your teen is an extrovert or an introvert. Consider whether your teen finds energy in things and people (as extroverts do) or in his or her inner world of ideas (as introverts do). Make sure your teen isn’t pressured to be something he or she isn’t.
Pinpoint your teen’s sensory preference. Understand how your teen prefers to learn about the world: through seeing (visual preference); hearing (auditory preference); or touching, tasting, and smelling (kinesthetic preference). Use this information to nurture and affirm your teen.
Find mentors for your teen. Ask God to help you find adults who care enough for your teen to invest in his or her spiritual and vocational development. Consider family members; church leaders; school teachers, coaches, and guidance counselors; close friends; co-workers; neighbors; and professionals in the fields in which your teen is interested in potentially pursuing a career. Be willing to mentor other people’s teens yourself.
Teach your teen to see where God is at work. Help your teen understand how God is active in the world and how he or she might fit into what He is already doing. Encourage them to develop a close relationship with Him and pray often about how to join His work both locally and in the wider world.
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