December 16, 2009
Investing in Strengths
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
My 18-year-old son stepped on the stage, grabbed a guitar and turned to lead worship for the church youth group. He looked so at ease that I grinned thinking how far my previously shy and distracted son had come. It made me glad once more I hadn't listened to his piano teacher when Joshua was in first grade.
Even back then, Josh's love for music and innate abilities were obvious. The child could hear a song once and sing back the melody line with ease. So when his school opened a music academy, we saw it as the perfect opportunity to invest in what we believed was a God-given gift. Piano was the natural choice since we had an unused piano at home. We registered our little boy for the class, bought the level one book, and began classes.
Week followed week, and Joshua struggled to sit still long enough to practice. It took ongoing involvement on my part to redirect his focus back to the keys and book. But we saw it as an investment and enjoyed the fruits of his labor when he learned the simple songs. It came as a surprise, then, when his piano teacher stopped to talk with me after his lesson one afternoon. Perhaps I should have noticed the stressed look on her face and anticipated her next words, but I didn't.
"Mrs. Whitwer," she said, "you are wasting your money."
She went on to explain that in her opinion, Josh was just too distracted for lessons and wasn't getting anything out of them. We happened to disagree. It was obvious though, she was not the teacher for our son. After that experience, we could have been discouraged and quit. But we knew God had placed something unique in our son, and just because other people didn't see it, didn't mean it wasn't there. God gave my husband and me the responsibility to build upon what He had already started. Not just so Josh would love music, but so Josh would be ready to fulfill whatever God's plans were for him.
We continued to invest in Josh's love for music. In the early elementary years he sang in our church's children's choir. When we lived in North Carolina for two years, he took a vocal class at a Christian music academy. When he was old enough to play in the school band, he started playing bass guitar in both the regular and jazz bands. In 7th grade he started playing bass on a youth worship band, and in 8th grade he learned electric guitar. Throughout those years we invested in occasional lessons, better equipment and lots of time with practice and concerts.
Only God knows where Josh will end up with his musical ability. He now leads a youth worship team at church, and has helped teach others beginning guitar so they can lead worship. I just know it's my job to invest in this strength for as long as I can, and not worry about the end result. And by investing in Josh's musical ability, it is my prayer that we have equipped him with other skills that will help him in the future, such as the disciplines of practice, perseverance, working with others, respect for authority, giving his best, and honoring God by using the abilities He has given.
Were we wasting our money back then? Absolutely not! We learned a valuable lesson: Sometimes it takes perseverance, creativity and patience when investing in a child's strength. Josh wasn't a musical prodigy, he occasionally forgot his guitar when going to band, and his dad and I had to remind him to practice. And yet the gift of music was inside my son waiting to be developed and used for God's glory. Helping to develop that skill was an act of obedience on our part.
What skills do you see waiting to be invested in and developed in your child, your spouse, or yourself?
There was an interesting ending to the piano lesson experience. At the final recital, about 25 kids took turns performing. Finally it was Joshua's turn. My little six-year-old walked up to the piano, sat down to play and carefully opened his music book. Not only did he play his piece beautifully, but he was the ONLY child who sang while accompanying himself - and he sang in perfect pitch.
All I could say was, "Praise God."
Dear Lord, thank You for placing seeds of ability in all of us. I know You see my potential, and You see potential in those I love. Help me to see with Your eyes, and to have the wisdom to know how to encourage others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
When Your Child is Hurting by Glynnis Whitwer. This is a great resource to help parents navigate the often challenging years of childhood.
Visit Glynnis's blog where she shares more tips for investing in your child's strengths.
Discover more about Your Child's Personality
Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child by Renee Swope
If you are parenting a child, identify one or two natural abilities he or she has. Consider how you can invest in those strengths.
How can you develop your own strengths and use them for God's glory?
Can you look back on your life and see early signs of natural talents that might have been overlooked by others?
What hinders parents from identifying and accepting their child's natural abilities?
Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…" (NIV)
Job 10:8, "Your hands shaped me and made me." (NIV)
© 2009 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105