It was one, among several, of the company’s strategies for achieving success. And I have to admit, it was the only one I didn’t understand. After all, if the purpose of a business is to prosper and expand influence, why would you want to control that growth? Why not just let it be free to flourish?
Well, those company days are behind me, and many homeschooling days lay ahead. While I’ve shifted professions for the time being, the business strategy remains a part of my philosophy for success— and it finally makes sense. Because nothing threatens successful growth—in any area—like the inability to handle it.
You see, creativity is something God’s given to all of our kids—and to all of yours. It’s part of being made in the image of a creative God. And it’s our goal to help our kids discover their gifts and use them to build God’s kingdom. But in order to do this we’ve got to be guardians of their growth and allow them just as much freedom as their maturity can responsibly handle. Otherwise, we jeopardize everything.
God set the best example of this with his own children. Just before the people of Israel were to enter the promised land—the land of freedom—God said this: “I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land” (Exodus 23:28-30).
God had set His children free; that was undeniable. And He had prepared a place where they could enjoy that freedom and serve him. That too, was undeniable. But He had the wisdom to know that they would need time to grow into the full measure of all He was giving to them. Over time, they would be strong and capable enough to tend the whole land He set aside for them. Until then, others would do it. And in this way, God guarded his children and his gift from ruin.
It’s no different for us. We must encourage our children in their creative growth, but not by setting them free in as many directions as they want to go all at once. Instead, we must allow them pursue what they are able to handle with self-control. And as we do, we’ll watch them grow to maturity and continue to pursue their passions for the glory of God.
To encourage you in practicing controlled creativity, try implementing these helpful tips.
1. Narrow it down
Instead of choosing as many things as possible, help your child to narrow down their creative pursuits to one or two at a time. Talk through what your child loves best and appears to have natural skill or strengths in; help them to discern the way they should go, not just the way they feel like going. Narrowing down options and settling on a decision they can handle are life-skills your child will thank you for later.
2. Stick to a schedule
Create protective boundaries for your child’s time and talents, and teach them to protect these too. In an age-appropriate manner, help your child make a schedule that manages their responsibilities and freedoms. In doing this, you will lay a foundation for a lifestyle of orderliness that reflects the character of God.
3. Work wisely
Proverbs 3:19-20 testifies that God’s acts of creation were rooted in wisdom. Likewise, in an age-appropriate manner, require that research be done before pursuing creative passions. Have students to submit plans that reflect thoughtfulness and which thoroughly outline their goals and methods from start to finish. Remind them: It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way (Proverbs 19:2).
4. Faithfully pursue excellence
Creation displays the character of the Creator: His works are excellent, and He is faithful in all He does. Require that creative pursuits must be completed in full and with excellence before the next project or pursuit may begin. Determine these standards ahead of time so there is no confusion about whether a project has reached its completion. As your child fulfills projects with excellence, you will be laying foundations that will enable them to fulfill their calling in Christ in the years to come.
5. Patiently protect
Pray often and remember, growth takes time. While your child is maturing, patiently guard what God has entrusted to you until they’re ready to manage their inheritance on their own. As you faithfully apply the principle of controlled creativity to your child’s growth, you’ll find it’s worth the work.
Reprinted with Permission from Home Educating Family Magazine, 2011 Issue 1.
Janine is wife to one fabulous husband, homeschooling mom to four spunky kids, and caretaker of one resilient aloe plant. She and her family live in the suburbs of Chicago, but you can visit her at JaninePetry.com.
Home Educating Family is well known in the homeschool world for its beautiful magazine and Well Planned Day line of planners. Visit homeschoolconvention.com.