I know kids who graduate from conventional schools aren’t generally given a forum to describe their ambitions in a similar way. But I hope the pursuits of graduates from every school might be similarly as diverse. That would mean each teen had been given the opportunity to discover how the Lord has wired him and the freedom to chase after his God-ordained dreams. It would mean that every graduate has come to believe in the value of her future.
Sadly, I know my hope isn’t reality. Some young people have been held back by challenging or even debilitating family circumstances, improperly diagnosed special learning needs, or a lack of access to opportunities for exploring future plans. And we absolutely need to do whatever we can – within our extended families, neighborhoods, friend-networks, and church communities – to ameliorate such tragic situations.
But there’s another hindrance of which we must be acutely aware even with our kids who don’t wrestle with such struggles. That potential roadblock is – in a word – us.
As Kathy regularly exhorts those who attend her seminars, we must love and accept the children we have and not try to turn them into the kids we wanted. Perhaps you wanted a doctor in the family; instead, your daughter is called to teach. Maybe you’d hoped a son would get an MBA, but he’s passionate about joining the Marine Corps. Or you’ve dreamed since your daughter was five that she’d take over your dog grooming business but she has her eye on an Ivy League degree.
We obviously want our children to launch well and lead happy, productive, God-honoring adult lives. But we make a grave error when we attempt to force our wishes for specific vocations without regard for how God has designed a particular child. If we do so, we cause the child to doubt his own beliefs about who he’s created to be, and we risk robbing him of hope for his own future.
Teens obviously need our discernment and experience as they explore possible future endeavors; for example, a young person who desires to sing on Broadway but cannot carry a tune in a bucket needs gentle redirection. But we must take great care to ensure that our guidance is Spirit- not self-led, in order to partner with God in giving our kids a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29.11).