Make it matter: Parents’ role in discerning their teen’s calling

Judith Alagirisamy // March 13, 2019, 9:40 am


Photo by Chuttersnap on Unsplash

Parents are a child’s earliest influences, and perhaps even the strongest. Over the years, various studies have shown that parents play a significant role in the overall development and well-being of children, ultimately impacting how they turn out as adults.

However, in a survey of over 700 Christian youth aged 13 to 19 for the Whole Life Inventory (2016), we found that only four in 10 of them expressed that their parents had a high impact on their spiritual development.

As parents, are we fully utilising our God-given opportunity to encourage and enable our children to achieve their fullest potential, purpose and calling in life?

Here are some points that you can discuss with your adolescent children.

1. Emphasise that everyone is called

At some point, every Christian — including you and me — will doubt if they’re doing the work that God has called them to, and our children will too.

Equip them with the understanding that in some common aspects, we are all called.

So, it is important to equip them with the understanding that in some common aspects, we are all called: Regardless of their career choice, they are called to work in one form or another (Exodus 20:9), submit their work to God (Colossians 3:17), and reflect God in their chosen place of work (Colossians 3:12).

As you discuss these vital aspects of God’s calling on their lives, guide your teens in creating their own personal mission statements. While this may be refined over the years to come, articulating a personal statement will help your teens examine their values, and make wiser decisions in line with their belief system and what they would like to achieve in future.

Some questions that your teens need to think about are:

  • What are my top five priorities in life?
  • What are the values most important to me?
  • How can I make a significant contribution in the key areas of my life (ie family, friends, church, school, etc)?
  • What are my personal goals? Identify three short- or medium-term goals and three long-term goals.

2. Help them discover their God-given talent

How much of our parenting journey is spent considering and praying about our children’s specific areas of talents and abilities? While each child is deliberately, fearfully and wonderfully created to achieve a unique purpose, it’s too easy for us to lose sight of this bigger picture in the pursuit of more immediate goals, such as better examination results or getting into top-tier schools.

Pray for discernment of the talents in our children and ask for wisdom to cultivate these.

While these are not bad goals in themselves, we must be watchful not to spend a disproportionate amount of effort to merely get ahead of other kids in class.

A fulfilling and meaningful life is measured by how significantly we make an impact on other people’s spiritual journeys and awakening, and also on the world around us (Romans 12:4-6) — not the number of tests aced.

In addition to spiritual gifts, we can pray for discernment of the talents and abilities in our children, and ask for wisdom to cultivate these.

Encourage your teenagers to uncover their natural areas of ability by considering these points:

  • When do I feel most successful? Are there specific instances, big or small?
  • What are the abilities that feel most natural to me, and seem to come quite easily?
  • When do I feel most fulfilled?

3. Challenge them to pursue excellence

As adults, we know that identifying natural ability and then exercising it to fulfil a greater purpose for God’s glory are two separate matters. Encourage a culture of excellence in your home, so that your teens will be prompted to hone their skills and pursue their God-given callings wholeheartedly.

Spur your children on with the reminder that the work we do is unto God and not man.

Constantly spur your children on with the reminder that the work we do is unto God and not man (Colossians 3:23), setting them on the path to give their best in their pursuits.

Encourage your teens to take time out of their busy schedules to pray, reflect and ask themselves:

  • How do my current pursuits add to and further my ultimate calling?
  • What are the areas that I am currently struggling with?
  • What are three things that I can do right now to better my talents?

Living out our God-given calling on a daily basis is certainly a challenging prospect. However, God calls us to courageous living, rather than comfortable living!

With your encouragement, affirmation and prayer, your teens will learn to walk closer with God, trust fully in Him and live out the unique purposes that they were made for.

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This article was first written for Focus on the Family, Singapore and has been republished with permission.

About the author

Judith Alagirisamy

Judith is a family-life advocate who believes that strong marriages and sound parenting make for resilient families. Currently, she splits her time between being a family-life specialist with Focus on the Family Singapore and raising her two young sons.