As my husband and I raised our children, we prayed they would grow to be faith-filled. We prayed they would become the best of who God created them to be. We worked hard to build relationships with each of them that allowed us to speak into their lives. You probably have similar goals and prayers for the children in your life.
Maybe you find yourself asking the million dollar question: How do we get our kids to the place where they realize their God-given potential?
First: the Holy Spirit will do His work. Of that there is no doubt! But parents (and other adults of influence) have important roles as well. How we speak into the lives of the children around us helps them discover their gifts, talents, and abilities…and how they might use those things for God’s Kingdom.
The 4-Window Model
The 4-Window Model is a helpful tool to help you come alongside the kids in your life, and to discover what makes each child unique. Each “window” opens up an opportunity to uncover the gifts, talents, and abilities of the kids God created.
Window 1: Observation
It is easy to see kids, but not really see them. Honing the skill of observation allows us to notice their likes and dislikes, what draws them in, and what they are naturally good at. I can already see that God has hardwired empathy and compassion into my 7-year-old grandson. When either of his younger brothers get hurt, he is the first one to give a hug and kind word. This is just one clue as to who it is that God has created him to be.
Window 2: Exploration
Kids have opportunities for exploration every day: whether it’s at school, on a sports team, through a book they read, or hobbies they pursue. Actively looking through the window of exploration means we take time to observe and talk with our child about their experiences.
What did they like? What did they not like? Why? Each response gives a glimpse into their gifts, talents, and interests.
Our son Josh loves the outdoors and for a season was a guide on the Nahanni River. I have a magazine worthy picture of him taking a raft through some rapids. I assumed that he’d tell me about this trip with great enthusiasm. Instead, he told me that he wouldn’t want to do that trip again. It turns out he was responsible for the raft—which travelled more slowly down the river than all the canoes, so he was alone most of the day. This reinforced what we know to be true about him. God made him to be at his best when he’s with people.
Window 3: Affirmation
Each of us is a combination of a mess and a miracle. Looking through this window allows us to see and celebrate the miracle of who our kids were created to be.
Michael was a Grade 12 boys small group leader for more than 25 years at his church. Every year he would give each of his boys a gift of words in the form of a handwritten note: “You are kind and thoughtful: doing dishes after our BBQ is evidence of this.” “You are generous and you share: I watch how you treat your friends and I am impressed.”
I believe every young man who received a note from Michael walked more confidently into who it was that God had created them to be.
Window 4: Revelation
Looking through the window of revelation requires us to slow down and ask God for the wisdom and insight needed to raise the kids He has entrusted to our care. Who better to ask, than the One who created them in the first place?
I have a friend who together with her husband selected life verses for each of their kids when they were born. One one occasion when she was meeting with her son’s teacher, the teacher commented her son was held in high regard by both students and staff. My friend smiled…as she knew that God had been at work answering her prayers.
Which window will you start looking through today? As you consider the children in your life, write down what you see. Share your observations with the kids you care about. Encourage them to commit their lives to Jesus and walk confidently into the best of who He has created them to be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cathy Dyck is the Canadian facilitator for KidUnique, a resource for parents, ministry leaders and other adults, equipping them to come alongside and help the kids that they care about discover the miracle of who God has created them to be. She also leads the Awesome KidMin Conference team, providing quality training and encouragement for kidmin leaders and volunteers in Manitoba and across Canada. This material is adapted from @KidUnique, a resource created by Dan Webster.