My oldest son is starting to look at colleges. Stacks of brochures arrive every day in our mailbox with smiling faces of young adults on the front, all of them stating they have state-of-the-art programs. The pressure to measure up increases as grades, essays, and S.A.T. scores threaten to limit your options or categorize kids into specific levels.
My son asked me a line of questions with an underlying theme, do I have what it takes to make it? I reassured him that he did. We’ve done our best to set him up for life, but for the first time, his future will be entirely up to him, which can make for some scary decisions for a seventeen-year-old.
Margot Machol Bisnow, in her book Raising an Entrepreneur: 10 Rules for Nurturing Risk Takers, Problem Solvers, and Change Makers, argues that parents often fear that if their kids pursue their passion, they won’t make enough money to live. Parents can’t help but have heart palpitations when their child or grandchild says, “when I grow up, I’m going to be a social influencer or play video games for a living.” Parents long for their children to pursue their passions but also make enough money to be productive bill-paying adults, not living in our basements. Bisnow states, “someone who loves something enough and works hard enough at it will find a way to turn it into a living… I [Bisnow] also believe they will never be great at something if they don’t work nonstop at it, and they will never work nonstop if they don’t love it.”
While I agree with what Bisnow says, I also believe that our passions can lead us astray. I went through a phase where I was passionate about the color purple, and almost everything in my wardrobe was a shade of that color, but thankfully, that passion faded. I can say the same about art and dance. While those skills and abilities were at one point my passion, they have made for better hobbies and would have quickly become a chore if tied to my income.
So how do we decide what we want to do with our lives? How do we help guide our children and train them up in the way they should go? (Proverbs 22:6)
Teach them to pursue God.
It’s that simple, yet complicated. Pursue God and He will show you your purpose. The word pursue is critical. It doesn’t mean tossing out a quick prayer; God, help me pick a major. To pursue means to chase after. I think of the woman who’d bled for twelve years who sought to be healed by Jesus. The streets had been crowded that day as Jesus was passing through. People were trying to get close, bumping him, rubbing elbows, but they weren’t the ones being healed. It was a woman who sought out Jesus with the faith that if she merely touched his cloak, she would be healed. It was only then that Jesus felt power leave him (Luke 8:43-48). It was her desperate pursuit that brought on the miracle.
When we walk in our purpose, it becomes a passion. There is joy in living out God’s will for our lives, but it doesn’t come without challenges. David still had to face a giant, but he ran out onto the field two meet Goliath. David was ready for battle, ready for his destiny, whereas Goliath walked. David also had to wait to become king. He started as the harp boy playing music to soothe King Saul. David had ups and downs winning battles but ran for his life when King Saul became jealous. After basically getting fired and evicted, David met his mighty men, who would then stand by him when he became king.
We, too, will have ups and downs, failures and triumphs. God puts us in different situations, sometimes to grow ourselves and sometimes to help others grow. We shouldn’t be afraid to start small with humble beginnings or fail. God has made us resilient. That’s why a righteous man can fall seven times and still get back up again. Whatever path we choose, we know that God will direct our steps if we pursue Him and His will for our lives. We can rest assured that He has plans for us and will give us hope and a future.
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