Investing in Strengths
Glynnis Whitwer

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

My 18-year-old son stepped on the stage, grabbed a guitar and turned to lead worship for the church youth group. He looked so at ease that I grinned thinking how far my previously shy and distracted son had come. It made me glad once more I hadn't listened to his piano teacher when Joshua was in first grade.

Even back then, Josh's love for music and innate abilities were obvious. The child could hear a song once and sing back the melody line with ease. So when his school opened a music academy, we saw it as the perfect opportunity to invest in what we believed was a God-given gift. Piano was the natural choice since we had an unused piano at home. We registered our little boy for the class, bought the level one book, and began classes.

Week followed week, and Joshua struggled to sit still long enough to practice. It took ongoing involvement on my part to redirect his focus back to the keys and book. But we saw it as an investment and enjoyed the fruits of his labor when he learned the simple songs. It came as a surprise, then, when his piano teacher stopped to talk with me after his lesson one afternoon. Perhaps I should have noticed the stressed look on her face and anticipated her next words, but I didn't.

"Mrs. Whitwer," she said, "you are wasting your money."

She went on to explain that in her opinion, Josh was just too distracted for lessons and wasn't getting anything out of them. We happened to disagree. It was obvious though, she was not the teacher for our son. After that experience, we could have been discouraged and quit. But we knew God had placed something unique in our son, and just because other people didn't see it, didn't mean it wasn't there. God gave my husband and me the responsibility to build upon what He had already started. Not just so Josh would love music, but so Josh would be ready to fulfill whatever God's plans were for him.

We continued to invest in Josh's love for music. In the early elementary years he sang in our church's children's choir. When we lived in North Carolina for two years, he took a vocal class at a Christian music academy. When he was old enough to play in the school band, he started playing bass guitar in both the regular and jazz bands. In 7th grade he started playing bass on a youth worship band, and in 8th grade he learned electric guitar. Throughout those years we invested in occasional lessons, better equipment and lots of time with practice and concerts.

Only God knows where Josh will end up with his musical ability. He now leads a youth worship team at church, and has helped teach others beginning guitar so they can lead worship. I just know it's my job to invest in this strength for as long as I can, and not worry about the end result. And by investing in Josh's musical ability, it is my prayer that we have equipped him with other skills that will help him in the future, such as the disciplines of practice, perseverance, working with others, respect for authority, giving his best, and honoring God by using the abilities He has given.

Were we wasting our money back then? Absolutely not! We learned a valuable lesson: Sometimes it takes perseverance, creativity and patience when investing in a child's strength. Josh wasn't a musical prodigy, he occasionally forgot his guitar when going to band, and his dad and I had to remind him to practice. And yet the gift of music was inside my son waiting to be developed and used for God's glory. Helping to develop that skill was an act of obedience on our part.

What skills do you see waiting to be invested in and developed in your child, your spouse, or yourself?

There was an interesting ending to the piano lesson experience. At the final recital, about 25 kids took turns performing. Finally it was Joshua's turn. My little six-year-old walked up to the piano, sat down to play and carefully opened his music book. Not only did he play his piece beautifully, but he was the ONLY child who sang while accompanying himself – and he sang in perfect pitch.

All I could say was, "Praise God."

Dear Lord, thank You for placing seeds of ability in all of us. I know You see my potential, and You see potential in those I love. Help me to see with Your eyes, and to have the wisdom to know how to encourage others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
When Your Child is Hurting by Glynnis Whitwer. This is a great resource to help parents navigate the often challenging years of childhood.

Visit Glynnis’s blog where she shares more tips for investing in your child’s strengths.

Discover more about Your Child’s Personality

Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child by Renee Swope

Application Steps:
If you are parenting a child, identify one or two natural abilities he or she has. Consider how you can invest in those strengths.

How can you develop your own strengths and use them for God's glory?

Can you look back on your life and see early signs of natural talents that might have been overlooked by others?

What hinders parents from identifying and accepting their child's natural abilities?

Power Verses:
Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…" (NIV)

Job 10:8, "Your hands shaped me and made me." (NIV)

© 2009 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This devotion is such an important lesson: Be careful about judging another person's potential, especially that of a child. I even think of the Apostle Paul and how he judged John Mark - God had a wonderful plan for John Mark - to become one of the Gospel writers.
It is so great that your son is being used by God. God has a plan for each one of us. Praise God!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow....this is what I needed to read today. My son will be 18 tomorrow and loves his guitars and music, as much as his loves God. I need to realize how important music is to him and let him be used by God. Thanks so much!

Blogger Eagles Wings said...

Thank you for the reminder, I have four littl boys six and under and I need to look for those special talents God wants to use in each of them! God Bless and thanks again

Anonymous Lori said...

I absolutely love seeing God in the "little things" and how they are worked out in our life...this is just one testimony of trusting and following Him!! Amen!!!!

Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for reminding me to explore my children's God given talents. I have a 3,5,7. They love music. However, financial is quite tough to allow them to explore that area. i know God will open up ways in the near future so they can use their musical talents to glory His name. Thanks for being our hearts voice to parents and moms out there. Please pray for me.
Cathi, California

Blogger Angela Dell said...

Thank you for the blessing of special talents and abilities in each one of us. I pray god that you help me to not squander what you have placed inside of me, but to embrace it and use it for your glory. Continue to pour out favor and blessing on my chidlren and my husband. I pray you grow even more what is in my husband and prepare him fo rthe tasks ahead of hime. Help me to see th potential in my children and to not ever give up on them , but to encourage them to pursue the passion burning in their littel hearts. Thank you fro a reminder that you loved me enough to gift me uniquely. You are a great God and father.

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