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  • Daniel Jenkins

How to Help Your Teen Discover Their Passions | Gifts & Passions Part 2

This post is, technically, a “part 2” of a short series on Gifts & Passions. For the first post on what Gifts & Passions are, how they interact, and how to help your teen discover their unique Gifts, click here. If you’ve already read that, then let’s go ahead and dig into Passions!

Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

What Are Passions?


When I was in seventh grade, I had a Youth Pastor ask me one of the most important questions of my life. Don looked at the design on my T-shirt and asked me, “Do you like skateboarding?”. Truth told, I thought skateboarding was cool, but I never stepped on a skateboard in my life. The T-shirt was probably something I thought looked cool from the Walmart rack. But that question opened up the door to a conversation that started a relationship that would directly impact the rest of my life.


You see, Don became like a big brother or father-figure to me. Throughout my time as a youth at that church, I would show up early just to be with him. When something needed done, I would help him out. Don created a space for me to be vulnerable with him. He was always real with me. He lived a life that exemplified what it was like to be a man of God. We laughed together. We cried together. And when it was time for Don to move on to another ministry opportunity and leave the church, I was the first one to notice something was up before he told anyone.


Don invested in me. I looked up to him. He inspired me. And when it was time for me to begin considering ways to serve other people, youth ministry was the very first thing that came to my mind. I wanted to invest into other teenagers like Don invested in me. As I look back on my life, my teenage years were my most influential and pivotal. My experiences during that time lit a fire inside me that grew and grew. That fire is what I call “passion.” I would define “passion” as a conviction resulting in a desire or enthusiasm for something which one is willing to make sacrifices. I would argue that a passion without conviction or a willingness to sacrifice is only a passing interest.

Help Your Teen Discover Their Passions


As a parent, discipline and inspiration come easier when you’re able to tap into your teen’s passions. Here is a tool I've used over the years in my own life as well as in Self-Leadership Academy:


If You're Looking for Passion, Find the Emotion


Passion stirs up joy, anger, and sadness. That’s not to say that any joy, anger, or sadness is an indicator of passion, but they are at least areas to dig into. When I get into a real conversation about the impact of academic pressure on teenage anxiety, depression, and suicide, you better believe that I get emotional. My heart rate rises. My voice gets louder. Sometimes, tears well up in my eyes. I’m passionate about it.


The same can be done for you and your teen. Unlike the previous posts on Personality, Communication Style, and Gifts, there isn’t really a good assessment for discovering Passions. Passions are infinite and much more personal. So, instead of a formal assessment, I’ve created an open-ended questionnaire to help teen’s discover their passions. You can download a free copy of that questionnaire here.

Viktor Frankl is quoted as saying, “Those who have a why to live, can bear with almost any how.” When your teen is able to discover their passions, they’ll finally have their why. Your teen’s gifts determine how and what they do to serve others. Their passions tell them why they serve and direct them towards who and where they serve.


As you help your teen discover their passions, it is my hope that they become inspired. Ken Coleman, author of The Proximity Principle, says that our “sweet spot is at the intersection of our top talent and our top passion.” Before your teen ever applies for college or leaves your home, please do them and the rest of society a favor. Help your teen find their sweet spot.

Give Your Teen the Gift of Knowing Who They Are

Discovering your teen's passions is a great way to start. If you would like your teen to understand how they've been uniquely created, enroll them in Self-Leadership Academy. I am currently accepting applications for fall 2019 and spring 2020.

  1. Go to EquippingTeens.com

  2. Click on "Enroll Now"

  3. Complete & Submit the Application Form

That's it! I'll guide your son or daughter through the process of going from a great teen to an extraordinary adult.


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