Two Tools to Help Your Teen Discover Their Gifts
Updated: Jun 24, 2019
Do you know any adults who don't like their jobs?
Do you know people who complain about having to go to work?
What about people who are so stressed at work that they appear ready to have a heart attack?
Do you have any friends who work to earn a paycheck, but have no real joy at work?
More often than not, these folks are either doing work they're not good at or not passionate about. You see, being good at what we do is as important as being passionate about what we do. Those things we're good at, I call "gifts". Passion is the word I use to describe something we enjoy or are convicted about to the level we are willing to make sacrifices. Here's a little chart to show you how gifts and passions work together.
As you can see, we should all strive to serve others in areas where we are both Gifted and Passionate. Wouldn't it have been great if we all discovered this before we became adults? Before we spent all that time and energy on things we weren't gifted in. Before we climbed to the top of our career ladder only to learn we're on the wrong ladder. That's exactly what we're going to begin digging into this week.
What Are Gifts?
People use many different words to describe gifts: talents, strengths, abilities, skills. I prefer the term "gifts" because it's framed around humility and prevents pride. When something is given to us, that means we didn't do anything to earn it. It was free of charge. The term "gifts" should also evoke a sense of gratitude. Once again, if these unique traits we have are, indeed, gifts then we should be thankful for them.
For as long as I can remember, I've felt at ease striking up conversations with total strangers. Usually, those discussions get people to open up ideas and feelings below the surface. This leads to new friendships or friendly acquaintances. What did I do to gain this ability? Absolutely nothing. Over the years, I've been intentional about strengthening my ability to communicate and win others over. But the abilities themselves I've had my entire life. I believe God gave them to me when He created me. That is why I have gifts of communication and woo.
Your son or daughter has their own unique gifts as well. The problem is, most of us are taught from a young age to strive at being "well-rounded" and "Straight-A" students. Our academic environments teach us to be great at everything, not just our gifts. So, we work hard investing our time and energy on the areas we struggle the most in. A student may be gifted at processing numbers, but bad at processing language. They may find earning a passing grade in math isn't a challenge, but they spend countless late nights on english homework. Instead of spending so much energy developing our weaknesses, we should spend it on amplifying our gifts. When we do this, we should become above average and live life fully as the people we were created to be.
Here's the most important detail about gifts: they're not for us. That's right! Our gifts aren't for us to hold and hoard. Instead, our gifts are to be used in service of others. Our gifts are ours to grow and develop. They will strengthen and improve as we practice them. That's how real change and positive growth happens in the world.
Help Your Teen Discover Their Gifts
Would you like to help your teen discover their unique gifts? Here are a couple tools I've used over the years in my own life as well as in Self-Leadership Academy:
1. Take the CliftonStrengths Assessment
This fantastic resource will give your teen their top five "themes of talent." Note that a theme of talent is a group of strengths, not a strength in itself. According to Donald Clifton's book StrengthsQuest, "Strengths are produced when talents are refined with knowledge and skill." So, as your teen discovers their top five themes of talent, they should be able to identify what strengths they may already have. The assessment also includes a guide on how to best develop and live out those strengths. A free e-book is also included. You may find and buy the CliftonStrengths assessment at this link.
2. Become a "Gifts Detective"
Although helpful, a formal assessment like CliftonStrengths isn't necessary. Sometimes, all we need to do is take a survey of the world around us. Like a great detective, we should be able to find our gifts by examining the evidence. Interrogate the witnesses. Analyze the "crime scene". As a part of Self-Leadership Academy, I've developed a questionnaire students use to find their own gifts. It's made up of open-ended questions that challenge students to look beneath the surface. It also includes a section requiring them to ask others what they see. That requires humility and vulnerability which are also great gifts. You can download a free copy of that questionnaire here.
As you help your teen understand how they've been uniquely gifted, it's my hope that they become encouraged. Something special happens when young people begin to see the greatness in themselves. You are the most important voice in your teen's life. Make sure they hear your support and love.
Give Your Teen the Gift of Knowing Who They Are
Discovering your teen's gifts using these tools is a great way to start. If you would like your teen to understand how they've been uniquely gifted, enroll them in Self-Leadership Academy. I am currently accepting applications for fall 2019 and spring 2020.
Go to EquippingTeens.com
Click on "Enroll Now"
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.