Encouraging Gifts and Talents
Gifts verses Talents: There is a difference between a child’s talents and a child’s gifts. The two terms are not interchangeable. Talents are inherited abilities that develop with proper training and education. Talents prosper in the mental realm – through understanding and knowledge.
In contrast, gifts are inborn, innate qualities that are unique to the individual. They emerge from the inner most part of a child, from the spirit, where life itself flows. A gift is something holy – the part of a child’s nature that is from God. It is something that must be nurtured and encouraged with kindness. And because it is associated with a calling or purpose, we must handle it with love. (see Let His Gift Flow).
If a child feels safe, accepted, and loved, his gift will be evident and undeniable.
Gifts are evident – A true account of found treasure: During the first 6 weeks of each school year, children’s individual strengths, challenges, and gifts shine brightly. So, the first parent-teacher meeting is a time when a support system can be established for each child’s emerging gift – before the world has an opportunity to dim the flame.
One Teacher’s Account:
Gregory’s gift: It was at this first parent-teacher’s conference that I met Gregory’s mother. During our meeting, I shared with her a detailed account of his outstanding leadership qualities. I explained that one day during recess Gregory decided to organize a baseball team. Like a seasoned coach, this quiet and reserved 5-year-old paced back and forth, giving the other boys encouragement and instruction. He had them all in the palm of his hand. Recess ended before a game could be played, but I caught a glimpse of Gregory’s gift and the power it had over the other boys.
It was my great privilege and responsibility to share this event with Gregory’s mother. But instead of being proud or amazed, she became angry. She said that her son would never behave like that. He was too shy and quiet. “Why, he doesn’t even know about baseball! You are mistaken. Terribly mistaken.” she snarled. Then she turned in denial and walked off. I was stunned.
Behold … greatness: Several weeks later I saw Gregory and his mother coming out of the grocery store. I watched as they walked down the sidewalk and through the parking lot to their car. He was well-mannered, but there was no contact between them. He simply walked, in silence, an exact measured distance from his mother. It was sad.
Why was he so free to try new things in my classroom, to experiment with life and take emotional risks, while in his mother’s midst his enthusiasm for life became muted? Perhaps she did not know that she shared her home with greatness.
Behold … grace: Parents often bear burdens so heavy that what is right before them becomes obscured. For all of us, at times, the pressures of life can seem so overwhelming that our vision is blurred. During seasons of stress, let us open our hearts to receive good news, and to marvel at the wonder of God’s grace.
The innate, iridescent glow of a child’s gift is unmistakable.
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