How to help your children discover their passions

Written by Kate Stevens
Published on June 21, 2022

When our oldest daughter turned four, we figured we should start trying her out in activities. Our friends with older kids were well into their kids’ sport and artistic paths with multiple practices a week, club tryouts, big stage recitals, and dreams of college scholarship offers stuffing the mailbox. 

We had no expectation of nailing her primary life interest at the age of four—but we weren’t exactly thinking her next six years would look like this:

Pre-K: soccer

Kindergarten: Destination Imagination

1st grade: kids choir

2nd grade: tap and ballet

3rd grade: cheer and a cooking subscription

4th grade: piano

No repeats. Did you catch that? She enjoyed all of them, and she still speaks so fondly of her memories with each one. But as each drew to a close, she would look up at us and ask “what else can I do?” 

Gifts and passions

The draw for her to pour herself into one thing was strong for me. Was she missing out on skills like gumption, teamwork, and perseverance by jumping from one thing to another? 

Those fears have slowly faded over the last six years. I think we have landed in a place of seeing her just enjoy life without any specific attachment to one organized activity. 

However—that does not mean that we should be hands off in this aspect of character development. She may not be gifted with the drive it takes to be an Olympic athlete or a prodigy piano player.  

But as a believer she has been gifted with something the church needs, and I truly believe that is aligned with her passions in life.

The variety of life

In Joe Rigney’s book “The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts” he says, “When you set your mind on something, you orient your life by it. Your mind-set guides and governs everything else you do, whether in thoughts or words or deeds.”

If our children set their mind to be the greatest athlete, artist, musician, or chef so that they can achieve fame and fortune, then we have deeply missed the mark.  

If our children pursue drama, debate, the fishing club, or chess because it is their dream or their heart’s desire, then we might as well collect rocks in a bag with holes in it. 

I say this because it’s not aiming deep enough. God told Adam and Eve to not eat from one tree—think of all the other trees they had access to! Think of the variety that life offers you on a daily basis. 

God wants us to enjoy his created world—but not at the expense of mis-proportioned affections. 

4 steps

Here are four ordered steps in considering how to biblically help your children discover their passions. Two of these speak to the heart and two handle the body. 

1. Run from idolatry—keep the first commandment

Any type of an interest we have can, and usually will, turn into an idol. We quickly become so short sighted that we forget the grandeur of God and settle on much less. 

C.S. Lewis says it this way: “We are half-hearted creatures. . .like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Lewis isn’t saying that we are restricted from joy but rather we tend to turn away from real, authentic joy because we think we know better. 

We are told in Matthew 6 to seek first the kingdom of God. This directly aligns with the first commandment of having no other gods before the one, true living God. We must teach our children (and oftentimes model for them) that we first enjoy the Lord, always maintaining an eternal mindset. 

Then we are able to receive good gifts in this world like books, athletic shoes, Prisma color pencils, sheet music, and the balance beam. 

2. Talk about how it can honor the Lord and build up the church

It’s really hard to target our own expectations of our children to be righteous in their passions. Some parents are really competitive, and kids’ sports can quickly become an obsessive outlet for that. Some were once a boss at an activity, so naturally their child should bear that, too. 

We should point them towards doing everything to honor the Lord (Colossians 3:23) and not man or the self. Likewise, they should first consider what their spiritual gifts are and how to use those to build up the church (1 Corinthians 14) as mandated by scripture. Oftentimes a kid’s giftings can direct a family to discover a passion in life.

Wanting success, growth, skill development, or even a winning season isn’t bad. However, those are just preferences and not requirements of our faith. These are all sweet to witness, but they are just grace on top of grace and cannot be expected from our kids.

3. Let them see you try new things and talk about your own passions

Shame on us parents if we think we are too old to start something new!! I know we are often weighed down with our lists of tasks and responsibilities, so perhaps there is a hidden passion we haven’t tapped into yet. 

Recently convicted of this, I started knitting, calligraphy, and weight lifting. Haha! I sound like a buff old lady—but I want my daughters to see me trying new things so that they will be inspired to do the same.

Directing our kids to find their passion oftentimes means we talk about our own passions with them also. Bring up the history of you and your family members and what they have participated in and failed at or what they are still passionate about. How did they come to be involved in music, pick-up basketball games, video games, duck hunting, blogging, gardening, or fundraising for good causes?

4. Set boundaries and expectations

Lastly, when trying out something new boundaries must be set.  It is wise to talk about how much money, time, energy, and other resources will be spent. I think the old adage of “boiling a frog one degree at a time” can easily fit the scenarios of introducing new activities to our family members.

And what are expectations beyond honoring the Lord? You should consider goals and desired outcomes—both long and short term. This will definitely help with direction and motivation. 

The world is the Lord’s

Ultimately, we should teach them that the world and everything in it is the Lord’s (Psalm 24:1). 

We should first be most passionate about the Lord and the work he is doing in the world. Only then can our kids discover how they fit into that world with their own passions at play. 

Consider a few extra resources:

Live perfectly imperfect

Get daily emails with practical and spiritual advice geared towards helping you set aside perfect and grow into the parent you want to be every day.

Kate Stevens

Kate Stevens is a worshiper, wife, and mom. By vocation, she teaches high school students English, Bible, and debate, and has been doing so for fourteen years.  In addition, she serves as a freelance editor.  You can read more from her as she develops her newly published blog: “HEM-ology: Somewhere between zoology and theology.”

Read more about Kate

You may also like…

Privacy Preference Center