I can still see the look on my mom’s face when I told her I wanted to be a long haul truck driver.
I really did! The open road, beautiful scenery, and exciting people were all components that seemed alluring.
What I didn’t know was that my parents saw in me a love for children, an interest in the sciences, and a desire to serve. In their minds, I would be a pediatrician.
So many times, the plans and hopes we have for our children aren’t actually part of the career path they choose.
We see strengths that align with a particular field or a gifting that would pair well with another area of study.
So where do our two roads cross? How can we embrace the goals and dreams of our young adults while directing their hearts and minds toward their God-given talents?
Watch and listen.
When we pay attention to the things our teens are interested in, a window into their future is opened. Do they love math, the arts, science, or wildlife? Maybe they would like to be a performer, but can’t carry a tune in a bucket.
Just because they aren’t naturally gifted in an area doesn’t mean that they aren’t able to learn the skills necessary to fulfill their dreams. Watching the excitement on their face when they explore new things, is an opportunity to foster new purpose and potentially a long term career.
Teach them to take a chance.
It’s rare to come across a teenager who is self-confident enough to take a leap of faith without some kind of encouragement. As parents, our approval goes a long way toward helping them spread their wings.
Thinking back to my earlier analogy, if your young adult is really driven toward the performing arts but doesn’t have a strong singing voice, then perhaps song or play writing is a better choice than being a performer. Help them think outside the box to explore all possibilities.
Tell them what you see.
Our teens strive for acceptance from their peers, church leadership, coaches, and especially from us, no matter how many times they say they don’t care what other people think. We are born to consider the opinion of others.
By helping them understand how their interests could become a career, you will be directing their thoughts toward something permanent. It will be important to tell them how we see those choices playing out in their lives.
If you are concerned that they might fail, don’t worry…every young adult has goals and gifts that have to be fine-tuned.
Be willing to adjust.
Just because we see the perfect occupation on the horizon for our teen, it doesn’t mean that is the path they will choose to walk.
We see the big picture…salary, benefits, growth potential. They see something they might want to do for the rest of their lives. Longevity and enjoyment are just as important as what can be gained financially.
I ended up in the medical profession for a short time after all. I never did learn to drive a semi-truck, but I did find a way to incorporate my longing for adventure and the open road into a long term career.
If my parents hadn’t encouraged me to consider a variety of possibilities, I’m not sure where I would be today. I know that there are lots of careers that are more prestigious, but I’m living my dream, and serving others.
And I’m certain that having 3 boys has utilized my love for science as well. Allow your students to try new things and plan big. You may have a songwriter or a playwright in your midst!