I just love talking with my grown children. We have the greatest discussions and thoroughly enjoy our time together. Recently, my daughter and I had a particularly intriguing conversation where she was relating a discussion she had with her Bible study teacher about Vision Casting.
When I asked her to clarify the term in context, she said, “Well, Mom. It’s what you do so well. You could look as us as little kids and see our potential as adults. You had a vision for who we could become.”
That conversation started me thinking about the parent as Vision Caster. We hear it in business circles and in church circles, but what does it mean in the home?
In visiting with parents, I often hear statements like “My student hasn’t really found their gift” or “They really don’t know what they are good at.” You need to understand that few children are born knowing that. Most kids slowly discover it throughout the course of childhood aided by a very thoughtful parent. How do we do this?
Planting Seeds – Possibly the easiest thing we can do as we aid our student in self-discovery is to be constantly alert for interesting signs, little details about our kids that usually are never noticed. By commenting, we help our children understand how others see them. They also start identifying what makes them special and try to live up to it. Never underestimate the power of self-fulfilling prophecy!
“Your desk is always so neat and organized! That will allow you to get your work done quickly!”
“I noticed how kind you were to the new kid at the meeting. I know he left feeling like he had been accepting into the group. It’s nice feeling accepted, isn’t it?”
“Thank you for waiting patiently while I talked to that Mrs. Smith. Having my uninterrupted attention allowed me to make her feel special. I couldn’t have done that without your help.”
“You play the violin so beautifully. It makes my heart happy when you play for me.”
Musing Out Loud– Sometimes as parents, a comment is made about our child that we can pass along without inflating the child’s ego by just casually wondering aloud about it.
When my daughter was in her early teens, she was being filmed for a documentary. The cameraman couldn’t say enough to praise her. He shared with me that only a very few people are magnetic in front of a camera. For some reason, they just sparkle on film. Natalie was one of those people. Not very long after that, we were in a little gift shop for the first time. The owner, a former TV anchorwoman, took one look at Natalie and was insistent that she was made for TV. We laughed and thanked her. As we continued walking down the street, I mused out loud,
“Hmmm. I wonder what God is going to do with that?”
Out of the corner of my eye, I watched her wrestling with those new thoughts. We didn’t rush out and take acting lessons. She didn’t change her college plans to major in communications. In the last six years she hasn’t pursued it at all. But the idea was planted that there may be a time when she will be called into that arena as part of a greater life purpose. She has accepted that, for some odd reason, she has been given an unusual gift and is willing to use it.
Envisioning the Possible – As our kids grow and mature, we are sometimes given little glimpses of future options. Obviously this includes their strengths, but often, surprisingly, includes their weakness. When my son was a pre-teen, he came back from working with his science mentor, a college professor, and announced that he wanted to teach someday. My comment was something like this,
“I think you are right that being a college professor could be fun. In fact, I think you’d make a great physics professor! But you know, as a professor you’ll need to be an excellent writer since you will be expected to publish your research and you’ll have to be a good speaker to teach class. You are really doing well with your writing, but I know public speaking isn’t your favorite thing. Let’s join the debate club this year and get comfortable with this speaking thing. I’ll help you.”
Whenever I noticed a particular strength in one of my children, I would share my observations with that child, painting with broad brush strokes possibilities for them. That part was fun. The hard work came when I consistently set up circumstances to build that strength and test their skills in the real world.
I think Vision Casting starts with asking ourselves some hard questions about our kids, about our life as a family. It involves their gifts and my strengths. It also includes their weaknesses and my struggles. It entails the mission that God has given our particular family and the passion He has laid on our child’s heart. The wise parent will cast the vision and then follow up (sometimes for years) by helping their child hone the skills to make vision a reality. It’s not an easy thing, but I guess a compelling vision wouldn’t be compelling if it were painless.