Developing a Life Skill
During this past month of April, our Youth Hour—a teaching time when my wife and I meet with our church teens—was dedicated to a series entitled “Life Lessons.” For these meetings, I invited several men in our church who are proficient in their fields to speak about their personal and professional lives. I was greatly encouraged by the response of many of our teenagers; even at a young age, they realized the benefit of these practical lessons.
The more that I considered what we were seeking to have accomplished by the end of the month, the more I felt compelled to study the lives of people in the Bible who also possessed certain skills or abilities which God at times used for specific tasks. Noah was a builder, Joseph a governor, David a shepherd, Nehemiah a cupbearer, Luke a physician, Paul a tentmaker, and Peter a fisherman. Cooks, doorkeepers, gardeners, harpists, hunters, instructors, judges, merchants, messengers, musicians, philosophers, scribes, soldiers, tax collectors—all of these occupations and scores of other trades dot Bible passages. And from time to time, the Lord used the skill set of an individual, for a particular task or as a point of illustration.
As I thought of America’s youth—the next generation of Christian leaders—I wondered, “What skills or trades are they learning?” There was a time when it was not unusual for a young person to serve as an apprentice (an “intern,” in modern-day vernacular) under a master of a field or trade until he himself became an expert. Regrettably, it seems as if we have become consumers, not producers—spectators, not leaders. One report estimates that 60% of teenagers spend 20 hours a week in front of a television or computer screen; these statistics exclude talking on the cell phone, texting, or other activities. This certainly does not mean that teenagers are lazy; on the contrary, their fund of energy seems without limit, fueling activity after activity. But with their extra time, young men and ladies would be wise to develop skills to use to their benefit and, more importantly, for the Lord’s work in the coming years.
Teenager, perhaps you have not considered what skill you might develop. Here are a few suggestions to point you in the right direction:
- Find a skill that interests you.
What can you become passionate and excited about doing?
• Accounting and Finances
• Computer and Software Proficiency
• Construction and Electrical Wiring
• Culinary Arts
• Fine Arts and Music
• Graphic and Web Design
• Health and Fitness
• Marketing and Sales
• Photography and Video (Media)
- Focus on the purpose of that skill.
The purpose for developing our abilities and talents is to further our productivity for the cause of Christ. Think with me how the listed skills above and others can be used for the ministry. The goal of our learning is not so that we can make money or become rich, but that we can use these skills to help and further the work of our Lord. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).
- Finish and don’t quit.
As you begin to develop your ability or skill, don’t quit or give up! Stay at it, and continue to improve. Once you have attained some level of success, you will be glad that you did not throw in the towel. When I was a boy, I took piano lessons. Like most boys, I would rather have been outside running around and playing. Needless to say, I did not continue my lessons for very long. Had I continued with my lessons and learned that skill, I could be using that today for the Lord. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goes” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
Although, at times, you may become discouraged with your progress or perhaps with the results, the Bible offers a word of encouragement: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).