How many times have we heard someone say, “I’m trying to find my purpose in life”? Having a purpose is clearly important; but why? Today on Homeschool Heartbeat, Ryan and Bethany Bomberger show how purpose shapes and influences our lives.
Mike Smith: My guests today are Ryan and Bethany Bomberger. They’re the founders of the Radiance Foundation, a nonprofit group that seeks to illuminate, educate, and motivate people to grasp the value of life at every stage. Ryan and Bethany, welcome to our program.
Bethany Bomberger: Hi Mike! Thank you for having us.
Finding our purpose [0:35]
Mike: Bethany, why is it so important for us to find our purpose in life?
Bethany: You know, it is very powerful to understand that every life has value—value that’s irrevocable and intrinsic. But the Word of God tells us that without a vision, the people perish. Finding purpose in life is walking out that life vision and fulfilling our mission. Finding purpose in life is truly one of the greatest motivations for achievement, one of the greatest motivations for being a productive citizen, and for having compassion for others who may not understand their worth. And it really is one of the greatest motivations for seeking out our Creator, who loves us, and has designed us so uniquely, and has given us each such a personal skillset and giftings and a perspective that really no one else on the planet has.
Mike: Well Bethany, if we haven’t found that purpose, how does that affect us?
Bethany: Right! There are a lot of people who find themselves wandering through life feeling lost because they have not been able to really get a grip on what their purpose is. And it’s interesting, I think, that part of feeling lost comes from this age-old question we ask kids all the time: “Hey, what are you going to be when you grow up?” And often we define our purpose by something very singular in nature. And so there’s this fear of “What happens if I miss it, that thing, if I don’t achieve exactly what I’ve declared is my purpose in life?” And it paralyzes so many.
So really, when we catch the revelation that we are valuable and we look for those purposeful roles in life where we could be all that we can be in those situations, we understand that we don’t need to feel lost! And we understand that this will drive us to more discovery this side of heaven, with a relationship with the Christ who created us and gave us that purpose.
Spend time with your kids [2:32]
Mike: Ryan, what are some practical ways to help a child discover his or her God-given purpose in life?
Ryan Bomberger: I think it’s crucial for parents to pay attention. We need to watch out for what excites our kids. See what they throw themselves into. I think if we lessen our busyness and take note of the small little things that make our kids tick, I think that’s a huge way that we can kind of find out these things.
Do one-on-one dates with your kids. We love it. You’ll get to know him or her apart from all the noise, and learn to listen to their words and their hearts. Expose them to new things often. Give them a wide range of experiences to help shape who God intends them to be. And I would say: encourage, encourage, encourage them—especially when they fail. Because the thing that may be the hardest for them to do may be exactly what they need to do.
Mike: Well, are there other things you’ve done with your kids in that line?
Ryan: Yes. We’ve had awesome opportunities actually as homeschooling parents to expose them to completely different experiences because of all of our travel for our nonprofit. So we’ve been able to have them participate in different kinds of events. They’ve been able to meet different people with all kinds of varying backgrounds and abilities. And I truly believe it’s expanded their world. They are able to see people live out their own purpose. And because of that exposure, I really feel it’s enhanced their experience, and at such a young age—our children are 4 through 10—they’ve been able to see and experience so many different things that kids who aren’t homeschooled don’t generally get to experience.
Mike: Well, parents know their children well, and helping their children discover their purpose is a natural outgrowth of that.
Talents need to be practiced [4:09]
Mike: Bethany, after helping our children find out their purpose, how can we help them cultivate that purpose and make it a part of their lives?
Bethany: Exactly! It’s very important that we do spend time and we are intentional about cultivating their purpose. One thing I always do is allow my children opportunities to explore things that might not make me tick, but things that they find interesting. As a homeschooling parent, I have so much time, and there’s availability in my schedule to be able to allow them to do much more exploration than other forms of schooling do. And it’s interesting because we are no longer—as a parent, as a teacher, I’m not confined to teaching only what I know and what I’ve mastered.
So for instance, my sweetheart daughter, she loves to draw, and I am not very good at sketching. But we just pull up YouTube on sketching animals and she can spend a couple of hours developing that skill and cultivating something that’s very important to her. We’ve done that. My son enjoys learning sign language, and I am not very good at that, but I’ve allowed them opportunities to explore all sorts of things that they have found interesting. That’s first of all.
Second of all, I don’t let them give up on an interest if it’s just because it’s gotten too hard. Doing something well often takes time. It takes perseverance and intentionality, and I believe that is something that is learned. So we allow our children opportunity to explore and then we really help them continue on exploring that interest, even when it might seem too hard.
Mike: Well Bethany, observing and affirming our children in their unique design can be a life-changing gift to them. Thank you for sharing that!
Real-life vocations [5:55]
Mike: Ryan, how can people use their unique purpose to help their families and their communities?
Ryan: Feeling empowered and confident in our own gifts allows us to fulfill our role in the family and in the community. So instead of feeling threatened by others’ successes (which happens oftentimes, sadly), we can spend our energy being joyful and encouraging to others.
And you know, growing up in a huge family of fifteen with thirteen other siblings, the other component that I feel is necessary is sacrifice. Because I’ve grown up seeing my parents’ sacrifice, and that sacrifice unleashes purpose. So as a parent, I know that without sacrifice, I’m not going to be able to as effectively be able to unleash the purpose of my children’s lives. So having grown up and seeing my parents’ self-sacrifice unleashing thirteen children’s individual purpose, I hope that as a homeschooling parent and a parent who’s focused on faith first, that my wife and I are able to unleash our children’s purpose through our own sacrifice.
Mike: Well how are we able to communicate that to our children, though?
Ryan: Well, we communicate that by just real world application. Home is a great testing place for parents, for their children, because it’s safe emotionally, it’s safe spiritually (or at least it should be). It’s a great place for our kids to be able to explore their talents and abilities.
And so in the process of this, even the every-day stuff, whether they’re doing a chore, whether they’re doing the mundane stuff of life—one of our favorite verses is Philippians 2:14-15, you know, “Do all things without grumbling or complaining.” And we don’t often get to the end of that, where it says, “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” And oftentimes our kids don’t understand that mundane stuff of life is actually what is forming and fashioning that purpose that God has for their lives.
Mike: Well that’s great, Ryan. And as parents, we love to see all of our children discover and pursue their God-designed calling.
Your limitations do not define you [7:45]
Mike: Bethany, I know you have a particular heart for people with disabilities. How can parents guide children to see these challenges as part of their unique gifting, a part of their story that God can use?
Bethany: Over the years, I’ve had many opportunities. I’ve taught public school and I’ve taught in a private school, and now with my own children. I’ve been able to teach those that are labeled “special needs” and those that are labeled “gifted.” And at the end of the day, it’s true that we all have varying abilities. And being able to figure out what allows our learner to get the most out of what they’re exploring is really something that is very important.
The school system tends to test our IQ—our intelligence quotient—and say, “Oh, this person’s only able to learn this much, where somebody else might be able to learn a whole lot more.” But I think that the Lord has something else: I think He tests the possibility quotient. He doesn’t always have to look at the numbers, and He knows that if there are benchmarks and things that we are trying to achieve.
There are times in life where we might have to take the scenic route. I know if I’m headed to the mall, my GPS will point me in a certain direction, and if there’s some sort of roadblock I’ll need to reroute.
And I think it’s the same way with our children as we deal with their varying abilities. There might be certain things that we need to teach or relate to our children differently than others. And it’s okay to sometimes take that scenic route because we will end up getting to our destination. So what if the road less traveled takes a little bit longer? But I love that! It’s amazing how for children of all abilities, we’re able to get through to them when we are intentional and persevere.
Mike: Bethany, do you have any practical tips to share with these parents?
Bethany: Absolutely! I think we should never see our children for their limitations. You know, I know that my husband grew up in a family; there were ten children that were adopted, and they had many different physical disabilities. Some with learning disabilities, some with physical disabilities, some with issues with their sight. And at the end of the day, I know that they were not seen for their limitations. They were seen for those things that they have in them, those giftings. And it was almost like a puzzle: How are we going to achieve this?
And so as far as a practical tip, let’s not look at our children for their limitations and define them by the things they can’t do. But let’s use the resources that are around us, whether church, whether it’s the internet, whether it’s friends—there are so many support groups that will help us figure out these puzzles, these little brains, and get them to where they need to be and fulfill their purpose in life.
Mike: Ryan and Bethany, it’s truly been a pleasure having you with us this week, and families who stand together for the value of each life can make an eternal impact in this world. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.