Begin With the End in Mind

Kara Powell

Way back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was one of the countless folks who benefited from Steven Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People".   As a young leader, his principle of "beginning with the end in mind" was enormously helpful to me.  It still is today now that I am a somewhat middle-aged leader. 

Part of what I love about our work at FYI is we get to learn from all sorts of amazing parents and leaders.  But there's another group that is more on our radar these days, largely because of their interest and importance in building Sticky Faith.

It's grandparents. 

Many of FYI's supporters and friends are grandparents, and I am constantly learning from the intentionality they show with their grandkids.  I'll never forget the day that one thoughtful grandparent sent me his vision for his granddaughter when she was 16.  I share it with you here, not as a litmus test of what every teenager should aspire to, but rather as a reminder of the power of having a clear vision for the kids in our lives. 

After you read the vision, ask yourself:  what do I want the kids I know to be like at age 16, 21, or even age 30?  Maybe it's time you jot some of that down on paper. 

Beth on her 16th Birthday. What a day that will be…

Sometimes it is good to have a vision. With vision, we can put a plan together that gives us the best chance of actually achieving our vision. Identifying milestones along the plan allow us to stay focused on reaching our vision, keep us from becoming distracted, minimize the risk of having an important item fall through the cracks and allow us to measure our success as we progress. Laying out a vision is also indicative of intentionality and transparency. We’re not just “letting things happen,” we’re taking meaningful, practical and calculated actions to achieve our vision. This allows us to shape our teaching moments, activity priorities and devotional choices to align with our vision.

Children are like jello. They will “form” to a mold. Either we build the mold for our children or someone else will – but they WILL form to a mold. I would argue that “it is easier to build a girl than it is to fix a woman,” so starting early will be much better than “waiting until later.”

In an effort to stir healthy discussion of Beth’s mold, I offer the following “what kind of person we would like Beth to be” (our vision) on her 16th birthday.

On her 16th birthday, it would be tremendous if Beth:

  • Has accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior (the rest is gravy, but I’ll continue)
  • Loves and fears the Lord, earnestly seeks His will and direction in her life, nurtures her personal relationship with the Lord with prayer, reading the Word daily and frequent time in devotion and worship.
  • Models what it means to be a Christian – is a good ambassador for Christ
  • Embraces the truth, is honest and reflects Christ-like character
  • Sets a good example in character, nature and manner for everyone – regardless of age (1 Timothy 4:12)
  • Hides the Word in her heart – has memorized a life verse 
  • Is developing her critical-thinking skills (applies logic and reason to all areas of her life, is not easily manipulated, is innocent, yet not gullible, knows what she believes and why she believes it, doesn’t blindly accept what she reads and watches on TV, etc.)
  • Intentional about how and where she spends her time, money and effort.
  • Understands a “Biblical World View” and knows her source of truth
  • Understands the importance of her reputation and guards it ruthlessly
  • Knows that doing the right thing is more important than feelings (would rather do the right thing and get sued than not do the right thing)
  • Is good at maintaining objectivity and awareness in even the most stressful situations
  • Has a servants heart (is quick to step in and help, no job is “above” her)
  • Is being mentored by at least 5 Godly adults (other than family members – like Coach B, Youth Pastor, family friends, scout leaders, church saints, etc.)
  • Has a healthy respect for and communicative relationship with both parents
  • Is modest in dress and is not manipulated by culture and trends (modesty is more important than fashion, understands how her dress reflects her character and what impact it has on boys)
  • Is humble, yet self-confident
  • Is active in her church’s Teen group and/or school Bible group
  • Has been on two mission trips (one with a parent and/or grandparent)
  • Understands her body is a temple and treats it with respect
  • Understands the importance of money (not spoiled, but self-reliant, patient in managing finances – not impulsive, has checking and savings accounts, tithes, knowledgeable about saving and investing, understands the principle of compound interest and the importance of saving for emergencies and retirement, has a ROTH IRA account, etc.)
  • Has a healthy relationship with technology (not addicted to phone, texting, facebook, internet, TV, video games, etc. keeps them in proper perspective)
  • Has intentionally pledged to remain a virgin until married (understands and embraces 1 Timothy 4:3-4)
  • Beginning to understand the importance of establishing meaningful criteria (with the help of parents) for selecting a husband
  • Is a good student and has good study habits (doesn’t fret over grades – doing her best is more important than getting good grades)
  • Comfortable with basic self-defense moves and knows how to reduce risk of assault in different situations (has practiced using pepper spray/stun gun and carries when appropriate)
  • Can do her own laundry
  • Has a love of reading
  • Knows how to change a tire in an emergency




Published Aug 31, 2011
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

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