Stories of success and self-determination are often shared throughout social media and the news. These stories can touch your heart or make you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Society makes it known that if you’re an “adult” these things can be easily accomplished. But what if you’re a teenager? Can your dreams or ideas become reality? The answer is yes!
You may have recently heard about a young man by the name of Nick D’Aloisio who sold his text-summarizing app to Yahoo in 2013. The app sold for a cool $30 million—and Nick was just seventeen at the time! The British programmer developed his first version of the app when he was just fifteen years old.1
You might say, “Well, if only I were as smart as he is.” Or, “I could never do anything like that.” You might tend to compare yourself to others who are successfully fulfilling their callings; but what if your calling is something easier or different from creating an app for Yahoo? Maybe it is to feed the homeless or make some other difference in the world.
Have you ever thought that the dreams God has placed in your heart might be much easier to accomplish than you think? Philippians 4:13 says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV). The verse doesn’t say that you can do some things; it says all things! God has given you unique talents and abilities. It is up to you to put them to use.
God put it on my heart to share with you the story of my own daughter, Lauren. When she was very young, her father began reading to her every night before bed. I remember one night Lauren asked if she could read back to him. Although she was memorizing the pictures in order to “read” to her father, she was already developing her love of reading.
In the second grade, Lauren’s teacher told her she would “never amount to anything.” She said Lauren would “never read at grade level, and would spend her life in special education classes.”
These words resonated in Lauren’s head and tormented her for a very long time. It wasn’t until Lauren was in the third grade that her self-esteem would tell her differently. The change happened with the help of a loving and devoted teacher whose gift was to teach her students a passion for reading.
I will never forget our first parent-teacher meeting. With tears in her eyes, Lauren told her new teacher what her previous teacher had spoken over her. Ms. Cozine promised Lauren that she would help change her perspective on reading.
Ms. Cozine sat with Lauren at every recess and asked her to read aloud. When Lauren graduated that year, she was above the third-grade reading level, and was never again placed in any school reading program. Ms. Cozine will never know how powerfully God used her to impact Lauren’s life and dreams.
Years later, when Lauren was twelve years old, we took a Disneyland vacation where Lauren saw a street named Adventure Avenue. At that moment, she began dreaming of a story for a book full of adventure and, in her words, “Something for teens to read other than another vampire story.” On the flight home, Lauren wrote the first sixteen pages of her book.
Lauren had a plan, a calling, and a dream. The little girl who never gave up her love for reading turned author; she will be releasing her first book, Adventure Avenue, at the age of sixteen!
Don’t put your dreams in a box. Don’t think you have to wait for a certain age to make them happen. Let them start flourishing now and be used for the kingdom of God and His glory. Start small, and dream big!
- Emine Saner, “Summly Creator Nick D’Aloisio: ‘I Try to Maintain a Level of Humbleness,’” The Guardian, March 29, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/mar/29/summly-creator-nick-daloisio-interview (accessed May 9, 2014).